Thursday, February 4, 2010

Scriptscene offers a contest

Good morning all, Audra here. Wasn't that a great Contest Update posted yesterday?? Hats off to you, Tina! In keeping with the theme of contests, I'd like to introduce Leslie Ann Sartor, contracted screenwriter and my critique partner. Leslie is a member of Scriptscene, a chapter of RWA, and she has some exciting news to share about the chapter contest.

All writers have a lot to learn from all the different genres and mediums, even crossing from the printed page to the big (and little) screen. Discussing writing techniques with Leslie is always a pleasure and an adventure : ) Please help me welcome Leslie to Seekerville!

Thank you so much for allowing me to chat with you all on Seekerville blog. You have the most amazing talented writers who call this blog home. I'm always impressed. And the food!! What are we serving today? I can't wait, I'm starving.

BTW, CONGRATULATIONS again on your new status, that of a PUBLISHED AUTHOR!

I'm here today to promote The Scriptscene annual contest. We've spruced it up, renamed it, and have incredible judges.

But I get ahead of myself. The new name of the contest tells you exactly what it is, Romancing the Script . As Scriptscene is a chapter of RWA you know the script has to contain romance. But it doesn't have to be the A plot, or the B plot, just make sure there is romance in the script.

Another great change is that the contest is open to ALL RWA MEMBERS, not just Scriptscene members. I know there is a lot of interest in screenwriting among our members worldwide AND now this is your chance to get the kind of feedback you'd expect in an RWA contest. Usually in screenwriting contests you have to pay an additional fee for notes. Not in RTS. In fact we have a produced screenwriter as our final judge, who will not only place the finalists but will give detailed notes on the winning script and overview notes on the runner ups.

And as usual for most RWA contests, but something new to us, we have someone who can possibly move your career forward. The Director of Development for Suntaur Entertainment, Zac Sanford, has offered to read the winning script with an eye for developing the potential of it or sending it on to an agent or manager.

WOOHOO, wish I could enter, but alas as Contest Coordinator, I cannot.

Please visit our website and check out Scriptscene and the Romancing the Script contest. Additionally, we will have a mini conference before the Nashville RWA National Conference. Details are being worked out, so keep checking the website for more information, but believe me, the speakers will benefit both writers of novels and screenplays.

Among our speakers, we're excited to introduce Dawn Bierschwal and Jeanne Veillette Bowerman. Dawn and Jeanne have pitched to numerous producers and agents in both large pitchfest settings as well as private meetings and emails. Their success rate of requests is far higher than standard. They'll share with the RWA members a live pitch as well as discuss the mechanics of how to entice the listener into requesting their script to read.

In fact, learning more about screenwriting is a fantastic way to improve your novel writing in countless ways. One way my crit partners always tell me I help them, is I find ways to make their novels MOVE. Remember movies move. I'm not simply talking action I'm talking moving the story forward, the conflict deeper, the peaks higher, the lows into the abyss. And all this is done in roughly 120 minutes. SO, there is a lot to be gleaned from screenwriting experts.

Scriptscene offers:

  • A Listserve (Yahoogroups loop) where members exchange questions & answers, post info about screenwriting and publishing opportunities, classes, contests, etc.

  • The "Romancing the Script" screenwriting contest judged by industry professionals

  • Scriptscene Fast Track Workshops, most of which are free to members

  • Access to the Hollywood Creative Directory on-line

  • The chapter's quarterly newsletter ReWritA Movie Database resource

  • An Annual Meeting with workshops by industry speakers

  • A critique group and Book/ Script in a Week programs are under study

NEW - President Jamie Livingston Dierks has set up chats with industry professionals -- info is on our loops and you must be a member to be a part of the chats.

Want to know us better? Browse our website, let us know if you have questions, then come join one of the fastest growing chapters in RWA!

Please don't hesitate to ask questions. You can find me here today, or at, or at Five Scribes .

Remember, it's all about the writing....


  1. Scriptwriting.

    It scares me. Isn't that silly? Not the screenplay side, the technical side.

    Placing people, things, planning.

