Posted by: steveonfilm | June 19, 2011

The Prey – First Draft Complete

I’ve been on a roll the last few nights with my editing. Typically, I’d sit down for what I thought was 30 minutes of writing and find myself still there an hour or two later. Sure, some of this had to do with the fact I didn’t have power, but hey, you take what you can get.

Usually on Sunday’s I head over to a local coffee house here in Woodstock, The Copper Coin, and put in an hour or two. It’s good to get out of the house. I tend to catch Sunday matinees, so sometimes I’m all giddy and inspired from a flick I’d caught earlier in the day. Today was one of those days.

I caught Super 8 with my wife and father-in-law. While the movie wasn’t perfect, it is most certainly worth the price of admission and I loved the hell out of it. In an era where everything coming out seems to originate with comic books, video games, books, or other movies, it was refreshing to see a new IP hit the screen.

I came home and had lunch. Packed up the Macbook Air. And headed for the coffee shop.

After grabbing my coffee (a large Americano) I took a seat on a couch and set up my workspace. Across from me on the other couch was a girl who was writing long hand in some kind of journal. I always get a kick out of people who write long hand. My handwriting sucks. And I HATE writing by hand. So I can appreciate when others can manage to pull it off and not have it look like chicken scratch. But more than anything, I think this was a sign…

I lifted the lid. Opened up Final Draft. And plugged away.

An hour later I realized I’d blazed though about fifteen pages of stuff. I mean I was just killing it. Tearing through scenes. Going back to massage dialog that popped into my head from earlier. Fixing continuity holes. Simply killing it.

I was just about to hit act three at full force when I realized I was out of coffee. It was getting close to dinner. I was about ready to leave. But then screenwriting tip 641 popped into my head:

Screenwriting Tip #641
If you’re in a really good writing mood, take advantage of it. Don’t go to bed, don’t go out and don’t answer the phone. These things don’t come along every day, you know.

I knew I needed to stay and finish this thing. So I got another Americano. Chose a new playlist. And got back at it.

Ninety minutes later I completed the first draft of ‘The Prey.’ It felt almost as good to say that as it did when I typed FADE OUT a few weeks back.

I’m not sure how the rough draft to first draft process works for other people, but for me it involves a lot of repetition. Read as scene. Rewrite it. Read it. Rewrite it. Not moving on until it clicks. It’s hard to explain, but people out there who’ve experienced it know what you mean. You keep plugging at it until it feels… complete. Then you move on to the next scene.

I rewrote about 50% of the material from my rough draft. And by rewrite I mean I literally rewrote the entire line of action or dialog. My rough draft to first draft process doesn’t normally involve adding in any new story elements. I might pop in a scene here or there to add a visual element to something I mentioned in dialog, but other than that the story remains 95% intact.

When I write my rough drafts I keep at a scene until I know I’ve got the message I’m trying to get across down. It could be a line of dialog I’m searching for. Or a line of action. But when I hit it I hit it, and I move on. Anyone who’s read my daily writing samples as I go through a “challenge” knows what I mean by this. If you compare the rough draft scene to the finished product scene, they both cover the same material and plot elements. One just seems finished. The other seems raw and broad.

Someone might read one of my scenes in a rough draft and think, “This guy has no idea what he’s trying to do with this scene.” But in my head I know what I wanted to get out. Something is there that I needed. And if I’ve moved on from it that means I’ve got everything I need for when I come back. At least this is how I work. I’m sure other people take a different approach.

So, yeah, it was a good day of writing for me. I let Michael know that I finished up the first draft and am going to go over it a few more times before I send it over to him. So it’ll be another week or two before he can read it and then tells me my why it’s horrible and I’ll never make it as a professional. Hooray!

Until next time, keep writing!
-Steve

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Responses

  1. Congratulations, man.

    • Thanks!

      • By the way, I put up a link to My Other Career over at the Survivor blog. If for some reason you don’t want that, I can take it down.

        • Works for me! I’ll pop you into the “screenwriters” list on my site as well.

  2. Congrats Steve.


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