News,  Screenwriting

back to the drawing board

I had a feedback session regarding my first draft with my supervisor this week. It went well, and I’ve been mulling over the suggestions since then. I’m filled with excitement over the possibilities for change and improvement for the script, combined with dread at the thought of the re-write involved. I haven’t written anything yet as I need time to turn the characters and the plot over in my mind and examine them from different angles.

My concern is that most of the changes I’m considering are small shit–stuff that’s easily tackled. I have major issues in the script that I have to address. I need to focus on them first, and not get distracted by fine-tuning. I need the guts to tackle the heart of the problem, and not wimp out and obsess over window-dressing.

I want to start the re-write next week, as I am on a tight deadline. The second draft must be completed in early July, so I can write a third draft by August. After that I doubt I’ll have time for anything but a quick polish considering how insane my schedule is the weeks before the September 1 deadline. When I lay it out this starkly I can foresee that this next draft is the pivotal one. In all likelihood I won’t have the time to make drastic changes to the next version. Which means that I need to be ruthless and audacious in equal measure.

I picked up Screenwriting: The Sequence Approach by Paul Joseph Gulino recently. Sequencing is a technique we discussed in class, but I wanted more in-depth information about it. I suspect my script could benefit–especially its pacing–from approaching the re-write with sequencing in mind. I don’t believe in following any method slavishly, but I won’t ignore a tool if it has a useful application.

I should discover in the coming weeks if it’s a method that will aid me shape my script into a decent form.


  • son_of_a_preacherman

    I’ve found the Sequence Approach book very helpful, one of the best ones I’ve come across in a while (though I have yet to read all the analyses). Many screenwriting books tend to cover very similar ground and offer different takes on the same basic topics, so after a while you tend to reach the point of diminishing returns.This book skips most of the standard topics (character, dialogue, three-act-structure, “where do you get ideas?”, “how do you get an agent?” etc.) and assumes that you have a working knowledge of all that. Nevertheless, it succinctly provides a framework for structuring a screenplay that is more detailed and more helpful (I’ve found, anyway) than the three-act structure by itself, though it acts as a complement to it – and it doesn’t leave you hanging in the second half of the second act, always my bugaboo.I also like the freedom it provides in chopping up the narrative into smaller sub-stories, and bringing those smaller stories to a satisfying (or disconcerting) conclusion that then moves you right into the next sequence.

  • Maura

    Thanks for the input, and I’d tend to agree with you on your conclusions, but I’ll know for sure once I put it into practise. I think the sequence approach offers solutions to the problems of sustaining interest and narrative drive that are useful to writers. In many ways it advocates the KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid) method: reduce the problem to smaller, more manageable, chunks. It’s a method I use to tackle a lot of projects, and so I think sequencing might work well for me. Now that I’m faced with the task of re-writing my script, I need some methodology to approach it, because otherwise I’m going to feel overwhelmed. I’m hoping this will help me out.By the way, it was your suggestion a couple of weeks back about sequencing that made me consider revisitng the subject again. I do listen. 🙂

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