Looking for the private group page? It’s right here.
UPDATE: January 1st, 2017
Clarification on Public and Private listing
When you submit your project details on the form here, you are asked if you want to keep the details private or public. Here’s what the two terms mean:
- Public – The details will appear on a password-protected page, where all people who are participating in #WRAC17 will have the common password to view the list of details there. The page will not be available to the general public.
- Private – The details will appear in a password protected page, where the password will be unique to that user. If the person wants to have their general deadlines available in the group page but withhold the specific project details, that can be done as well.
DECEMBER 31, 2016
Welcome to WRITER ACCOUNTABILITY 2017 (#WRAC17)! Michael (@ThatHennessyGuy) and I (@thegarygraham) have mentioned this idea a few times on Twitter. With the new year approaching, we felt this would be a great opportunity to give it a shot.
SO WHAT IS WRITER ACCOUNTABILITY?
As you are well aware, writing can be a lonely endeavor. Twitter has been and continues to be an incredible writing community that helps a great deal but the thought occurred to us: Why not step that up with goals and accountability?
THE GOAL OF WRITER ACCOUNTABILITY is for you to complete a solid final draft in 2017.
This project can be a screenplay, teleplay or novel. Some of you may accomplish this in just a few months. Others may take the entire 12 months. Since all of our lives are different, we will all be working on separate deadlines so take what time you feel you need. The important thing is for you to stick to the goals and deadlines you set and for the rest of us to encourage you to do so.
Plain and simple, writer accountability is setting goals and doing one’s best to stick to them. Incremental goals work best and so we will set goals as follows:
- CRAFTING AN IRON CLAD LOG LINE.
- CREATING A 2-3 PAGE OUTLINE
- WRITING THE FIRST DRAFT WITH INCREMENTAL GOALS (ACT 1, ACT 2A, ACT 2B, ACT 3). If you are writing a novel or teleplay, you will work in quarter increments. Same applies if you are writing a script but not using a three act structure.
Creating goals allows us as a community to remind and encourage you to accomplish them.
AS AN ADDED BONUS, KEVIN MORALES has offered to read, give notes, and listen to pitches and loglines. He’s an incredible resource, and you can find him on Twitter as @KevinTMorales
THE FIRST STEP FOR YOU is to create a log line for your project then fill out the GOALS FORM on the website located here.
Once you have your log line, let’s expand that into an outline.
WAIT A MINUTE… AN OUTLINE! WHY?
Writing an outline is probably the last thing anyone wants to do. I will be the first to admit they aren’t the easiest to write and it’s up to you if you want to commit to one here BUT I would encourage you to do so for a variety of reasons:
- As a working writer in Hollywood, I spend more time writing 2-3 page outlines more than I do anything else. Writing these outlines is how you get writing gigs. I guarantee most if not all producers and execs will ask you to create one so getting good at writing them is vital. This is your chance to do so in a constructive and safe environment.
- Most of the larger macro problems in any script can be solved in an outline. Macro problems are typically structure problems so understanding the larger act breaks and character beats are essential to any good screenplay. Seems simple, right? Consider that these larger macro structure problems are the main reason most scripts get rejected.
- Once you begin working as a professional screenwriter, you will no longer have all the time in the world to craft a story. You must do it all in just a few months. The more you know your story before you start writing, the better off you will be.
- Writing an outline will make you a better writer. Guaranteed. It will force you to think about story in bigger, broader ways. Understanding what you are writing is essential. I’ve heard the argument countless times that finding the story while writing the actual script is key to the process. I would agree but writing an outline doesn’t mean your story is now set in stone. You will discover along the way what works and what doesn’t. Things will change. The point is understanding your story and why you are writing it as well as discovering the bigger problems you can solve now.
- Writing an outline is a helpful way to prepare and create a pitch. Pitching is a skill you will continuously exercise as a writer. Understanding story structure and possessing the ability to captivate those listening to your pitch will set you apart from others. An outline is a good way to put everything into perspective.
