Pegasus Rampant - The Second Draft

Posted Friday, August 29, 2008, 10:01 PM

Writing, they say, is not easy. Just when you think you're on top of things, that you have a great story, an excellent grasp of the characters, and the whole thing is coming together perfectly, something comes along that throws a spanner in the works and totally throws you off your game.

I am halfway through the second draft of my movie script, that I'm writing for my own personal 'writing exercise' experience. I like most of what I'm doing with it; I like my characters; I like the story; I like how many of the scenes unfold and play out; but I have, inevitably, struck a problem. It doesn't, as it stands, work as a movie.

It'd probably be fine if I adapted and expanded the plot into a novel (though it probably wouldn't sell very well and I wouldn't be lauded as the next JK Rowling or anything). And it might work as a comic book, played out episodically. Perhaps. And if I picked a few scenes out to make as a short film it'd be quite promising, I hope. But that's not what I'm doing with it - I'm writing it as an exercise in feature film screenplay writing, so it therefore has to work as a feature film, or else it's a failure.

I noticed early on that the motivations for the characters to go on their adventure were weakly realised, so I knew that in the second draft I would have to add some urgency and intensity to the beginning. I figured out the kind of things I wanted to do but it couldn't be anything too intense, as it would push the rest of the story in directions I didn't want it to go. So it had to be small enough to not impact the story too much, but big enough to add much needed energy to the plot.

Then I realised my bad guy was too static; he wasn't shown as much of a threat until near the end. So I had to introduce his machinations earlier in the story. However, I combined the two problems into one, and now I have my antagonist introduce a sub-plot into the storyline that is continually woven throughout.

But my worst fears are potentially going to be realised: the new sub-plot is threatening to impact the existing storyline, the parts that I already am very happy with. If this means I have to rip out and rearrange that part of the tale, then I will be very disappointed.

Writers will tell you that such things are often the way it goes, and it must be done without sentimentality. Improvement in the final story is all that matters. But, nevertheless, it will be heartbreaking if that's what I have to do.

So I am desperately trying to weave in this sub-plot in ways that will only expand and motivate the characters, and not so it pulls the story down a different track.

The irony is, if I hadn't recognised the problem I saw in the early parts of the story, and had made the finished film as it was in the first draft, it would've been just as good as the B-Movie fantasy flicks that are so often made, as they tend to have plot holes and discrepancies throughout. But my goal is to make something better than that, to prove it can be done if you put the effort in.

And the irony in that is that if I actually sold it and it got made, they'd probably strip out all the things I think are great, and jam in more sword fights and giant monsters, turning it into a mess that doesn't resemble my story hardly at all. Writing scripts is too often a hack and slash exercise, that when it gets released and people dismiss it as rubbish, often blame the poor writing, even though the script they actually put together was a marvellous whimsical joyride of a story, and not the explosion and effects-fest that the idiot director turned it into.

Anyway, the point is I am at a difficult stage of the creative process, and it's stressing me out a little.

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