Posted by: steveonfilm | July 11, 2011

Starting From Scratch

It’s been a while since I’ve had to meander through the brainstorming process of a new script. Most of the stuff I’ve written to date (excluding The Prey) was an idea I’d had floating in my head for a few years.

But my next project is pretty new. It’s an idea that I came up with a few months back. I’ve got a few big ticket scenes. A general concept of some of the characters. Some backstory. But it’s still very much a vat of primordial soup.

I’m going through the questions that most of us have encountered at one point or another:

…is this idea good enough for a screenplay?

…can I write this screenplay?

…is the story too big?

…do I have enough tension?

…what sort of characters do I need?

…has this been done before?

…if so, can I do it better?

I’m not saying all those questions are staring back at me, waiting for an answer, but I think you get the point.

I’m at square one. And I’d almost forgotten how intimidating that can be. For some people, the blank page is what they fear the most. That’s never been the case with me. Because before I ever get to that point I already know the story I’m about to write. No, for me the fear creeps up much earlier… when you’re still trying to decide just what the story is that you’re trying to tell.

Unfortunately, that part is the rub. Sometimes the only way to know if the story you’re trying to tell is worth a screenplay is after weeks of fleshing it out. There’s an upfront cost associated with any new project. And many times you’re not going to recoup that investment. But you still have to take that risk anyway, it’s part of the process.

Sure, it sucks… but’s it’s not any different in business. Sometimes you’ve got to spend money to make money. And if time is a screenwriter’s currency, we’re spending a lot of it before we get to see any sort of payback. So when you’re frustrated, or pissed that you’ve spent weeks on something and realize you just can’t turn it into a screenplay, remember, it’s all part of the job. If you don’t like it, maybe it’s time for you to look into another line of work.

Until next time, keep writing!
-Steve

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Responses

  1. For some people, the blank page is what they fear the most. That’s never been the case with me. Because before I ever get to that point I already know the story I’m about to write.

    Yes, yes, yes. I’m not sure why so many people fear the blank page. It’s the easiest part of the entire process…nothing is off limits, and no idea has to be thrown out or obsessed over yet. It’s a great place to be. Between drafts? Now that is the time to rip your hair out.

    • Couldn’t agree more with you “Spooky.”

  2. For me, the outlining, conceptualizing, structuring etc is the labor. The actual writing and rewriting is the playground.

    • That sort of how I look at it too Dan.

    • Yeah, same here. I assume it’s common, because structuring a rewrite makes me want to punch myself in the gonads repeatedly, but once the writing starts, I’m in a great mood all over…even in the gonad region.

      Wow, that took a weird turn.

      • Weird doesn’t even begin to describe it.


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