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Archive for June, 2011

Laboring over words Jun 23
Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin (just a dude)

I watched The Social Network again last night, but this time with the audio commentary by Aaron Sorkin and various cast members.

Given Aaron Sorkin’s successes and accolades, it’s easy to forget that he’s just a dude with the same writing challenges we face. Sure, he now has unparalleled access to people who can get his scripts made (and he’s probably a supergenius), but he starts with a blank page, just like the rest of us do.

A couple of things popped out at me while listening to the commentary.

1. He says that the hardest part of the process for him is just starting to write.

What? Really? How can that be the case for such a prolific, experienced writer? Yet, it’s true. I was too lazy engaged in the commentary to copy down what he said verbatim, but basically after he spends months researching a project, it’s very hard for him to start the script.

He struggles to figure out his way in to the story. For him, that’s the hardest part.

2. He labors over his words

The dialogue in The Social Network is so smart, snappy and authentic that I sometimes picture Aaron Sorkin writing stream of consciousness, as fast as his little hands can type.

So it was encouraging to hear him talk about scenes that gave him a peculiar amount of trouble.

For example, there’s this scene that takes place after Mark Zuckerberg (Jesse Eisenberg) has just launched the first version of (the)Facebook:

MARK is staring at the computer...

EDUARDO

Mark?

MARK doesn’t hear him. We just see MARK’s head from the back and it’s ever so slightly bobbing back and forth...

EDUARDO

(pause)

Mark?

(beat)

Are you praying?

Well apparently Aaron Sorkin “labored” over the word, “praying.” He wasn’t sure (and still isn’t sure) if he should have used “davening” instead.

I’m not sure what I found more interesting — the fact that he labored over that decision, or that I had no idea what the hell “davening” meant.1

It’s a common issue. You have a word that might be “perfect,” but it’s likely to lose a portion of your audience that isn’t familiar with it.

Sometimes it’s just comforting to know that even Aaron Sorkin grapples with these ridiculous writing problems.


Want me to read your screenplay? Please take a look at my script services.

  1. davening means “To recite Jewish liturgical prayers” (and, in some dictionaries, “to sway or rock lightly”).
29 ways to stay creative Jun 17

Feeling creatively stifled? This quick two minute video gives you 29 terrific ideas for keeping the creative juices flowing.

I used several of these ideas to break through a recent case of writer’s block. Which ones did you find helpful? Are there any tips you would add to the list?

via Neatorama

29 ways to stay creative

Preparing for a meeting Jun 11

Michele  Wallerstein

Preparing for a meeting, any meeting

Guest Post by Michele Wallerstein
Author of:
MIND YOUR BUSINESS: A Hollywood Literary Agent’s Guide To Your Writing Career

Lately I’ve noticed that clients don’t seem to know what they want in their career conferences with me. I offer these conferences to help writers and other would-be filmmaking professionals to help them define and achieve their goals. They pay me a fee and we set up a time and place. Once we have our coffees in front of us and are seated comfortably, there is often a short silence. I wait for their outpouring of questions. They are not forthcoming. “What is it you want me to help you with?” I ask. There is a bit of stammering accompanied by a small grimace. It seems that they just want me to miraculously know what they need and to tell them the brilliant bits of knowledge that will open the magic doors of Hollywood.

Once I see what is happening I explain the procedure to them and try to find out what they need to ask and, more importantly, what they need to know. Often the client doesn’t really know how to get the right information. I have to figure it out for them.

All of this leads me to understanding why some folks get ahead in their fields and why some don’t. You have to know the questions. Take heed people, all meetings are important. They tell who you are. Even silences send out information like arrows to the recipient. Be prepared for your meetings, whether you are paying for them, asking for them, or are asked to be in attendance at them. Think through what the agenda will be or needs to be. Ask friends about their meetings. Figure out what you want to accomplish.

OK, now, dress nicely and go to that meeting.


Michele Wallerstein is a Screenplay & Novel & Career Consultant and author of “MIND YOUR BUSINESS: A Hollywood Literary Agent’s Guide To Your Writing Career“.

Email: novelconsult@yahoo.com
Web site: www.novelconsultant.com

Short Film: Script Cops Jun 10

I’ve been getting some great screenwriting links from my friends lately. I’ll share them with you over the next few days.

Today’s link is to the following hilarious short film by Writer/Director Scott Rice, called SCRIPT COPS.

Script Cops

Sorry, I wasn’t able to embed the video.
Click the image above to view at the filmmaker’s web site.

According to Rice’s web site:

This award-winning parody became a hit Sony Pictures web series. Maverick Award Winner – LAWebFest 2011.

You can view more episodes of SCRIPT COPS here.

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Category: Comedy, Diversions, Links  | 2 Comments