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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Who You Gonna Call?

So, since the treacherous Andrew called me The Dragon Lady on the SP Screenwriters' Bulletin this week, I thought it best to dispel this myth that I will scorch your script into ash. I won't.

But I will chop it into little pieces.

Why? 'Cos a script is the sum of its parts. It has to be. I might always bang on about stuff like structure (much to the chagrin of the mysterious DD it appears! Loving your work darling btw, MWAH), but a good script is bomb-proof. A reader should slice and dice your script, stick it back together and see if it stands up - and a good script brushes itself down and says, "Is that all you got punk?!" However, if you're left with a pile of mush instead of a script, you know you have a problem. If it's standing, but weak and in need of a cup of tea and a sit down, you still have a problem. But hey: it's better to know, right?

And there are always scripts that resist my very special script axe. I might be able to chop a finger here or a toe there, but at the end of my treatment they're still very much alive and LAUGHING IN MY FACE, DAMN THEM!

And I've had the scripts that have fallen to mush myself. I know what it feels like to get coverage, look at your screenplay, sees its flaws in a whole new light and say, "You know what? I don't think I'm going to pursue this story after all." It's disappointing at the time, but worth it in the end since you can move on to a more worthwhile story to tell.

But that's why I am never one of those vitriolic readers you hear the horror stories about. A script is someone's dream, printed on paper or wrapped up in a PDF. I respect that. That's why Bang2write will never tell you your script is crap. Because, guess what? No script is crap. Every script is part of someone's journey as a writer - whether that's to option, funding or improving one's craft, thus all are worth something. Even if many never see the light of day.

So think of me not so much as a script doctor but your very own script buster. Now's a good time if you want me, else I might actually get time to write something of my own. And we wouldn't want that, would we boys and girls!?

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12 comments:

Chip Smith said...

I've been on the receiving end of Lucy's 'shredding' now a couple of times, but I think the epithet 'Dragon Lady' is a bit harsh! The coverage I've had back from Lucy/DL has always been concise and constructive - even though in her last set of notes she described me as 'mental', and my protagonist as 'a bit of a tit' - probably true, but it still made me laugh!.

Lucy said...

Your script is one of the weirdest ones I've read Chip, no bad thing either, weird is good. As for your protagonist... Well, let's hope your script isn't autobiographical else you've had a very - ahem - colourful life! ; )

Anonymous said...

I can remember being in conference on one show, pitching a story and the words were dying in my mouth. So I stopped. Mid-sentence. Swear to this day I glimsped a piece of tumbleweed rolling by at the periphery of my vision.

The legendarily abrasive exec producer (used to first drafts at your head if he didn't like them) glanced up and said, "What have you fucking stopped for?"

Me: "Because it's shit."

His answer: "It's all shit, until we discuss it."

Perhaps my favourite piece of advice, along with "Get your retaliation in first."

On the research front discussed in a previous comment I'm just finishing up a script about a group of people training to do a particular job. Here's how seriously I take research. I did the exact training course my characters would do. For three weeks. Seven days a week. With some days where I got four hours sleep.

It wasn't a porn shoot. That's next.


DD

Rach said...

I like feedback to be honest otherwise it's just ego tickling. After all if its crap I need someone to tell me and why or I won't sell anything.

Been called a dragon myself at work. Nice animals. Clear the earth of useless sods in tin can suits.

Sounds like you give a good workover for the money so expect some work coming your way for ripping apart.

Lucy said...

Rach - absolutely. I got some coverage once about 5 yrs ago that praised everything about my script, I thought I was the dog's nads. Then I sent it off to somebody in the real world and it became clear just how many holes there were in the draft - and just how much money I had wasted, damn! That's not to say I never offer ANY praise though, if I see something I like I always say in coverage - just don't concentrate on it, since if it's working, it's working, you don't need help on it! But look forward to seeing your script when it's done.

DD - "It's all shit until we discuss it"! DIAMOND! That's going to be Bang2write's new tagline I reckon! Email me some time and tell me who it was, PLEASE - bang2write"at"aol"dot"com. And also tell me who you are. I'll sign an NDA if you like! ; )

anya said...

Lucy's not harsh, she's a pussycat - but like all cats she's got claws! No really - what I like about Lucy's coverage is she's supportive and always honest, really makes you face up to any flaws you have and let's face it, all our drafts have flaws. Even Lucy's I should think... right?

Lucy said...

No Anya. All my drafts are perfect, first time.

You fool.

; )

anya said...

I stand corrected!

rach said...

Will submit Lucy. Just going to do the Power of 3 first. Is it still called that if you have 7 victims?

Lucy said...

Probably not Rach but 7 is the magic number they say! Plus it is also apparently "magnificent". So should be a good start!

Andy Goodman said...

You seen to have taken the 'Dragon Lady' tag as a bad thing...
I'm sure I've read you describe yourself as something similar( ...RAH!)

If all Readers that we aspiring scribblers sent scripts to said nice glowing pretty-flower things about our under- or over-worked efforts, then we wouldn't learn anything and all be convinced in our own greatness. The result would be many many so-called script writers wondering why the hell aren't our masterpieces being picked up, rejected or not even getting through the first round in any competition!

Huzzah for the DL!

By the way, red is the new purple.

Oli said...

Coming to this party a little late, but "no script is crap"? That's a bit like saying "everyone's special", isn't it? Have you been on Zoetrope?