Good Writing Advice

Years ago, my mother saw a book somewhere, and she got it for me because I was a raging Star Trek nerd. It was David Gerrold’s “The making of the Trouble with Tribbles.”

I read it, and it was more than just a “how I wrote it and how they filmed it” story. Although I will say later on I read Gene Coon’s book on Star Trek and he commented that Gerrold’s memory is faulty, and apparently Coon had to re-write the Trouble With Tribbles to make it fit the show.

But essentially, the book was on… how to write a script.


So, since Ninja movies were all the rage, I wrote a bad movie about Ninjas. And literally, I attracted the attention of a local independent movie producer-wannabe, who I worked with eventually to write about four movies. He was never able to get backers and funding, so the projects just died.

Everyone who was supposed to be in the movie went out to see a Ninja movie that came out, and they all told me, “your script is a lot better.”

Well, looking back on it, my script was horrible, so I can’t imagine how bad the other one was!

But that’s how I learned to write Scripts. I sat down with 3X5 index cards, a ball point Bic pen, and wrote out every confrontation I could think of. Some read – fight scene “(Sawyer and Yamoto)”. But you get the idea.

Once I had the two packs of index cards filled out with scenes, I sat down, set up an IBM Selectric with my margins I needed, and wrote the script. I think it took two weeks. I had a meeting with everyone, and they kept asking, “Is it done?” Mind you, they were asking if a 107 page script with a dozen major fight scenes was done after 15 days.

So I handed in the script. One page equals one minute of shooting script, and I had taken five different Chuck Norris movies and figured the average time based on the minute count on the back. I think I had a goal of 107 minutes.

fortunately, the sorry mess never got filmed. It was loaded with action and fight scenes, though.

So… what’s the good advice? “Think of every scene as a confrontation.” If I were teaching script writing in a college, that book would literally be my textbook for the class. Even in Charlotte’s Web, every scene is a confrontation. Fern talks to Wilbur, and time is ticking. Charlotte comes up with a plan to save Wilbur. Templeton goes to get a piece of paper with a word on it.

“It says crunchy.” “No, no, Templeton…”

As you watch your next movie, ask – “who is confronting who in this scene?”

Great way to learn more about movies.


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