Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The process of writing, or "Why is there blood on your keyboard?"

I have a method of writing that seems to work for me.  MOST OF THE TIME!  Basically I stare at the blank screen, concentrating so hard that beads of blood appear on my forehead, fall to the keyboard, and write a script.  At least that's how it feels at the moment. 

Truthfully, I DO have a method, and it's simple.  I find someone that I trust.  I go out to coffee with them, and tell them "Let me tell you a story..."  I tell them the story, making it up as I go, watching their reaction, fixing problems as I create them, and taking notes all the way.  If it's someone I really trust, they even take notes.  After several hours, a great deal of coffee, and many trips to the bathroom (coffee does that to you), I have the basis of the script.  The funny thing is that I usually start with something like "So there are these five kids driving along a back country road and they're talking about stuff that doesn't mean anything."  In my notes I write "Scene 1:  Introduce characters".  By the end of the few hours, I am writing dialogue and action, and the notes are very specific.

"Hey, doesn't that mean that you have a writing partner?"

No.  I tend to trust people who just want to hear a good story.  I tend to be less trustful if they are wanting to put their two cents in.  Why?  Because this is my story I am trying to tell.  However, I do have a friend, Adam Gaulding, who I trust enough to put his two cents in, because Adam never gets offended if I say "Let me tell you the story first..." and he listens intently.  If I say "I am having trouble with this part...", he knows that means that I either need to talk it out, or he is going to ask it out.  Asking out is when he asks me questions that lead me to the answer.  Sometimes Adam just says "I would do this...", and it either leads me where I want to go, or I agree, and Adam begins to tell his version of the story.  At that time, I have a writing partner.

So I am writing the first of the five scripts, and Adam has been my sounding board.  I tried to tell the story to someone else, and they looked at me like I was NUTS!  In fact, they told me I had a disturbing mind. 

Well, it's a horror movie, you know.  No fluffy bunnies and kitties here.  Oh, wait.... Actually, there is a fluffy bunny in the movie, but it's dead.  Anyways...

I take my notes and simply begin fleshing them out, one scene at a time, from start to finish.  I try to keep each scene story driven, unless my notes say something like "Jeff and Kerri talk while walking.  Develop characters."  Then I get to play with these people in a couple of quick scenes that develop them a little bit.  I hate intrusive character scenes where someone blurts out their whole life for no reason other than the people watching have nothing else to identify with.  I prefer characters that the audience loves or hates based on their actions, inactions, or reactions.  I can take a douche character, and turn them into the hero that way.  Or the weak girl becomes strong, and the audience sees it along the way.

However, we're talking about the first draft here, and my first drafts tend to be sort of question and answer sessions between the characters, or long expositions that don't work or propel the story.  FIRST DRAFT!!!  Because when I am finished with the first draft, I immediately go back and read it.  Not until the last page is written, though. 

Did you hear me?  NOT UNTIL THE LAST PAGE IS WRITTEN!  If you start re-writing early on, you can get stuck in the process of writing, and then rw-writing the same stuff until you lose interest in the story and give up on it because you are either bored or disconnected to it.

So, don't do that.  Finish writing it, and then re-write it.  But finish first.

If you're wondering, I am on the finishing part of the first draft.  It has a great pace, and it's fun.  But it is going to need a re-write.  I will get with you next week and we'll talk about that.

See you next Wednesday night!

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