Used to be that when I would outline a story, I’d try to be as spot-on about hitting industry-recommended page numbers as I could.
Statement of theme on page 3, inciting incident on page 10, etc., etc. That’s how I learned it, so that’s how it must be.
These days? Not so much.
I don’t go crazy, you understand. No scenes lasting 10 pages or anything of that nature. More like “this happens…around here-ish”.
When I first gave it a try, my immediate thought was “Is that going to be a problem?” It had become so ingrained into my process that this was how it was supposed to be, and any deviation from that was wrong.
Then my writer’s sense of craft kicked in with a hearty “Nope. Have at it, kid”.
As far as I know, the screenwriting police (is there such a thing?) aren’t going to shut me down because something doesn’t happen where THE RULES say it should. I’d rather focus on telling an engaging story with an intelligent plot and well-developed characters than worry about this kind of pettiness.
And honestly? It’s incredibly liberating.
I’m much more interested in telling the story in a way I deem appropriate, rather than drastically cutting something or even cutting it altogether just to make sure the beats happen on the designated pages.
So if my opening sequence runs a page or three longer, so be it. Does it work against me? I don’t think so. My writing usually moves at a good pace, so if something happens a little sooner or later than you expect, and if I’ve done my job in really grabbing your attention, chances are you probably won’t even notice it.
Unless you’re a real stickler for that sort of thing. Most of the writers who read my stuff aren’t; they’re more interested in reading a good script.
-Through September 30th (that’s this Sunday!), the fine folks at LiveRead/LA are offering the discount code MAXZ15 for 15 percent off their script services and the fee for their contest where your script could be one of two read live by professional actors in Los Angeles in October. Following the read (30 pages max), feedback will be provided, including from veteran production exec & producer Debbie Liebling – Comedy Central, Fox, now working with Sam Raimi. Writers from everywhere are encouraged to submit. The event will be livestreamed, so if your script is chosen and you can’t attend, feedback will be provided live via Skype.
-Filmmaker Scott Kawczynski is running a crowdfunding project for his animated film Light Work. It’s a pre-sale, so even for $1, you can watch the film. Donate if you can!
2 thoughts on “I know the rules, and do not hesitate to break them”
This is something I am struggling with. In a good way. I’m currently learning and using outline techniques that I have never used before to build my current scripts. Initially I was frustrated, but then the more I went through the process of simply using the outline as a guide for moving my story I stopped worrying about timelines. Rules are cool for keeping us between the lines but once you understand where you going, a little detour outside never hurts.
Precisely. Good luck!