Category Archives: Screenplay

Shaken, Not Stirred

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here. It’s Skyfall day!

Image from Skyfall – Official Movie site –

If you’ve hung around the Scribes blog long enough then you know we are movie fans. I’m sure I’m not the only James Bond aficionado around here. I started my 007 love affair at a young age, first watching Sean Connery, George Lazeby and Roger Moore on ABC with my family. At the time, I had no idea they were heavily edited. And, of course, all the double entendres went right over my head (Pussy Galore!).

The first James Bond movie I ever saw in a theater was Moonraker. One of the more campier offerings, but I distinctly remember everyone loving the metal-mouthed bad guy Jaws, played by Richard Kiel. I was probably in my early teens and still pretty naive about all the innuendo!

Over the years, I faithfully followed all the Bonds as they changed over time. I was thrilled when Pierce Brosnan finally got his chance with the Astin Martin. And while, I was sad to see him go, I loved Daniel Craig in Casino Royale. The harder edged story and the intensity really made me fall in love with the franchise all over again.

As writers there are some lessons to take away from the Bond movies. Part of Bond’s enduring success is a formula that’s stood the test of time and multiple actors playing our hero.

1. Action – I can’t think of a single Bond flick without several pulse pounding action sequences. And they aren’t there just for the thrill value either. They have a purpose and serve to move the plot along (although sometimes you have to wait until the end of the movie to see all the connections).

2. Babes. Lots and lots of babes – skimpy outfits required – Aside from our favorite secret agent, there are always at least two sexy women. One could be loosely considered to be the “love interest” (at least for the duration of the movie). The other (mostly in the earlier movies), slept with Bond then ended up dead later. Who could forget Goldfinger? Jill Eaton dead on the bed, clad only in gold paint. Or in Moonraker, when the sexpot is eaten by dogs. After a while, the first woman to have sex with Bond had the life expectancy of a red-shirted ensign on Star Trek.

3. Villains – no one has more fascinating, campy villains than Mr. Bond. Granted they have stepped away from some of the more cornball aspects of the series (Man with the Golden Gun – extra nipple anyone!). 007 always shines best when the villains are a match for him . Who can forget Sean Connery strapped to a table with Goldfinger cackling overhead – “No. Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!” Classic.

4. Gadgets – Bond has done it all and with the most amazing gadgets. Explosive pens, cars that morph into submarines, even a rocket jetpack. And the cars. So many beautiful and classic Astin Martins. I know, they strayed away from the AM in some of the films, but I hear it’s back and more awesome than ever in Skyfall.

5. Super sidekicks/happening henchmen– Q, Miss Moneypenny and Felix Lightner. They’ve all helped anchor James Bond and provide a sense of continuity no matter which actors have played them. And those henchmen – Jaws, Oddjob, Xenia Onatop (the fabulous Famke Jensen) and May Day (Grace Slick). There are way too many to name, but for a complete list – click here.

6. Exotic Locales – the locations are characters in their own right. I’m pretty sure Mr. Bond has been just about everywhere – including space.

7. Awesome catchphrases – Nothing says Bond like – “Bond, James Bond.” Or “Shaken, not stirred.” No one can quip like 007. There is always some humor. Depending on the actor and the decade, it’s dry or downright corny, but we fans love it all the same!

8. The Opening Credits – Nobody does it better. The classic theme song.That gun barrel eye view often followed by an amazing action sequence which culminates in opening credits (silhouettes of nude models, weapons – you name it) often sung by the pop star du jour.

Okay, back to writing. Yes, I know I got a bit carried away. Watch any Bond film and you’ll find all or most of these elements. And if you’re wearing your writer goggles, you will find the basics elements – the call to action, GMC, twists, black moments, love (okay, sex) scenes, and final victory.

I’m sure Ian Fleming, when he was writing his books in his hideaway Goldeneye, had no idea that fifty years of movies later, his characters would still be alive and thriving. Something most of us can only dream about.

I’m looking forward to seeing Skyfall. Anyone else? Favorite Bond actor? Favorite movie? Bond moment? Bond girl, villain, location?


Dead Men’s Houses

Hi, all. Suze here. Happy Thursday!

There’s something sad going on in my neighborhood. A house is coming down. Not just any house, though. It is (or was) a classic New England saltbox built in the 1740s. The last owner of the house was an elderly woman whose family had lived and farmed there for generations. She died a few years ago, and the place has been vacant since then, a victim of the economy. Her absentee heirs managed to sell off one parcel of the farm, which fronts on a busy road on one side, and a large medical building went up. The parcel with the house, which fronts on the same busy road as well as my residential road, did not sell, most likely because the heirs were asking an astronomical amount of money.

The old girl’s got good bones!

I’ll be honest. Until the “For Sale” sign went up, I had no idea the house was that old. I thought it was a newer home built to look that way. At some point it had been re-sided with shakes over the clapboards, and the place was in darned good shape. It didn’t have one of those name plates you see all over New England showing the name of the original owner and the date the house was built. I’d never been inside, only knowing the owner to nod and say hello as one or the other of us was taking a morning walk.

Now the house is nearly gone, and it’s bittersweet. On the one hand, my town is losing one of its ancient homes, and my neighborhood is losing a piece of history. On the other hand, the house isn’t actually being destroyed. A post-and-beam company is  dismantling it, tagging each hand-hewn beam and support so that it can be reassembled somewhere else for a person who truly appreciates its significance. I have hope for the old place. Not so much for my neighborhood. I’m sure a subdivision will go into that acreage eventually.

