Is the t-shirt THAT important?


You know that bucket is mentioned a few pages earlier

Writers put onto paper how they visualize the events of the story.

Your get an idea of how you want things to look, maybe even a picture-perfect image, so you put those details onto the page, which is fine.

But sometimes the writer feels the need to include as much detail as they can. “To really paint a picture with words,” they might say. But it’s easy to get carried away. Some writers see this as a golden opportunity to really flex their literary muscles, so they go all out.

A big write-up about the contents of a room. Or identifying specifics about the clothing a character is wearing. That sort of thing.

While that kind of colorful minutiae might work in a novel, many see it as a negative when it comes to screenplays (opinions may vary, but this appears to be the general consensus).

There’s only one reason the writing should be that specific: if the item in question plays a part in the story. Is it vitally important that we notice it? If the answer is “no”, then all it’s doing is taking up valuable real estate on the page.

When the writer makes a point of identifying a particular item, then we should expect it to make a return appearance later on. Set up, pay off, remember?  It’s better to have a reader think “Aha! So that’s what that was for,” rather than “Huh? What was that for?” or “Why was that in there?”

By drawing our attention towards something that is more of an issue for the set designer or wardrobe department, it slows down the story’s momentum and makes for some unsatisfying reading.

Tell us the things we need to know, rather than the things you think would be nice to know.


Making the most of a limited timeframe

Fortunately, I'm not doomed when the sand runs out
Fortunately, I’m not doomed when the sand runs out

My schedule is probably a bit different than yours.

A job in broadcasting, getting around a large metropolitan city via bicycle or public transit, and escorting V to her numerous afterschool activities means not a lot of time to sit and write. Maybe a little over an hour a day. Maybe one and a half to two, if I’m lucky.

Since it’s all about getting stuff done, I’ve learned how to jam as much productivity as possible into that short window. Sometimes it’ll be “write until the end of this particular scene” or “crank out X number of pages.” Other times it might be “write until this point in time” or “write until you just can’t do it anymore”.

An hour may not seem like a lot of time to work with, but you work with what’s available.

Plus, setting up this kind of work habit is extremely beneficial on several levels:
-compels you to concentrate
-regular work pattern can improve skills and boost creativity
-problem-solving becomes easier and less necessary
-productivity may be slow, but remains steady
-that sense of accomplishment from having actually written something (very important)

These extremely unscientific results are how it’s worked out for me. I can’t speak for others, but I would imagine the results have been similar.

Find a system that works best for you, and keep at it. Make the commitment and stick with it. A few pages a day, and before you know it, you’ll be done.

Then you reset the clock and start all over again.

Can’t forget B, C and possibly even D

It’s not all about Dorothy, right?

It’s been a productive couple of days.  I worked a ton of hours on the air, made two well-received pies for Thanksgiving, and even got some writing in.

I’ve reached the part of the outline that says “The End,” but it’s not time to celebrate just yet.  Far from it.  There’s still a lot that has to be done before those words can really be applied.

While the main storyline has wrapped up, it became glaringly obvious that I’d completely ignored my supporting characters. I was so focused on the main character, I forgot to give the others something to do during the climax/showdown portion of the story.  And that’s just wrong.

This has the potential to become a somewhat sticky problem. It’s important that the individual arcs and storylines/subplots each come to a satisfying conclusion, but just as important not to overdo it and drag things out too long (e.g. LOTR: THE RETURN OF THE KING).  There’s always a way to wrap things up. The challenge is finding the right one AND making sure it works.

As always, this is going to take some carefully-orchestrated and organized planning.

Still, any progress is good progress.

-Movie of the Moment. This weekend was also good for making a dent in our Netflix queue.

-BLACK DYNAMITE (2009) A hilarious satire on blaxploitation films that really feels like it came out of the 70s. Star Michael Jai White was also one of the writers.

-DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME (2010) A great combo of martial arts and supernatural mystery set in 7th century China. V was really excited to watch this at first, but in the end was too freaked out. End result – more kids movies for now, leading into…

-PUSS IN BOOTS (2011) or IF ZORRO WAS A CAT. Since there’s a western element, I enjoyed it, and probably would have loved it if I was a cat person.  A sequel to this would be more preferable than yet another SHREK film.