LA Observed: Los Angeles media, politics and sense of place since 2003
In the tradition of Chandler, Mosley, Connelly and Towne, “Right of Way” will be a murder mystery set in L.A., with the feel of the city inhabiting every scene. We’re hoping the story about solving a crime (or getting away with a crime, or catching or not catching the criminal—we’re wide open here, folks) echoes a story about Los Angeles itself. The region, both in real life and as hinted at in the script’s opening pages, is a place on the verge of great social, demographic and economic change. The tension behind that shift should provide plenty of subtext for our screenplay.
Writing submissions should be between 1-5 pages. No preference will be shown for longer or shorter entries within that range. Perfect syntax, spelling and grammar are not vital, but the more you can make a scene hum the better.
We would hope our contributors include successful screenwriters, rank amateurs and everyone in between. Those unfamiliar with screenwriting style and format might want to look over some examples of produced screenplays, which can be readily found on the Internet and at any bookstore. Don’t let a lack of expertise dissuade you from participating. If you have something great to contribute, we will help smooth out the rough edges.
More important is your ability to keep the story moving seamlessly. Someone reading the completed script without credits would ideally think it was written with one writer’s voice and vision.
Pacing is critical. You might write a wonderful scene that doesn’t fit where you’ve put it. If so, it will delight readers as a runner-up selection, but it won’t be chosen for the script.
This is the easiest screenwriting assignment you’ll ever have: 1-5 pages, and you don’t even have to know what they’re leading to. Make sure you have fun with this and that sense of fun is reflected in your writing.
Writing a tight screenplay is tricky business. Doing it this way, as a group without an outline, may be impossible. There will be times to write dialogue, times to ratchet up the action, and times when merely setting a scene in a particular place might open up wonderful possibilities. Submissions may be chosen for how they develop existing characterizations or for the way they introduce new characters, minor and major. Ideally, we’ll also be exploring a theme that may not reveal itself for a while. We’re traveling through the dark here, with each submission shedding a little more light. Writers who exhibit an understanding of these needs will be gratefully welcomed to our endeavor.
The project will continue approximately 6-12 months, until our producer deems the draft to be complete.
Eric Estrin