Writing is feeling like you’re a bad person when you realize the horrible things you’ve put your characters through. And accepting it.
Writing is knowing who your characters are, what they want and need at any given moment, and why they can’t get it.
Sometimes writing is taking a long walk, existing in the moment and in the world at the same time as being entirely in your head, and not facing a screen at all.
Sometimes writing is vomiting onto a page all the things bouncing furiously around inside your head, smashing their way out.
Sometimes writing is writing the same group of sentence fragments over and over, colliding them and cleaving them, until they start to take the form of what they always intended to be.
Sometimes writing is using the wrong sentence and letting it sit there until the right one shows up.
So exciting things are afoot in November. I’m no longer an active participant in the things, but exciting they are nonetheless.
For a few years now, a friend of mine’s been talking about this movie he wanted to write/direct. Set in three cities (Hong Kong, Toronto, and Vancouver), it was about a father on his death bed with kids in Vancouver and Toronto waiting to inherit a small fortune and a sudden change to the will to give a big chunk to a bastard kid nobody knew about in Hong Kong.
Once Ben and his wife decided that they’d be off visiting family in Hong Kong through October and November this year, that became the time for him to shoot this project and get directing his first feature. Of course, there was no script yet. While Ben was willing to write it, he doesn’t fancy himself a writer. Writing, like most things, is hard to do, and twice as hard to motivate yourself to do, when you consider it a chore. (Ask me again how I feel about post-production.)
So fast-forward through a chain of events and we came to agreement where I’d take on the heavy creative lifting of writing his script. I was familiar with what he was going for, and in talking we’d reached a place where I could see a story in his idea that I wanted to write, so I set out to get an outline together. Once I had his approval on the nuts and bolts of what the story was to be, I got to write write writing.
Came across this, and posting here now so I have it around to watch it every now and again. Some very valuable and timeless advice from a very smart writer.
UPDATE: I’m keeping this post around but I ended up having to abandon plans for the Nicholl that year pretty quickly after posting. Such is life
April 30, 2011 is an important day. April 30 is the Nicholl Fellowship deadline. If you’re a screenwriter you ought to already be familiar with this, but for those of you who aren’t – the Nicholl Fellowship is a screenwriting competition put on by the Academy of Motion Pictures and Science. Yes, that Academy. They’ve got an awards ceremony coming up. The most prestigious screenwriting competition around and one of the small handful that’s worth entering.
We have a bit of a history.
Page ninety-six. That’s where the script sits right now.
There are, at most, twenty-four pages to go and I’ve got three days to get ‘er done. Thirty-six pages went through in the past six days so the final stretch shouldn’t be a problem. I’ve only been doing four hours a day and could shuffle more hours to it if I need to.
What’s most excellent about today is that I finally wrote the scene that convinced me to push ahead with the script. For those who are not in the know, Looking Glass is an Alice in Wonderland story. My production company shot a Wizard of Oz (Legend of Oz) movie in 2009, and this is a follow-up to it that I’d planned to do way early that year. They were meant to follow one another as pseudo-sequels. It was a fair plan.
Except that I was pretty close to abandoning it.
First half now finished. Sixty wonderful pages in. Sixty is exactly where it’s supposed to be which is great. I thought I was going to write over. Nothing has been skipped or half-baked so it’s a pretty solid open to mid-point.
And a doozy of a midpoint it is. Chaos, confusion, and mayhem. Plus tap dancing. Only in Wonderland folks.
Quickie update today. Currently @ page 34 with my folks in a bind.
This White Knight of yours? Would he have left any other booby traps lying around?
Ice nods down to the rock under her foot. The tiny red light stands out against the green moss.
The vow to complete the first draft by end of November remains in effect. It’ll require an average of five pages a day which is pretty doable. I’ve done way more.
Some days you face the page and you spin gold. Others you sit down and you write crap. Knowing the difference is what you need to get good at.
Monday was one of those crap days. I suspected it while I was writing but my fears weren’t confirmed until I read it back Tuesday.
One of the reasons I was resisting getting back to Legend of the Looking Glass was that I had stopped at a bad place. The next scene to write was a scene that I didn’t really know what it needed to be. I knew the shape of most scenes, but not that one.