Fighting the latest metaphoric fire

always alert & ready to spring into action
Ever alert and ready to spring into action

It seems to happen especially when you suspect there’s a remote possibility it could.

You’re going over the latest draft of your script. The one you’ve been working on for what feels like an eternity.  The one you’ve been so meticulous in plotting and figuring out what happens, making sure everything ties up nicely.  No loose ends. No gaping plot holes.

After countless rewrites, you’re positive this thing is done.  It’s ready to go out.  But you give it that one last read-through, just to be sure.

Maybe there’s the occasional line rewritten or replacing of words, but for the most part, there’s not a lot to change.

Oh, false sense of security. Why do you torture us so?

Because that’s exactly when you find it:  a small gap in logic that brings things to a screeching halt.  Until now it had stayed hidden.  From everybody.

It’s the kind of thing someone might not notice while they’re watching your movie, but might later come up after further analysis. “Hey. How could he have ___?”

Almost as if on autopilot, your brain and creativeness kick in. What’s the most plausible solution?  Does it mesh smoothly with the rest of the story? Is there a way to set this up so it pays off in a more-than-satisfying way?

You know there’s an answer to this. It’s all a question of finding it.

You’re a writer. It’s what you do. You probably even live for this kind of thing.

That panicky stress upon first realizing there’s a problem has given way to calm and strategic thinking of how to fix this. Maybe you even devise several possible solutions, testing each one out to see which works best.

But in the end, the right words have been found, and that nasty ol’ logic gap has been filled.

As far as you’re concerned, the script has once again reclaimed the empowering adjective of bulletproof.

At least until you get your next batch of notes, and it starts all over again.

There’s always one more thing

Is this becoming a dated reference? Probably.
Is this becoming a dated reference? Probably.

22 pages to go in the rewrite. Hoping to wrap it all up very, very soon, although I may give myself one more read-through just to be on the safe side.

I can’t stress enough how incredibly helpful it’s been to look this over after having not read it at all for a couple of weeks. You’d be surprised what you find when you look with fresh eyes.

The primary objective here was to incorporate some of the suggestions from my manager’s notes. I’d say that’s been accomplished, but there’s been more.

The discovery of two spelling errors cleverly disguised as non-misspelled words. Further proof of why you shouldn’t rely solely on spellcheck.

A small continuity problem that played a key part in moving the story forward. Fortunately, I was able to find the appropriate scene to set things up, which hopefully makes the payoff that much more satisfying.

Want to really tighten things up? Eliminate prepositional phrases wherever possible. They show up a lot more than your realize.  Learning to write without using them as much can only be a good thing.

Even though I’m in the home stretch, there are maybe one or two more story details that need to be addressed. The more questions I can answer, the better.

-Further proof I have some kind of future-telling ability: Luc Besson and Scarlett Johannson are teaming up for a modern-day action flick called LUCY. You heard that name here first, friends. Coincidence? Doubtful.

-IRON MAN 3 comes out next week. Looking forward to it. Shane Black wrote and directed it. Apparently he’s interested in taking on a Doc Savage movie. Joy beyond belief.

-Oh, and this is my 400th post. Thanks for sticking around.

Fine-toothed comb at the ready!

This and a red pen are all I need
This and a red pen are all I need

Two weeks and just under six additional pages later, my initial pass at the managerial-dictated rewrite is complete.

Current page total: 120. Not too bad, but I’d like to trim that a little bit.

Now the next step: read through the whole thing, seeking out any more potential changes/fixes.

Most of the notes were incorporated, or at least a variation on what was suggested.  It’s too soon to tell what the overall impact is. I’ll know more after I read it.

I was originally concerned that adding a few lines here and there might become problematic. Am I making things too complicated?  Extending them unnecessarily?

Fortunately, my internal editor was more than ready to step in and stop me from going too far.  All that work of learning how to say more with fewer words seems to have really paid off.

In fact, in some cases, coming up with that little extra something actually helped to flesh out the characters and the story.

So while the next couple of days will be all about fine-tuning and further editing, the ongoing concerns of “Will it be what the manager is hoping for?” and “Is it better than it was?” will still be bouncing around somewhere in the back of my mind.

But second-guessing myself or stressing out over little details is counter-productive, especially if I want to be professional about this. I’ve made the commitment to see this through.  I’ll do what I can and polish it to the best of my ability, and that’s all there is to it.

Then it’s on to the next fun activity: slaying the dragon that is the 1-page synopsis.

Saying goodbye to the old me

Good luck trying to get this song out of your head now
Good luck trying to get this song out of your head now

I’ve written before about subscribing to screenwriting emails, newsletters, that kind of stuff.

I’ve never really kept track of how many, but it seems like a lot. Especially based on how often they seem to pop into my inbox.

A majority cover the basics: tips about what makes a good script,examples of what to do and what not to do, how to develop characters. Standard screenwriting 101.

All of these are great for when you’re still finding your way. You should constantly be taking in as much information as you can.

But this week it hit me: I don’t think I fall into that category anymore.

I’m well aware I don’t know everything.  There are a lot of writers out there with much more talent than me, but I at least have a pretty good grasp of how to put a story together.

And based on recent events, all that time and effort is starting to pay off.

My writing is much stronger than when I started out. I have confidence in my abilities. My work’s received very positive feedback from trusted friends and colleagues. I have a manager who’s very enthusiastic about my script.

There’s still a ways to go, but I feel that much closer to actually establishing a screenwriting career than ever before.

So now it’s time to move on, hit ‘unsubscribe’ and put a lot of those emails behind me.

It’s also a safe bet my inbox is going to start becoming a little less crowded.

Just a few more things to squeeze in

Plenty of room to work with!
Plenty of room to work with!

-The rewrite continues. I’ve checked a few items off the list, but there are still some more that need my attention. I think it goes without saying that hopefully my manager will become even more confident in the script.

I’d love to speed through it all and just be done with it, but that’s probably the worst thing I could do. This is not something to rush, and I have to keep reminding myself of that. It’ll get done the right way.

-I’d also sent them my logline and 1-page synopsis for some further tinkering. The logline is apparently still a work in progress. They liked the 1-pager, but I’ve been asked to see what I can do to make it stronger, which includes incorporating more of the “mystery and whimsy so prevalent in the script.”

Going for the silver lining angle, I’m seeing this as an opportunity to really go all out and play up the sheer adventurousness of the whole thing.  Time to let out my inner pulp novelist.

-I received feedback on the script from a well-known screenwriting guru. I hold his opinion in very high regard.

But if you took out all of his flowery speech about the writing process, the cliches and assorted material you just know he’s used on many others many times before, you’d be left with just a few sentences of constructive advice.

But he liked it, which is nice.

-A few months ago, I had the good fortune to connect with Barri Evans.  She’s been very supportive, so the least I can do is plug her upcoming seminar in Emeryville (across the Bay, next to Berkeley, home of Pixar). She does them all over the country, but this one’s local. I won’t be able to attend, but if you can and want to make some good progress with your writing, it’s definitely something you should consider.  Sorry –  no discount for mentioning me or this blog, although that would be pretty cool.

-Just a few words about yesterday’s tragedy at the Boston Marathon. As someone who takes part in these kinds of races, and has seen my family waiting for me at the finish line, this hit me especially hard.  I can’t imagine the pain and suffering of the victims, and can only hope that something like it never happens again.

Fear of such a tragedy will probably always be somewhere on the minds of runners of future races, but the best we can do is stay strong and keep running.