I was doubly fortunate to interview two writer-directors live and in-studio on yesterday’s installment of The Script Adventurer! – Joshua Grannell and Mary Regan. Among the many subjects discussed was how each of us develop our ideas, especially in the beginning phase of building a script. (If you weren’t able to catch the show live, never fear – it will replay this Sunday at 7PM PST on radioslot.com)
While everybody has a different approach to how they put a story together, the style is usually very similar. You come up with an idea, then figure out how to develop a story around it. Some people like to come up with as many potential scenarios that could arise from that original idea. Others may choose to meticulously weave an intricate web of storylines around it. There’s also the time-honored practice of metaphorically throwing everything at a wall and seeing what sticks.
No matter what your style, it’s extremely important to hammer out all the kinks of your story BEFORE you start on pages. It’s a lot easier to fix a problem contained in one sentence rather than one page. This will also cut down on your frustration over having to go back and edit and/or rewrite.
Another plus is it gives you a more condensed and detailed view of your story, so it’s easier to keep track of where something happens if you need to jump back in and fix it. This way you’re not wasting time scrolling through pages trying to find that one thing you need to change.
Maybe this comes from years of focusing more on the outline first, but I’ve found that once I’m satisfied with how the outline is put together and start on pages, if I find something that needs to be fixed or I come up with a way it could be better, making those changes is a lot easier than it used to be. I suppose it’s because I already know what the point of the scene or sequence is, so I don’t have to worry about what’s supposed to happen next and can instead channel my creativity into making it stronger/more effective.