Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A mirror in the south-west

Here's an example of someone who is also writing their own screenplay (not a novel/graphic novel like me) but you can see how their blog posts can often times be very much like my own:

Writing a screenplay
As my family knows (and a few others) I’ve been working on a screenplay for several years now. It’s coming along and I was trying to explain to my wife how hard it is. Here’s a glimpse at my writing adventure.

I think I have a pretty good story (who doesn’t think that about their own work!)

In the beginning I just tried to write it out, mostly in linear fashion, kind of let it happen in front of me and see where it led. This might work for some novels but not for me.
Yup - sounds like me.
I started listing scenes I thought I’d need to move my story along. Then I put these scenes on 3X5 cards.

The whole thing was still too overwhelming.

I decided to work on one scene at a time. For the time being stop worrying so much about the scene before or after – just get the one I was working on right. Writing one scene at a time helped me not to get bogged down and move along in the “don’t get it right, get it written” method.
Sounds like he's read Syd Field's Screenwriter's Workbook.
With this I was able to write about 15 scenes – maybe 5 of them are good. Still working on the others.

But in this scene-by-scene construction something else started to pop up: continuity.
If a character says something in a scene then I have to make sure it is supported earlier or later by other statements or actions.

Chronology. My story is linear. I don’t plan on flashbacks or telling things out of sequence. Still I need to make sure things happen in the right order.
Lefevre's Redemption became a very linear story after I chopped out the time travel (which can only make things worse, in most cases). This was an afterthought - so good on him for getting to this step early!
I started working on a timeline. I literally began with the year my lead character was born and worked toward today. This helped with lots of things such as how old each character is at certain points in time. And this helped me get the whole Act I, Act II and 3rd Act thing sorted out. It also pointed out a 10 year hole!
My novel required a tremendous amount of backstory development to make it work. What happened to the Lefevre family and how did they get this way. Do they want to fix it? Why do any of the characters do what they do? I think I did a good job on most of them, whether I wrote it well, is a different story all together. :S
My story doesn’t really have a 10 year hole as I mention above. But as I developed a backstory I realize I needed to account for a missing 10 years of my lead character’s life – even though 90% of it will never actually be in the story.

And of course I have to have more than one backstory. When and where and why did certain people cross paths? I need to know all that so when they meet up in my story (if it is not for the first time) it can determine how they act or re-act and what they say.
Imagine this guy did use flashbacks! Then he's have to worry about the continuity and story all falling in line while writing in more than one generation of the same story. I just finished East of Eden, and it spans over a long period, basically the birth of two brothers, right up to the death of one of them. It covers everything that happens to him over that period, and shares what he's learned in a parallel with a few biblical characters. It was interesting, but full of more than just story, but incredible insight and beauty along the way. East of Eden is a large undertaking for any reader, but it's a rewarding story.

Anyhow - it's exciting to hear about someone else's story coming along. I wonder what it's about? I think another thing this writer has in common with me: he doesn't want to spoil it for his readers.

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