I’m working on a screenplay, one of my first big attempts in a year. It’s a one location comedy I’m going to send out but am willing to do myself. Returning to screenwriting I can see where I have improved, but it’s also jarring where I have to go. But I’ve improved!
I’m a structure-phobe, meaning I will not move until I think the structure is nailed, because I have gotten a draft or two in only to realize that nagging feeling that something is not right is the faulty structure. I laid the structure out in front of me so I could see the story’s skeleton. Literally. I wrote each piece down on a 3 x 5 card and spread it out over the table in chronological order, as carefully and lovingly as a forensic anthropologist lays out bones from a new body. I was as fascinated and curious for what I discovered and was pleasantly surprised by my sense of accomplishment. All the bones of the story were there. As the hip bone is connected to the thigh bone, each scene fit and flowed to the next. I had my structure. I discovered it before I started writing–what a concept!
Then I started writing. I wondered why I spent so much time on structure because I wasn’t sticking to it. I was but not as tight as I’d like. I thought the story would be stream lined. After carefully piecing together a body, I’m smattering paper mache on there instead of muscle and finally skin, which is fine, but I’m applying it without regard to shape or form. The legs are logs. What’s a knee?
That is why we write drafts. Each draft fine tunes and defines muscles and creates a working body. Soon the legs will not only be able to bend, they will be able to walk.
I know your first draft is supposed to be your worst and I will accept that soon. I’m disappointed after what I thought to be careful planning, it’s not everything I ever hoped for. I do have some tight scenes, the ones I wrote out before outlining, the ones which were the inspiration behind the whole thing. Then I realized my beginning, my skull, isn’t quite there. I know what all I have to accomplish in the beginning but I don’t have mapped out scenes.
Also I was wondering if because I spent so much time planning and feel I have such a structure, I’m rushing. Because I know I have guide posts I’m trying to get to each one as quickly as possible so I can be done. Not “done” but my structure more fleshed out, proof it is there.
I have improved. I did work out some major issues before starting to write instead of wondering, “What happened?” half way through it.
It’ll be a good screenplay and, one day, a good movie. I think the first draft is the hardest. So many expectations and freak outs. Lay out the skeleton to realize you have the wrong skull or the plate is fractured. Better now than when you’re trying to make your skeleton walk.