HOW TO MAKE YOURSELF WRITE – TIP #6 SCRIPTMENT
Screenwriting appears easy, because there isn’t a lot of words on the page. But that is only an illusion. Fiction writing is a million times easier than screenwriting, because you have the freedom to use all five of your senses – sight, sound, taste, smell and touch. Which you’ve been taught to do since kindergarten.
But in screenwriting, there are ONLY TWO SENSES you can use. SIGHT and SOUND. And that’s it. Since you’ve been trained to write with all five senses, the limits of WRITING with less than half of these senses can reduce you to an agony unknown to Man — and only known to Dante when he wrote “The Inferno.” Welcome to screenwriting!
Its like writing with one hand tied behind your back. It’s like writing blindfolded. It’s like writing with three senses missing! Like you’re a war veteran who walked on a land mine and can no longer taste, touch or smell (you can only see and hear.. and that is it). And somehow, being limited to these two senses, you’re supposed to be in touch with humanity even more because you’re a fucking screenwriter now — and that’s your job. How can you want to write under these horrible conditions? How can you connect your reader to emotion with just TWO SENSES? How can you make a living with these terrible limits?
Well, I’m going to introduce you to a writing method that circumvents this great challenge. Known as…
What if I told you some professionals, in fact the greatest professional, the most successful filmmaker of all time bypasses the LIMITS of these TWO SENSES with a simple technique. What if I told you this filmmaker actually published said document back in 1995 and still very few screenwriter employ this method?
The filmmaker in question is James Cameron. The published version of the STRANGE DAYS SCRIPTMENT was indeed published in 1995. And yes, very few people know about it. Additionally, screenwriters I discuss this with simply brush me away like I’m in this weird scriptment cult and I should shut up. Seriously, that is how I’m treated.
Now you ask… how can this SCRIPTMENT help you write? How can it free you from the tortuous limits of the TWO SENSE system of screenwriting? What is this SCRIPTMENT?
In this historical published document, Cameron talks freely about how in his FIRST DRAFT, he frees himself from the shackles of screenwriting and does anything he can to just move the writing forward. Although the scriptment is supposed to be combination of script and treatment, it employs ALL FIVE SENSES.
If Cameron is writing and he’s stuck on how to write dialogue, he’ll just write what the character is thinking. If the scene comes to him, he writes the scene. If not, he’ll use another sense. Additionally, he doesn’t worry about sluglines. He doesn’t worry about the numerous screenwriting laws that govern a screenplay. Doesn’t write INT or EXT. He is free to use ALL FIVE SENSES to POWER through his first draft. Screenwriting is so fucking unnatural to the way we normally think. Which makes this technique the freest way to achieve a first draft.
Additionally, why would the most successful filmmaker of all time be wrong, the only writer/director to TWICE IN A ROW achieve the status of highest grossing film of all time (Titanic then Avatar) — an achievement neither George Lucas nor Steven Spielberg can boast.
And guess what? The SCRIPTMENT works magically…
…it not not only helps you create dynamic first draft that offers you every opportunity to nail a taut, engaging second draft (usually, the draft you start showing people aside from your spouse and best friend), but it’s freeing, fun, and expressive. You WANT TO WRITE a SCRIPTMENT. It’s loose and fluid, whereas a script is TIGHT and OVERBEARING.
On top of that, the employment of “the other three senses” becomes engaging, solidly written scenes in your future drafts. It gives you a great sense of what the character wants. It gives your a great sense of your environment, world, what characters eat, drink, where they hang out, because it’s SO FREESTYLE.
It is a wonderful way to MAKE YOU WRITE. Especially if you’re just starting out. I am still puzzled at why so many screenwriters and even amateur screenwriters I meet pooh-pooh the SCRIPTMENT. The method not only helps me maximize my screenplays, but it fills me with a zest and spirit that amplifies my story. YOU actually DESIRE to WRITE with this magical technique. Also, the richest screenwriter of all time can’t be wrong.
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Written by: Norith Soth