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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Writing (01/11/07)

TITLE: Identifying a Writing Oopspa
By darlene hight


Sometimes when I visit the local video rental store, I will search the racks for movies that are a little off the beaten path. This has resulted in both wonderful, found treasures and more than a few lousy stinkers. My most recent video rental ranks up there as one of the worst movies that I have ever watched. However, there is much to learn from the mistakes lavished on this screenplay. I doubt if the title of the movie would be familiar to more than a handful of movie goers and my purpose isn’t to defame the author of the afore mentioned movie but rather to use it as an object lesson. So, I will leave it unnamed and instead focus on the elements that caused this movie to be such a fine example of what not to do.

• The first writing oopspa- the movie started with a talking dog. This seemed an obvious error in judgment to me but I suppose a talented screenwriter might be able to pull it off. In the interest of brevity let’s make

Rule # 1 – One key to skillful writing is to spend adequate time on character development- Let me stress that believable characters rank high with me.

• I have never experience a movie that streaked through scenes with as much speed and lack of detail as this particular movie-the second writing oopspa. I have heard that when a person has a near death experience that their entire life flashes in front of their eyes. I now know what that feels like minus any accompanying emotion or connection. Moving from scene to scene at lightning speed works only in an action thriller and even then not for the entire movie.

Rule #2 - Slather on details and allow a scene to develop fully (even if that limits the number of scenes or especially if that limits the number of scenes)

• Writing oopspa number three is the use of cheesy, uninspired dialogue. When I consider all of the great lines that I have heard in movies or read in books. It was a huge disappointment to experience a movie devoid of dialogue personality. The dialogue would best be described as two day old, warmed over oatmeal or in ‘Gone with the Wind’ fashion “Frankly Dear……well, you get the idea.”

Rule #3- Add personality to your written dialogue….Please!

• Avoid writing oopspa number four and you will instantly become a better writer. The best messages come through naturally unaided by a clever writer. No matter how great, important or necessary the message, dressing it up as a story is an oopspa! If you have a message to tell, by all means tell it but if it is a story, let the story tell its own message. A story will rise to its own level but not if it is weighed down by a beefy, unrelated message.

Rule #4- Keep your story telling agenda free.

• The movie had it all (and trust me) this wasn’t a good thing! The final oopspa is including too many events. The following is a list of events that were packed into this movie and I have left out more than a few:

o Love
o Deception
o Victory over extreme odds
o Heartwarming bond with a dog
o Tragic event
o More Love
o More Tragedy
o Heroism
o A Supernatural event
o Criminal turns Good Guy
o More Bad Guy turns Good
o Happily Ever After
o More Happily Ever After
o And finally or I certainly hope it is finally…”The moral of the story is…” wrap up

Here is a moral for you to ponder-

Moral: More is not better. It is really just more!

Rule #5- Narrow your story and tell it with creativity

These are just a few pointers but the most important advice that I can give is,“Be careful writer or you might just step in an oopspa! We have all done it and it's not pretty.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Pat Guy 01/18/07
Do I note dry humor woven throughout this teaching tool of an essay? I LOVE dry humor! As I read, I thought, Wow! I could use this!'

There will be many who will appreciate this wisdom in such a humorous, witty format. I, for one have.
Joanne Sher 01/18/07
I also enjoyed the dry humor throughout this - and learned a few things in the meantime! I appreciated the examples from the movie(and I'm sure the filmmaker appreciated you NOT titling it! LOL)- made what could have been a very dry piece a lot more engaging.
Marilyn Schnepp 01/20/07
Although not a screenwriter or playwrite - it still had good pointers for the everyday writer of books, stories or essays. Tongue in cheek type Steps Not to commit. Interesting insight.
william price01/21/07
Nothing like a lil dry sarcasm to go along with morning coffee. Great job and good points. God bless.
Sandra Petersen 01/21/07
Soooo. . .I take it you wouldn't ever rent the movie again? Good lessons for writers of any ilk.
Betty Castleberry01/21/07
This needs to be in Writer's Digest, or a similar periodical. It gave me a smile, and it's so true. Excellent.
Jan Ackerson 01/21/07
I'm just tickled with the word "Oopspa." I kept saying it out loud throughout the essay. I love sardonic humor, so this was right up my alley. (and I'm dying to know what this movie is!)
Libby East01/21/07
I like the sarcasm
Marilee Alvey01/21/07
I know this comes from the heart! After suffering through that movie (and, yes, I DO want to know the name of it!) you felt the desire to assure that no one would ever have to suffer one of its ilk. I appreciate that! I needed to read these reminders, too. One thing that irritates me is when they don't develop the characters and they begin to kill them off. I think, "So what? I didn't even know them, anyway." If they develop only one, fully, watch out and don't get too attached because he/she's most certainly going to DIE! An interesting title to an interesting piece!
Donna Powers 01/21/07
This made me smile, but there's a lot of truth in this one. I enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing.
Chuck Livermore01/22/07
I'll have to reread this one if I ever write a screenplay. Also, I'll be looking for talking dog movies to see if I can guess which one.
Crista Darr01/22/07
This is so funny, and packed with wisdom. "If you have a message to tell, by all means tell it but if it is a story, let the story tell its own message." Lots of gems in there. I enjoyed it!
Shirley Hegwood01/23/07
Words of wisdom well taken by this beginner.
Laurie Glass 01/24/07
What a cool piece. Practical points shared with humor mixed in. Your points were clear and although I don't do this type of writing, I can imagine myself keeping these points in mind when I'm watching a movie. Good job.
Sara Harricharan 01/25/07
Heehee! Glad I didn't miss this. It was funny, engaging and very informative to read :) I shall try to keep your advice in mind and will be careful with all my writing oopspas!
Thanks for commenting on Writer's Block: Searching for Serena!
John Hunt01/26/07
Great advice, cleverly woven in a funny, witty piece.
One thing though: I'm dying to know what movie it is!