What the heck does your character want?

Simply stated, want produces action.  Think about it…If you suddenly developed a toothache, what would you inevitably end up doing?  You’d call your dentist.

Here’s a good question to ask yourself when your creating a main character.  What is the inciting incident established for the main character?  You know…something that must be gotten or achieved.  Something that the character believes will ultimately make his or her life better.

Here are some examples of (obvious) external goals: money, love, career promotion, the love of a child or family member, etc.

Whatever this goal is, your protagonist must feel that this goal is essential to his or her life, and the audience must see that the character will suffer or loose out “if” he or she does not achieve this goal.  This connection is paramount between the main character and the audience.  If it’s not there, you might lose your audience along the way.  The character won’t be compelling and the audience won’t want to root for him or her.

Milton’s worried about his red stapler…but that’s just the beginning.

–just a little writing tip, in case you’re in the midst!

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ATTENTION SCREENWRITERS:  Hey, if you ever want to listen to a script you’re working on, check out www.ReadThrough.com, where screenplays are performed by real voice actors.  Upload your script on the (SSL) securely protected site, and you can quickly cast your script from 200 actors.  In addition, sound affects and background music are available to help create a real performance that can be (privately) shared with your contacts.  It’s FREE for the first month, and a great tool for writers who want to hear their script read out-loud.

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While in a screenwriting class I…

I was in a screenwriting class this week, and many were workshopping they’re writing.  One lady said, “I’ve never read my writing out loud.  I’ve only read it to myself, and it’s amazing the difference after having it read out loud here last week. I’ve heard that it’s a good thing to do, but never understood how important it is until now.” I agree with her.  It’s a really important part of the process for a screenwriter (or for any writer).

While reading various articles online today about this topic, I came across a great post on the TEXAS A & M University site.  While it’s not specifically speaking about screenwriters, and it is addressing students the message is clear and relevant for any writer in any genre.  I thought I would share it with you.

The article says:

Reading Aloud

A simple, but surprisingly effective strategy for improving student writing is having them read their words aloud.

This technique is so effective, that asking students to read their work out loud is a standard part of most sessions at the UWC. While students are often surprised by the request, most quickly come to realize the value of giving voice to their words.

Why does reading aloud improve writing?

  • Reading out loud gives students a chance to hear the sound of their words. That may seem simple, but it’s significant. Good writing flows. It has a compelling rhythm. Students often fail to understand that—until they hear themselves speaking aloud the words they’ve put on the page.
  • Reading out loud helps students hear what they can’t see. Sometimes students have been looking at a paper so long or writing so fast that they fail to see what they’ve actually written down. When students read out loud, they usually find quite a few errors all on their own. Most are obvious mistakes like misspellings or omitted words, but sometimes students also spot bigger concerns like paragraphs that veer off tangent or evidence that doesn’t say what they thought it did.
  • Reading out loud slows them down. The brain is faster than the mouth, so when students read silently, they tend to zip right along. But when they say their words out loud, they’re forced to read more slowly. That can help them pay attention to things they’ve been speeding past and give them a fresh perspective on their efforts.
  • Reading out loud is multi-sensory. People tend to remember more about a subject—and engage with it more deeply—when they involve more of their senses.  When students see and hear their words, those words resonate more loudly with them.
  • Reading aloud makes students more accountable for their work. When students turn a paper in, the idea that someone—the instructor—is actually going to read it can be pretty remote—and easy to dismiss. But when their reader is right there in front of them, it’s harder to gloss over the fact that they didn’t put much effort into a paper or didn’t bother to proofread.

Five Ways to Use Reading Aloud with Your Students

  1. Encourage students to read aloud when proofreading their papers. If you mention this in class, most students won’t bother with it. If you mention it repeatedly, though, a few of them might at least give it a try. For instance, when you find lots of simple surface errors in a completed paper you might ask in your comments, “Did you read this aloud to yourself?” Eventually, students will get the idea.
  2. Incorporate reading aloud into a peer response session. After you describe the procedures for the peer review, students can break into small groups and read their work aloud to each other before discussing it. (If some students are especially uncomfortable with reading in front of others, you might allow them to let someone else read for them.)
  3. Read examples of professional writing aloud to students in your class. Let them hear the smooth cadence of an effective paragraph and the jarring disconnects of a clunky one. (This activity could also be part of a video or audio podcast you produce for students to access outside of class.)
  4. Assign students the task of finding examples of good writing to read aloud in class. The assignment will encourage them to consider what they believe constitutes good writing and can also be a way to familiarize them with some of the books and journals that are part of your discipline’s canon.
  5. Ask students to read their writing to you when they come in for a conference. It will remind you to listen to what your students are saying and it will encourage students to put more thought into what they’re writing.

