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

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.

The hardest thing right now is simply deciding which story to tell.

Exciting, isn’t it?

If you’re on board for the FRENZY, I’ll be posting writing exercises, advice, support, encouragement on my blog as I participate in the event. If you sign up at the frenzy website and become part of your local frenzy scene, there will be meetups happening all month. (Unfortunately I’ll be out of town for Vancouver’s kick-off event on Sunday, March 28 at Blenz at Pacific Centre in downtown Vancouver.)

Having been a screenwriting teacher for several years, I’ve developed (okay, stolen and personalized) several writing exercises as well as created a writing program called “From Start to Finish” – which takes students through a screenplay in 12 weeks. At T.A.N.’s former home over at blogspot, I also hosted several challenges and presented my “Super Scene Writing Formula.”

Since we don’t have 12 weeks, I’ll be taking some of the highlights of that program and reposting them here under my Screenplay: The Exercise series. That will make it happy, since I’ve been neglecting it for so long.


The FIRST thing you need to do is PREPARE to write your screenplay!

Okay, actually, before you do that you need to PICK AN IDEA. Just pick one, pick one, pick one and stick to it the entire month, even when things get crunchy.

If you’re totally stuck, try the PLOT MACHINE on Script Frenzy’s homepage. After a few random pulls I came up with these:

After the Third World War, a group of Star Wars collectors is catapulted into the limelight.

In a post-apocalyptic world, an out of work lion tamer falls head over heels in love with a zombie.

Next, there are many things you can do before you even sit down to do your OUTLINE (which I will discuss in my next post (oh, goodie!) when I share my not-so-secret path towards screenplay outline success).

(CLICK on links for further help/explanation)

1) TALK your story ideas out loud.

2) Work on your LOGLINE.

3) Work on your protagonist’s DILEMMA.

4) Try some PREWRITING exercises.


1) Find a support system, a team of people who’ve got your back. You meet on a regular basis. They can be individuals, a small group, a paid professional.They hold you to your commitments and keep you on purpose.

2) Take a long walk alone. Let your mind wander. Allow all your ideas and stories and characters and images float around in your brain. If you haven’t already, decide on your next project before you get home. Make a mental commitment that when everything else seems more interesting and easier, you will stick with that project. Tell everyone on your team what you’re working on.

3) Buy a notebook and a bunch of your favoutie pens. This notebook is your brainstorming and exercise book for your story. Write the name of your story on the cover. Carry it with you everywhere. Any time you have 5 minutes (on the bus, waiting for a friend, etc), write your ideas down in it (I’ve suggested some start lines below). Do not edit, do not cross out, just write without stopping. DID YOU HEAR THAT?? WRITE, WRITE, WRITE – do not edit.

You can use the startlines below, write character lists (names, ages, descriptions, etc.), or write down what I call “moments.” That’s when a scene hits me and I’m not sure when it goes in the story, but I want to write it down. Scene when Chelle overhears Max getting a girl’s cell phone number and she feels like a bad mom because she can’t afford to get the family a cell phone.


If you find yourself stuck in front of a blank page, here are a few start lines you can try. Remember, write quickly without stopping and without editing. If you run out of things to say, write blah, blah, blah, i can’t think of anything to write about my character Susie because I’ve never known anyone like her… etc.

Also, I use conjunctions to connect ideas and use very little punctuation… keeps things flowing.

This is a story about… (forgiveness, forbidden love, jealousy, revenge…)

Before this story began, my protagonist…

When this story begins, my protagonist…

More than anything, my protagonist wants…

By the end of the story, my protagonist has learned…

What if… (always a good one, just lists when you get stuck on an answer… what if the twins find a kitten? what if Max wants a job? what if her father dies? and then when you strike something that resonates, riff on that for a while… Oh, yeah, Max not only wants a job, he wants to be emancipated and move in with this girlfriend…)

Feel free to mention the project you’ll be working on in the comments. Saying it out loud keeps you more committed to it.

And remember, there are ALL KINDS of writing tips and resources over on the Script Frenzy site.


Filed under behind the scenes, screenplay: the exercise, screenwriting, writing exercises

2 responses to “Screenplay: The Frenzy – Preparing for the Challenge

  1. Yvette

    I am in 🙂 I have my idea and I am going to buy a new notebook today

  2. Yay, Yvette! Hoorah!

    Is this your first feature?

    Did you register over at Script Frenzy to make it official?

    Your avatar looks mad! (either that or determined)

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