Posted by: steveonfilm | November 18, 2009

Back To The Ho, Back, Back To The Hotel

Please ignore the title of this post. For whatever reason I can’t get the song “Back to the Hotel” out of my head.

I had a nice trip to Orlando this weekend. I go down at least twice a year. Usually once in July for the race in Daytona, and once in October/November for my college’s Homecoming game. This year I wasn’t really looking forward to going since UCF was playing Houston, who was ranked just outside of the top ten in the BCS standings. I assumed we’d get crushed. Boy was I wrong. We not only beat Houston, we put an end to the Heisman trophy hopes of their quarterback Case Keenum. But that’s not why I’m writing this post.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m not a good flyer. Even short plane trips. I find them just dreadful. There are two reasons for this. One, I have control issues, and trusting some stranger to keep me safe a mile up in the air is hard for me to accept. Two, I’m 6’3″ and airplanes just aren’t meant to handle people that big. I feel like a sardine, and less than human while I fly. Anyway, I prefer to drive to where I’m going.

I don’t choose to drive just because I hate flying. I choose to drive because I literally enjoy driving. Maybe it’s because my family always managed to take one “great American road trip” each summer growing up. We weren’t going anywhere luxurious, (usually a relative’s house, or some far off campground) but driving always provided me a certain sense of adventure. Heading to a destination unknown. I find few things more relaxing than cruising down stretches of highway with the windows down, sun roof open, and some good tunes roaring from the stereo.

While on long drives I usually think about writing. I’m not kidding. I go over stories. Think about scenes. Flesh out ideas. And sometimes just brainstorm/day dream. When it’s just you and the road, you’ve got plenty of bandwidth to think about stuff like that.

During the beginning of my trip I was doing a lot of thinking about Bystander. I’ve completed the partial outline I posted from a few weeks ago, but the reality is that even though I’ve got an “outline” done something is bothering me about it. It was hard to put my finger on too. It’s like, while I know I’ve got a complete story I can write, I’m looking at it and asking myself, “Is this the story that I want to be writing?” And I don’t mean that in the “Is there something better I can be writing about,” I mean it in the more, “Is this really the story I want to tell with these characters.” I mulled this over for a good hour or two before finally accepting that, in fact, it wasn’t the story I wanted to tell with these characters.

I was trying to force the new direction I wanted to take the story on top of plot points and story beats that were around way back from my first draft, and that was over four years ago. I wasn’t doing the total rebuild that I wanted. I was retrofitting. And that’s what was bothering me. Even though I’d put in all this work on the outline, I was forcing it. I was forcing the characters (which have changed drastically over the years) into decisions they wouldn’t make anymore. Finally, I realized, “Enough. You’re not ready for this. If you keep on you’re going to spend time writing something that you’re just going to go back and write again.” So I decided to back off, do some more thinking and brainstorming, and come at this fresh with a new set of plot points. Plot points that actually make sense, and are not some legacy from a time when I knew next to nothing about screenwriting.

And this goes back to my earlier post “On Progress.” This is progress. This is writing. Just because I’m not typing words into Final Draft doesn’t mean that I’m not going somewhere. I am actively working on storytelling, crafting, engineering. When I first started out I might have looked at a situation like this and go, “Man, I must not be any good, or I’d be able to figure this out by now.” That’s simply not true. I realize now that being able to see these types of problems, this high level analysis, was something I wasn’t capable of four, three, or even two years ago. For other writers maybe this comes easier. And I’m sure some of those people get paid to write for a living now. But for me I’m not there yet. I’m still the student. Still just like you.

On the flip side I also made a decision about something that’s going to effect what I work on over the next few months. But I’ve written enough for now. That’ll will come with another post, or maybe a video.

Until next time, keep writing!



  1. Good to hear. A rookie mistake is writing something that might not be ready to be written. As I go back over my old scripts, they aren’t awful ideas, my execution is what was awful. It was nice to get things on paper, because lets face it, as a writer, we have to keep writing. But as I get more wise in the ways of writing, I know that great ideas truly take time to culminate and this is a big step in writing maturation. So, good to hear. The question is…now what?

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