Screenwriting: Behind the Scenes

Though I did not get any more pages of my script powered out, I did enough of the initial background work that it should be much easier to get out more than my minimum limit tomorrow.  Just the act of writing down those little details, and drawing out scenes, and finding pictures of places I have in mind is helping me develop the story in a way that will make make the transition from idea to reality that much easier.

Honestly, having a background in writing (I write a lot of short stories) and theater (I was a theater geek growing up) has helped a lot.  It is my belief that a writer, whether of novels, or plays, or radio productions, etc, needs to have at least an understanding of drama in order to be able to get inside a character’s head.  The reverse is true for an actor…you must be able to think like a writer.  In both cases, if you cannot get inside the heads of your character, you are going to fail to bring them to life.

So, I’ve tried approaching my character profiles like a story or a play, broken down into outline form.  It makes it easier to approach the material as both the actor (finding out the whys of the nervous tics, pet peeves, etc) and the writer (delve into the nitty gritty details of the world that makes it real).  So far, it’s been helping a lot.  Though I have not written, per se, I have enough to go on that I can.

Alas, as I mentioned in my earlier post, I have the real world things, like homework, to do.

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Scriptwriting: Discoveries and Unavoidable Delays

It should go without saying that writing a script with a deadline is about timing.  In a perfect world, I’d have every single day free, and have at least 3-5 hours free in each of those days, in which to power out my daily page goal.  Alas, the world…and life…doesn’t work like that.

Even so, with my day yesterday filled with cleaning and relaxing (since I was too out of it to put much thought into writing), I do not consider it a waste.  I am ready and raring to go, now.  Also, since I got a late start, I began my session by sitting down and jotting out some notes, making note of the little details in the character profiles and background that were niggling at me, saying “this doesn’t work, here” or “this won’t work, the way you have it now.”

So, I’ve been storyboarding via rough sketch and a spiral bound.  Just like with my character profiles, I’m learning a lot about my script by doing this…not just the character of…my characters, but the character of the places they inhabit.  Those little details that hadn’t even occurred to me struck me as I was doodling and jotting down notes.

What I’m getting at, in a round about manner is that delays are unavoidable, but instead of beating myself up about what I did yesterday (vs what I COULD HAVE BEEN doing), I’m just happy that I didn’t have a chance to work, less I get so far into my story that I have to ruthlessly delete scenes in order to backtrack and get to where I now know I need to get.

Yes, my revelations mean some revamping (har har, vampire pun about a vampire movie is funny) will need to be done for the central characters, but it will be worth it, if it means that my story flows as I should and allows me to get to the end in a way that feels more organic.

In the meantime, I’m going to continue to power away at this, submerged in my ocean of English Breakfast tea and the Nocturnes of Chopin.

Screenwriting: Character Profiles Proven TRUE

After my initial post, I wanted to sit down and try to write some more.  True, I promised myself NO REVISIONS, but I honestly couldn’t help myself.  To be fair, I had to fix one line of dialogue that contradicted something in my notes, but I also added a fair few scenes to the first part that made it flow into the next bit much better.

After that, I continued where I’d left off, and ended up writing 5 1/3 pages, and left off before what I call the Funeral Scene, because I wanted to devote an entire day to getting that right.  Though most of my script takes places much later in these character’s lives, I’d rather establish key moments as important NOW, than rely on flashback scenes later.  Anyway, the point is, I am probably already going to be ahead of my page count of 75 pages by the end, and a bit longer than that in time, as some of my scenes are quite involved, or action scenes, which take a bit longer than the blip on paper suggests.

Overall, though I am definitely working in baby steps, baby steps are better than no steps at all.  Also, since I have two more weeks to get to my initial 25 pages done (and I’m currently on page 11), I think I’m slightly ahead of schedule.

As long as I motivate myself to do some sort of script work, whether it is planning, character profiles, or just doodling storyboard pictures, every day that I can, I will totally be able to get this whole thing done and in revision by week 15.

I’m loving this process, and hope that my experiences are helpful to someone else going through this process.

Screenwriting: Character Profiles are Key

The thing I noticed before, but I am really noticing now, is that you really need to know your characters, warts and all, if you want to begin to be able to capture them in the format of a screenplay.  A story is all very well, because the author can really delve into their inner life.  Not so, at all, in a screenplay.  If you want to let an audience know just what is going on in those heads of theirs, you need to be able to show them through action and dialogue, without holding their hand and forcing it.

