Monday, June 30, 2008

A Swede sits in a sofa

I write in a language that is not my native. I have my reasons for doing so. But I don’t deny that it causes me problems that are interesting.

My English is a great deal better than when I started, but over the years I have written things that did not become what I intended. Idioms especially. They are tricky.

In Sweden we say “as the cream on the mashed potato.” I had not heard that in English, but what might they say instead? I guessed and wrote “as the cream on top”. Wrong! “As the cherry on the top” I was told later.

If someone interrupts and you want to be rude in return you say “where did you find your air”. I got the question “is he suffocating?” in return to that expression.

Prepositions are another thing that is not obvious. A Swede sits in a sofa. In English it is on a sofa.

Friday, June 27, 2008

A scene pulled out of a unknown story

“A scene pulled out of a story I do not know much about yet.” That’s what I wrote. And how many times have I not done just that? I have a scene in my head and write it down. Then I start to build a story around this scene. So far, that method has never resulted in a finished script for me.

The urge to write down the scene is strong. It’s like it is blocking everything else and need to get out. So, I write it and that I think I should. These scenes are in general very strong and could be useful.

But I should not continue from there. A movie script needs structure. I must get the story and its structure in place first. I can’t just dive in and write even if I’m never so eager to do so.

It feels great for a while but it never lasts. Sooner or later I always get problems. And that is likely to kill the spirit and what might have been a great story and the best of movie scripts if given time instead of hurry.

Writing ideas and scenes on the run are good. But when I start to write as if it where a movie script, I try to put structure and brain to something that cannot carry that burden yet.

Instead I should pin up a Blake Snyder Beat Sheet on the wall (or glue it in my notebook) and start thinking.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Listen, learn and understand our differences

When I look back at things I have written I am amazed by how many times a thief or a killer has the leading role. And this lead is always a woman, but that can easily be explained by the fact that I am a woman myself. But I am no thief and definitely not a killer.

Most of these stories are only drafts and sketches. A scene pulled out of a story I do not know much about yet.

Why do criminal heroes fascinates me so?

One thing I am certain of is that I do not believe in good or evil people. There are no such things. Humans are humans. Some things that are easily considered as evil are simply different points of view, different cultures and such things.

Some people make mistakes that take them to on journeys that are difficult to stop.

A killer is not a monster. I might not like the person in question or agree with his or hers actions, but the person is still a human being.

James Bond kills all the time and he is the leading character.

For me it is important to show the human. And a criminal human with maybe even murder in the past is as complex and challenging as it can be.

In the world of today I think it is important to listen, learn and understand our differences. There is no peace without understanding. That does not mean that we have to agree with each other, but accepting that we are different and knowing why.

Monday, June 23, 2008

My big, fabulous, fantastic brain

Photo: Ronny Ilvemo

My mother sent me four images of glasses for my thinking-out-of-the-box exercise. And my first reaction was “oh no, how am I supposed to do anything with these. It was not that kind of images I meant”. Thinking-out-of-the-box indeed. The first thing my brain screams to me is “oh no, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t”. My big, fabulous, fantastic brain.

I printed the images and glued them into my notebook.

One of the images were everyday glasses on a garden table.

On another a glass stood in single, bulky, pride among smaller, lesser glasses.

On the third were a group of snobs, all alike, excluding everybody else.

On the forth were a group of different individuals with the same ideals and beliefs. Like a group of religious people living outskirts of a town, minding their own business.

And maybe the snobs are not snobs at all but an ordinary family.

And the everyday glasses are more than they seem to be. They are hiding a terrible secret.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Blake Snyder Beat Sheet - Fun and games

I like the Blake Snyder Beat Sheet. I learned about it in Blake Snyder’s book “Save the cat!”. It is a development of the classic whale-shaped three-act structure. He gives more precise instructions than that the ten first pages is “set-up”.

