New entry May 06
Critters is 25!
This November, Critters is 25 years old! Wow! Thanks so much to all of you, who've made it such a resounding success!
Books from Critters!
Check out Books by Critters for books by your fellow Critterfolk, as well as my list of recommended books for writers.
New Book from a Critter Member**NOW IN PRINT EDITION TOO!** Awesome new book, HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SPECULATIVE FICTION OPENINGS, from a Critter member whose unearthed a shard of The Secret to becoming a pro writer. Really good piece of work. "...if you're at all concerned about story openings, you'd be nuts not to read what Qualkinbush has to say." —Wil McCarthy, author of BLOOM and THE COLLAPSIUM
Stayin' AliveIf you want to make a career of SF writing, STAYING ALIVE - A WRITER'S GUIDE by three-time SFWA President Norman Spinrad, published by your Critter Captain's ReAnimus Press, is an indispensable guide to the inside workings of the SF publishing industry by an expert.
I was interviewed live on public radio for Critters' birthday, for those who want to listen.
Free Web Sites
Free web sites for authors (and others) are available at www.nyx.net.
ReAnimus Acquires Advent!
ReAnimus Press is pleased to announce the acquisition of the legendary Advent Publishers! Advent is now a subsidiary of ReAnimus Press, and we will continue to publish Advent's titles under the Advent name. Advent was founded in 1956 by Earl Kemp and others, and has published the likes of James Blish, Hal Clement, Robert Heinlein, Damon Knight, E.E. "Doc" Smith, and many others. Advent's high quality titles have won and been finalists for several Hugo Awards, such as The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy and Heinlein's Children. Watch this space for ebook and print editions of all of Advent's current titles!
THE SIGIL TRILOGY: The universe is dying from within... "Great stuff... Really enjoyed it." — SFWA Grandmaster Michael Moorcock
Announcing ReAnimus Press
If you're looking for great stuff to read from bestselling and award-winning authors—look no further! ReAnimus Press was founded by your very own Critter Captain. (And with a 12% Affiliate program.) [More]
I’ve noticed that the responses I’ve received for my screenplay all state that they don’t know much about the format, so I wrote a short (820 word) article for the web site about it. If you find it worthy, please feel free to publish it. I can supply it in doc or pdf format, if you prefer.
David A Maisel
Screenplays and Scripts
by David A Maisel
© 2004, David A Maisel
There are three general types of screenplays (movie, hour length TV and half hour length TV) and two associated formats (radio plays and stage scripts). Although each of these five formats have their specific needs, there are many similarities in the way each are presented. This article will present the differences and similarities and give a short selection of general terms used in screenplays.
Movie and Television screenplays generally film one minutes action for each page of script. Movies can film for the entire runtime, but Television has to allow for commercials and station breaks. Therefore, movie screenplays generally consist of 90-125 pages, and television screenplays have 44-50 pages for a one-hour show and 22-25 pages for a half hour show. Radio plays, which are rare but still exist, follow the same page length and production timing guidelines as television screenplays. Stage scripts follow the same guidelines as movie screenplays.
Screenplays and scripts are visually based and present the pictures and sounds exactly as they should appear on screen or on stage. Radio plays as audio based and present only the sounds as they should be recorded and broadcast. As such, there is little character description other than generalities to establish as view and all character development is in the action and conversation. You will find no background or thoughts other than as spoken or shown visually.
Due to the strictly limited amount of time and the tastes of the viewing or listening public, minor anachronisms are acceptable as long as they move the plot along and prevent slow spot in the production. Some example of these anachronisms are:
- A street cop who can defuse a bomb under a moving vehicle
- Finding a clue when you need it instead of having to search for it
- Arriving at a destination within seconds of leaving home
- The hero kills the villain with his/her first shot
Of course, none of these are likely in real life but theyre accepted by the viewer and used to move the action along in the least amount of time.
The format of a screenplay makes it as easy as possible to tell background from action and conversation. All background is left justified and runs the entire length of the page. All conversation is indented left and right and runs down the center of the page. The first time a characters name or designation (COP #1, for instance) is given, it is capitalized. After that, the first letter is capitalized in the background and the name is entirely capitalized in conversation mode.
Names are indented twice in the conversation sections, modifiers are indented one and conversation is not indented and is not placed in quotes. Italics and underlines are used for emphasis. For example (Bobby had been introduced earlier in the screenplay, but Ray has not):
O.S. the doorbell rings.
Crosses to the door,
Hey, man, my car broke down. Can I use your phone?
I guess. Cmon in.
Ray, a large, overly muscled man in a stained tank top and cut off jeans, enters.
(pointing to phone)
Its over there on the stand.
Had Ray entered before speaking, his description would have looked like this:
RAY, a large, overly muscled man in a stained tank top and cut off jeans, enters.
Notice that Rays character is defined by how he looks (a large, overly muscled man in a stained tank top and cut off jeans) and how he speaks (Hey, man . . .). Little more than the minimum to establish the character is given as those decisions are made by the directors, the casting agents and the producers. Background is much the same - the bare minimum to show what is absolutely needed, for example:The stars wheel about in all directions.
PULL BACK and steady the shot to show a spaceship rotating in all three dimensions.
No specific constellations or nearby planets or stars were mentioned. Had they been important, they would have been added.
As you can see, there is nothing in the screenplay which is not see, done or heard by the viewer. As such, this tends to be a very visual format. When writing critiques, please keep this in mind.
Screenplay terms and abbreviations:
BEGIN CREDITS/END CREDITS
(V.O.) or V.O.
(O.S.) or O.S.
SLOW DISSOLVE TO:
FADE IN / FADE OUT
ANGLE ON / NEW ANGLE
|Indoors / Outdoors
Designed credit sequence
Speech interrupted by description or page break
Use to change the scene, as appropriate
Lots of time passage
Voice coming over a phone, radio, etc.
Repeat scene headings
Start and end the script or delineate major sections
Emphasize a detail or a clue
Shift a point of view in a scene
On the giant bug, eating the agent