April has been a most productive month for working on the new draft of the pulpy sci-fi adventure spec. This week saw me reaching the midpoint – page 73, which is about 18 pages more than it should be. (Not to mention that a spec script of approximately 150 pages is just ludicrous to begin with.)
Part of me wants to put the writing on hold and go back to page 1 to start editing and clearing away the excess, but I sort of like the idea of just pushing forward, finishing it. and THEN going back armed with the Red Pen of Doom.
When it comes to a first draft, I always tend to put in too much. More “kitchen sink draft” than “vomit draft”. Even taking a look at some previous pages, it’s easy to see where I’ve written more than what’s needed – of practically everything.
The silver lining here is that when it comes to rewriting and editing, there’s a lot to work with. Stuff thought necessary during that initial phase might prove otherwise, and out it goes.
My storylines can be a bit complicated – too many moving parts, so to speak. A combination of “I really want to wow you with this” and “there needs to be more here”. While the first definitely rings true, the second runs the risk of overdoing it and bogging things down – something I don’t want.
It used to be a lot tougher for me to kill my darlings, but time and experience have shown me it’s all about doing what you need to to achieve the end result. As much as I might like a particular something, if it can be cut (or at least drastically shortened) without any significant impact to the rest of the story, that’s fine by me.
If I can maintain my current pace of page output, there’s no reason to think I couldn’t be done with this draft by the end of the month, or maybe the first week of May. While I usually take a little break after completing a latest draft, the always-developing ideas for potential fixes and such may cause me to forego that and just jump right back in.
In the meantime, I’m just having a good time spinning what I can only hope will be an entertainingly ripping yarn.
Progress on the latest draft of the comedy spec is coming along. Slowly, but still coming along.
Among the highlights:
–repairing the script. Previous drafts had some notable and sizable problems on several fronts, so this is all about fixing them, or at least figuring stuff out to make it better overall. This is the main priority.
–revising the story. Some of the scenes still work. The ones that don’t are out, with variations and totally new ones being developed and considered. A work in progress is a beautiful thing.
–reviving older ideas. I keep all the notes and items jotted down over the course of working out the story, so there’s always a few items worthy of dusting off. This time around is no exception.
–reorganizing the tone. Notes on a previous draft stated how uneven the story felt; like it was a few opposing ideas competing for attention. Currently working on streamlining things to make it all mesh better.
–refurbishing characters and/or their traits. From the protagonist and antagonist to supporting characters to those appearing in one scene, everybody gets some kind of modification. Some big, some not-so-big.
–reinvigorating the jokes. With comedy already being a subjective topic, I’m trying to come up with stuff I think is funny. Influences abound, and I want my sense of humor to be what runs that particular engine.
–remaining calm. Finishing this draft won’t happen overnight, and trying to force creativeness or rush progress is the absolute wrong approach. Preferred method – taking it one step at a time.
–resuscitating self-confidence. Writing a comedy’s tough enough to begin with. I’ve done it before, and despite a few missteps along the way, feel pretty solid about my chances this time around.
–relinquishing the self-imposed pressure. Naturally, I want to have a good, solid script when I’m done (hopefully it won’t take many more drafts). Stressing about getting to that point won’t do me any good, which leads to the final point…
–relaxing and recharging the writer. A good portion of my available time is spent writing or at least thinking about it. Working on it too much runs the risk of burnout, which would be completely counterproductive. Therefore, I allow myself time to simply step away and do something totally non-writing-oriented.
And when the time is right, I return to the rewrite.
Whew! Took me a while to refine this, but I don’t recall being so resplendently relieved to be done. Even better, none of it had to be redacted.
Thanks to a big, determined push, I managed to wrap up the initial edit of the pulp spec last night. Amazingly, it’s still 116 pages. Much as I’d love to take another pass on it, a better option is to gently nudge it aside and let it simmer for a few months.
In the meantime, my attention now turns to a few other items, including providing some script notes and a major overhaul of one of the low-budget comedies.
To some, it might seem I’m taking on too much. Others might think it’s great to be so busy. No matter which opinion you have, it all comes down to how the individual (i.e. yours truly) sees it.
Me, I enjoy the diversity and variety. I like to work on my own material AND read other people’s stuff. All that mental stimulation helps me in the long run; the equivalent of maintaining a regular workout schedule at the gym. Or in my case, a steady regiment of training runs.
Always working on something, or even adding some reading and watching into the mix, not only helps your creativeness, but your actual output. Wouldn’t you say your writing skills are significantly better today than they were, say, a year ago? How about compared to when you just started out? I know mine are. Especially in terms of the latter.
All that being said, I think there’s a big difference between being a productive writer and just being a non-stop writing machine. A productive writer definitely produces material, but they also take the time to have a life outside of writing. The machine is just full speed ahead and don’t let up. Granted, there are some who can do both, and kudos to them. I prefer to be the former.
I also don’t have any problem with transitioning to a new project once one is completed. Even though I haven’t directed all attention on the new one, it’s always been in the back of my mind. Maybe an idea about it would pop, which would then be added to an always-handy list, then brought back out later. You might have a different approach, but this is what works for me. Everybody writes in their own way.
In the meantime, my nimble little fingers will now get a bit of a rest while I dive into the aforementioned giving of notes. And once all of those are done, the dust gets blown off the keyboard and the cycle repeats.
Overwriting has always been an issue for me, at least when it comes to first drafts. I tend to put a lot more on the page than is probably necessary, which of course, increases the number of pages.
Case in point – while progress is moving along nicely for the pulpy adventure spec, and I’m faithfully adhering to the outline, scenes throughout the first act are running longer than expected, so the inciting incident will be occurring somewhere around 10 pages later than anticipated.
If things continue at this rate, I may end up with a script that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 140 pages, which is way too long.
Keep in mind that I don’t make a point of strictly adhering to certain feline-influenced rules/guidelines of a “THIS MOMENT IN THE SCRIPT MUST HAPPEN ON THIS PAGE” nature; it’s really more of a suggestion.
The good thing is that I can just keep pushing forward, knowing there will be some major editing and rewriting in store when this draft is finished. It’s a lot easier to go in and cut, as opposed to scrambling and struggling to add in material. And as evidenced by past behavior, I’ll probably continue to occasionally go back and tweak something I don’t see as sitting right.
For now, the very-helpful process of plotting out the beats of a scene and writing them as such will, but it wouldn’t be surprising if a subconscious effort to tighten things up a little begins to develop.
One brief sidenote – I’ve been making a real effort to reduce the amount of time spent with casual netsurfing and replacing it with actual writing. It’s made quite a difference, and the results have been most productive. I heartily recommend it.