I Blame Ninjas

A Screenwriting Blog

  • Horror

    Filed under Screenwriting
    Oct 13

    Check out 25 Things You Should Know About Writing Horror by Chuck Wendig. My produced Invocation short scripts are horror, and most of my earlier feature specs are horror-tinged — starting out as horror, and migrating in rewrite to more action-adventure with ghosts or what-have-you. I’m also contemplating a contained horror script as my next project, since most of my other feature specs are fairly big-budget.

    An excerpt:

    7. Dread and Revulsion in an Endless Tango
    Beneath plot and beneath story is a greasy, grimy subtextual layer of pacing — the tension and recoil of dread and revulsion. Dread is a kind of septic fear, a grim certainty that bad things are coming. Revulsion occurs when we see how these bad things unfold. We know that the monster is coming, and at some point we must see the wretchedness of the beast laid bare. Dread, revulsion, dread, revulsion.

  • Road Map

    Filed under Screenwriting
    Oct 10

    I listened to a John August-Craig Mazin podcast over the weekend on outlining and the daily writing process, and picked up a good tip. Towards the end of the ‘cast, August mentions that after he finishes writing , he beats out the next three scenes before he knocks off so he’s never starting from scratch the next day. I like that idea a lot, because getting going in the mornings can sometimes be a bear if I’m not already in the middle of something. Of course, I have an outline, so I know generally where I’m heading, but I typically don’t outline down to the scene level so it’s not always crystal-clear exactly how I’m going to get there.

  • Oct 4

    A great analysis of a director’s guild event in which James Cameron and JJ Abrams talk about Steven Spielberg’s films, this one dealing with the importance of tone and emotional resonance in his movies. Basically, having a human story of some kind at the core of your screenplay.

    Or, as Pete Docter puts it in the production notes for Up, talking about Disney animator Joe Grant:

    I got to know Joe when he was in his 90s. He was a friend of mine-this great old wise guy. Every time I would show him something we were working on he’d say, ‘What are you giving the audience to take home?’ That was his way of telling me it’s the emotion-the character-based emotions that people are going to remember.

    That’s something I really work on in my own scripts – you can have all the action and spectacle in the world, but if there’s no heart, you don’t have much of a movie.

  • Aug 24

    Well, it’s sure not having your blockbuster movie flop. Sean Hood, brought in as a script doctor to rewrite the screenplay during production, shares what it’s like to discover you’ve written a bomb.

  • Aug 23

    A note on the title: A few years back, I wrote Terra Primate, a roleplaying game about intelligent apes adapting rules from the zombie game All Flesh Must Be Eaten for Eden Studios. I joked that if we had a Conquest of the Planet of the Apes-style chapter, we ought to title it All Apes Must Be Beaten. But we didn’t, so we didn’t. The neat thing about writing is that no idea’s ever really wasted; you almost always find a way to work them into something else. But I don’t endorse the beating of apes. Even ape ninjas.

    Anyway, the Save the Cat site has posted a beat sheet for Rise of the Planet of the Apes, breaking down the structure, that’s worth a look.

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