The script that comes out is shaped to fit the American main stream movie industry. That does not suit everybody, but it suits me. (Sure, my scripts listed to the left are not main stream, but I have written more than those.)

Page 30-55, first half of the second act he calls “fun and games”. I find that part difficult. In my first act I have had my set-ups, my theme, my debate and my turning point into act two. It is obvious that the storm is coming, and then I should slow down, ease up and have fun?

Well that is the problem. I know the storm is coming, but my character does not. She thinks she is about to start her new life and getting married. I know this part of the movie is important. It is the heart of the movie. The trailer is often based on cuts from this part. It is the part of the movie where we all have a good time. I know, I know, I know.

But what is she supposed to do? We cannot watch her walking around being happy for twenty minutes.

On the other hand, the character in question has been criticized for being unpleasant. I know she isn’t, so here is my chance to show her best features.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


As a writer it is important to keep the brain in a “writing mood”. When I of various reasons am not working on my current script, I need some other kind of exercise. It may sound boring but it pays of in the long run.

I try to write on the bus. For long I have written childhood memories, memories as grown-up, situations where I could have done differently and speculated about different outcomes and what triggers different senses.

Brainstorming with a short article about some odd event is fun but it is not easy to do on the bus without preparation. I want the article glued in the middle of the page. The article must be there, on the page, to be useful exercise. Somehow I rarely get around plundering the daily paper of useful articles.

The exercise I am about to try now might be just as tricky since it needs some cutting and gluing, but it is worth a try.

I will ask some people close to me to e-mail me images of different kind. I take the image, glue it in my exercise book and brainstorm or write a story or some thing else depending on the image.

It is important that it is other people that give me the input of images. It is a way to think out of the box. Just like a tarot-card gives a new, random angle to a problem (I don’t apply any magic to tarot-card).

I will tell later how this exercise turned out.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Orpheus and Persephone

My mentor gave me interesting exercises. In one of them I should write a dialog without any action text and without any names of the characters revealing who they where, just A and B.

I was skeptical because as I was taught information should be revealed with moderation through dialog. With only dialog I thought the result would be very on the nose, and not very useful.

But that was the exercise. Not to have any descriptions to lean upon and yet keep the dialog natural and clean from obvious on the nose-talk.

I wrote a dialog between Orpheus and Persephone from the Greek mythology, when Orpheus tries to persuade the Goddess of Death Persephone to let his wife Eurydice leave the land of the dead.

Even though the years have passed I still think that that dialog is one of a kind. Persephone is harsh and straight forward, Orpheus full of poetry and metaphors. The text is so full of those useful contrasts. And unsuspected surprises.

One of the surprises is that Persephone does not let Eurydice go because she likes Orpheus but because she thinks that he is a spoiled brat, used to get what he wants. When he thanks her she says “Don’t thank me yet. The dead are only a shadow of what they once were. You will regret all your beautiful words to me because you will see that what I have given you is not a gift but a curse”.

And there it ends.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Natural born writer

It took me long time to understand that I actually had something to learn about writing. I thought that I was a natural born writer and then it is just to write.

I started to write early in life and I was probably better at it than other in my age because I impressed many grown-ups. Or maybe it was my choice of subjects, I don’t know. For me it was obvious that I was very good at writing. That was good for a kid to know. Children should have good confidence.

But talent is one thing. Over time skill and knowledge are needed to develop that talent. I expected that whatever I wrote was great for very long time. I worked for years on a huge novel that took place in the middle ages. Sure some people read it, or parts of it, but I could not sent to a publisher before it was finished and I never got that far. So reality did not hit me.

I guess my first visit in reality was when a teacher read my script Sparrow that I told you about. Then I was way past twenty.

(I did not finish my novel because I had problems with the story and my research. I made up the story as I wrote and did research when needed. And sometimes I had to make adjustments in earlier writing because of that. That way of writing is no good.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Is my movie script irresistible?

