Fountain for Scriptwriting

I recently discovered fountain, a markdown syntax specifically designed for script writing. i have done a couple of experiments with it, both quite successful. The real test though is how well it imports into Celtx, my script writing software of choice. And I must say it works pretty well. i had to make a couple of minor corrections with parentheticals. I made a couple of errors when I composed the base document, but that was easily remedied and when I corrected the base document, it imported cleanly.

I have been an avid user of Celtx for years. The product is solid and has a robust user community. Their updates are well thought out and their Studio application/eco-system that supports more than just writing scrips is great for those on a budget. The only negative is that it is web based (with some features available for iOS). In most cases this is not a big show stopper, unless, like me, you are disconnected when you do your primary writing. The iOS apps do allow for off-line editing, but what about when I am using my Linux desktop?

Celtx no longer supports their desktop client (and I never could get it to run on Linux properly), so for these situations, the fountain format is a great find. It has a robust ecosystem around it and is also good for those who are just starting out and looking for an entry into script writing.

Experienced script writers will like a number of power features that allow you to go from treatment to script in the same document, depending on how you post-process it. And because it is an open standard, it allows you to store and reprocess scripts over time. A major plus as the software landscape is always changing.

Another nice feature is the ability to embed script segments into a blog with a nice WordPress plug in. As you can see, it is quite a nice little feature, and no additional work on my part than wrapping the text.

INT. LIVING ROOM – DAY

The door crashes open and BILL TURNER crashes into the room, blood pouring from two gun shot wounds. He is holding his abdomen as he staggers and falls to his knees. ALICE GEORGE is sitting on the couch.

ALICE

(screams)

Who are you! What are you doing here?

BILL

Currently bleeding. Call 9-1-1!

Bill falls to the floor.

If you are not already familiar with it, I encourage you to look into it and see if it fits your needs. I am more than happy with what it provides.

Camp Nanowrimo

CNW_Participant_FacebookIt is April, and at least in Washington, DC, that thing called climate change is in full affect. And by full, I mean temperatures are below normal and we are likely to go from winter into full summer with no spring. It feels like November, so, why not write? It is time for Camp Nanowrimo, or as the old guard used to call it Script Frenzy. And while you can write a script, that month dedicated to just writing scripts has expanded. Again, the goal is 50,000 words in 30 days, or about 1,667 words a day. As today is April 4, and I have yet to come up with much of an idea about what I want to write, this may end faster than it began, but it may also prove out to be successful. I have been known to turn and burn on a book, or script in fifteen days. So all hope is not yet lost.

But, if you have ever wanted to write that great insert your nation here novel, this is your chance. Anyone can do it. So, what are you waiting for? 1,700 words takes as little as an hour a day to crank out. All you have to do is start.

November is almost over

Winner-2014-Square-ButtonI did not tout National Novel Writing Month this year because, frankly, I did not think I had the time to participate, and if I did, I was pretty sure I would not have the time to finish successfully. After several years of not making it, I just did not want to get my hopes up. And if I had reported out a week ago, I would be telling you that it was not looking good. I had lost almost a week of writing, which, when you have to crank out more than 1600 words a day to be successful, means a loss of almost 10,000 words. That is a huge margin to make up when you are shooting for 50,000. So I was not hopeful that my story would make the word count. But a couple of lucky breaks and a burst of imagination and I have not only passed the 50K word count to be successful, but I have still some story to write, and should be able to actually complete the story too.

So if you think you cannot write a novel, I am here to assure you that you can. And if you are still struggling to get to the end, keep pushing. It is not over, until it is over!

National Novel Writing Month Is Here

It is that time of year again, time for that group of crazy people who feel they have the “Great <insert nation> Novel” buried somewhere deep inside them just straining to break out.  It is NaNo time!

For those not familiar with this annual marathon, it is a chance for you, the budding novelist, to sit down and write that story. The goal is 50,000 words in 30 days (about 1,600 words a day).  And while it seems like a big commitment, I am pretty sure it is something most people can do.  I know some NaNoIsts that pass 200,000 words.  Some people prepare for the year before hand, others, like me, just sit down on Day One and write. In either case, it is time to write!

See you in December!

Camp Nanowrimo

2013-Participant-Campfire-Square-ButtonApril 1, 2013 is a very busy day. It is Opening Day for Major League Baseball, it is April Fools Day, and it is the first day of Camp Nanowrimo.  Now, normally, I would not be too excited about that this year, especially since April is when I traditionally do Script Frenzy. In June last year, I reported that the Office of Lights and Letters had decided to terminate the annual script writing contest. So I was not particularly looking forward to April this year.  But lo and behold, as part of the April CampNanowrimo, you can write a script!  From the official FAQ:

Former Frenziers and scriptwriting novices unite! To determine your word-count goal for a script, just take the number of pages you’d like to write and multiply it by 200.

So, I am going to have to put my mind to it and see if I can find the bandwidth to write a script between all the other work that has to be done.  I do like the art of writing a script!

