Script Frenzy

Years ago everyone wanted to write the Great American Novel, whatever that meant, but that changed and suddenly everyone was writing scripts. If they weren't writing them they were writing about writing them or getting ready to write them or they were thinking about writing them or perhaps thinking about getting ready to write them. Certainly if you were at a party and made the mistake of saying you're a screenwriter you'd have to listen to twenty plots, ten offers to give you ideas in exchange for a mere 80% of the profits or you'd have to listen to the entire life story of a character from someone who assured you that the script was all written in their heads, they just needed to take the time to get it down on paper. So maybe after listening to other people go on and on about their unwritten scripts you lost faith in your own story or you decided you'd be the only person in the world not working on a script. But maybe you kind of regret that and sometimes lie awake thinking about your wonderful zombie character or your perfect romantic heroine with more spunk than sense or your brave and noble space captain dedicated to wiping the enemy off the face of the asteroid hurtling towards earth. Luckily for you it's not only not too late to write your script, June is actually the perfect time to dive into your ninety minute comedy about a genetically enhanced velociraptor and his hilarious misadventures as he goes for his Harvard law degree.

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The Office of Letters and Light, the same company that brought us NaNoWriMiMo, strikes again with Script Frenzy, your opportunity to join thousands of fellow budding (after all it is spring - ouch, sorry) screenwriters from all over the world, in writing a full length feature screenplay during the month of June. But wait, you say, that's not fair, June is half over. While it is true that June is about a third of the way finished you can still take part in this monumental undertaking because the word count is quite doable. While NaNoWriMo asks us to write 50,000 words in 30 days Script Frenzy is a mere 20 grand. You can do that in your sleep, right?

I hear you grumbling about how you don't know how to do all that fancy script formatting. You can read the Script Frenzy introduction to formatting page to get a general idea of how the page should look. One of the nicest things about writing scripts is all the blank space. You can fill up pages very quickly because most of the page is left blank, especially when you're writing dialogue. If you've never seen a screenplay before you may want to take some time to read a few before you start. Here, as always, Uncle Google is your friend. You can Google the name of your script plus the word script or screenplay and if you're lucky you'll find a copy of the script at a repository like Drew's Script-O-Rama. You can also sometimes find them as DVD extras or at the website of your favorite film. For instance I downloaded the PDF screenplay for Pan's Labyrinth from the official website when I was there watching the documentary and the other extras posted online.

If you're anything like me you're far too lazy to spend all that time and energy formatting your script, or even typing your character names over and over. There are a million script programs out that will do the formatting for you and most of them will also keep track of your sluglines (the line that says where the action is taking place, i.e. INT. AIRPORT - DAY) so all you have to do is type the first letter(s) of the name of your deep sea explorer or her lab hidden deep in a volcano and the software will fill in the rest for you. You just hit enter and concentrate on your brilliant and sparkling dialogue. I've used several programs and am currently very happy with Celtx, a free open source project.

Let's say you're all ready to write your script but you don't have a plot. Script Frenzy foresaw this possibility and designed a plot generator consisting of three parts. I grabbed a few from the site for you. 1) "In a world where sleep must be paid for a nuclear physicist with a broken heart plans a campout in a haunted bayou." Or 2) "At the behest of a dying relative an out of work lion tamer must smuggle druids across the border." Or three, a plot you just know will be teeming with tension because it plays on an ancient hatred; "In a world where cats are currency a showtune singing linebacker is kept as a pet by hyperintelligent dogs." If none of those suit your fancy you may want to try the They Fight Crime website, which will give you a pair of crime fighters you can use as your characters such as the duo in this example, "He's a one-legged playboy librarian with a secret. She's a manipulative belly-dancing mechanic who inherited a spooky stately manor from her late maiden aunt. They fight crime!" I think I've been to see some films that could have benefited from a plot generator like this. One Crazy Summer anyone?

You're almost ready to go so let me give you one last piece of advice. You're bound to have questions along the way such as how much c4 does it take to blow up a speedboat or which is more expendable, the spleen or the liver? The forums at Script Frenzy are an excellent place to look for the answers to these types of questions as well as motivation to hit your daily word count and a place to just complain about how difficult the whole writing process is. Or conversely brag about how you wrote 20 pages of dialogue while watching Scheming Housewives. You can also post your daily word count in your profile and feel a sense of pride as you inch closer to your goal.

One-Paragraph Review

This week's one-paragraph review is from Link, who reviews Legend of Zelda 2, just released on the Wii as a download, saying, "Still as sexy and fun as it was when it released twenty years ago. Side scrolling rules!" Have you got a one-paragraph (or smaller) review you'd like to share? Send it in to me and I'll run the most interesting ones. You can reach me at