Breaking My Story
So I've fallen off the writing wagon again.
I strung together about 10 straight days of at least an hour a day, but then life swarmed in and knocked me off track.
Now I'm trying to scramble back on, Indiana Jones style.
The problem is that I'm working on a new script, that I have a rough idea of the story of; it's a fairly high-concept buddy comedy. I know where it starts, I know where it winds up, I know stuff that happens along the way.
Not enough stuff, though.
And therein lies the problem. Because I've always been a writer who too-often wrote by the seat of his pants. Who just never worked out enough of the story beforehand.
Which works, if you have a zillion hours to give to writing, as I did in my single days.
My Nicholl semi-finalist script was written in the most time-consuming way possible. Literally, I wrote draft after draft, throwing out things that weren't working, and bending the story in a new direction, and then another one, and then another one.
The draft I wound up with is a solid script, but it took at least 20 full drafts, and I left endless excised sequences littered on the side of the road.
It's not the most time-effective way to write. At all.
My second-favorite script I actually wrote as a serialized treatment/story first, sending chunks to a friend in e-mails, so that when I finally typed it up the first draft was much, much closer to where it needed to be.
Since then I've tried to be outline guy, but the irony with my screenwriting group is that it doesn't really facilitate this. Because I need to come up with 25 pages every month or so, even if I'm in outlining phase.
So I knocked out a first act of this buddy comedy, and everyone loved it. The problem is that I really don't have solid concrete sequences for acts two and three, just basic ideas.
I hadn't really "broken" the story. And it really needs to be broken.
So that's what I'm working on now, just trying to figure out the basics. Who my characters are, what they want, how they are pursuing this need, what their flaws are, what their arc is, what their journey is, what conflicts they face along the way.
Figuring out how the story best serves this -- and how all this will best serve the story.
You know, basic ingredient stuff. In theory, it's much easier to figure out now than when I've written 40 pages that are ultimately not going to work.
The problem is that I write best when I'm actually in a scene, writing. That's when my mind comes up with great stuff, just being in the moment.
What I need to do is translate that to when I'm just sitting there with a pad of paper, beating out the plot.
It's one of my admitted flaws as a writer. Not taking the time to just sit down, pre-writing, and ask the important questions about my screenplay and what its basic story elements are.
So that's where I am now, a process that is cluttered by the fact that in 13 days I need to bring in another 25 pages. It'll probably be the first 25 again, reworked and hopefully setting up a story that has been worked out a lot more than it is now.
But that's writing.
Last weekend, KUNG FU PANDA made an impressive $60.2 million. YOU DON'T MESS WITH THE ZOHAN also did well, making $38.5 million.
I like Adam Sandler, though I wish he'd make better movies, though clearly there's no real economic reason to.
SEX AND THE CITY came back to Earth, dropping 62.8% in its second week, though its opening was the biggest for a romantic comedy ever, and it crossed the $100 million line yesterday, on day 11.
It'll be interesting to see how Hollywood tries to recapture this female audience (surprise! it exists!) in the future. A lot may depend on how THE WOMEN does this fall.