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.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

if I get stuck I toss it in a drawer for a few weeks, then try a draft using another character's POV, same basic story but told from another angle... sometimes it frees up stuff

Wednesday, March 5, 2008 at 7:08:00 AM EST  
Blogger writerscrypt said...

Hi Dave,
Your blog is quite the hoot. Would love to chat. I'm fairly new to the whole blogging-internet thing; what is the best way to get a hold of you?



Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 3:08:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Dave said...

Moviequill - the worst thing I've experienced about tossing something aside for awhile is that you do just what you said - come up with an alternate POV or story that is *really* just like the one you just wrote, but different enough that 90% of your writing needs to be cut.

The only way I would recommend that is if you've done/completed the script. That way you've worked through it as you originally envisioned it (good or bad). I've fallen victim to the "let's rewrite 30 pages 15 times" bug more than once and it sucks.

You can write 30 pages - set it aside and re-envision the end which invalidates your first 30. Gruesome game of chase your tail.

Moral: Finish first, then rewrite.

Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 1:59:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Dave said...

Margaret - try e-mail. I tried to contact you but the e-mail bounced and webpage isn't working.


Saturday, May 17, 2008 at 11:29:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

... illicit? ...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 10:10:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Dave said...

Frances - corrected.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 4:16:00 PM EDT  

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