Friday, January 03, 2014

A gentle suggestion

Warning: The following rant will contain Peter Capaldi levels of cursing.

I'm a moderator over at a beloved screenwriting board. It's a great little community of writers who support each other and ask questions and build relationships and I love it. I've belonged to other writing communities that were not so supportive, one of which was run by a cocksucker of epic proportions. This is not such a place. This board is a great resource for anyone who takes the craft of screenwriting seriously. The moderators and administrators work very hard to make sure it stays that way.

But every now and then, people argue. Because Internet.

So sometimes I'll be all whistling a happy tune as I log in and do a cursory check to see if anything's up. Hey, what's everybody talking about today? Oh look, here's a thread about technique. That should be nice and harmless. Let's say some new writer heard he's not supposed to use camera directions. The thread title is something like "Can I use camera directions?"

So here's me, clicking on the thread, lalala, no big deal, and then


The inside of the thread looks like it got hit by a fucking ragebomb:*

NO, YOU COCKSUCKER, you can't use camera directions! What are you some kind of fucking fuckwit? Get the fuck out of here!

Followed by

Hey, this guy can use camera directions if he wants to. And you know what else, fuck you on general principle.

Followed by

Fuck me? Fuck you! You suck at life! You're probably fat and old and nobody likes you anyway!

Followed by

Oh yeah? Well I challenge you to a goddamn writing duel, you little shit.

Meanwhile, the original poster has run away, still completely confused about whether or not he's allowed to use camera directions in his screenplay.

It's my job, and the job of other moderators, to curb these kinds of things. Every mod has her own style of handling the situation. Mine is to be like

Hey, what the fuck is wrong with you guys? Knock it off, and such.

And then they're like

Don't listen to her! Fuck you some more for some reason! What were we arguing about? Let's argue some more!

It keeps going until somebody finally closes the thread, because once the argument starts, it becomes a snake that eats itself. Yet every single time, I still think I can stop the carnage with scolding words.

I know I can't make the Internet stop being so bitchy to itself, but maybe some of you can do me a solid today. Next time you get in a discussion about screenwriting technique, try not to take it personally.

Let's say you HATE using camera directions in your specs. Okay, cool. You don't have to. But let's say this other guy does. You can say

Hey dude, I don't like using them because I'm not the director and I think that's the director's job.

And then the other dude can say

That's cool. I like using them, though. I think sometimes they allow you more room to give a sense of tone to the story.

Then, you know what? That dude can go off and write with camera directions, and you can still write without them, and it doesn't fucking matter. The fact that he writes with camera directions does not mean you have to. It doesn't mean you're wrong not to. It doesn't mean you're a bad person or a better person or a stupid person or a genius person. It just means you prefer to use a different, completely acceptable method to achieve the same goal.

You are allowed to disagree with each other without it becoming a goddamn national fucking incident.

There's only one rule. ONE. Does this method make your script better? Do it. Does it make your script worse? Don't do it. The rest is just bullshit minutiae.

*The board censors curse words. This is my retelling and my blog so I'm gonna fucking curse.