Is There A Draft In Here?

Posted Friday, April 9, 2010, 3:52 PM

This won't be a long post. I don't want to talk too much about the new screenplay in case I jinx myself into not ever finishing it, just like so many attempts that have gone before.

But I have completed the storyline, to at least a level that I feel can now be attacked and shaped into a first draft script, so have begun the task of writing it.

Its current working title, after floating many different options, is "ShadowGlass".

Assembling the story elements was an interesting development. I had a few sequences in mind when I first came up with the story, and wanted to keep those intact as much as possible. There's often a risk of losing those initial elements after you throw in all the important sub-strata to flesh a story out to completion.

For example, the story may have been inspired by a scene where the protagonist has an argument with a character over something that has a really funny line in it, and you love that idea so much you build your entire plot around that. Then you see holes and gaps that need filling in, so as you flesh those out, other elements start to dominate, until finally after a lot of juggling it all falls into a decent script.

And then you realise there's no place for that initial scene that had the funny line; No matter how hard you try, you can't fit it in anymore.

Well I didn't want that to happen, so tried hard to keep the main elements as close to my initial idea as possible. I did need to find new motivations for some of the characters, but once I found those motivations, they actually added new threads that I could follow, which helped support and strengthen the story, including a whole new scene at the climax, so that was a particularly fortuitous idea.

The first draft is the most important, but also the least precious. The idea is to just write and write and write it all out, no matter how unwieldy or convoluted or boring any given scene may be to read. It will be dry, and perfunctory, and overrun with clich├ęs, and possibly be an absurd load of nonsense.

But then once you have that all on (virtual) paper you have something to edit. The second draft is where characters can develop. By the last scenes in the first draft, you know your characters pretty well, and understand what they are doing, so you can now go back to their earlier scenes and rewrite their dialogue and actions to be more consistent and fulfil their motivations.

The second draft is also where you can see where some scenes are unnecessary, or can be combined into one, or are being too heavy handed with their message, so need to be rearranged or cut or otherwise tweaked to flow. Structure and pace is as important as character.

Third drafts are where you play with the dialogue to make it sparkle, to tighten it so the pacing is right for each sequence, and make it readable. That can often be the draft that you would send around to get reactions or even sell, depending on your skills.

You'd likely get feedback to adjust some things, and they may be small, but they may be big, in which case a fourth or fifth draft may be on the cards. By then you know the story and characters so well, it's usually a simple job to make those adjustments without it negatively affecting what's already firmly in place.

Anyway... I'm not there yet, I'm on page 10 of what will be a 100 page script. Ask me how I'm going after a couple of weeks have passed.

1 Reasoned Responses:

TS Hendrik said...

Well I wish you luck on it. I tend to write a bit differently. I usually get an idea and if I dwell on it too long I start to write it in my head before I can get it to paper. So I usually just take an idea and let my hand do the writing, rather than outlining.

My editing is similar to yours. Though I actually like to write things out long hand, and then edit as I type it up. I guess everyone has their own process. And I know well the jinx of talking about it too early.

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