Screenwriting Blog
Posted on by Courtney Meznarich

Week 1 of Zachary Rowell’s 90-Day Screenplay Challenge: Character Descriptions, Comedy vs. Drama, and Title Suggestions

Zachary Rowell is now a full week into his 90-Day Screenplay Challenge as the winner of SoCreate’s “So Write Your Bills Away” Sweepstakes. We’ve promised to pay his bills through December if he promises to write! And guess what? He’s ahead of schedule.

Zachary needs to finish a minimum of 30 pages per month as part of the challenge. In week one, he’s completed 20 pages already. But, now comes the tough part.

Watch Zachary’s weekly vlog below to learn more about what he thinks he’ll struggle with over the next couple of weeks, why writing funny dialogue doesn’t always have to be funny, and his ask of YOU, writers!

“Hi, I’m back. I can’t get these greetings down. I’ll be honest, I went through like four different variations now. They all sound unnatural. I haven’t mastered the art of saying hello to a camera, so, I know I should keep on trying to perfect it, but I think maybe I’ll just skip the greetings next time, I’ll just go straight into it.

So this is the second vlog, the first week of writing but second vlog. I’m in the car again. I won’t be in the car all the time. I’ll show you the studio, my apartment that I have. But right now, we’re in the car. I’m not driving, by the way. We’re parked safely on the streets of LA. So, yeah, maybe not that safe after all. We’ll see. We’ll see what happens. Anything can happen! Stay tuned! We don’t know who’s going to come up here, what’s going to happen. It could get crazy.

I got 20 pages down the first week, which is ahead of schedule. That’s a good thing, though, because there are going to be days coming up when I just can’t think of anything. And I’ll stare at myself in the mirror and scream “whhhhyy?!” And it will be terrible, and I’ll hate myself. But, for right now, things are good, 20 pages. The outline helped a lot. Like I said, I don’t do a very detailed outline, but I do a beat sheet, and I have first act, second act, third act, what needs to happen in the first act … and that is really doing me wonders.

Also, I’ve been thinking about this script for a long time now, so I had the first few scenes just down in my head, and they went very quickly on the page. So, that’s good, that is a good thing.

Any challenges that I had this first week? I think the one challenge that I find myself – and this happens with other scripts as well – is that, if I’m writing a more dramatic script, the dialogue will trip me up, because I think everything has to be funny, everything has to be clever, everything people are saying has to snap, it’s got to groove. And, that’s not the case. It doesn’t. That’s not how life works. You know, listen to me now. Not everything is funny. Most things aren’t.

So, anyways, I’ll sometimes catch myself staring at some line of dialogue, and I’ll be there for 30 minutes trying to punch it up. What can I say? How can I change this? How can it be better? And sometimes, nothing needs to be done to it. Sometimes it’s okay how it is. Not every character is going to be the funny character, the clever character. They all serve their purpose. So, I struggle with that.

I’m more comfortable writing comedies. When I first started writing years ago, when I was writing stories and stuff, they would tend to be more dramatic. So, I don’t know, when I’m doing more of novel writing, I feel more comfortable in the drama space. But for some reason, when it comes to screenplays, I feel more comfortable in comedy. A lot of it, I think, has to do with the dialogue. I guess I read some dramatic dialogue, and I think, does that sound natural? Would a person actually say this? I just second-guess myself a lot when it comes to that. So, I think that’s the big challenge I’ve had. What else? Any other challenges … I think that’s about it this week for challenges.

I want to share my character introductions with you all. I don’t know the editing power at the SoCreate team, I don’t know what they’ve got going on over there, but hopefully they can flash the intros on the screen, I’ll send them to them, maybe they pop up here, there, somewhere. If not, they’ll be on their blog I’m sure. Some people have very detailed character descriptions, almost like you would find in a novel. You know, “her hair is glued to her back,” I don’t know. But I keep things simple with a character introduction. What I’m picturing in my head, I try to get down on paper as neatly as it could be in as few words as it can be. What helps me in writing characters is picturing an actor playing that character. He has a Donald Glover vibe for my main character. And then that helps you picture, you know, “okay, now I kind of see it.” And it helps me when writing dialogue. It’s a tip I got a few years back from someone, I don’t know who it was, but it’s helped me a lot.

I shared my first page on the Facebook Group, so you can check that out if you haven’t seen it. That’s probably where I’ll be sharing more pages from the script. I’ll probably share the first ten pages at some point this month, maybe this week, maybe next. If you’re also working on a screenplay, share your pages, too! I want to see them. Let’s do it up, as they say.

I still don’t have a title for the film yet. So, if you have any suggestions, please give them to me. Maybe once I share some more pages from the script, you’ll get a better feel for it. Maybe a title will come to your mind. It hasn’t hit me yet. So, if you have any suggestions, drop ‘em in the comments.

Alright, I think that’s it. I will leave you with that. I’ll see you next week.”

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