When You Finish A Screenplay, It’s Just a Sketch.

The Finish Line.

Diablo Cody – the writer whom I have borrowed the title of this blog from – is right. My interpretation of this quote is that a screenplay is never truly finished. It’s a sketch, a rough draft, an idea that can always be improved upon. Even when it’s being sold and turned into a film or TV show, things constantly change. Even once up on the big screen, there’s a good chance in this day that the project will get remade or re-imagined. (God, I hope that’s not the case for my work!)

A novel, a painting, a set of drawers… there’s the starting point, the original idea. You do some sketches, or some rough drafts. You might play around with materials, but once you get to the finish line, it’s done.

That’s what I’d like to talk about right now. You see, I made it to the end of #NNWM with my finished script – just barely! I finished it the night of the 30th. It had been my birthday week and if I had planned better, I could have finished it before hand. I didn’t though, but anyway I finished it.

Let me just take you back a few blogs, give you a quick recap on how I write and why I’m doing this challenge. Firstly, my writing style… or my plan goes a little something like this. I come up with new ideas nearly everyday. Sometimes I jot them down, sometimes i keep them in my head, buzzing around, expanding on them, until I either decide it’s a bad idea, or I write it. I usually pick 3 ideas at a time, to work on one after the other. I’ll write a basic story outline, then go into a bit more depth. I write character profiles and sometimes location profiles. I’ll do a bit of research, although sometimes that bit comes much later when I’m re-writing. I need to get my ideas down first.

Then I start writing drafts. I write, print, edit, on a loop. Sometimes I don’t print – I have issues with printers. It’s easier to focus on what I’m doing if i’m reading it off paper though. Then when it gets to a point where I think it’s finished, I send it off to a few close close friends of mine, with a little introduction and set of questions for them to answer. I tell them to take their time, enjoy reading it, and I start a new project. I don’t look at the one I’ve just finished again. Not until I have 3 scripts back from the people that I have sent them out to. Then one by one, I read over their opinions and thoughts, I edit over them and I get them and re-edit them with a fresh mindset. I do my own set of questions to, and I have a list of things that never really worked for me so I can try and change them. Then I end up with 3 finished projects, and I can move onto the next 3.

I do this for several reasons.

1. If I have 3 or more finished projects, I know potentials buyers and agents will take me more seriously.
2. I have a stock pile of finished projects, so if I ever need one at short notice I’m not in a panic.
3. I get stuck in a loop. If get it almost finished, but there’s just that one scene that isn’t write. I skip over it a few times, knowing I’ll figure it out eventually but I don’t ever really come back to it. So I have that break from it so I can come back feeling fresh. I don’t necessarily have it all in my head anymore so I can edit it better. It’s like when you’re writing a dissertation or a novel… if you’re struggling, leave it for a week or two, because reading it will become a habit and you’ll know every line, every full stop, every paragraph break. You won’t notice mistakes anymore, or the bits that need improving. They’ll jump out at you when it’s fresh. That piece of advise came from dissertation tutor. I got lots of great advice from him, but that was one of the best bits!! Thanks for that.

I decided to do this challenge, because my last script – it’s untitled still, unfortunately – was a piece in the making of about… 5 years. I started it in college many moons ago and decided to re-edit it. It was in such a bad way when I re-read it. It took me months to fix it! I finally did though. I’m still waiting for a few responses from that one, but I don’t it just yet. When I saw this challenge (#NNWM, for the 30 days of November you’re supposed to finish writing a novel. I know this a script, but there is a section on the site for just that!) I thought it was a great idea! I wanted to know if I could write something properly without it taking month or years! I’d done it once before… the project I just mentioned was originally written in about 2 and a half weeks… maybe less! Due to personal circumstances, I didn’t write it when I was meant to, and had a an extension on the deadline… not a long one though!

I have proven to myself that it can in fact be done! Even dedicating as little as an hour a night is enough!

So what’s next? This was my second script of three. I have my next idea lined up already. Years and years ago my Mam wrote a book. She never had it published, but she always said she wanted me to make it into a film script. So that’s what I’m going to work on next! I won’t blog weekly on that one, because I have other things to write about but there will definitely be one or two because it’s the first adaptation I’ve ever done!

Here are the links to my other #NNWM blogs in case you’re interested!

Week 1 – https://sweetsilverlinings2013.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/write-rewrite-when-not-writing-or-rewriting-read-i-know-of-no-shortcuts/

Week 2 – https://sweetsilverlinings2013.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/when-your-story-is-ready-for-rewrite-cut-it-to-the-bone-get-rid-of-every-ounce-of-excess-fat-this-is-going-to-hurt-revising-a-story-down-to-the-bare-essentials-is-always-a-little-like-murder/

Week 3 – https://sweetsilverlinings2013.wordpress.com/2014/11/24/writers-are-completely-out-of-touch-with-reality/

Categories: writing

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