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The Creative Screenwriting Cyberspace Open – Part 1 Nov 03

Cyberspace Open

Wading in to Competition

A few weeks back, I entered the annual Cyberspace Open screenwriting tournament put on by the people that produce the wonderful Creative Screenwriting magazine and hold the Screenwriting Expo in Los Angeles.

For the first round, the rules of the competition were simple — write a 3 to 5 page scene, based on a premise provided, over the weekend. Those who made it to the quarterfinals would then have to do the same thing with another premise, but within a 16 hour period (overnight). The finalists would then need to write a 3 to 5 page scene in only 1.5 hours.

Why such a tight timeline?

Ostensibly, the tight constraints were meant to simulate the conditions that exist in the “real world” of Hollywood. Often times writers will be given the assignment of rewriting a scene over a weekend, overnight, or even during production (if say a scene just isn’t working on the day, and a Director wants it rewritten — stat)!

But wait!

There’s a significant difference, however, between this real world scenario and the rules of the competition. Can you spot it?

In the real world you’re rewriting a known product. This devilish competition requires that you come up with your own original idea and characters for your scene (25% of the score was based on your scene’s “originality”).

As most writers know, developing and fleshing out a unique concept alone can take days. So this competition was deceptive in its difficulty.

The Premise

Here’s the premise we were given:

“Your PROTAGONIST is in a jam. He (or she) had been relying on deception in order to further his objective, but his ENEMY has figured out the ruse. Write the scene in which your protagonist’s LOVE INTEREST confronts him with this information acquired from the enemy — while staging it in a tricky or dangerous situation.”

Tricky situation is right!

The Results

Fortunately I had a generous judge from the Paula Abdul school of scoring, and made it to the quarterfinals.

My total score was: 95/100 (Structure: 24/25 | Style: 24/25 | Dialogue: 23/25 | Originality: 24/25). This year, you needed a score of 93 to advance. Apparently no one has ever earned a perfect score.

If anyone’s interested, you can read my scene here.

Round 2 — the overnighter — presented some unexpected difficulties. But that is a story for another time…

Category: My Experiences
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9 Responses
  1. mlawrence says:

    Trevor, thanks for making your cyberspace expo initial entry available. I could see why you received a 95 and I only got 87. I learned something from your piece. Very generous of you.


  2. Trevor Mayes says:

    Hey Mlawrence,

    Thanks for the post. I’m really glad my entry helped you. Stay tuned for my follow-up article about Round 2… where everything goes pear-shaped. 🙂


  3. mlawrence says:

    still waiting to hear about round 2


  4. Trevor Mayes says:

    Ha! You’re right. Okay, I’ll make that today’s topic. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. […] couple of weeks ago I wrote an article about my experience in the first round of the Creative Screenwriting Cyberspace Open writing tournament. After spending a weekend crafting […]

  6. […] My last distraction got me to the quarterfinals of the Creative Screenwriting Cyberspace Open competition ↩ If you like this post, please share it: […]

  7. Sean says:

    I recently partook in the new Spring 2010 CS Open. They are doing it a bit different than last year, and we won’t be getting our scenes back for another couple weeks or so. So, I was hittin’ up Google to see if anyone posted their scenes or were blogging about it or… well, just basically seeing if there were anybody else sharing the pain of patience.

    Then I stumble across this. I see its from last year and I wasn’t really into reading stuff from last year, but there is nothing else much out there, so I check it out. I read your scene.

    It is very interesting how similar it is to my First Round scene from LAST year. Like yours mine takes place in a circus tent, like yours mine features a ringleader/speiler, like yours mine takes place mostly on the trapeze… like yours mine garnered a 95.

    Interesting, no?

    I’m curious what they said aobout your scene. I personally enjoyed it. Dig your style.

    Anyway, just thought I’d share. It was a bit of a coincidence. Especially since we wrote them at the same time. Good Luck on future writing!

  8. Trevor Mayes says:

    Hey Sean! Thanks for the post.

    Quite the wacky coincidence indeed. I think it merits a follow-up via email…

  9. […] The first (and last) time I entered Creative Screenwriting’s Cyberspace Open, it was a very, ahem, gut-wrenching experience. […]

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