While listening to John August and Craig Mazin’s Scriptcast podcast the other day (see previous post for links), John mentioned something that he sometimes does when he writes projects. Evidently, on some occasions, he’ll write the first ten pages, middle ten pages, and final ten pages, before writing the rest of the script. I thought this was pretty interesting.
We’ve all worked on projects where we started out all giddy and excited. It was something new. Something we couldn’t wait to sink our teeth into. Then, after we’ve been writing for a while, and we’re wrapping up the final act, we just want to get it done. So the last 10-15 pages might not be as solid as we wanted. We just do what we need to do to get them out. And in turn, may spend a lot of time rewriting them when we’re done. Or worse, we never finish them at all the first time through.
John said he’s as guilty as anyone at not putting in the effort he should when trying to finish up those last few pages. So when he’s done outlining, and is satisfied with all the prep work he’s done, he takes advantage of his excitement and writes the first ten pages, middle ten pages, and final ten pages. This way, in his mind, he’s working at some of the most pivotal moments of the script when he’s at his most excited.
This doesn’t mean that John’s beholden to anything he’s written. It by no means pigeonholes him into writing into the scenes he’s set up. It’s just merely a marker, or a fence post, that he may use, or he might change. Just like someone might change the story and deviate from their outline because it just “feels right,” John will deviate and change what he’s already written. But since he put down the fence posts, he’s got a general target to work towards, and it helps him along.
As I’ve said before, the only correct writing method is whatever it takes you to get the job done. The same goes here. This is what works for John, and helps him out. It might not work for you. But if you’ve run into problems where your writing fizzes out the last 30 pages or so because you lose that excitement, try this out. It certainly can’t hurt, and you may end up liking it.
Until next time, keep writing!