Alright, so this week…LIFE gets in the way of a comprehensive update. That’s a new one. In any event, I am off the grid for a bit, BUT: here’s the penultimate #SixWeekSpec update as the Selected Ten raced to put the finishing touches on their scripts and get them submitted. As of the writing of this update, they had less than 8.5 hours to upload their completed screenplays to The Black List. Will they make it? WELL WILL THEY?
Stop yelling at me. This is MY blog, goddamnit.
“I’ve hit page 90. It’s a bloody miracle, but I have. I don’t seem to be getting beyond 90, because every time I add something new now I take something else away. But, hey, no one said it had to be 91 pages.
Over and over I hear about people overwriting and cutting back. I wish I had an excess of spellbinding material to kill. I just can’t see this ever being me, and perhaps it’s my place in the group to tell others like this that they’re not alone. Please tell me I’m not alone.
Once I had written all the scenes I had outlined I kinda got a bit stuck. It seemed too big a task to go through the whole thing. So I printed out a lovely satisfying stack of paper that I went through and marked everything that stuck in my throat. Somehow this used a different part of my brain – a part that wasn’t so exhausted.
I’ve still got a few things that don’t make sense. I’ve still got a bit that says they are saved by ‘something scientific’. But if I get knocked down by this thing that has made my husband ugly sick I will still have 90 pages to upload to the Black List.
Did I mention I wrote 90 pages?”
As I’m sure Claire will come to find, this is a very, very, very typical growing pain in transitioning from short films to feature scripts – feeling like you don’t have enough material. With each successive attempt at the longer form, you grow more and more comfortable with the structure and the pacing of features and inevitably make your way to the point where you have too many ideas as opposed to a couple too few. Regardless, I’m thrilled for Claire. Looks like she’s going to surprise even herself!
I typed those two words this morning: 6 weeks, 107 pages, lots of hard work and a few sleepless nights. I felt elated, but this evening I feel like crap.
Right now, I hate my script. I’ve read it through again, and wonder how I could have spent so much time turning in such shite.
But however my script is received, I will always be very proud of it. I think it’s better than my previous effort, and I did it from start to finish in 6 weeks. I feel like I’ve learned more in that time than in the last few years. The challenge has been a fantastic experience, it got me writing again instead of just dreaming about it, I’ve been introduced to some great new people and feel like my avocation has been given a real kick-start.
I’m going to spend the next couple of weeks playing my guitar, which I’ve missed very much, then I’m going to sit down and start my next writing project.
Meanwhile, I’m about to upload my script to the Black List – it’s called TOGETHER AS FOOLS – and anxiously await my evaluations. Good luck to my fellow #SixWeekSpec writers.”
“I hate this. Get it away from me. It is awful. I hate it. I never want to see it again. I hate it. Fuck off, script! Let me know what you think as soon as possible.” Oh, I know this well. So many of us do. Welcome to the club, Damian.
“I can’t believe the six weeks are up. They went fast but–personally speaking–working to a deadline did wonders, and not just in terms of my productivity. The time limit put a vice grip on my insides, and I honestly think a little extra creativity got squeezed out along with all the anxiety, fear farts, etc.
Speaking directly to that: We’ve found that no matter what, over the course of writing, you yourself inevitably change. And you have to reconcile your current self with the one who started the project. You have to remember all those details and themes you were setting up at the time, and worry about if they changed or, if not, that you implemented them with clarity and intent. Surprisingly, we are still very confident that we got our thematic point across—in a general way—the first time through. Phew.
Yo, you guys, this is where shit gets real romantic (in a tasteful way, don’t worry). We only had one person read our draft/give us notes. This was a big call to make, but we knew if this particular reader was okay with it then we were in good shape. And this person is Jerren’s fiancé, his ‘ideal reader’. That’s a term Stephen King coined, referring to the person you most want to impress with your writing. This is either from his book ON WRITING or his other book KING’S KISSES, we can’t remember which. Either way, real romantic shit, Stephen, good job. That’s why you rival Nicholas Sparks in the romance category. She’s a writer and ex-film critic, so after she read it and generally liked it, we knew that this last few days were gonna be all about sleeping in, coasting, eating waffles, and not worrying about writing at all. J/K yeah right. We’re furiously reading, reading, reading, reading again. Cutting things and moving small pieces around. Making sure to get in all the small details that we may have forgotten. Also, eating waffles? In this gluten-free climate? Get outta here.
There’s been some big take-aways from this crazy project, ones that we will implement going forward. One of the biggest is that, because of the time constraint, we’ve forgone the typical ‘finish a draft, get notes, revise’ process in favor of revising each other’s work AS WE’VE BEEN GOING. The other big take-away is to stop having pillow fight breaks every hour on the hour. So we learned a lot. This whole thing has been (CURRENTLY IS) fun, exhilarating, panic-inducing, eye-opening, bloody, sweaty, teary, and awesome. Our best writing experience alone and together. It’s been a real blast.
(Yes that’s a compliment and an expression of immense gratitude to Geoff, but we didn’t want to get all sappy about it.)”
Part 1: Fuck yeah, this is a first draft!
This is probably the most coherent first draft of a feature I’ve ever written. The characters arcs are relatively clear, there are some jokes and bits I’m really excited about, and it has the best momentum of a script that I’ve ever written. That’s making me pretty excited, especially since its just a first draft, so the future drafts will be even better. But, unfortunately…
Part 2: Fuck, this is a first draft.
