27 February 2014

Writers Write -- So That's What I'll Do

So it's been more than a month since the last post -- I told you I'm not that great with this blogging stuff.  But something's going to happen that'll strong-arm me into making regular posts and updates and what-all.

In the previous post, I laid out my plan of what I'm going to be working on.  Thing is, a few days after that post I started working on a totally different script I didn't even mention.  I've got about 15 to 20 pages before the first/rough/vomit draft is complete. 

It's weird, writing I mean, planning out a script -- outlining or using notecards or whatever your method is -- versus what actually happens when you write the script.  I've got the same basic storyline for this script, but the scenes and paths that get us there are about 75% not what I expected.  If anything, I suppose that shows how you can pre-write and prep a script and still have the freedom to write whatever you want.  Remember, you're not bound to the prep work.  That's just to get you immersed in the story.  Writing the script is a different beast all together and you'll probably find things the made sense on the notecards won't work when put into use.  Also, it's your script:  If you want to change something, change it.  Go ahead.  If you don't like it or it doesn't work, you take it out.  Problem solved.

Okay.  Now on the nitty-gritty...

I'm what I'll call a semi-active member on a screenwriting website called Movie Poet.  It's a great site to get you to write short scripts and read other short scripts and a bunch of other things too.  Check it out, it's worth it.

I tend to romanticize typewriters, but if I had to start
a new page after every typo I'd probably have to kill myself.
Anyway, a fellow member over there spent the past year making a short film a month.  His main goal was to use each production to learn and understand the craft of filmmaking.  It was a crazy endeavor, but he churned out some nice films.

This year, he's planning on writing a feature screenplay (85+ pages) a month.  Twelve months, twelve features.  His inspiration was seeing a seminar that claimed to teach you how to write a feature script in six weeks.  He figured if you're just looking to complete pages with little rewriting, you could write a feature in a month.  (An aside:  I looked through my screenwriting books and found one that taught you how to write a feature in 21 days.)  A couple years ago, I wrote a feature in just under three weeks, so it can be done.  Sure the script wasn't that great, but it was written which meant I could revise and rewrite and make it great.

After he mentioned his plan, I thought, "Hey, I could do that."  And I jumped on board with him to write a feature a month for the next twelve months.

Here's the thing:  This isn't about writing the next blockbuster or Oscar winner.  It's about writing.  The focus in on quantity, not quality.  And after a year, we'll each have twelve scripts to look over and then choose the ones that have the most potential.  It's like hiring someone for a job:  Here's the pool of candidates, now who's best for the job.  But in this case, we're creating our pool of candidates.  We're going into this with a mindset of just write and understand the craft better; it's a demystification of the screenwriting process.

So that's my plan for the next twelve months (on top of everything else I'll be doing).  We're starting on March 1st with the first scripts.  I've got a few ideas -- including the ones mentioned in the previous post -- so my foot's on the gas, ready to go.

Yeah, twelve of these...
My plan (now) is write these scripts and use this blog as record of the process.  I don't know if the posts will be every day or every few days, I'll definitely be on here more to keep everyone interested up-to-date with the process.  You'll know when I'm on a roll and you'll know when I'm trudging through.  And while the goal is to complete a feature script in the 30 or 31 days provided, once the calendar flips, we move on to the next script.  Ideally, there'll be a few days to rest and take stock at month's end, but not every script will come to fruition so easily.

And now, this is where you come in.  Yes, you see, it's one thing to say I'm going to write a feature a month, it's another thing to actually do it.  Now I could easier post I'm writing the scripts, but where's the verification?  Who makes sure the pages are actually being written?  Well, I'm hoping to get some volunteers to read the scripts at the end of the month (and maybe give some notes -- though it will be a mess of a first draft) and gives the thumbs up, that yes, I wrote a feature in the timeframe allotted.  The easiest way to volunteer?  Post in the comments or message me on Facebook.  And if you just want to read one script or two or all of them, that's up to you.  I'm just looking for third party verification as I trek through this crazy journey.

***Off topic:  As an amateur Academy Awards historian (I don't get paid, hence my amateur status), I'm a big Oscars fan.  I'm planning to post my predictions (and personal choices) in the next day or two, so be sure to check on that.***


  1. Hi, Zach. Angela A. from Movie Poet. Remember how we make arguments together? This sounds really ambitious! Actually, I know this is ambitious. Hats off to you.

    I guess you're comfortable with writing with no outlines, or do you already have most of your scripts outlined? Last year I tried to do 50K a month for 12 months writing novels and I fell into trouble trying to figure out when to outline the next story without taking away from writing the current one...Didn't go too well.

    Anyway, at the end of the year you'll have a big pile of scripts, and if you push yourself, you'll write stories you never thought you would have. I know I did. Good luck!

  2. Thanks, Angela!

    Usually I write from a general outline, just something that hits the main plot points. My plan for this challenge is to use the first week to prep and outline -- really just getting and making sense of the story. Then it's scripting the rest of the month. I figure it's about 3-4 pages a day or about 30 pages a week. I've done it before, so I know it's doable, but it's still going to be a struggle.

    Even if I end up with, say, 8 finished scripts and 4 almost finished, that's more than I've done in the past year.

    Thanks again!