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Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Zero

So here I am, back to zero. If you take a look at the progress bar on Where Are You Seventeen? you'll see the tank is empty again. The next draft is upon me. After taking a few weeks to wrap my head around the changes I made I took some inventory you could say. I read Linda Seger's book Making A Good Script Great which I highly recommend. She includes something that I really don't see a lot of and that is what are the building blocks of a great scene. There are many helpful insights in the book but like all schooling there is a point where you have to trust your instincts and go for it. The downtime did get me thinking about how I write.

One thing I really got to understand is the power of the rewrite. As much as it can seem like an uphill battle it really is your greatest asset as a writer. If you are writing a spec screenplay it does not go out until you think it should. That freed me up in a lot of ways thinking that everything I was writing can and will eventually change but only for the better.

I'm also finding the value in economy. Lean and mean is the way to go. Write what you mean and mean what you write. Be as colorful as you want on the page but don't bog down the screenplay by writing miles describing the look and smell of a car interior. Unlike writing a novel where you can do many things like recapture something for the reader in five pages of dense description, we are dealing with screen time. Compression and expansion.

During my break I collected a source of go to notes in case I get in trouble and need a refresher course. I'm going to break down Seger's book into a checklist for the end of this current draft. Each section will ask relevant questions regarding the topic discussed. For example, under Creating The Scene I'll list questions like, Do all my scene's have a reason for being in my story?

Another thing I'm doing is reading then printing out all the columns from Wordplay and binding them up for easy reference. Seems that those two might know a thing or two about writing for the screen.

This may all seem a little insane to some but it's something I'm taking seriously. The words of Seger, Rossio and Elliot are not gospel. They are guidelines that you can follow if you choose to and really good ones at that. Just don't allow all this advice to turn you inside out. I think the minute you start freaking out about a plot point falling on page 24 instead of 27 you are going to be freaking out about other things that in my opinion have little relevance to storytelling. After hearing a podcast of Stuart Beattie speaking about his career he made it clear that at some point you need to throw it all out and write your story. The only rule, don't be boring.

This is the draft that's going out to a small group of confidantes. This one has to be on the money or at least pretty damn close. My plans are to write this draft, work on an outline to a new screenplay while waiting for and absorbing the feedback for Seventeen?, make changes accordingly.

So for now I leave you all, it's time to fill up that tank.

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