    Leslie, does that come naturally to you? Do you 'see' stories that way? Sometimes a story unfolds itself like a Hallmark Hall of Fame or a Movie of the Week as I write it, and I can frame it sequentially like that, but I can't separate the parts to script it, to do the techie set up of who's talking where, without the embellishment of setting and emotion. I'm probably making no sense to anyone but me, but that's not all that unusual around here.

    Or maybe I'm too stuck in my ways to try, but I LOVE a well-written script. That totally makes a show or movie in my book. Poorly written lines don't improve no matter how good the execution is.

    (I just caught Mary's attention... I said "EXECUTION"... She's hunting the room for the perp with a gun even as we speak...)

    Seriously, a BIG hats off to you, chica. Tell us more about this. Sandra's done some screenwriting, I hope she pops in!

    I brought coffee. Mmmm, mmm good.

    And no donuts today!!!


    I have finally procured the creme de la creme breakfast treat for all of you this fine, brisk morning...

    Apple spiced bread pudding, with hot caramel sauce and whipped cream, served fresh from the steam oven, all melty-yum-custardy-caramelly goodness....

    Einstein Bros. Bagels, with assorted lox and cream cheese, go LIGHT on the fresh onions they're a little pungent.... phew...

    Juice bar to the left. Tea service being wheeled in by Captain Jack. He's obviously recovered from Audra's first sale party and LOOKING GOOD JACK-O!!!!

    waving madly across the room here...

    And flavored coffees and creamers for us girly girls.

  2. Lox and bagels without onions? Oh my, if you think I'll be socially unacceptable then I better stack 'em high now, wrap it up and enjoy it in the privacy of my bat cave, LOL!

    Good morning, Leslie! You truly do write scripts to my constant awe. Where my mind fixes on emotion moving the story along, you not only need to think of emotion, but the entire dance all the players participate in.

    For the aspiring script writer who has only toyed with the idea of complimenting their novel with the visual, how do you recommend they begin the process?

    And, knowing you use a special computer program to format your work, what tips do you have on formatting for the beginner?

    Since cold and ucky weather is forecasted for the Front Range of Colorado today, I'm thinking Ruthy has the breakfast goodies all taken care of. I'll be by at lunch with elk burger chili and crumbly cornbread. Mugs of apple cider and steaming tea fit quite nicely on the coffee bar. Coffee stays. Some of us need it all day long : )

  3. Good morning, Leslie, and welcome to Seekerville!

    Uh, I'm with Ruthy ... just the term "scriptwriting" glazes my eyes over, and it's ONLY because I think there is so much to it and it scares me.

    BUT ... underneath those glazed nerves is a real respect and interest in the industry, so I really appreciate Audra bringing you here today.

    I know you said that the main thing about scriptwriting is moving the action forward QUICKLY since there is no time to waste, and I'm thinking since it is scriptwriting, the only real way to do that is through dialogue. Can you bulletize a few other ways this can be done?

    I have a feeling I would LOVE screenwriting if I got over my fear of the water and dove in, because my editor told me once that a novel of mine read like a screenplay ... of course, I wasn't sure at the time if it was a compliment or not since it was NOT a screenplay ... :)

    Thanks for being here today, Leslie, and thanks to Audra for inviting you.


  4. Welcome to Seekerville, Leslie! Scriptscene's "Romancing the Script" contest is a terrific opportunity for script writers and should draw loads of entries. The mini conference in Nashville sounds great. Kudos to Scriptscene for providing help for novel as well as script writers.

    As Audra's crit partner, you must be bubbling over with joy at her recent sale! That girl can write!

    Ruthy, the apple spice bread pudding with hot carmel sauce is to die for.

    Oops, put away that gun, Mare. I'm joking!


  5. I love screen writing techniques applied to novel writing. I so changes the way you look at your writing. Linda Seger, Syd Field, and of course Michael Hauge. My Heros.

    I will for sure check this out.

  6. Sounds interesting. I think it's great that RWA has this for script writers.

  7. Morning Leslie, What an interesting post. I have been to a couple of the RWA workshops as well as taken courses here in the Valley of the Sun. So I am really interested in all that Scriptscene has to offer. I must join and maybe enter the contest for the feedback.

