Friday, May 14, 2010

There's A Method To My Madness!


There’s nothing more exhilarating than typing FADE OUT, sitting back, and letting out that sigh that says, “I’m done with this one!” It’s a great feeling of accomplishment. I pat myself on the back for ten seconds and then print it out.

“Oh! You shop it around?” you ask.


I’m going to share with you my method of making a kick butt screenplay.

First, write the darn thing! You’re not a writer if all you do is complain that someone stole your idea and you’ve not written a lick about it. Write it!

Then, find yourself a group of people who will not kiss your butt, yet are supportive in your endeavor.

I happen to be surrounded by people who love my ideas and I’m constantly bouncing ideas off of them. When their eyes light up and they exclaim, “I would SO go see that!” I start making rough outlines.

By rough outline, I mean I take a beat sheet and give my idea a small amount of framing. Then, I start fleshing it out a bit. I ask people what outcomes would be better, what twists would be cool… the point is, I get a free focus group on what people want to see. I write the script. I let people read the script.

“What confuses you about the plot?” I’ll ask. “Can you see everything I’ve written?” If the answer is no, I tackle that section. If they are confused, I know I need to work on setting things up earlier.

I enjoy this part of the writing because this is where I really get to “meet” my characters.

Melissa Scrivner, a writer on the hit series CSI: Miami stated in an earlier interview, “I feel like on the first draft, the characters don’t speak to you until you go through the pain of rewrites. Then they become real to you.”

I couldn’t agree more.

I’ve recently completed a script. I’ve been working on it close to a year. I don’t even know how many rewrites I’ve already done on it. My main character, in the first draft, was calculating, cold, and could kick some serious tail. Action packed, yes, but there was nothing human about her. At all. It was through the rewrites that I found out why she did what she did and why she was who she was. She revealed her humanity to me, not me forcing humanity on her. The character became a breathing person on my pages. Strange to say, but it’s true. And right now, on my pages, she’s in her truest form. A director will see her differently. A producer will see her differently. The actress will see the character differently. And I’ll have to let her go and be who they want her to be. I'm okay with that.

I wrote this for me.

That doesn’t mean I throw what people tell me out the window. The people I have who read my stuff critique it. They know what to look for. They show me grammatical errors and mistakes. I’m glad to have them around! If they say that something confuses them, then it will confuse the READER and that’s who I need to be on my side!

I do not use flowery description. That screams you’re an amateur if you do. Precise. Short. Words. Bingo.

I have to say, I’m a blessed woman to have the people around me that I do. They read my drafts, lines of dialogue, scene descriptions… and willingly! What a great group of people I know! And the best part, is that when I say, “Gut it!” or “Bathe it in blood!” (Meaning red ink, of course!) They do. They know my feelings aren’t going to be hurt. I want to know what is wrong. I don’t want to send out something that is not professional. If you don’t have that kind of support and you want critiques, feel free to shoot me an email. If I have time, I’ll do it.

Just don’t act like Raul. (check him out on a few posts past).

Different people have different methods. Don't be afraid to try! What method works best for you?

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