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  1. #31
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    I enjoy reading screenplays as much as I enjoy reading novels.

    Me, too. A well written screenplay is a pleasure to read.

    I took plenty of writing classes, seminars and workshops when I was younger. Some were useful, some a snore. It depends on the quality of the teacher and the other writers.

    And I took a screenwriting workshop as well - after I had read screenplays and decided it was something I would like to try. I'm not opposed to taking classes. I think anything a writer wants to do is fine. We don't all have the same level of interest or need.

    I think the best way to start is by reading. That is why I tell fiction writers to read novels. And it is why I tell potential screenwriters to read screenplays. In my opinion, there's no better way to begin.
    Last edited by leslee; 02-25-2012 at 11:41 AM.



  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liza B. View Post
    What you call "foundational support" is actually a hackneyed, color-by-numbers script building formula that the majority of screenwriting workshops and seminars teach. Newbies can even buy screenwriting software that will follow those same guidelines and practically write the script for them. But what they really do is sap originality and true creativity. You may think the writer is free to be creative within such a predetermined structure, but that's like saying they can pick whichever crayons they like to color within the lines.
    What I call foundational support gives a writer the tools to draw his own lines. But I also believe that stories are not hackneyed or color by numbers because your first act is around twenty five pages. A story is hackneyed or color by numbers because of what happens on those first twenty-five pages.

    Quote Originally Posted by Liza B. View Post
    It's because I value structure so highly that I'm against such processed, derivative, unoriginal approaches to writing. And it's why so many of the most successful directors and screenwriters were kicked-out of or flunked film school; they were against cliche formulas, too, and recognized that such formulas are stifling, and actually diminishes the art of film. They were brave enough to forge ahead and find their true voices.
    This is unmitigated crap. A script is not processed or derivative or unoriginal or formulaic because it has a three act structure or because you consciously insert an inciting incident. Again it's what you do in the three acts, what occurs in that inciting incident that is or is not formulaic. And there are many directors and screenwriters who graduated from film school who have not been stifled by learning Syd Field's paradigm. Who are fresh and original and talented who have a true voice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Liza B. View Post
    You go ahead and believe that, Simon, if it feeds your ego. But it makes you sound insecure and amateurish.
    It sounds amateurish for me to mention my professional experience of working with (and teaching) other writers to back up my opinions that there are writers who can benefit from seminars or classes or other kinds of formal learning?

    Are you saying that just because you haven't met a talented writer who needed a seminar that no talented writers do? That because you haven't come across one, there can't be one. That because you don't need one, no one else with talent does? That sounds to me to be a statement that comes from your ego.

  3. #33
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    It sounds amateurish for me to mention my professional experience of working with (and teaching) other writers to back up my opinions that there are writers who can benefit from seminars or classes or other kinds of formal learning?
    No, it's your constant insistence that you "most certainly" have a "better understanding of what's helpful to other writers" than I do. A belief that you've stated more than once here:

    ...and those statements fly in the face of what I've witnessed working with literally hundreds of writers, then, yes I'm going to stick with the belief that I may very well - no let's change that to most certainly - have a better understanding of what's helpful to other writers than you do.
    I've found that the higher up on the ladder, the more humble and generous people are. Not always, of course, but quite frequently. Those highly successful individuals are secure within themselves, and don't feel the need to put others down in order to feel powerful. More often it's the insecure bottom feeders and wannabes who have a deluded sense of self-importance and take pleasure in demeaning others.
    Last edited by Liza B.; 02-25-2012 at 04:32 PM.

  4. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Liza B. View Post
    I've found that the higher up on the ladder, the more humble and generous people are. Not always, of course, but quite frequently. At least that's been my experience. Those individuals are secure within themselves, and don't feel the need to put others down in order to feel good about themselves. It's often the insecure bottom feeders and wannabes who have a deluded sense of self-importance and take pleasure in demeaning others.
    I was not focusing on my abilities to help others, only on my personal observations of how other writers were helped by learning structure. The fact that you see this as an expression of my deluded sense of self importance says far more about you than it does about me.

    As for putting people down - you were the one who said that talented people learn about structure by reading scripts and pooh poohed the idea that there are talented writers who can learn by studying structural paradigms and can create good work by using them. You are the one who is being insulting and condescending to those who use structural paradigms to develop their stories - claiming they are hackneyed and color by numbers.

    I think suggesting someone is a bottom feeder is a far greater insult (and possibly a greater sign of insecurity) than my thinking I have a better understanding of what is helpful to other writers because I have witnessed something (writers writing better screenplays after learning structure) that you deny can occur. I’ve seen it, you haven’t. Because you haven’t experienced or seen it, you insist it cannot occur. Which one of us sounds deluded and self-important?

    I can't fathom the mindset that would make you think that I or anyone would feel better about themselves because I thought I had more experience working with others and had a better handle on what tools can help them. Who the F would think that’s a triumph or something that would provide bragging rights? Again this gives far more insight into how your mind works, than mine. My issue with you was you totally negating the use of structural paradigms and your insistence that all screenplays written using them suck. It's an unbelievably narrow minded and insulting position to take.

