Screenplay: The Frenzy – Always Start with an Exercise

Even when I’m in the middle of a screenplay I’m excited about, when I start out writing for the day, I still find myself procrastinating to the page. I have found that by far the best way to work on a screenplay each day is to start with warm-up exercises. It makes sense, right? It’s like stretching before running. It’s tough to just start working on the script where you left off. Warm-up exercises not only get your brain cells moving, they can inspire that next scene, help you discover something about your characters that you didn’t know before, and help you to find deeper meaning in your story. The most exciting thing about warm-up exercises is when they surprise you. When that AHA seems to come out of thin air. It’s magical....

Screenplay: The Frenzy – Preparing Part 2: The Outline!

Many screenwriters I know hate writing outlines (and loglines and summaries and treatments). I’ve approached each feature I’ve written in a different manner, trying to find the ultimate way of getting the story outlined. By far, the most successful technique I’ve found (the one that made the story flow from my fingers) was the “sequence” approach. I have my own adaptation of this that I call “Beats and Sequences.” I think each writer has to find what works for them. I studied the 3-act, the hero’s journey, Sid Field’s & Michael Hague’s approaches, which you can easily find on line. But I never connected with anything as much as the sequence approach, which is taught in the USC screenwriting program....

Screenplay: The Frenzy – Preparing for the Challenge

Wow, I noticed it’s been over a YEAR since I posted my last Screenplay: The Exercise entry. Guess I’ve been busy. And I’ve been working on the accidental novel launch, which is in two months. Woo-hoo! But now it’s time to dust off my DIY Screenplay Kit because April is SCRIPT FRENZY MONTH! What’s that? you ask. Why Script Frenzy is a writing event in which participants take on the challenge of writing 100 pages of scripted material during the month of April. Feature film, play, TV show, graphic novels all count for the challenge. People who know me know how much I love a good screenwriting challenge. A feature in 30 days? Piece of cake! (famous last words) I challenge you to finish in 21 days and spend the rest of the time editing....

Can I get a hey? a hip-hip-hooray? a WHEW! (Brigitta is on the loose)

At long last… no seriously…loooooong laaaaaast… I just handed (okay, I e-mailed) the FINAL DRAFT of my accidental novel Brigitta of the White Forest to my copy editor. It’s officially out of my hands. Do you even know how unreal it was to let it go? This story began in late 2002 when I was visiting my brother’s partner in her most-awesome store EARTH CENTRAL. A cavern of magical items, books, tarot cards, and piles of faerie-like clothing. I was tending her store and pondering something my EX-screenwriting agent had said to me after reading my 3rd dark, dysfunctional, indie dramedy. Danika, could you please write something BIGGER? Bigger I thought… something more mainstream… something with merchandising potential,...

Hit n Strum Wraps… on to PitchMarket 2010!

Last week we wrapped on Hit n Strum… for the most part. There are still a few minor scenes that need picking up, but for the majority of our team, it’s time to move on. Other gigs are calling, our spouses and loved ones want to see us, and the volunteer members of the crew are down to their last boxes of cereal. I have to say this was one of the best things I have ever done in my life and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together in the editing room. Half scripted, half spontaneous guerrilla shoot, and all magic. See the older couple on the far left? Those are the director’s parents. His Dad drove the cast and crew around. And his mom (in the sunglasses) made the crew breakfast every morning during the shoot. I’m gonna miss her....

The Inside Story from the Inside Passage

It’s almost 11 pm and I still haven’t finished packing. I’ll be out the door at 6:45 AM to drive down to Seattle to catch the Celebrity Infinity cruise to Alaska. I’ve never taken a cruise before, and frankly I’d never wanted to until I found out about Dara Mark’s class Engaging the Feminine Heroic, which takes place on the ship. It’s billed as a “7-Day Women Writers’ Retreat at Sea” and it’s going to be a blast. Dara Marks is the author of The Inside Story: the Power of the Transformational Arc. I highly recommend it for those who’d like to develop authentic, character-driven stories. A dozen women, mostly over 40, hanging out for a week at sea and taking a class with Dara Marks. How cool is...