Sometimes I just can’t help myself. My worst habit as a writer is rarely focusing on a single project until it’s completed—and I don’t just mean blogging five days a week on top of creative writing. I’m currently doing work, in at least a small capacity, on three different screenplays. One of these is a rewrite of something I wrote earlier this year, and the other two are in the outline stage with (foolish) hopes of writing both before the end of the year.
Of course I couldn’t stop there.
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I set a few goals for myself at the beginning of the year. One of those goals was to write three new long-form pieces (most likely screenplays, but I was/am open to a novel or novella) and do something with them in 2017. With this week marking the end of the eighth month of the year, basic math says I should have finished two of the three by roughly right now. How am I doing?
Not great. But okay.
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The world of writing is full of rules and absolutes, many of which conflict with each other even to the point of being polar opposites. Never start writing a story without a full outline. Don’t worry about an outline as long as you have the basic plot structure. Don’t even bother with that; you’ll figure it out as you go.
There are plenty of people more (and less) qualified than myself more than willing to tell you how to write. That’s not what this is about. I’m just providing a glimpse into my writing routine, which is anything but a routine.
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If you’ve read any of my posts after the past couple weeks, chances are you’ve seen mention of a screenplay I was ‘finishing’ for this year’s Nicholl Fellowship screenplay competition.
It’s called Undone. It’s a fantasy/horror-adjacent adventure story. It still needs a lot of work (which I would continue to say even if this thing were purchased and produced), but I promised to share a few pages and I’m not going to be a liar. Check out the first three pages after the break.
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Submissions for the Nicholl Fellowship are due tonight, which means I spent 90% of the weekend writing and rewriting and torturing myself to ‘finish’ a screenplay without taking time away from it to be able to properly assess what was working, what wasn’t, and what could be done with the whole thing. But I submitted it shortly after midnight (nearly 24 hours before deadline!) and threw it into the mix for the Austin Film Festival screenplay competition too.
Tip: maybe outline in some detail before writing your first draft so your second draft doesn’t feel like another first draft.
Bonus tip: maybe don’t let yourself bounce between ideas for a couple months, giving yourself about six weeks to create with something you’re marginally happy with to submit for the most important screenplay contest in existence.
Anyway… here’s all the stuff I entertained myself with this weekend.
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I typed “FADE OUT.” on the first draft of a screenplay yesterday. Which, of course, means that I’m getting ready to really get to work on this thing. I did a little editing along the way, but there’s A TON of stuff that needs to change throughout these 113 pages. Some of these changes are minor, but there are a couple that are going to cause some ground-up revisions of the rest of the story.
This is the part of the process where a lot of people recommend taking some time off. A week. Maybe two weeks. The general consensus is that taking time away from a project is the best way to come at it clean and figure out what’s really working and what’s not instead of changing everything because it feels like a total mess in the moment. That makes a lot of sense, and I’d love to work on my next story for a bit before coming back to this one.
I don’t have that luxury.
The Academy’s Nicholl Fellowship deadline is 10 days away. I told myself I needed to at least take today off, especially after writing nearly 22 pages yesterday in the run-up to the screenplay’s end. But I’m not great at listening to myself. I’m not arguing that 14 hours is enough time away to come at this with a clear head and anything approaching objectivity. It’s not even close. But the looming final deadline of what is arguably the only worthwhile screenplay competition is too strong to deny.
About the project: it’s a post-apocalyptic fantasy horror story set in a completely fictional world. It’s a mix of I Am Legend and Lord of the Rings with some Harry Potter style magic. I’m not saying it’s as good as any of those properties, or even close, but the inspiration all of those stories have given me is undeniable. I’m in no place to say whether it’s any good at this point, but I hope so.
I’ll post an excerpt or two on here once I’m through the chaos of rewriting this over the next 10 days (assuming I’m still functional). Unless things take a serious turn for the worse, I’ll be back next week with my normal mix of games and movies blogging. Because I don’t have enough on my plate already. Clearly.
What are you planning on watching, playing, or reading this weekend? Let me know in the comments and maybe I’ll have something extra to add to Monday’s Weekend Recap.
I spent the majority of the last three days in the Mojave Desert, nestled between Joshua trees and surrounded by what I can only assume was an army of coyotes gathering in the middle of the night. I let myself slip away from technology and into nature for a couple days despite the absurd fact that my campsite on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park had full LTE service. Thanks to magic (or scheduled posts) everything was normal here despite my being elsewhere, physically and mentally.
All this to say I wasn’t exactly thinking about video games, movies, and the like over the past few days. This might have been a slightly different story if I had a certain game system, but it was a nice change of pace.
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