Thursday, 19 March 2009

Captain's Blog 19.03.09

The Writing Process II: Doing the Donkey Work

Ok, based off what we've already covered, we have the basis of our story outlined. We have a pretty good idea where it's going, and we're now ready to start, right?

Yes, we are! :)

The big thing about writing is you MUST DO IT! There's no magic way for it to get done if you don't sit down and actually put pen to paper or finger to keyboard; no-one else is going to sit down and do it for you, so you are not only the workforce on this, but also the project manager and the hard taskmaster as well.

Everyone writes differently, at different times, speeds and in different locations. Some like to use dictaphones to get down ideas or specific scenes, others just sit down and turf it out. Work however suits you best.

Writing Speed. Now, some of us are blessed with the ability to write quickly; note that this doesn't mean we necessarily write well! I tend to be able to write fast when I get really caught up in something, but when I do my editing pass (see later), I immediately spot spelling errors, problems with certain lines, etc, etc. I don't let that stop me when I'm brainstorming; the important thing is to get it completed, then worry about the minutiae later. Get the thing written first before you start messing around tweaking here, changing there, adding things right, left and centre. To go back when I'm halfway thru writing something and start making changes is death to my creative process and, I suspect, to most other people's. You spot something that needs correcting, so you do. Then you see something else, and something else. Maybe it'd be better if they said this? Oh, now that line won't work so I have to change it.... now THAT won't work, so I have to change it again... and so on, and so on...

Leave the editing til the end! There'll be plenty of time to worry about that afterwards... for now, just get the script written and worry about the content later.

Where shall I do it? Set out a time and place to write; outside distractions are the worst thing possible for any writer. There's nothing worse than settling down to start an evening's draft, to then get distracted by the telly, or kids playing, or a million other things. You HAVE to be disciplined if you're gonna get this finished sometime this year, so apply that discipline to your writing from day one.

How much is not enough? How much SHOULD you be writing at one go? Well, only YOU can decide this. A page? A whole scene? The whole script? Or just one line? Sometimes it can take several hours of agonising to get one line "just so", so a productive night's work in that case may be one or two lines. In another case, you might suddenly get hit by your "muse bat" and take off, writing the whole thing in one sitting. Neither way is wrong; if it works for you, great. If it doesn't, find a way that does!

I think, therefore it is...
Always, but ALWAYS, think about what you're writing. If you slap any old crap down on the page, it will show. Don't try to write about a subject or in a genre that doesn't interest you, or you'll be doing yourself a disservice. Trying to write a detective noir story if you really don't like that kind of tale isn't going to lead to a happy ending (at least, not until you get a lot more experience under your belt, at any rate), primarily as your disinterest in the writing will shine through off the page; stilted dialogue, formulaic scenes with no care taken to construct them, etc. Trust me; it won't be a movie YOU will want to watch, let alone anyone else :)

In the next part, we will examine the actual construction of the script and use a few examples to demonstrate what I've been blathering about upto now :)


BiggsTrek said...

Good point about "Just Do It" (Don't tell Nike...) Tarison once told me the same thing, and it helped a great deal.

Also, I tend to fall into the category of "fix it on the fly", which is wrong, I know. I just can't help myself. It's just that I'm such a terrible typist and that's the way I write emails and other documents as well (always trying to correct the hideous typos when I spot them). Better get out of that habit when it comes to writing scripts, I guess. (I'm doing the same thing in this very post!)

As to distractions... yep, you're right again. I really need a good way to keep my mind focussed (might help if I turn OFF the TV!)

Killian said...

Don't get me wrong; my missus can work perfectly well if she has the TV on, but it drives me bleedin potty; horses for courses, I guess. The most I tend to have on is some music in the vein I'm writing about to keep my mind focussed on the task at hand, and sometimes not even that (if I get on a roll, I sometimes don't even notice if the tracks I'm listening to have finished :))

BiggsTrek said...

Yeah, I get ya. I know I can write with the wildest distractions in the background if my mind is happy and I know exactly what I want to write. Other times I can't write a word if even the smallest sound is heard.

And unfortunately, the latter seems to be the norm.

sisch said...

We have much in common when it comes to writing; Killian! :)
Like you, when the creative juices flow, I don't stop - there's time enough to worry about sentences, spelling, etc. later.
It's hard enough hanging on to my mind when the story comes at full speed, there's no time to think about what I'm writing... it's like an avalanche, you have to go with the flow.

Also a good idea - once you've finished the script, before starting to edit, go away from it. Let it lie for a day or two. That way you'll read it with fresh eyes, any plot-holes or fishy sentences jump out much clearer. Oh, and I do all my first scripting the old way - writing by hand. Only later does it get typed down, and will be brought into a coherent order.

Distractions.... I don't like them. I prefer to write in silence, often the best ideas come early mornings, when everyone else still sleeps!