Writing On Spec

An award caliber procrastinator discovers a new and dangerous pursuit to keep him from actually writing another script. Why another Blog? I love to talk screenwriting. I love to talk story. I live in Richmond, VA. It's almost easier to get produced than find another screenwriter here. We are the anti-LA.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

30 page curse

Ok - here's the bad thing about our writer's group. And when I say "bad thing", what I really mean is, "here's the thing that kills many writers unknowingly due to a simple, valid decision the writer's group made."

The group couldn't read 90-110 pages every two weeks - it's really too much to expect writer's to crank out on a regular basis. Thirty pages, however, could be done. You could write 30, rewrite it and write a new 30 all in a year. That's not too much to expect. So with that logic, and a small group of writers, it was decided we'd critique 30 pages every two weeks.

The downside of not having a mentor, formal training (or hell, 15 years of experience) is that you don't know where the pitfalls are.

Here was one that hit me good - on a regular basis. It doesn't have to be 30 pages - could be any arbitrary number; the end result is the same though. You don't complete a script, you just keep rewriting.

For me, I'd write 30, get feedback, re-write 30, get feedback, etc. ad nausium.

Now, if I had followed my earlier advise (worked out a solid premise/logline) this would not have been so much of a problem. But, nobody to tell me this, remember? So, off I go with pages of notes and new ideas.

Now I have a new 30 pages which is, again, engaging, but leaves the readers with the end question of "what's it all about?"

This has led to one of my newer truths, which (after a premise) is to write through the whole story as soon as possible. Just as executives, directors and actors will all have notes for your script when they read it, so will you after a few months. In fact, I'll bet that some sequences will seem totally lame - or you have much better ideas now!

With that in mind, it's best to get a draft down while you still have a strong feeling of where you want to go and what kind of mood you want to be in the story. I'm sure I've heard this advise before, but with over 50 books and more magazines, it escapes me now.

So, there you have it. Dave's first rules of screenwriting:

1) Hammer out a logline/premise so you know where you're going, what's going to happen and who your lead character is going to be.
2) Write it all down as soon as possible to get a first draft

Man. It sounds so easy. I'll have to do that tomorrow.

4 Comments:

Blogger The Moviequill said...

I too am a believer of Barfarama Writing, just get it all out on the page first, worry about actual serious writing on the rewrites

Tuesday, May 23, 2006 at 4:57:00 PM EDT  
Blogger A. M. said...

I dunno about the low aim of your group. It doesn't sound like much - even for people who work full time. And when you have a completed script - then they can't manage to read the whole thing and critique it in its entirety? Reviewing one script every fortnight is doable. Perhaps that's a question of priorities at work. Or perhaps people underestimate the value of reviewing, what they learn by doing it, and hence rather write/rewrite their own stuff than read and critique.

Sorry to sound critical. I do think, however, that it's important for unproduced writers to "get up to speed" if writing is supposed to be more than just a hobby.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006 at 1:23:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Twixter Scripter said...

I've signed up to join the group that's doing the 14 Day Screenplay. I have my premise so I know where my story has to go. Now I figure the only way I'm gonna get it out of me is if I tear it out of my flesh over a grueling two week period. I can edit for hours, a single page even. It's filling the page in the first place that is tricky.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 at 10:52:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Dave said...

a.m. The problem with these groups in places like Richmond, VA is finding a group of dedicated writers.

When I joined I was in my early 20's and I was the youngest in the group for almost 10 years.

There are people in the group that have done well, but few with the passion you find in places where the "biz" keeps motivations up.

Anybody would read/critique a full script if you got one, I read several, but if you had to finish a script before getting a critique, I know that there wouldn't be many meetings because nobody would have a script.

Add to that many of the writers turned out to be "new" writers and inexperienced and having to read a bad script was painful... very painful.

Thirty pages turned out to be a good length and we'd do two scripts a meeting. Then if the writer put the rest of the script together, they could ask for volunteers for a full critique.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006 at 3:59:00 PM EDT  

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