As a screenwriter let me say I have found the above to be so true, and encourage writers–especially screenwriters to read their scripts out loud.  Even better, if you can find actors to perform it out loud.  

Here’s a LINK to the article:  http://writingcenter.tamu.edu/for-faculty/teaching-writing/instruction/reading-aloud/

This brings me to READTHROUGH.com, a TERRIFIC site that allows screenwriters to hear their scripts read out loud and online by professional actors!  Check it out!  You’ll be glad you did!

 

Actors need confidence… it’s that simple

Auditions can be a daunting process, especially when you’re waiting for dozens of other actors who are going in before you… It’s nothing short of nerve-racking.

What an actor really needs is confidence.  The more confidence you have as an actor, the more you’re likely to get picked for the part. The truth is, no matter what we do in life, we have some level of confidence in what we do, or we wouldn’t be doing it… right?

So, confidence isn’t really something you can get, but it is something you can build.  How do we do that?

I think you must start with honesty and a willingness to learn.  Acting is a continual exercise in uncovering what lies within you–the good and the bad, and to be fearless about the discovery of who you are.  You can’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone–to step out of the way!

Another thing that can help to build confidence is knowing your lines.  Being able to recite wherever you are, at any given moment your part.  Having a keen understanding of the story, of who you’ll be playing and developing a relationship with your character.

Confidence comes from being competent.  It’s knowing that when it’s time to audition or perform, you’ll be able to deliver because you practiced when no one was watching.

So, if rehearsing is important, and a part of developing your craft, it seems that reading lines out loud would be a great thing to do on a regular basis. One should never settle for mediocrity, but push yourself to the limit.  There are many ways an actor can go about doing this.

First of all, DON’T worry about what anyone thinks.  This is about your journey…you’re career…your ability to develop your voice in a way that is utterly believable.

You need to put the effort and time into rehearsing and reading lines out loud in order to build confidence in yourself and in the characters you’re portraying.

We at ReadThrough.com believe in the importance of actors performing live read-through rehearsals.  The more you can practice a wide variety of lines, the more you will feel confidence when you audition and perform.

ReadThrough.com encourages you build the confidence you need by consistently working–rehearsing to perfect your talent.

It’s that simple…

For more information about ReadThrough.com, or to speak with founder Guy Goldstein, please email him at: guy@readthrough.com or phone (518) 258-8823.  Website: ReadThrough.com

ReadThrough.com was designed especially for actors just like YOU!  No matter where you’re at in your career, this revolutionary program allows you to create an acting profile (that’s right… give us your BEST head shot), and you can practice line after line, and record your voice in read-through performances.  You can also download the scene or script as an mp3 and rehearse it anywhere!  Imagine, being able to rehearse your lines while driving in traffic!  It’s revolutionary!

Voice acting: practice makes perfect!

Okay, so you want to be an actor?  So you want to voice act?  So you want to be in pictures? So you want… you want… you want… Well, whether you are a beginner or a pro, one of the first things every actor must do is PRACTICE reading lines.  Lines, after lines, after lines… In fact, your life might seem like one big line after another.  Not only should you learn your lines, you should learn all the other character’s lines.

Whaaaaaaaa?

You see, learning the other lines is a part of being prepared.  You’ll live in a perpetual state of being cued-up…raring and ready to go, and this will make you a much more engaged actor.

Remember the age-old saying, “Practice makes perfect?”  It’s really the truth.  By definition, the word practice means, “Repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintainproficiency in it.”  For example:  If you want to become a body builder where are you going to spend the majority of your time?  Not at In-N-Out Burger, I guarantee that!  You’ll be hanging out in the gym, but not literally “hanging out…” NO.  You’ll be working with weights and other muscle-buidling equipment, EXERCISING and re-working just about every muscle in your body. You’ll have to STRETCH yourself!

Voice acting/acting is much the same.  If you really want to get good, you’ll have to practice read-through rehearsals of script after script, line after line.

ReadThrough.com was designed especially for actors just like YOU!  No matter where you’re at in your career, this revolutionary program allows you to create an acting profile (that’s right… give us your BEST head shot), and you can practice line after line, and record your voice in read-through performances.  You can also download the scene or script as an mp3 and rehearse it anywhere!  Imagine, being able to rehearse your lines while driving in traffic!

Actor Thomas Ferranti is doing just that!

http://youtu.be/uCCYMn9NXtc

For more information or to schedule a conference with founder Guy Goldstein, please email him at: guy@readthrough.com or phone (518) 258-8823.
Website: ReadThrough.com

WHAT? SCREENPLAY WRITERS AND ACTORS COLLABORATING ONLINE?