For every bit that works, there is another that doesn’t. The momentum stuff might be in my own head and the characters might not translate at all. I’m morbidly curious about what these pro readers will think, because this is script is far from being ready in any sense more than just technically being complete. Will they like it? Is Dan’s career over before it began? All this and more… sometime next week. Stay tuned! “
I’m a good 20 pages (I think) from my ending, but I do know where I’m going and how and why I’m going to get there. For now, at least, it makes sense. I’d like to re-read before I submit, so that I’m sure it makes sense.
I’d like to make sure my scene transitions are good. Check for grammar and spelling, of course. And just say goodbye. That’s not such a bad thing, is it?
It looks like I’m going to hit that 90-page-mark this time. Relieved that I have a screenplay on my hands and not a short.
Yeah, my characters debate free will, love and possession, all the while making a religious pilgrimage. Yes, my knees are knocking together, but I’m glad I tried.
I suppose everyone has to say goodbye eventually. It’s much earlier than normal for me. Much like ripping off a Band-Aid. I’m going to have to just do it.
The excellent Scott Myers of Go Into The Story has noted that it takes about three screenplays to notice a pattern in the way we write. This screenplay has showed me a few things.
2. I love outlining.
3. Visual writing is not my strong suit.
4. Dialogue seems to be.
5. Love is a frequent theme.
And other insights that I will eventually make in a journal when I have a chance to think about it.
I’m overawed at how awesome the other people in this challenge are. John August actually agreed to meet Christopher. Jesse and Jerren are up to God knows what – building a nucleur bomb or writing a screenplay? Heaven knows but it usually sounds cool. Last update, Damian had an outline and now he has, what, 60 pages. WTH? Rachel is writing a home improvement comedy called ‘Nailed It’. That makes me cry, it’s so good. I wish I’d thought of it. With kids and a full-time job, Claire has probably written something totally hard-core and awesomely sci-fi – I’m so jealous! Chris has done everything under the sun. And now he’s writing screenplay. And Delaney and Emily are youthful and full of promise. And Dan writes for the Onion. Le sigh.
And man, oh well. I’m writing a sci-fi romantic comedy. Those are three of my favorite things. But do they belong together? By that same token, I should put my husband, kittens and Nutella together and see what happens.
In any case, there’s one more update after all of this is over. Is there? If there isn’t, I just want to say I love you all *sob*.”
I was very happy to dig in again, and find the content of those pages buried somewhere in the depths of my story, but that’s when the ‘notes’ started coming in. The few people that read my first draft enjoyed the relationships that I had just so painstakingly edited out. I then mentioned to them the major shift in my new script. They had questions, I had a few answers, but the obvious truth was that I had to find the Goldilocks of my stories, not too little, not too much, just right.
This past weekend I blasted off to the Bay Area to see my girlfriend, which normally means at least five hours in the car each way. As of lately, this has become my office, and where I do the real legwork. It’s like the ‘Shower Theory’, except in my car and I’m not naked. I think about the script, talk things out, scribble down ideas, just letting the story churn.
This time I tried something new. After I painstakingly added ‘voices’ to all of the characters in my script, I plugged my laptop into my car stereo and was “read” my script aloud while I drove through the state of California. It was fun to hear it being read aloud, even if it was with the generic computer-generated voices.
As for the remainder of this week, I am officially cutting myself off. I’m temporarily moving into a small house with no television or internet so I can focus on my writing and finish up strong.”
I actually re-outlined it upon finishing – I made a chart of every scene, a brief sentence on the action of the scene, then made notes on what in the scene needs fixing. I find that this chart is easier to work with than my 145 pg document when I’m trying to find scenes that won’t be missed. I’ve cut it down ten pages, and it’s been a great lesson in writing economically.
The best thing about this last week, is re-reading the script in it’s entirety, and realizing that it’s not as bad as I thought it was. I actually like it. A week and a half ago I was fully planning on not letting anyone read it for a while. As I’m punching it up, and making everything more concise, it’s turning into something that I feel like I will eventually be very proud of.”
For the record, most of it has been done for a while. But I had this chunk in the middle I was REFUSING to write because I thought it would suck, and I finally just got drunk and wrote it. (Yes, I’m drunk on a Monday afternoon. MY PARENTS ARE GOING TO BE SO PROUD WHEN THEY GET HOME.)
So now I finally have a FULL STORY with no holes in it. And about 48 hours to edit the shit out of it.
The reason why I ‘m just now writing those last scenes is because I thought that once I was done, I would have this complete product that I absolutely HATED. And I didn’t want to feel that way about something I worked so hard to put together.
But here’s the good news… I DON’T ACTUALLY HATE IT.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t particularly like it either. I know that, even after working pretty much nonstop the next two days, I’ll be turning in something I’m not totally happy with. I know my script will be something really, really neat someday. Just not today. Or tomorrow. Or the next day. And I’m finally okay with that.
In other words, I feel the same way about my script as I do about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Or Zach Braff. None are particularly off-putting, but there’s nothing all that fucking great about them either.”
My last couple of updates haven’t really explained what I’ve actually been up to. These past few weeks have been interesting for me. I’ve had numerous reads and feedback and notes from friends. I’ve got a hefty stack of 3×5 note cards with changes that I’ve put through. I’ve done all things I wanted to do, and understandably I’m bricking it.
Here is some full disclosure on your ass. Because I wrote it so quickly, and have done a fair amount of rewriting, and have had a lot of feedback; I’m now in the position where I have less to hide behind once I get my feedback returned. Yes, I only had six weeks, but my biggest fear now is borne out of the fact that I’m really pleased with what I’ve written.
So what happens if it’s shit?
I wish I could say, ‘It’s all part of the process, to help me grow and develop…’ and I know it is. But, right now I’m too close to it, too emotional. Whatever happens, I’m proud of myself for doing this, and getting it done. Who knows what comes next, but as long as I take it onboard, and keep writing, that’s all that matters.”