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.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Reach Out

No, I'm not talking about the Cheap Trick song from the Heavy Metal soundtrack, I'm talking about the act of writers reaching out to their fellow writers for help. Writing is often pictured and spoken of as a solitary art. Hours, days, months toiling away plastered to a chair writing or typing away as we hammer out our story beats. Well, sometimes we get stuck. Get, not blocked, but just unsure of where we're going with a story. It's at this point that a writer's best friend can be another writer. Just a conversation to elicit some intelligent thoughts and fresh ideas into the thought process can make a huge splash in the creative pool of the original writer.

For me, I've been fortunate to belong to a group of writers for many years. Writers who will willingly give their time to read or listen to some of your thoughts and offer some suggestions. All it takes is a willingness to put your ideas out there and not be judgemental when you hear what's coming back. Be stimulating...if the place they're going is left field, see if you can't provide more information to them to either steer the idea back into your ballpark or, and this can be marvelous, provide enough information so they can steer your story into their ballpark! Sometimes what you thought was the right idea needs to be adjusted or tweaked into something new and different.

For me, one of the easiest things, and let's face it, most fun things, is to take a story or a script that doesn't have a ton of things wrong with it and punch it up. Offer suggestions that might just heighten the various situations a little. Sometimes people are so close to a story, they just can't see the whole thing and looking from a fresh perspective is all that is needed to lay out the whole outline. Then the writer can go back and write with a solid destination.

Now. This kind of fun is not to be confused with critique. Rewriting somebody's story should be left to them or at the very least to a request to assist with the rewriting. I once submitted a horror story and instead of getting some honest comments, I was told how I should change all the scenes in my first act to make it a comedy instead. Had I said, "this isn't working, does anybody have any suggestions?" that would have been expected, but in a critique format, you say what you believe will make the writer's current story stronger.

So make sure that you're not the only writer that you know and talk with on a regular basis. Writing is tough and there's no reason why we can't make things a little more encouraging by allowing somebody to refresh us with some stimulating thoughts.