I have a bunch of difficult choices in front of me. Why? I’m starting a new screenplay and I have to get it out of my head and onto the page. The first problems to hit are to do with the process of writing. Do I know what I want to say? Pretty much. Am I excited about it? Yes. I have the genre. The characters march around shouting their problems. I have a two-page synopsis.
Sketched in the sand with a blunt stick is my outline. Fragments. I need to join the dots. The trouble is, getting the story on the page and formatted is the hard part. Repeating the process for 90+ pages seems impossible from where I stand right now. There are artistic choices, and then there is process. Actually I just made tea, so I’ve postponed the inevitable for a little while.
Execution Is A Bitch
Execution is the roach that ran out from under the coffee machine. You tried to nail it with the tip of a steak knife, but you missed. You missed. You missed. Abandon coffee and hunt for chocolate.
Execution got derailed by social media, panic at waking-nightmare level about #Brexit etc. And my chair. I hate my chair. Let me rephrase that. It’s a good chair but I hate sitting on it. It’s a kneeling chair and it solved the problem of me hating sitting chairs, but actually, I dislike sitting at all. Change to a standing desk. Yes, I know, I really must get off my butt and do it.
Execution is needle-painting embroidery. Execution is brain surgery. Execution, if the truth were known, is rocket science, as in, “I know! Let’s go to the moon!” “Great idea! All we have to do is build the space ship and fuel up.” “Awesome. You get the coffees. I’ll go down the DIY store.”
The Process of Writing
I have this thing partially formed, in my head. (It already sounds like a horror syfy, but I’m off track and that’s not one of my genres.) Where shall I start? Let’s kick off with questions about the process of writing.
Shall I start with characters or plot? What about story structure and character arc? Can I have the arc before the character? Interesting question. I think it means starting with theme. Promising. Should I start with the logline? One tutor recommended that. Another tutor says she writes them afterwards. She writes a bunch of them, because, you know what? Loglines breed in the nest of roaches in the wall behind the coffee machine. You have to get digging and uncover the little bastards before you can trap the biggest and juiciest.
Anyone Know Where We’re Going?
I need a map. In screenwriting, it’s called an outline. I despise outlining. Process revision: Do not get out of bed. Skip day. Go straight to next sleep. I’d sooner climb in a waterlogged barrel of maggots and sing Christmas songs than write an outline. Unfortunately, it has to be done. Also, I lie. I started outlining some days ago.
So now I have a stack of disordered pages with scribbled notes on them, which brings me to the next process question. How do I get these under control? Shall I write the famous index cards, by hand? Has cork board, lacks motivation. The coloured pins are nice, though. If I write the cards, I get to use the pins.
The muse advises me to resist diving straight into the screenwriting software because she’s not happy with the outline. It’s not ready; however, the idea of creating “moments” on the virtual cards and moving them around is very tempting.
You Are Here
Start at the start or start at the finish? It’s logical to begin on page one and work through to the end. Tell your story, they say. No. That’s a killer for me, and besides, Jake Krueger gave me permission to start anywhere I like. In my head, I have two scenes jumping up and down like Shrek’s donkey, screaming at me to pick them. I expect I’ll start with one of those while I continue to wrestle with the outline.
My main characters are nagging, so shall I work on structure and theme? Shall I throw mud at the wall or make pencil notes on Blake Snyder’s beat sheet? Probably the latter, there’s less cleaning up afterwards, and you know what? Blake Snyder’s BS is great for joining the dots. It’s a start.
I’m worried I haven’t done enough world building. For this concept, rich visual detail will be the icing on the cake. You know the moment when sugar hits the roof of your mouth? That. I’ve watched a ton of videos and got half a notebook full of research, but is it enough? Do I know enough to write this thing in any case? Writers, are you worried? You should be. Check out Steven Pressfield on Resistance. Doubt joins Indecision and Procrastination. It’s going to be a fun day.
Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard
Who said that? At the end of the day (I love clichés), or preferably at the beginning, you have to Start Here. You choose. To put it another way, you have to immerse yourself in the process to get it done. Open your writer’s toolbox and have a go. It doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect. You can fix it later.
At my Start Here – Indecision – I’ve worn a dent in the bench at the bus stop, and as I told you, I hate sitting, but in order to finish, I have to start somewhere, so there it is.
Image: Courtesy of Picjumbo.com