Musings from a young Hollywood professional

Have you ever talked to a screenwriter about bad movies? You really should.

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Your screenplay is weak in those places where it intersects with what you don’t really know about yourself.

Not that you’re a great tangled mystery, but you take most of your own personality for granted and don’t notice it until someone yells at you about it.

Politics and religion and -isms are great examples of this, on an exaggerated scale. You know where you stand and where they stand and that’s conflict.

The blind spots happen on the small scale. Like, do you prefer to follow rules? Be punctual? Donate time and money? Do your share of laundry? Tell white lies? Be considerate of your friends? Are you always the smartest person in the room? Pee with the door open? Are you pretty sure that all happens under everyone’s radar just like it happens under yours?

Rest assured that someone else can’t imagine how you could possibly tolerate yourself.

That is character.

Too many spec scripts have protagonists who take it for granted that they are good and right and completely tolerable.

Get your protagonist out of yourself. Practice by picking one who thinks you are annoying or who annoys you. Put that protag out there, away from you, so you can see all of them.

You will be astonished how fast that protag gets into trouble, stays in trouble and has to change.

Filed under screenwriting screenplay

112,654 notes

You want to say Hi to the cute girl on the subway. How will she react? Fortunately, I can tell you with some certainty, because she’s already sending messages to you. Looking out the window, reading a book, working on a computer, arms folded across chest, body away from you = do not disturb. So, y’know, don’t disturb her. Really. Even to say that you like her hair, shoes, or book. A compliment is not always a reason for women to smile and say thank you. You are a threat, remember? You are Schrödinger’s Rapist. Don’t assume that whatever you have to say will win her over with charm or flattery. Believe what she’s signaling, and back off.

If you speak, and she responds in a monosyllabic way without looking at you, she’s saying, “I don’t want to be rude, but please leave me alone.” You don’t know why. It could be “Please leave me alone because I am trying to memorize Beowulf.” It could be “Please leave me alone because you are a scary, scary man with breath like a water buffalo.” It could be “Please leave me alone because I am planning my assassination of a major geopolitical figure and I will have to kill you if you are able to recognize me and blow my cover.”

On the other hand, if she is turned towards you, making eye contact, and she responds in a friendly and talkative manner when you speak to her, you are getting a green light. You can continue the conversation until you start getting signals to back off.

The fourth point: If you fail to respect what women say, you label yourself a problem.

There’s a man with whom I went out on a single date—afternoon coffee, for one hour by the clock—on July 25th. In the two days after the date, he sent me about fifteen e-mails, scolding me for non-responsiveness. I e-mailed him back, saying, “Look, this is a disproportionate response to a single date. You are making me uncomfortable. Do not contact me again.” It is now October 7th. Does he still e-mail?

Yeah. He does. About every two weeks.

This man scores higher on the threat level scale than Man with the Cockroach Tattoos. (Who, after all, is guilty of nothing more than terrifying bad taste.) You see, Mr. E-mail has made it clear that he ignores what I say when he wants something from me. Now, I don’t know if he is an actual rapist, and I sincerely hope he’s not. But he is certainly Schrödinger’s Rapist, and this particular Schrödinger’s Rapist has a probability ratio greater than one in sixty. Because a man who ignores a woman’s NO in a non-sexual setting is more likely to ignore NO in a sexual setting, as well.

So if you speak to a woman who is otherwise occupied, you’re sending a subtle message. It is that your desire to interact trumps her right to be left alone. If you pursue a conversation when she’s tried to cut it off, you send a message. It is that your desire to speak trumps her right to be left alone. And each of those messages indicates that you believe your desires are a legitimate reason to override her rights.

For women, who are watching you very closely to determine how much of a threat you are, this is an important piece of data.

an excerpt from Phaedra Starling’s “Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced” (via lostgrrrls)


Can every one of my male followers read this? And please, before you get defensive (“I would never rape anyone!”) keep in mind, women being afraid of Shrodinger’s Rapists (oh my god i still can’t get over the encompassing brilliance of this phrase) is a conditioned, learned response from being immersed in rape culture and the evolution of sexism and sexual violence in our society from the day we’re born. And unfortunately, it’s very difficult to unlearn without the efforts of all genders to dismantle it. Which is where you come in.