    Thanks for sharing and thanks for coordinating the contest. I know how much work that is. But it does help newbies.

    And you're right on about scriptwriting helping the novel writer. I can't believe how much my writing improved after my classes. It brings home the active versus passive voice. (Although I still battle that in revisions as any of you who have critiqued my work know) LOL

    Ruthy, the bread pudding is marvelous. I have a plate of maple flavored bacon and ham in case anyone needs protein with all that sugar. ll

    Audra, thanks for inviting Leslie. Stay warm. I'll send you some Arizona sunshine.

  8. Wow guys, I'm so eating right now, while I'm at the bank working. Thanks Ruthie for the spread. And Audra, I'll be around for lunch.

    I promise I'll get to your questions, they are great questions and I LOVE talking about Screenwriting.

    But I must be home to be able to give full attention to this, so around noon, I'll hit the blog again and go for it.

    DO NOT BE SCARED of the formatting or writing. I'll tell you why later. I'm a novelist turned screenwriter, my first screenplay was a contracted adaptation! Whoa, talk about pressure.

    Stay tuned.

    Love being here with you all today.

  9. Hi Leslie:

    I believe that historically novelists do not make good screenwriters. I’ve even heard some famous novelists warn writers not to be tempted into writing the screenplays for their novels.

    I think many novelists believe that the key to screenwriting is dialogue. This is dead wrong in my opinion. I view the key to screenwriting as the sequence of scenes used to tell a compelling story.

    Unless you are writing “My Dinner with Andre” dialogue will not do it. (This excludes comedy where the dialogue consists of jokes.) In fact, I think it is wrong to even think in terms of dialogue. It’s a lucky movie that produces even one memorable line of dialogue. Besides it’s not uncommon for actors to change dialogue on set if it is more appropriate for the scene. One facial expression is worth a thousand words of copy.

    A screenwriter needs to think with her eyes and not her ears. Because of MTV, movie scenes are becoming shorter. An older person will see many movies made today as being very choppy. Each scene has become like a single ‘word’ in the ‘sentence’ that carries the action forward. This is a very different language than the novelist’s written word.

    A really good movie would be one in which I could look at the storyboard of scenes and instantly get the story. This would be what I would call a ‘high-concept’ movie.

    Does any of this resonate with your experience? I’ve written a number of plays but no screenplays. I like long scenes with great dialogue and I find that in plays. (I can think of a lot of memorable lines from Shakespeare.) :)


  10. My first paid, published work was a script for a Sunday School Christmas Program. I have very fond connections to scripts.
    I sold five before I got a book published.

    I got $75. But it was such a thrill, I just can't tell you how much I loved that little $75 check.

  11. I remember reading Jurassic Park and I could just SEE that movie. See them moving, see the action and the characters, VERY visual. I love writing like that.

    I try and do that with my own books, make them mentally visible, make them MOVE.

    So learning more about screenwriting would be a good thing.

  12. Ha, Mary, I'm with you. I guess I've written scripts, specifically for Sunday School Christmas programs.

    Or does that make me a playwright?

    Leslie, what's the difference?

    BTW, chili is simmering beside the plate of hot cornbread. Dig in!

  13. Welcome, Leslie! We're so glad to have you with us today!

    I'm just going to sit back and wait for you to answer the great questions I've seen in the comments already. :)

  14. Hi Guys I'm HOME. Enough banking for me today now for the fun, creative stuff.

    Ruthy, I think you're afraid of stuff that doesn't really happen.
    We have to plan books, right? The same happens with a screenplay. We're not the director or the set designer. We create the story.

    You're spot on, poorly written lines DON'T improve with good execution.

    Thanks for the kudos. I love writing screenplays. Ask me back anytime to talk more about them. And thanks for the fab breakfast, I pigged out and still am ready for Audra's chili.


  15. Hi Audra,
    Woo hoo, newly pubbed one.

    The best book (so far, but I have news on a new one that's coming out soon. I'll have more info when it actually is OUT) on basic screenwriting is by Syd Field. It's simply called Screenplay.

    While structure is important, a lot of that is taken care of by the screenplay program. I'm checking on some freebies and I'll get back to you on that.

