The Bag Means Your Mind

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

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Idea

Since finishing my script in late April, I haven't written a thing. I wanted to take some time off and just be. And be I did. After a month I started getting restless, and for the past two weeks I've been having trouble sleeping. Then I remembered that this wasn't anything new. During periods of inactivity while writing my last script I would have trouble sleeping. I don't know whether it is my subconscious guilt over not doing what I should be or if it's just a creative need, but as soon as I started to write, I had no trouble sleeping at all.

My body is telling me in no uncertain terms that it is time to stir the ink well and pick up my quill. The trouble is that now I am starting from a blank page, and starting from a blank page is hard which is why I've been procrastinating starting anew. I even entertained the idea of rewriting my first script armed with the writing wisdom I've gained over the years. But that would be falling back, and since General Patton is one of my role models I'm not interested in retreating or holding my ground. I've got to keep advancing or die trying.

So to start anew I need an idea. I don't take ideas lightly. I can't just decide I want to write a romcom and then put characters to screen. A script takes a lot of time to complete. The goal of the script is to get made into a film. I only write when I see a hole in the cinematic tapestry. I need to write a movie that I've been aching to see on the big screen but which hasn't been done before. I'm not trying to invent a new genre or anything. For instance I read Frankenstein in High School and it really captured my imagination in a way that I felt was never captured on screen. Then Kenneth Branagh's Frankenstein came out and I hoped it was going to be the movie I wanted to see. It wasn't, so I still see a hole that I want to fill. Maybe someday.

But the idea isn't enough. I've got a text file full of ideas, but they are just tenuous wisps of thought barely tethered to rock. They need form and they need that spark of innovation that will make that one eyebrow raise when you hear it. For my last script I had an idea of a character I've been thinking about for years, but he had no adversary, nothing to really strive against, so I thought and I thought and I thought. And then it came to me. It was right but it was still flawed because the situations weren't nearly interesting enough. In my mind it was a cute idea, but nothing that you couldn't yawn at with mild interest. I needed something that made you stand up and take notice immediately. A something that, from the end of the first scene, makes you realize that you are in new territory. That a road is being newly paved in front of you and that you are among the first to put tire to asphalt. And I think I cracked it, I really do. Time will tell.

Now I have another idea I've been kicking around for years. It has no mooring, no form. I've got to crack its puzzle before I write FADE IN. It seems daunting, but I need a full night of sleep and I don't think I'm going to get it until I start putting the pieces together.