If I want to sell a script I must show it to people, right? Most times I feel that I have written something fabulous, something great and irresistible. Those days I can show my movie script to anybody.

Then there are times I read one of my scripts and feel that this is really bad. And becomes embarrassed that I dared show it to anybody.

I think that one of the worst mistakes I can make is not to let anybody read my movie scripts. Yet I want them to read that fabulous and irresistible. And if it is that or not does not depend on my mood while they are reading. I cannot tell for sure about its qualities until a year or two have passed, when I can look upon my writings with more neutral eyes. Do I really have to wait that long?

Guess I am tampering with the problem all writers have.

Well, this might be a point of view: What if I send a bad movie script to potential buyer, does that mean that he or she will refuse to read another script I send? Most likely the buyer does not remember me, and if he/she does is there not a hope that there is interest in my development? Is that a fool's hope?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


When I looked through my old work that I talked about yesterday I became very aware of how looong I have worked on some stories. I will never get my Sparrow sold if I said that I have worked on that for so many years. People will think I am stuck or that I am blind for everything but my project and therefore impossible to work with. Neither is true.

Sparrow is actually the reason I started writing moviescripts. As I have said before I have been writing for most of my life. Novels and short stories that is. Sparrow started out as a novel. But somehow I could never find a form that I liked. I tried different ideas but none worked. I realized that what I had in my head was a movie not a novel.

Movie scripts was a complete new world for me. I started to explore it, learn how to write a script, read scripts for movies I liked. And then I started to write Sparrow as a movie script. Wow! I loved it.

I finished it with great pride. I got a scholarship that would cover the expenses for a shorter class in scriptwriting and showed the teacher my perfect script. He gave me several pages of very constructive criticism. My script was really bad he thought. I refused to believe that. My script was perfect. He was wrong, I was right.

Then I started thinking. He got paid for writing scripts. I wasn't. Who was the most likely to be right about my script? He. So I dumped my dear Sparrow, learned from his criticism and started all over. I even got a mentor for about a year. The new Sparrow was much better. I sent it to a contest: American Accolades Screenwriting Competition . I became among the top 20%. I was all joy. And started rewriting to get among the top ten scripts or even winning.

I had two writing friends. One in England and one in Germany. I listened too much to my German friend. When I sent the next version to England, my friend there screamed that I had made it worse, that I had destroyed the script. And he was right. More than half of the other scripts in the contest where better than mine this time. I hadn't trust my own heart and it was no longer my story.

I tried to rewrite the story but somehow it never returned to be a future winner.

A few years later I started all over with the script again. It's name is not even Sparrow any longer. And this will be winner.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

On their way to the attic

I started to move a huge collection of written stuff yesterday evening. Things I wrote as far back as -85. I was a teenager then. I wrote episodes for “21 Jump Street” and “Mission: Impossible”. Horrible stuff. But I wrote. I have always been writing I think.

Even if I will never show anybody some of the things I have written over the years I cannot throw it away. It still means something to me. So even when the pile start to grow out of the house, I just throw some in-between-versions away. The rest I pack in plastic bags and pack in a box to be moved to the attic.

Filmography links and data courtesy of
The Internet Movie

Monday, June 9, 2008

So, I have become a blogger

English is not my native language, but I write moviescripts in English. Why? The market for English scripts are bigger and I did not fit into the Swedish template.

The Swedish movie industry is quite small. And the director is most likely the scriptwriter as well. There are competitions, but I have not found one that does not what a budget included. I just want to write.

Then my background comes into view and I get the question "why haven't you educated yourself in scriptwriting?" If you want to become a scriptwriter then you have to drop everything else or you are not serious. In this country you are one thing and one thing alone.

I have taken my time to develop. That's okay for me. I have read books, scripts of all kinds, spoken to others, taken some classes. That does not make me a worse writer. Just slower.

So why become a blogger? I want to "meet" others, share the love of writing, share ideas, get feedback.