I love a good movie. I have always wanted to write a screenplay. Yet, over the past several years, I focused on writing short stories and completing a draft of a novel. However, I still want to write a screenplay. After working on revising a chapter in the draft of my novel on Thursday, I wasn’t in the mood for more revising, but I was still in the mood to write. So, I considered which project I could switch my attention to keep writing and immediately thought of an idea for a screenplay that I came up with last summer as I was sitting around a bonfire, drinking wine, and chatting with some friends.
It was an idea worth revisiting.
Even though this will be my first attempt at writing a screenplay, I am not approaching this project as a complete novice. I have read many screenplays and watched lot of films to analyze the dramatic structure and learn more about visual storytelling.
There are so many books on screenwriting – almost too many for the aspiring screenwriter to decide among without some advice from other screenwriters; however, these are the teachers I was directed to several years ago as ‘must reads’ for aspiring screenwriters: Syd Field, Michael Hauge, and Linda Seger.
Recently, visiting other screenwriters’ blogs led me also check out and buy Your Screenplay Sucks!: 100 Ways to Make It Great by William M Akers and 101 Habits Of Highly Successful Screenwriters: Insider’s Secrets from Hollywood’s Top Writers by Karl Iglesias
Eventually, one has to stop reading and just write. Earnest Hemmingway once said “The shortest answer is doing the thing.”
I took that advice seriously when I started working on my first novel. Hemmingway also said “All first drafts are shit,” which was enough to inspire me to tackle writing a novel (I got words on three hundred+ pages).
So, trusting Hemmingway again, (I mean come on, even if you are not a Hemmingway fan, look at what he wrote), I am willing to write and put words down on 120 pages (the average length of a screenplay) and see what happens.
So, on Thursday, I closed MS Word and opened Final Draft, the screenplay software I purchased last summer because I was serious about writing a screenplay, and opened the file containing my screenplay notes — the premise, the theme, and the inciting incident (or as John August calls “The Fire”). I even have notes on fires to ignite in Act II and Act three to get in the way of main character trying to reach her goal and scenes for Act I and II that I wrote last summer.
It definitely helps to let your work set for a while and come back to it with a fresh perspective. Looking over this material reassured me that what I had written so far was good stuff; it was a screenplay idea worth pursuing.
So, it’s time to take my copy of Syd Field’s Screenwriting Workshop on DVD off the bookshelf and insert it in the DVD player and begin working on this thing. I learned a lot about screenplay structure from reading his books, so he is going to be my guru over the next several weeks.
All I have to is be willing to write a first draft and accept that it may very well turn out to be a ‘shitty first draft’ as Hemmingway said, but I will get words and scenes down on 120 pages.
So, let the writing begin! Fade in…
It’s a mad, mad world and the odds of writing and selling a screenplay that actually gets made into a movie are about the same odds as winning the lottery. At least, that’s what they say.
Oh well, what the heck, write on !
Photo Credits (click on pictures to link to photographer’s Flickr sites)
Photo 1: GSZ
Photo 2: Jinx
Photo 3: Urban Girl