The Bag Means Your Mind

A delightful mix of insightful comments and ignorant assumptions about screenwriting... and such.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Ready. Set. Slow!

So I’m all pumped up to write my second draft. I've built up my energy via the outline I constructed, gaining potential energy with each reengineered scene. I hoped that when I finally started drafting, the dam would burst and words would gush out of me.

No such luck.

I’m exposing my inexperience here, and that’s OK, because this blog is about chronicling the struggles of an emerging writer*. What I didn’t take into account was that while quickly writing the first draft I smoothed over problem areas and ignored others. There were scenes where the escalating conflict wasn’t easy to illustrate so I would either use a cliché or write on-the-nose dialogue to get me through to the next scene. Now, I’m attempting to write something I can show other writers, so I’m taking time to get scenes right. Newsflash! That takes a little time. Right now, I’m probably averaging closer to three pages a day which is off of the five or better I was expecting.

I’m at the end of Act I, and so far the page count is on pace with my bloated 165 page first draft. I’m trying hard not to panic. After all, Act I was fairly developed in my mind and it shouldn’t be surprising that the addition/subtraction that went on yielded roughly the same result page wise. I’m fully expecting that Act II will see a substantial reduction in pages. In fairy tale script land, Act II will end at around Page 98-100, giving me just 20 pages to wrap up the story in time for the credits.

On a side note, with this draft I’ve started using Google Calendar to chart my writing time. Yes, this is a scary idea and means that I will see all the time I wrote (and didn’t write). It means I won’t be able to claim I wrote 30 pages in 12 hours in one day unless I did (unlikely). At the end I will be able to chart my progress, and develop some metrics that perhaps I can aim at beating the next time around.

For the record writing does not only constitute the explicit act of word creation but also embodies time I specifically devote to crafting my story. This does not count thoughts that pop into my head while I’m on the john or in the car or negotiating a unilateral disarmament treaty with the Hessians. This is the specific time I block out to sit in a chair or pace around a room with the specific intent of crafting a story. Oh, and the actual word creation part as well.

Right now my calendar is private, but I may separate it out and make it public, so that others might be able to see it and laugh and point and judge about how I’m not dedicated to the craft. When I succeed, it may serve as a guide to others. Should I fall, it may mark potholes to avoid. Either way it should be useful.

As for the script, I thought I’d be done some time in September. Now I’m hoping I’ll be done before Austin. Hopefully I’ll finish in time to recraft my logline and develop a 90 second pitch that will win me the pitch competition…again. Only this time I’ll be without my writing partner and a big part of what made last year’s pitch successful. It’ll be an uphill climb for sure.

* Yes emerging. If I don’t believe in myself, who will?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Don't Move Until You See It

I finally finished my 2nd draft outline, and I only had to look like a sucker for two and a half months! Yeah it took way too much time, but I'm finally at a point where I like the story choices I've made and am reasonably confident that I can deliver a 2nd draft that is under 130 pages. My first draft had over 80 pages of actual football action, so I feel that getting the page count down won't be a such a herculean task.

So why did it take do long to get this outline finished? Well it took a few weeks to just create an outline from my first draft. Then I started to cut and sculpt working at my own pace instead of frenetically writing towards some arbitrary deadline. The result, I hope, is a well designed story that will result in a script I can be proud of.

For now Evil Tom has run off to Australia (with the rest of the criminals*). I will soon reenter drafting mode. This time I’ll pay a little more attention to the words and try to produce something I can show to my peeps out there. You know who you are. My hopes are to have something to show within the month of September, but you never know how it will go. I will keep a log of my time and see if it takes me more or less time than the first draft did.

With my next script, I hope to cut these times down (mostly the non-writing/outlining/dreaming times). My problem is that it isn’t easy for me to see the story, for it to solidify in my mind while in the outlining, story forming process. I suspect this is why most young writers hasten to FADE IN. They need something tangible to work with because a bulleted list on a page just doesn’t cut it. I think that after a few more scripts the story will become more concrete during the outlining process, cutting down the time to FADE IN and reducing the chances that I’ll have too much story for a conventional 100 to 120 page script.

See you in a few.

* I kid. Australians are a nice and wholesome people, at least that is what I’ve been told to say by the Australian Tourist Council lest someone cuts me while I slumber. Don’t fuck with the ATC.