Tuesday, October 02, 2012

I don't wanna

I've been bouncing back and forth between two projects for the last few months - one, a collaboration with a very talented person, which, if it works, will be the stuff of legend.

The second is my latest spec. I started out pretty excited, but I've had trouble keeping my interest in this project going. I'll sit down and write five pages one day, then spend the next week working on the other project or on developing some new idea I'm all excited about.

But the difference between someone who piddles around with screenwriting and someone who does this for a living is follow-through, so I keep pushing myself back toward the spec.

When I write, I tend to skip the B story. I write all A story, and leave big yellow notes in the places where the B story goes, reminding me of the kind of scene that goes there. This script is no exception.

As I was writing the script, I suddenly realized I needed to completely change an important character. This change busted the thing wide open, made it a much more interesting, much more layered story. It solved so many problems, and I was eager to put it into play.

But when I sit down to write it, meh. I dunno.  I like the story and the characters. I have a solid treatment. I know what's supposed to happen here, but.... but I just don't wanna.

Turns out, when your script is wall to wall action scenes, it's actually HARDER to write. It's easy to work fight scenes into plot elements, but with this script, I'm almost sliding the plot in between fights, and making that feel organic and meaningful is no easy task. So it turns out, what I thought would be an easy script to write is instead turning into a frustrating exercise.

So after a week of trying unsuccessfully to find ways to get my brain to want to go back to the script, I decided to try a new tactic. All those B scenes still need filling in, and that's a section of the script I've already blasted through, so tomorrow I'm going to go back to the beginning and start from page one, filling in the holes. That's a lot easier than working in front of a blank page.

I know a lot of people experience this, but it's actually a rare occurrence for me. I'm hoping that starting from page one again will get me jazzed about moving on. And if it doesn't, I'll just have to suck it up, put on some tunes, and get my shit right. Because this script needs finishing.


  1. Have you thought of setting aside the action sequences for a beat and just focusing on the thriller aspect of your script? Some of the greatest action movies are very strong in the thriller part of the story and the action sequences are just organic... In the Fugitive for instance, I was probably more fascinated by the cunning shown by Harrison and the chess game aspects of it all.

  2. Actually, action scenes are never a problem. I knock those out. It's the stuff between that sometimes gives me pause. Long dialogue exchanges are my Achilles heel.

  3. Maybe you should watch Die Hard again. That's a straight up action movie that's also strong on character. In good action movies like most of Cameron's, the action flows out of character conflict, it's not just action for action's sake. One of my peeves with Chris Nolan's recent films is that the action scenes seem there just because the film is supposed to be an action film -- not because it flows out of any real conflict. Just my two cents.

  4. Oh believe me, I've analyzed Die Hard to death.

    But what you say is true.

    It's still really hard.

    1. Btw, I mean true about action out of character. Can't agree about Nolan.

  5. A story this. B story that.

    Let's talk about B story. Your B story is typically a story that runs along side your main storyline. This could be used for a romantic subplot, supporting character subplot, etc.

    Emily, you say you are an action junkie so you probably have watched Carpenter's Escape From New York. I just recently rewatched it and it was awesome.

    It is clear that the A story of Escape From New York is Snake rescuing the prez from the bad guys.

    But does Escape From New York have a true B story? We do cut away from Snake and his mission to the military guys throughout the movie. But are those brief scenes with the military guys enough to classify it as the B story? hmmm?

  6. I don't remember the plotting of Escape from New York very well. Not all films need a B story. Most do, I think, but not all. Mine generally do. It just depends on how your story is told.


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