READTHROUGH.COM is a revolutionary script-performing website using real actors voices, music and sound effects!

SANTA BARBARA, CA (PR)ReadThrough.com announces its new script-performing website developed especially for screenwriters and actors. Users can safely upload their screenplay and the website instantly performs a read-through.

But, that’s not all…it gets better! ReadThrough.com has made it possible to add real actors voices, music and sound effects!

ReadThrough.com was founded and developed by Guy Goldstein, a Santa Barbara screenwriter and software programmer, with a vision to make the reading process easier. This is a convenient way of reading and sharing scripts. Goldstein says, “A buddy of mine gave me his script to read, but I didn’t have the time. Knowing I’d be sitting in hours of LA traffic that night, I wrote a simple version of ReadThrough and actually listened to his script while on the commute. It was so useful that I returned home and started the program.”

Quote start“I think a lot of people are getting excited about it,” he added. “The goal is to change the way people review scripts. The traditional way is a time-consuming process that can prevent scripts from getting seen.”Quote end

Reading a script is not always easy, but with ReadThrough.com, it becomes a pleasure instead of an inconvenience, and it is a great way to help get your screenplay out to the right people in Hollywood.

Whether you are a writer, a producer looking for a new project, an agent, or an actor wanting to rehearse the dialogue on a script, ReadThrough.com makes script reading much easier. Writers, producers and studio executives can listen to scripts from anywhere, download mp3’s, add notes and even share the read-through with others. In addition, a writer can communicate the storyline with music, sound effects and images. When casting parts, writers can readily search our database, ask friends to perform the parts, or opt to simply use our selection of computer voices.

For actors, the computer acts as a scene partner by performing cues and pausing for the actor to deliver his or her lines. Actors can download the scene or script as an mp3 and rehearse it anywhere! Additional features include: public actor profiles, voice acting in real performances, voiceovers and more.

ReadThrough.com supports PDF files, Final Draft 8, Celtx, Microsoft Word, Text and more. ReadThrough.com (Screenplaypen, LLC) was established in 2010 to give writers a quick, easy way to bring their scripts to life through online read-through, rehearsals, script sharing, and hosting actors’ profiles.

For more information or to schedule a conference with founder Guy Goldstein, please email him at: guy@readthrough.com or phone (518) 258-8823.
Website: ReadThrough.com

What’s up with universal appeal?

So, you want to write a screenplay that has universal appeal (don’t we all)?

There are a couple of major things you need to focus on for that to happen:  Your plot and the reason for action.
According to Aristotle, “The life and soul of all drama (tragedy) is the plot,”  and action is related to the want and need/goal of your main character.  In other words, let’s say your protagonist desires or needs love.  His or her need is going to drive him or her to respond or act according to the need.  Micheal Tierno, in his book Aristotle’s Poetics for Screenwriters says, “When a strong desire of a hero relates to all of the action, then the plot can depict a simple ‘portrait’ of the hero.”

So, often times, action is a emotional response of the character’s need or want.  For example:  Remember the movie Cocktail (1988), which starred Tom Cruise and Elizabeth Shue?  Let’s look at the storyline.  Brian Flanagan has just gotten out of the service and wants to make money.  He wants his own business, but after being turned down in several job interviews for lack of education, he takes a job working as a bartender.  His need for money pushes him to take a job that he’s really not excited about.  However, his need produces continued actions (chains of events), to include traveling to Jamaica to work as a bartender at an upscale resort, and meeting Jordan Mooney, the seeming love of his life. His boss, Doug Coughlin also wants to own his own high-end bar, so the two come up with a game-plan.  Once again, this flawed protagonist has an agenda, and his need gives rise to action, pushes the plot forward and will eventually guide the story to resolution.

(Tom Cruise- Brian Flanagan in Cocktail, 1988)

Universal appeal is important because for an audience to relate to a character or story there must be a relationship with the character and the storyline.  So, when Brian Flanagan’s business partner (the antagonist) puts him to a dare, we (the audience) feel bad for him, because it seems like all is lost.  We’ve all been there.  Desire and need are powerful things.  We somehow relate to his plight, his frustration, his turmoil, and that is universally appealing.

Is universal appeal important?  You betcha!  Life is a journey, and we are all a part of it.  For an audience or reader to relate to a character, there must be character traits, familiar moments that we’ve walked through or witnessed.  We know how this character feels because we’ve been there and done that!

According to Aristotle, “A plot must include causes of the action that can arouse the audience’s deepest pity and fear [or laughter and tears]. This means the audience must understand the hero’s thoughts and see those thoughts becoming actions, which in turn reveal a moral quality (character) of the hero.”