None of this “Hello, my name is ___, and I am a ____” mess is going to work in a screenplay, unless you are literally writing about a support group…which I am not.  So, though two of my characters may have less than 10 minutes today screen time, I still give them comprehensive, five page character write ups.  In fact, the more detailed, the better.  IF I ever produced this myself, or was taken on as a consultant, and was asked by an actor or actress “why do/say ____, instead of ____,” I could either sit down and explain why, or give them the background material and say “THIS is why…any questions?”  So, the more detailed the character background, the better.

Even if you DO know your characters inside and out, the act of putting them on paper in the terms of questions about who they are can reveal facts or take you places that you didn’t know about, or didn’t see as a possibility.  So, yes, maybe that thing I did then was great, but now that I have that person existing on paper, I can do better.

So, I guess I’ll see how well this works in practice once I sit down, but I have the feeling that it’s going to be a very good day today.

Scriptwriting: Small Progress is STILL Progress

Today was a good day, in terms of productivity.  I finished my second of five character profiles, and even learned some things that I did not know about my characters in the process.  Afterwards, I knocked out the first 5 of 25 pages of Part one of my script.  If I keep up this 5 page per day habit, I can have the first part done in four more days.

In the meantime, I’ve made a promise to myself not to get stuck in the endless, disheartening cycle of re-reading and revision.  That will come later, after all 25 pages are together.  In order to get all my thoughts down and not block myself, I need to forget about perfection, and let the writing happen.

This, for anyone who knows me, is my weakest point in my writing.  I’m a perfectionist, and self-critical, but I’d rather get it done and have all the time to tweak it, than not have enough time because I’m stuck in a loop of doubt and script-tweaking.

As I postulated yesterday, my initial storyboard pictures were indeed helpful for me.  I was able to use those images as building blocks, and move from there.  Though I am balking a bit at the dialogue I do have, the action sequences themselves seem at least half way to where I want…and need them to be.

Like I said, I have a weakness for tweaking, so I am going to use this as an exercise in control.  If I am not sure about dialogue, I won’t put it it, or I will leave it as is, until I am more comfortable in my characters skins, and can say for sure whether what I said, or did not say, was right.

Luckily, I have two amazing people to bounce ideas off of, which I will hold back on doing until I am a bit further along.  In the meantime, I will do my character profiles, and bookmark pages I need, and write, and write, and write.  I will write for content, but not for quality.  That can come later. Though I only worked on the script for 2 of the 3 hours, I am listening to my body’s signals, so I don’t try to force it if my brain needs a break.

Overall, I have learned that this is possible, but I just have to do it and baby steps, and just LET IT HAPPEN.

So, here’s to letting it happen.

 

Scriptwriting: Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, It’s WORK AWAY I…go?

It seems that the very act of me typing up my journal entry has inspired me to do some more work.  Though I’m hammering away at character profiles at the moment, doing so has made the ever important act of ~RESEARCHING~ a thing I must do.

I am finding that, if you want to make someone, say, close to 200 that it is easier to get into their head as to where they came from if you can find a historical timeline of just WHAT was going down where they lived at the time…and I HAVE.

I am going to bookmark it and call it my precious, as it is something I WILL need to refer back to, or use as a jumping point, in terms of understanding why this character reacts the way that she does.

So, yes…HERE’S to the beauty of research.  🙂

…SPEAKING OF WHICH…

This edit is coming almost 2 hours later, after I was carried away by research.  Honestly, I just finished the 6 page character questionnaire for a character that is in my film for less than ten minutes.

I maintain that it’s going to be useful for my script.

Scriptwriting: Random Rabid Brain Bunnies

After my first Capstone meeting, I took a few moments to sit down and do some rough (very, very…very rough) storyboard sketches for Acts/Parts 1 and 2 of my script, which ended up inspiring the (potential) pivotal ending scene for Act/Part 3.

Anyway, I wanted to try to visualize some of the initial scenes that I had in mind, before I sat down and got lost in the character profiles.  The initial three storyboards pertain to the opening of Act 1.  I wanted this first scene to be jarring, pivotal, because it is in witnessing their mother’s murder that these innocent children realize the danger of their position.

As I sat down, jotting down notes, and making quick, admittedly hilariously terrible sketches, I found that the very act of putting the images I was seeing in my head onto paper was generating more and more images/content for me to work with and build upon.  Though I started with the initial three opening scene images, this developed into at least four more…two pivotal scenes for Act 2, and one for the climactic scene before the film ends.

I suppose that this both because I tend to see stories and memories in pictures and clips…still images and small film-reels, so to speak, and also because I am a very visually stimulated person.  In any case, one seems to be feeding off another, which may prove very helpful.