    As for being generous - as you pointed out to me earlier, you have no idea about me or how much time I dedicate to helping other writers. I have done a lot of pro bono mentoring, teaching, etc. throughout my career.

    As for being humble. I have said very little on this board about my writing, On occasion I have updated on the status of my projects, but I don’t mention the accolades or my A-list/award winning associations – although I noticed you did. I don’t brag about my talent. But I do believe I have talent, I think it’s hard to survive the ups and downs of this business if you don’t believe that you’re good at what you do.

    And I think it’s equally hard to help other writers if you don’t believe that you know what you know and that you have something of value that they don’t know to offer them. That does not make one delusional, it makes one a professional.

    I have contributed to this board for years, offering my feedback and providing my opinions and knowledge when I feel I have something of value to contribute. I am blunt and at times snarky, but I am honest and I participate here (with the exception of smoko where I go to blow off steam) solely with the intention of helping others, because I am fortunate enough to have knowledge and experience that many aspiring writers on this board do not have. If I see some advice that I think is bad or wrong I say so. I will not apologize for that. I thought leslee's original response was incomplete - so I said so. I thought your derogatory comments about formal structure were inaccurate and insulting to many writers - so I said so. You responded and I responded to your response. It's nothing personal, it's just how I am, and based on how many times you've responded to my responses - we seem to be similar on that count at least. I do not come here to feel good about myself, I have a real life where my spirit and ego are fed on a daily basis. If I want to feel good about myself when it comes to writing - I write. Nothing gives me more joy or makes me feel better about myself.

    I don’t know what your issues are with me, and quite frankly I don’t care, but your attacks on MY ability, knowledge, ego and integrity make you seem very small indeed.
    Last edited by Simon Says; 02-25-2012 at 05:33 PM.

  5. #35
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    I thought leslee's original response was incomplete - so I said so.

    My response was not incomplete. It was my response. It was all I wanted to say. And, in that respect, it was complete.

    If you, or fifty other people, want to post additional responses, that's swell. I hope others will respond. The more people responding to a question, the better. I don't think my opinion is more valid than anyone else's opinion on the subject of screenplays. I welcome your viewpoint.

    But it is not my responsibility to express your viewpoint or any other viewpoint or every possible viewpoint, and my response is not incomplete if I don't.

    If you choose to see my response as "incomplete," that is fine. Yes, it must seem incomplete to you since, to your thinking, it has left something out because it didn't include your perspective. However, when you look at things that way, it causes you to take a position (and tone) in which you are setting things right, not simply providing an additional viewpoint - yours.

    I respect your opinion on this subject, Simon, and on writing in general. I just wish you could provide it without the rancor.
    Last edited by leslee; 02-25-2012 at 05:58 PM.

  6. #36
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    I was not focusing on my abilities to help others, only on my personal observations of how other writers were helped by learning structure. The fact that you see this as an expression of my deluded sense of self importance says far more about you than it does about me.
    You keep twisting things, Simon. Obviously, what I was referring to is your belief that you "have a better understanding of what's helpful to writers" than I do.

    ..and those statements fly in the face of what I've witnessed working with literally hundreds of writers, then, yes I'm going to stick with the belief that I may very well - no let's change that to most certainly - have a better understanding of what's helpful to other writers than you do.
    Anyway, your last post is so full of inaccuracies about me, skewed meanings, and more wrong assumptions about my beliefs, as well as your usual sprinkling of insults, that I really have no interest in further engaging with you.
    Last edited by Liza B.; 02-25-2012 at 05:56 PM.

  7. #37
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    Simon, you come across very professional and secure in your own abilities, and it's obvious you know what you're doing. I know several successful screenwriters, and they've always given the same advice that you've given. Your statements sounded very grounded, especially since the arguments you give are detailed, factual, and given in a non-personal non-attacking manner. But I wouldn't even bother to argue this subject anymore if I were you.

    It's funny though, not only do we here at WN encourage new writers to read, read, read, we also encourage them to take writing classes, whether they have innate ability or not. Nor has anybody ever said that taking writing classes would stifle the creativity of new writers, rather the opposite - that it would hone their natural abilities and give them tools they can use for the rest of their lives.

  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by leslee View Post
    [I]I respect your opinion on this subject, Simon, and on writing in general. I just wish you could provide it without the rancor.
    Sometimes what you read as rancor, is merely written as passion and conviction.

  9. #39
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    Thanks Lea, appreciate the support.

  10. #40
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    Sometimes what you read as rancor, is merely written as passion and conviction.

    And sometimes what may be intended as passion and conviction comes across as rancor.

    I can't read your mind and know your intention, Simon. I can only read what you post.
    Last edited by leslee; 02-25-2012 at 06:06 PM.

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