05 March 2014

12 Features in 12 Months: ACT I

I haven't posted a lot, but those who don't want to search for it, about a week ago I announced that I was going to see if writing 12 feature screenplays in 12 months will kill you or just drive you completely nuts.  I was inspired by a fellow writer, who'll be chronicling his endeavor as well.

I intended to post something about starting this over the weekend, but it was Oscar weekend, and that kind of throws off the old schedule.  On top of that, I was running a bit long on the script I started writing a few weeks ago.  Instead of being done by the end of February, I hit a snag with the third act and didn't get reach FADE OUT. until yesterday.  But it's done now and sitting on a back burner, so it's time to finally get on to the first feature in this challenge.

The easiest part of every screenplay...

Fortunately, I was able to get some prep work done on one idea.  Unfortunately, I'm feeling a stronger pull to work on a different idea.  So I'm kind of torn, but the common sense in me knows which idea to pursue.

The idea I'll move forward on was first mentioned in an earlier post about what I planned to work on.  But instead of linking to that post, I'll just paraphrase the relevant part:
Untitled Domestic Drama
This is about a woman who goes back to school and begins to suspect her husband is having an affair since her time's spread across taking care of their kids, working part-time, and returning to school. 
This is where the script takes place.  Cryptic, I know.
There's more to it than that, of course, but I'm still tinkering with the details.  I've been meaning to write this one for a while -- I even had a first act written at one point but it was very, very, very terrible -- and I figure since I've gotten the basis figured out, why not actually force it out once and for all.

I feel confident going in and think it's just seeming that it's going to be difficult to write.  It's like I know the kind of story and script I want it to be and while I write something, it won't be anything like what I want it to be.  Like it'd be better if a better writer or someone who knows more about humanity wrote it. 

My frog doesn't use a spear.
I should probably change that.
I mean, I use writing as a way to talk though things I'm dealing with, so I don't feel like I know much about the human condition -- I write to try to figure that out.  I wrote my script The Incredible Frog Boy Is on the Loose Again! as a way to figure out what it means to have faith and what different things in which you can put your faith.  The script I just finished -- Bake Sale -- is about the lengths someone might go to in order to be a better person (or in my case, a better father).  Another script I wrote a few years ago -- Under the Rainbow -- plays off The Wizard of Oz as a way for me to determine what in life makes me happy.

Really, every script is a question I have about myself or in my life.  They're personal stories written under the guise of entertainment, and whether they succeed...  Well, I'm not sure how to measure that.  I'm happy with all the scripts I've written -- sure, they all could use another re-write or two, but what's on the page is basically what I wanted there.  Even if the story isn't that great, my wonderings have been answered.  I just have to get enough time between finishing the first draft and delving into the re-write so I'm not as attached to the story when I go in to improve it. 

That's probably my least favorite part of screenwriting:  Taking the stuff in the script that made me want to write it in the first place and changing it in order to make the story more engaging.  Although that's true for all art, especially the malleable art of writing.  If I was just writing to entertain myself, I'd be floating down a lazy river.  But I want to make a living as a writer, so it's essential that my work entertains and engages others.  And that's the weakest part of my writing ability.  I have to learn to separate my desires for the story/script from the desires and expectations of an audience.

That's what I'll say is one of my goals through this next year:  Find ways to bridge the gap between what I want from a script and what a reader or audience wants from it.  And of course, there are and will be other goals on this journey, though I'm sure many of them won't emerge from behind the curtains until the writing begins and really gets moving.  And since the whole point of this is to demystify the process, I'm not too worried that I don't have any specific goals going into the next 12 months.  I'm not just writing scripts to write scripts:  I'm writing scripts to truly see how to better write scripts.  Sure, I want what I write to be worthwhile, but if half the scripts are crap (and I'm sure that's wishful thinking) as long as I learn something new about the creation of a script or myself as a writer, even those crap scripts can be considered successes.

It's gonna be a long year.

And I'm okay with that.

But seriously, what the hell have I gotten myself into?

1 comment:

  1. "That's what I'll say is one of my goals through this next year: Find ways to bridge the gap between what I want from a script and what a reader or audience wants from it."

    Now there's a goal worthy to pursue for a lifetime. Okay, you've convinced me...If you want, whatever you've completed for the month, you can send to me, and I'll 'verify' your progress (though I'm sure no one would challenge your word). Don't know how much stock you'd take in my 'notes' however. My email's on the MoviePoet site.