I may lose some of you here, now that I’m about to wax literary. Everytime I go past what’s left of the house, I can’t help but think about a passage in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables. Bear with me, okay? Matthew Holgrave, the mysterious daguerreotype artist, is a boarder in the House. He is speaking to young Phoebe Pyncheon, the last descendant of a once-proud family:

I ought to have said, too, that we live in dead men’s houses; as, for instance, in this of the seven gables!”

“And why not,” said Phoebe, “so long as we can be comfortable in them?”

“But we shall live to see the day, I trust,” went on the artist, “when no man shall build his house for posterity. Why should he? He might just as reasonably order a durable suit of clothes,–leather, or gutta percha, or whatever else lasts longest,–so that his great-grandchildren should have the benefit of them, and cut precisely the same figure in the world that he himself does. If each generation were allowed and expected to build its own houses, that single change, comparatively unimportant in itself, would imply almost every reform which society is now suffering for. I doubt whether even our public edifices–our capitols, state-houses, court-houses, city-halls, and churches–ought to be built of such permanent materials as stone or brick. It were better that they should crumble to ruin, once in twenty years, or there-abouts, as a hint to the people to examine into and reform the institutions which they symbolize.”

The Turner-Ingersoll House in Salem
Now, I’m fairly sure Hawthorne/Holgrave is not actually advocating tearing down every building on the planet every twenty years and building something new in its place. What he is saying is that we should examine our beliefs about who and what we are as individuals. The histories of our families and of our communities should not shape or define us completely. Ultimately, each of us is responsible for creating her own “house” — whether that’s the physical building in which we live, or our own consciousness. Take what you can from the past, but build a new future on it.

Done with the literary criticism here! (You’re lucky. I could go on and on. I absolutely adore The House of the Seven Gables and can talk about it ad nauseum!) Click here for more information about the Turner-Ingersoll house in Salem, Massachusetts, Hawthorne’s real-life inspiration for his novel.  I’m pretty glad this place is still around. It’s one of my favorite places to visit. As for Hawthorne’s other most famous novel, The Scarlet Letter, I’ll tell you a secret. I’ve always thought that would make a wonderful musical. Can somebody call Andrew Lloyd Webber for me?

What about you? How much do you allow your history to influence your life? Or if you’re not feeling self-reflective, what book would you most like to see turned into a musical?

How to Turn a Manuscript into a Screenplay by Connie Neumann (aka Connie Mann)

Happy Sunday, Katy lee here, and today I have author, Connie Mann here to share with us her exciting journey from manuscript to screenplay. So, readers, sit back and enjoy the show!

Now take it away, Connie!

“Writing a Screenplay” had been penciled in on my list of “Things I want to do someday” for quite a few years. I’d written fiction and non-fiction books, articles, devotions, blogs, but never a screenplay. Every so often an idea for one would pop into my head and I’d give some thought as to where to start. That usually entailed pages of scribbled notes on a legal pad, followed by hours of staring at a blank computer screen–with regular interruptions to pace and consume too much chocolate. After a day and a half or so, I’d give up and move on to something else. But the dream lingered, just off screen, as it were.

Then one day during a conversation with my son, Ben Klopfenstein, who works in the film industry, the screenplay idea came up again. He was directing his first feature-length film (he’d directed multiple shorter projects) and was looking for a screenplay. Did I have any stories that might work for what he had in mind?

I gulped and said I’d think about it. But the idea took hold and despite my fear of the unknown, I told him I’d give it a try.

First, I read everything I could find on how to write a screenplay. But my favorite resource, by far, was “Save The Cat” by Blake Snyder. With my manuscript in one hand and “Save the Cat” in the other, I started taking my story apart, piece by piece.

Novels and screenplays are two very different creatures and the rules and expectations differ. I had to learn a whole new way of looking at things. Here are some of the differences:

Long View vs. Condensed Pace

When you’re writing a novel, you have lots of room to roam. You can develop settings and backstory and subplots and anything else you want. In a screenplay, time is condensed. Only conversations, interactions and conflicts that move the story forward get space on the page.

Introspection vs. Action

Characters in a novel can think about things—and we the readers are privy to those thoughts. Actors can only perform actions. So if the movie-goer needs to know about Jack’s secret, 10-year feud with John, how will you show that?

Settings vs. Locations

Novel settings can change from page to page. Not so in a screenplay. Every time the story changes locations, the whole cast and crew will have to pack up and move. So you limit locations wherever possible.

Different, isn’t it? But the process was a fabulous creative challenge and I enjoyed every minute of it. Clear Slate Films agreed to get involved in the project and I was privileged to be on set during the filming (which almost NEVER happens). I got to see my story come to life, which is something I’ll never forget as long as I live. Matthew Ashford (aka Jack Deveraux from Days of our Lives) and Julia Denton(K-Ville, The Contract Killers) were amazing to watch and work with.

The whole thing has been a huge labor of love, but we’re thrilled that our romantic comedy, Catch of a Lifetime ( is just about ready for release. A premiere is in the works, so if you visit the Facebook Fan Page, Catch of a Lifetime, you can get all the latest news, photos and info. You can even pre-order a copy of the movie from the website. We appreciate your support more than words can say.

I’ve so enjoyed being here today and I’d love to stay in touch. Feel free to stop by my blog, any time. I’ll be posting more blogs about the movie process, and also offering encouragement to fellow dreamers.

But while I’m here, I’d love to hear what you think. Have you tried to turn a manuscript into a screenplay? How did it go?

Thank you, Connie for being here today! I will admit that seeing one of my stories out of my head and up on the screen, playing out in real life, would be a dream come true!

Readers, for a seak preview of the movie, click here:     

For more information about Connie Mann, visit her blog page. She loves romantic suspense, and her Florida-set novel, TRAPPED! is available now.  She’s also a USCG-licensed boat captain, so when she’s not working on her next story, she’s piloting boats along Central Florida’s waterways.