    As I said to Ruthy, the director directs, the set designer designs. We write action and dialogue. Each must do more than just say something or show action taking place. I'd love to chat with you all more on this. Otherwise this could be a war and peace sized post.

    Don't be afraid of screenwriting, is my first piece of advice.


  16. Julie,
    Here's a tip. Moving the story forward is using all the senses.
    Every bit of action and dialogue has to do more than just that.

    Dialogue actually had slow a scene down or create misery in the viewer. For instance, if they miss a part of the dialogue for whatever reason, the diction wasn't clear, it was long and filled with exposition, the sound crew was off. That viewer spends time trying to figure out what was said and therefore has lost seconds in the forward movement of the movie and may never gain them back.

    We've just lost a viewer. They can't go back and reread a passage to make sense of the dialogue. And WORST, we've lost their suspension of DISBELIEF.

    I'd love to do more on this. Please dive in the water is fine, and I'll keep the sharks at bay.


  17. Janet,
    I'm so thrilled for Audra. As she said somewhere, maybe on her goodbye to unpubbed Island party, I'm proud to have been with her from Day 1.

    I'm hoping the contest will draw lots of entries. I do believe Scriptscene is a huge bonus to RWA members. So come on, one and all, take advantage of it :)


  18. Tina and Jessica,
    Thanks for visiting. Screenwriting is a powerful medium for getting a story across. I'm pleased RWA understands this!!

    And Tina, again, congrats on your trip off Unpubbed Island. YAY.

  19. Sandra,
    Please enter and please check out Scriptscene. We have super energetic people on the board and we're really focused on bringing industry people to both our members and the contest for all RWA members.

    See you on Scriptscene :)

  20. Ah Vince,
    I'm afraid I have to respectfully disagree with you on this.

    I started out as a novel writer and while the transition wasn't all that easy, I was told by a plethora of people in the industry that novel writers, ESPECIALLY RWA members had a edge on STORY.

    I won my first contract because I understood story. The importance of conflict, ebbs and flows, character development.

    Dialogue is a tool in the tool belt of any writer. We use it differently in screenplays than in novels and yes, it isn't the first tool of choice to get the message across.

    Some movies are getting shorter, mostly comedy, action and animation. But check out Harry Potter and Avatar (162 min.) There are others, and if the director believes the story must be told in more than 120 minutes and has the clout to make it so, then it will happen.

    I think the most important thing I've recently learned is that you have to capture the attention of the READER. The first person who can say no. Therefore YOU MUST take them on a JOURNEY and that requires writing skill. The imagery must be enough, but not too much. The dialogue has to be filled with subtext. And the writer's ego and research must take a back seat, or you have author intrusion and you've lost the reader...and if the movie gets made, lost the audience's sense of disbelief.

    I have much to say on the crop of current movies..., but must not hog the blog.

    ciao and good to see you

  21. Hi Mary,
    I love the book and the movie. Not so much the sequels!!

    More and more, I believe, you'll see cross over classes. In fact, our mini con at RWA is for both novelists and screenwriter.

    STORY is at the heart of it all.

    And heck yes, any check is great!!!


  22. Audra,
    Playwriting and screenwriting are vastly different. It's like oil painting and watercolors.

    One major difference, is that most plays take place in few locations. Dialogue is more important in Playwriting. You don't get that close up on the actor to see them emote.

    And there is the interaction with the audience.

    Vince, what thinketh you?


  23. I have to say that I agree with Leslie on her comments to Vince. Agent Julian Friedmann says writers should consider writing both. Speaking of Julian Friedmann, he writes a great blog at And he is also the guest speaker on our Twitter chat this Sunday night. He will be answering questions about screenwriting and writing in general. You can pre-ask your questions if you are interested at


  24. Hi Jamie
    Jamie is the Prez of Scriptscene this year. She's kick butt and I'm so impressed with her energy. and dedication

    Check out the chats, they're fun, sometimes get off on a tangent, but then often you can learn from that. And I'm going to check out Julian Freidman RIGHT NOW.


  25. OH, one very important thing I wanted to mention is Inspy scripts. There's a market, a growing market for inspy scripts!


