Tag Archives: Writing

Outlines Suck, But Are Awesome

A problem I come across when screenwriting is the logistics of the plot. I have no problems placing two characters in a room and making them say cool things, but when it comes down to where things eventually end up, it becomes a different matter entirely. I’ve tried to help myself out a bit by doing the whole “outline” thing, but it always leaves me feeling like I haven’t made any progress whatsoever in my writing. Case in point, I’ve decided to take a step back and write out a step outline for a script I’m writing. I spent a few hours the other day writing what amounted to about 20 lines of outline.

How is THAT progress??

On the flip side of that, however, I now have a better idea of where I want my story to go.

Hrmm.

Writing and Re-Writing

One of the frustrating things about my process is the part where I go back and change a bunch of shit and essentially rewrite my script from page one. It’s not like I actually want to do this, especially considering I have to get 100 or so pages done by the end of the month. What ends up happening is that I get ideas about what I wrote before and those ideas pester me until I do something about them. Case in point, day one and two for me for Script Frenzy. I wrote roughly four or five pages that were solid and took a break from it. As I went about doing other things, the need to change EVERYTHING surfaced and it was all I could think about.

I need to get a better writing process..

A Thought On Method

As a writer for any medium, you often get asked (or are made to ask yourself), “What’s your method?” Some people respond with a very complex list of how they get into the mood to write and then how they go about building their magnum opus while others go at great lengths to explain how they just do things in bursts. I tend to fall into that latter category. My writing inspiration seems to come and go, usually without much warning. I could be sitting in the classroom arguing the semantics of storytelling when this “need” will rise to the surface and eat away at me until I scribble something down. Or, I could be sitting at the local Starbucks drinking a Grande White Mocha when this happens, oftentimes in mid-sip. If I’m lucky, I’ll have a pen nearby. If not, I resort to my laptop.

There was a period of time where I tried to maintain a more organized writing method, what some might call a regimen if you will. I put this into practice during the summer, since I chose not to take any classes, and went to a coffee shop to spend a few hours a day writing. I would ask for a real “froofy” drink and then sit down and write until the battery died. I was able to get a decent amount of work done in around two to three hours (I need a new battery for the ole macbook pro). After about a week or so of this, though, I stopped and went back to my more sporadic method of writing every couple of days or whenever I felt like it.

And then I had a conversation with the Chair of the Film and Video Department at Columbia College. I (alongside a producer from our Practicum class) had pitched a story I was working on and he gave some excellent advice on how to go about fixing the then incomplete story. Later on, we bumped into each other in the hall and talked about the process of writing. I explained my exasperation at the process and he chuckled. He told me that it was a day to day process, and that in this business you need to continually write. It’s a competitive business and if you aren’t writing, you won’t make it. That hit home with me, and I decided to work on my method some. Now, I try to write something every day, whether it be my scripts, Twitter, Friendfeed, this site, or for Generation Tech. But I don’t force myself, either. If I don’t have anything, I don’t write anything.

That’s pretty much my method, explained in a bunch of barely strung together paragraphs. Hopefully the insight was helpful, and gave you something to take away. So, I turn the question to you. “What’s your method?”

Thanks goes out to Kent Nichols for making me think. :)