I was recently reading a column that was about something like “what makes a writer a WRITER.”
It involved a lot of questions to ask yourself, like “are you somebody who just talks about writing, or somebody who actually writes?” or “do you write only when you feel like it, or do you write no matter how you’re feeling?” That sort of thing.
Another was “Are you a writer who keeps working on the same project over and over again, or are you constantly working on something new?”
That one really stuck out for me. I couldn’t help but wonder if I fell into that category – from both perspectives, with a somewhat concerned eye towards the first part.
In case you weren’t aware, I have a script I’ve been working on for the past few years. It’s gone through several significant rewrites, and garnered some moderate recognition along the way.
But here’s the thing. Every time I complete a draft of it, I say “Okay. That’s it. No more.”
And of course, a few months later, I get some notes on it from some very savvy writers and industry folks, and then go about figuring out which of those notes might work best in the next draft.
Full disclosure – I seek out notes because I want to improve the script’s chances as both a calling card and in the big contests. Placing higher than I have in the past would hopefully improve my chances of making some industry connections.
I could legitimately say the script is finished, but on the other hand, it could also stand a little more work. Just a little.
This is the basis for my line of thinking. Have I spent too much time on it? Sometimes it feels that way, but there are also the times I think “Just a few more little tweaks would really work.”
A possible counter-argument to this is the fact that this most definitely has not been the only script I’ve been working on this entire time. I’ve written four others, along with outlines for another two, not to mention the half dozen or so individual pages that consist mostly of loglines and a handful of ideas for scenes and sequences.
So although a lot of attention has been given to the original script, I’ve gotten in the habit of finishing a draft, and then working on one to two others before I come back to it.
“But why don’t you just stop working on that script entirely? Too much tinkering usually has the opposite effect,” some might say, and some have. I won’t argue that, but I can honestly say that by being very, very selective about which notes to use from each new batch, each new draft of the script has been noticeably better than the previous one. Problem is, it’s a slow and gradual process of improvement.
After this most recent batch of notes, there are a few spots in the script I plan on working on, but that won’t happen anytime soon. Current focus is fleshing out and fine-tuning the horror-comedy outline, followed by a rewrite of a sci-fi spec, and maybe then I’ll consider diving back into this one.
But the inevitable rewrite or two is still going to happen.
And hopefully that’ll be it – emphasis on hopefully.
2 thoughts on “Script? Boomerang? Bad penny? All of the above?”
You say, “I want to improve the script’s chances as both a calling card and in the big contests. ” . I say, I pay to pitch and am on sites like InkTip because I want to sell my scripts. I don’t want ribbons or medals, I want a check. Yes, I’ve used notes that I respect to make some changes but ultimately I decide if my script is good enough to market, do so and move on to new projects while I market what’s ready to go without further tinkering. I was a film/video editor for 30 years and produced special projects for TV News, so I trust myself to judge if my scripts are ready to send out. Your “Iron Horse” script is excellent as it stands.Stop playing with it & have enough confidence to put it out for sale. The script I’d like to see you polish and market is your “Wok and Roll” which should easily find a sale after the success of “Crazy Rich Asians”.
You must have looked over my shoulder when you wrote this article or every writer has this story to tell, but you did a great job of putting it down for all to see. Thank you.