Reference:  Aristotle’s Poetics by Michael Tierno

* This is the official blog of ReadThrough.com, a website dedicated to screenwriters and actors, and the promotion of talent through script read-through rehearsals, live voice acting, and actor profiles.  We help to bring your screenplays to life!

Your subject is an ACTION not a person…

Aristotle believed that a dramatic story must have unity if it’s going to move an audience to catharsis.  Do you agree or disagree?  Here’s a great quote by Michael Tierno in his book, Aristotle’s Poetics for Screenwriters:  “The Unity of Plot does not consist, as some suppose in its having one man as its subject.”

What?

(continued…)

“An infinity of things befall that one man, some of which it is impossible to reduce to unity; and in like manner there are many actions of one man which cannot be made to form one action.”

So, what does this mean for those who are writing a screenplay?  It’s important to remember that SUBJECT is an ACTION, not a person.

ReadThrough.com is bringing screenwriters and actors together to promote talent!  Come visit our site today!

How about that voice?

 

You might have a great voice, but voice-over acting is not just about your voice.  It really is more about what you can do with your voice.  That’s right!  Voice-over work is really more about ACTING!  It’s about effectively communicating a message to an unseen audience and conveying emotion and speaking style through the sound of your voice.

You might be the best entertainer at every family function.  You might tell the best stories; every cousin begs you to tell the story again, and again, and you might get all the laughs (secretly you want to be a stand-up comedian), BUT none of that means that you will be a good voice-over actor.  You might be able to convey drama in the most convincing way, BUT… That is not necessarily related to voice-acting. 

Now, if you happen to be a voice-over actor, with a talent that goes beyond family entertainment, then you undoubtedly are committed to the craft, and have most-likely done the following:

  • Studied voice-acting with a coach, at a community college, or a voice-over training program.
  • You have a driving desire to perform
  • You LOVE reading script out loud
  • You’ve attended voice-over workshops.

The following skills are paramount to your voice-acting career success:

  • Clearness in your vocal articulation–always keeping the balance.
  • Consistency in everything you read/perform.  This includes, pacing, volume, annunciation, articulation, energy and volume control.
  • The ability to read copy, advertising, script lines, or anything written, and be the VOICE for whatever or whoever you’re representing.
  • Enthusiasm, even if the writing is less-than fun.
  • Being GOOD at cold-readings.  This has nothing to do with the weather.  This is a skill that MUST be developed if your going to work as an effective voice-actor.  This is all about eye-brain-mouth coordination that can only improve with out loud read-through practice.  Reading out loud will help strengthen this skill immensely.
  • As a voice-actor, you need to be able to consistently adapt to many kinds of characters.
  • You must be convincing.  This is not about being a good used car salesman…NO.  This is about embracing the moment, the product, the character…You are a motivator; you’re a teacher, and you’re a motivator.
  • You must have incredible voice control.  Much like an opera singer, who controls their breath (abdomen) volume and pitch.
  • You must be convincing…

If you are a voice-actor and are interested in being able to practice script read-through rehearsals, you may want to check out ReadThrough.com.  It’s a great place to promote your talent, while perfecting your craft!

Voice Actors Click Here:  Voice Actors Wanted

Reading your screenplay outloud…

 

Every actor and screenwriter alike are told to read their lines and/or script OUT LOUD!  Why is that?  Some might think it’s pointless or a real time-waster, but it does have its advantages.  Sometimes, when we write, we don’t tend to see the fluff and filler stuff, or the extra added dialogue that will clutter up a script.  Reading your screenplay out-loud helps to flush out the writing, the characters and the storyline.  It’s amazing how fast we realize that things are or are not working when we read them out-loud.  In addition, doing a read-through of your script, whether in-the-moment or listening to a recording, helps establish and identify the writing, and establish the characters more.  It becomes so much easier to look objectively at your plot, character development, and the directives.

It is paramount for an actor to rehearse his or her lines out-loud.  Truthfully, if  you only rehearse lines in your head, you stand the chance of assuming that you know your lines far better than you do.  In addition, an actor has to practice his or her sound with the neck and throat muscles, with the lung muscles, the abdomen and the face. The number one rule of rehearsing lines is to rehearse them out loud. If you’re only rehearsing your lines in your head, your mind can play tricks on you and give you the illusion that you know your lines when you read them and learn them silently. Rehearsing your lines out loud will help to establish whether you “really” know your lines or not.

So, for screenwriters and actors alike, it’s all about read-through rehearsals!

ReadThrough.com is a GREAT way to practice script read-through rehearsals, while promoting your talent!