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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I've started so MANY screenplays - but can never get to the END!


Writing screenplays is one of the easiest jobs you’ll ever do; and one of the HARDEST. It’s easy, because you get fired up by this fantastic idea that you know will be killer on the screen, and that enthusiasm makes you just jump right in and start typing.

And it’s hard because you run out of that ‘start up’ energy often long before you get to those famous words - The End. That ‘sticking point’ is the exact spot where real writers show their mettle. But they don’t survive on pure grit alone; real writers have a whole arsenal of tricks up their sleeve. The most important tool they use - is PLANNING.

Sounds kind of mundane, doesn’t it? Planning - like birth control; can’t we just ‘be’ in the moment and jump into this thing, honey? We can… and many do. I don’t any more after many, many late nights staring at a script I HAD LOVED six months before and now loathed because I couldn’t seem to tinker away all its flaws. Screenwriting has taught me patience and control.

I urge all of my students to create a number of tools while the novelty of their movie idea still has them panting to write. It’s then, when you’re desperate to get at your computer and type, that you really should rein in your enthusiasm and answer some really important questions.

Like: Who’s you main character? What is it they want? What gets in their way of acquiring/ or achieving this goal? How badly do they want what they seek? Who are the important people in their life and how do those relationships complicate their quest. Take these questions and create a logline, a 5 page treatment and a working title and you’re on your way. Throw in the opening and closing scenes for your three acts and you should be ready for any thing!

Once you’ve got this material firmly in hand, you’re ready to unleash the hounds and hit the keyboard running. With planning, and careful conservation of that ‘start up’ energy you may find yourself at ‘The End’ before you know it!

I hope this helps. And I wish you luck with your screenplay. Let me know when you’ve completed your script; I’d love to read your work!