Give a 2-3 page outline a shot. For those who want to create a longer outline, do so by all means if this will help you in the drafting process. Set your goals appropriately.
WRITING AN OUTLINE
I have the feeling many of you have written an outline but here is some simple advice for those who are new to it. When writing an outline, adhere to the structure of the script. This means the real details you want to be especially clear on are the ACT BREAKS.
- How does the story begin? Describe the world we are in. More importantly, what is the tone of this story? Who is the protagonist? The antagonist? Is there a ticking clock?
- What ends the first act and propels your character(s) into the second?
- What happens at the midpoint?
- The end of the second act and the beginning of the third should be a powerful moment. All bets are off. The conflict must reach its peak.
- How does the story resolve?
If writing an outline feels daunting but you still want to try, give the following a shot. Start with a beat sheet (perhaps buy some notecards to help you). Start from the absolute most macro beats you can. So working off your log line, first create the three key act breaks: THE BREAK INTO THE SECOND ACT. THE MIDPOINT. THE BREAK INTO THE THIRD ACT. Once you have that figured out, create the smaller beats that go between.
Once you feel good about your outline, it’s time to start writing that draft. Let’s set some attainable goals to finish this draft.
- The first goal is writing ACT ONE or the first quarter of a teleplay or novel manuscript. Think carefully about the time you feel you should allot yourself to reach this goal. Take the time you need. This should be an attainable goal. Give yourself a little wiggle room.
- The second goal is writing the first half of ACT TWO until the MIDPOINT of your story. This is the second quarter of a teleplay or novel manuscript. Once completed, you will have written the first half of your project.
- The third goal is writing the second half of ACT TWO. This will be the third quarter of a teleplay or novel manuscript.
- The fourth goal is writing the third act or fourth quarter of a teleplay or novel manuscript thus resolving your story in the most emotionally compelling way possible.
Once the first draft is complete, give yourself an allotted amount of time to step away from the draft. This is a good time to get ‘other eyes’ on your work. Notes from colleagues can be incredibly helpful. It also allows you a break so you can return to the story with a fresh mind.
The first step is to read the script a few times and take notes. I typically print out the draft and take a red marker to it. Listen to what other readers have responded to. Feedback is essential. Try to discern what is working and what isn’t.
MOST IMPORTANTLY: Take a hard look at the first act (1/4 of a your teleplay or novel) of your story. I am a firm believer that the first 20-30 pages will make or break any story. Any exec or producer reading your script will more than likely determine whether they will continue reading in the first 10 pages. Lock that first act down. Is your protagonist compelling? Why are we following them on this journey? Why do they need to go on this journey? What is the conflict? Who is the antagonist or opposing forces? What are the stakes? What does the protagonist have to lose? Is there a ticking clock?
Revisions can take time. We will set goals to revise until your project is as close to a final draft as we can get. This will mean different things to different people as it all comes back to what your purpose in writing this project was all about in the first place. Some of you will be submitting your project for representation or handing it to reps to sell. Others will be entering competitions, searching for grants, fellowships. You might be prepping to direct a project yourself. Or if this is a novel, maybe you will self-publish. There are numerous possibilities and it is important for you to know from the beginning what you hope to achieve.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T REACH MY GOAL?
We burn you at the stake… JUST KIDDING! We reset your goal with encouragement from the rest of us. Keep in mind, try to create attainable goals. There is nothing worse than arriving at the end of the year only to realize you didn’t accomplish what you set out to do. With a fresh year ahead of us, now is the chance to balance it out.
We will use the hashtag #WRAC17 throughout the year as we achieve our goals. Feel free to reach out to others, discuss issues, ask questions, vent, etc. We would also encourage you to subscribe to the list #WRAC17 on twitter to keep updated on everyone’s progress. Use the hashtag to encourage others and update us on your own project. Feel free to post tips, frustrations, ask questions, give advice. We are all learning and growing here.
With all that said, Michael and I are excited to set goals with all of you. Let’s sink our teeth in and do some great writing!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!