NaNoWriMo 2012

NaNoWriMoParticipant November 1 means the start of the National Novel Writing Month! Now lest you think this insanity is just happening here in the Excited States of America, let me set the record straight.  NaNo is world wide!  There are people in Asia who are close to starting on Day 2 of this 30 day descent in to insanity and novel writing.  The goal: 50,000 words in 30 days (that works out to about 1700 words a day).  If you think that is a trivial amount of writing, then I encourage, nay, I challenge you to participate.  This will be my fourth year, and so far, I have no clue what I am going to write about.  I just know that 30 days from now, I will be a little greyer and hopefully, I will have cranked out some sort of novel.  It might be like last year, where the novel crossed the mark but was never really finished as a story, or maybe it will be like 2009 where I not only crossed the finish line, but also finished the story.  I am certainly hoping I do not repeat 2010 where I not only did not cross the finish line, but I barely got out of the starting blocks – a paltry 4,000 words written.  I could say I had a good excuse – and I did, a new job, and very busy getting acclimated, but really, I did not feel inspired and so I did not write.

So, sharpen your pencil, grab your word processor, and dive into that novel.  The motto of the month is “No Plot, No Problem,” so do not let anything stand in your way!  Skip the laundry!  Put out a month of food for the pets, and tell your family you will see them in December (you wanted an excuse not to visit the in-laws for Thanksgiving anyway right?) and get writing!

I will see you at the end!

The End of Script Frenzy

NaNoWriMo Corporate logo This morning, I received some sad news.

… [T]he OLL Board of Directors voted last month to end Script Frenzy.

Their reasons for discontinuing this yearly adventure are sound and I certainly can empathize with the costs of maintaining the infrastructure required to support what is essentially a self-driven effort with no real tangible value outside of bragging rights of the individual author, or script writer in this case.  I will miss Script Frenzy.  I have found that I like writing scripts more than I like writing stories, and the month-long challenge was a great incentive for me to challenge myself to produce something, despite the distractions of the normal day.  It was an escape and chance to be creative for a couple of hours a day before returning to the real world, even if I did not have time this year to participate this year.

I am glad that the Script Frenzy pieces will be integrated into the main site.  Maybe they will open up NaNoWriMo to include the option to write a script.  But even if they do not, it will not keep me from occasionally sitting down and trying to write a script if the mood takes me.  And I thank the folks at the Office of Lights and Letters for introducing me to the art of script writing.

NaNo Winner!

NaNo Winner There are still three days left in November, and many of my fellow NaNoWriMo participants are in the home stretch. Over the weekend, Saturday to be specific, I passed the 50K mark and qualified for the win, without even having finished the story, which is a first for me. Not the not finishing part – actually a number of my stories are never finished, but getting past the mark and still having a story to tell. That is a a first. Of course, now that the pressure of making the mark is done, I might never finish the story, even though there is lots to write – like several battle scenes.

The fact that the story is not finished is not a bad thing.  The key here is to have made the effort.  So my hat is off to my fellow writers that cross the line and have finished their stories.  And for those of you that started down the road, keep plugging away, you still have a few days before the deadline.

It’s NaNo Time!

NaNo Participant It is the first of November, and that means it is time once again to put pen to paper (or electrons to screen) and dive into the National Novel Writing Month. Professional Nanites have already been banging away since Midnight local time instead of out celebrating Hallowe’en and if the bragging statistics are any indication, many are well on their way to their first 50,000 words.

I do not take it that seriously. In fact, I tend to adapt Chris Baty’s No Plot, No Problem outlook on the event. In other words, I just sit down and start writing whatever comes into my head and with luck, I will cross the 50K goal line in 30 days. This is my third attempt at the feat. Last year, circumstances overcame me and I did not make it across the finish line. In fact, I don’t think I banged out more than a couple of hundred words before being overcome by other events. The year before I crossed the line with a space-based military piece. This year, I am thinking something swords and sorcery-based, but we will see what happens as the month progresses.

For me, this is an exercise in can I do it. I have not been writing much this year and lately I have been working with a couple of ideas, so I have high confidence that I have some ideas floating around. The longer, harder issue, is getting them out of my head and down onto paper in 30 days and more than 50,000 words. And if you think that is easy, I encourage, nay, challenge you, to follow along yourself. After all, it is just a little over 1,500 words a day. Piece of cake.

See you at the end!

April 26, 102 Pages

ScriptFrenzy WinnerApril has come and gone (almost) and like last year, I threw myself into Script Frenzy!  This is the second year I have done this and I must be crazy.

The goal is to write 100 pages of original scripted material, such as a screen play, stage play, graphic novels in 30 days.  If you think you would like to write the next great Insert your country here Novel, then you need to wait for November, when NaNoWriMo kicks in.  I have done that too.  Last year was not quite as successful as the year before, but stuff got in the way.

This time, though, I promised myself that I would get it done before the deadline.  And I almost did not make it.  Disasters at work distracted me.  Not really having an idea for the script derailed the first couple of days of writing and then having something crop up just as it looked like there were a few extra days in the month actually reduced my writing time by about 10 days to a little over 20.  Now last year, in less than fifteen days, I pumped out 106 pages without breaking a sweat and probably could have done another thirty.  This time I struggled to get to 102 and I am not finished with the story.  What does it always work out that way?

I am going to chalk it up to the creative process and leave well enough alone.  I will probably come back and finish it – if I can find the time, but for now, it is enough to know that I made 100 pages, with a fairly coherent script, and even if the plot wobbles a bit, I am happy with what I have accomplished.

Now I can start preparing for November!