  26. Hi Leslie:

    I believe that playwriting is more distant from screenwriting than novel writing is distant from screenwriting.

    In a play there are only a few scenes and the audience knows very well that everyone is still on the same physical set. Many modern plays only make a pretense at changing scenes. In a way, a play is like a radio play where the real action takes place in the ‘theater of the mind’.

    I love plays because I ‘edit’ them! I choose where to look and focus my attention. Plays are different each time I see them. I could see ‘Hamlet’ twenty times and still not see the same play twice. In a movie the director decides everything. I’m forced to watch a close-up of someone’s face because the director thinks that’s important.

    Plays depend on dialogue and many famous quotes come from plays. In plays there is also audience reaction. I really believe that having experience as an actor before a live audience is about the best training a novelist can have. I say this because an actress knows she is creating a live ‘viewing experience’ for the audience and her words and actions count. This knowledge is invaluable in trying to create the best “reading experience’ when writing a novel.

    Remember: your novel is also a ‘live experience’ that can only have existence in a meaningful sense when it is being ‘played’ in a reader’s mind. Outside a reader’s ‘reading experience’ a novel has the same status as a book of sheet music has to music itself. For this reason, I believe I can tell when a romance writer has had stage experience by her writing alone.

    I don’t disagree with much of what you wrote. In my first post I meant that the individual scenes in movies are getting shorter not the length of the movies. This has to do with the ADD of younger people.

    I’m also not saying that novelists cannot become screenwriters. Many probably should become screenwriters if that is where their true talent lies. I will say this: when a novelist writes his or her own screenplay, it’s newsworthy – as in ‘man bites dog’. Let’s put it this way: do you know many authors who consistently do both – write successful novels interspaced with successful screenplays?

    The best class I ever took in college was by a very successful TV screenwriter, who wrote five episodes of MASH, and was a wonderful teacher. I will tell anyone interested in writing novels to take a screenwriting class. It may not make you a screenwriter but I am sure it will make you a better novelist. But most of all, get an acting part in a Little Theater play. You will not be the same writer ever again.

    I’m loving this topic. Thanks.


  27. Hi again Leslie,

    Can you tell us how you market scripts, esp inspy scripts? Do you have to go through an agent or are there other ways?

    Do you recommend agents that specialize in scripts or are the literary agents pitching to the movie industry?

    Hmm, I think you're right. Best get into Scriptscene.

    Audra, Chili was super and loved the corn bread.

    For an afternoon snack, I have some mixed nuts, sliced apples, a variety of cheeses, chips and salsa and some artichoke spinach dip with pita chips and blue corn tortilla chips with guacamole.

  28. Ahh, Sandra. How did you know I needed a pick-me-up?


    Leslie is always raving over Scriptscene. I think it offers valuable insights into writing in general, but even more so if you're interested in screenplays.

    Go for it, Sandra! Leslie tells me they want inspy scripts. Heavens, I have my hands full with novels, LOL!

  29. Leslie,
    I didn't know about the RWA scriptwriting chapter! But I do know that the more I can learn about scriptwriting, the stronger my novel writing will become. Thanks for the info about the conference you're having in Nashville. Sounds great!

    Missy and I are Georgia gals and our own Stephanie Bond just had her Body Movers Series optioned for TV. We're all so proud of her! She's studied scriptwriting and is a wonderful author.

    Thanks for being with us today, Leslie!

  30. Sandra,
    Well, I enter contests, of which there are NOW a plethora. And I subscribe to Inktip's preferred newsletter. They have leads weekly and if you're on the preferred list, you get first crack at them. I've had many requests through them.

    Plus they have great information on their site.

    Please join Scriptscene, I'll see you there :)


  31. Hi Debby,
    You are absolutely 100 percent correct, studying screenwriting WILL make your writing stronger.

    You and Missy are going to Nashville, correct? If you're there early, check out the mini con. I wish I were going, and who knows my schedule might change so I can.

    And congrats to Stephanie for her option. I hope they take it further.


  32. Sandra,
    Thanks for the dip, I was a total pig. And the guac? HA, I licked the bowl.