(via lil-ith)

Printing this out on flyers and dropping it from the sky

(via therapsida)

“So if you speak to a woman who is otherwise occupied, you’re sending a subtle message. It is that your desire to interact trumps her right to be left alone. If you pursue a conversation when she’s tried to cut it off, you send a message. It is that your desire to speak trumps her right to be left alone. And each of those messages indicates that you believe your desires are a legitimate reason to override her rights.”

If someone could scream this from the rooftops for me, I’d be most appreciative.

(via therothwoman)

(via aletteronastring)

143,138 notes



isnt it odd how the human mind expands inwardly forever

i can build characters and worlds and universes and define new laws of nature

construct stories and timelines and fit it all together inside my own head

and yet i can’t draw a fUCKING LAMP

Thank you

(via ladybitchtits)

3 notes

Anonymous asked: Hey there, I am writing the screenplay for a movie that is in 3 parts. ( not sure if I put it right -_- ) ... Anyway, all my endings are kind of open. First-would you say it's a good idea, that is if I can pull it off ? Second-how to pick it up after an open ending ? Expectations die off with the beginning of the second movie ... I feel like a whole different world takes place that somehow has to be tied down around the previous one ... I have all my mids and ends bud the beginnings ... Thanks !

Do you mean a sorta vignette movie?  Like Pulp Fiction or The Fall or the Original Mash Movie or Deep Impact?

Those movies are difficult, but (obviously) doable.  I’d suggest watching those, do a beat sheet following them, and figure it out? 

I’ve never written one before, so I can’t offer much suggestions besides to copy the greats.

Filed under ask anonymous screenplay screenwriting vignette

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Anonymous asked: How do you overcome the feeling that you're not being honest, when writing? I'm channeling my feelings which may be rooted in depression, as well as an eating disorder (not otherwise specified), into a story using fictional characters, and while I hit tons of markers for these two issues, I also feel like I'm dramatizing myself, because I've never been clinically diagnosed. I feel like people will read it and think I've made shit up for dramatic effect, even though I truly haven't.

(FIRST THINGS FIRST there is nothing wrong with dramatizing yourself.  Most people have the opinions that every character has something, however small or big, in common with yourself.  And dramatizing things for the sake of writing just makes good art.)


Well, one of the joys of writing is that people should automatically assume it’s NOT you. So you can gleefully hide behind things, and if people think you’re making shit up for dramatic effect, you can point them to RESEARCH!

It’s joyous.

Seriously though, if you fictionalize something, keep to the emotional honesty, and you’ll be good.

For example, one time when I was struggling with anxiety and control in my life, I wrote a character of an assassin, one who meticulously plans every aspect of their life, and who feels threatened, and has stuff taken out of their control on their spaceship, and feels tons of anxiety over the things happening in their life.

And it was probably the most emotionally honest thing I’ve ever written.  Because I wrote the core of the emotions that I was having into a (quite fantastical) world.  But the emotions remained true AND because I was writing about an assassin on a spaceship, no one accused me of making up shit about anxiety for dramatic effect.  I was, quite literally, dramatizing an aspect of myself.  And it worked.

Do you get my drift?

You can pour your emotions and your depression into your writing, and you can keep the core emotions there and change whatever details you want.  And, I’ve found, keeping things honest in that way is a nice way of dealing with things.



IF you wanted to write a thinly veiled version of your life, I would suggest changing a few things, to provide yourself and your criticizers with some distance. Character dealing with depression just like you are? Change their age.  Or their lot in life. Or their location. Or the things they effect it. You can still keep the emotions of the depression, but changing things can help you and them realize that you are writing a thing of fiction, and that they can’t accuse you of things.

For me (and I know I’m speaking only for myself here) whenever I set a character a bit TOO close to me, I start to get uncomfortable.  Like, I’ve tried several times to write my background into a script, and it just don’t work.  BUT if I take one aspect of it and put it in a different characters background, it works like a charm.

Filed under ask anonymous writing characters tw depression tw anxiety emotional honesty