work proceeds

Progress on my second draft has been slower than I would like, but so far it’s been satisfying. I had to pause to do a chunk of research–one of the things I love about writing–and get my head around the changes I’m making to the script.

Even though the main mcguffin of the story has remained the same, and most of the central characters are intact, this is a very different screenplay than my first draft. The biggest difference is that I’ve grafted a whole new mythos into the story, which is requiring a lot of research. It also has unexpected knock-on effects on the characters and the mechanics of the plot. So far, I’m happy with how its working out. For instance, a scene that I had envisioned in a much older treatment, and was missing from the first draft, suddenly popped into existence for version 2.0. It works, and allows a certain amount of easy exposition as well.

I’m layering more information into the script. I’m aiming to get characterisation, plot and theme into every scene. My goal is to have scenes that operate on a number of levels. I’m going to be a lot happier with this draft than my last one, but I know I can do better than this. It’s only draft two, after all.

The attention I’m paying to each scene is slowing down my writing, unfortunately. I’m avoiding long scenes and speeches, and concentrating on producing economical and efficient scenes. That’s not always a good thing. Sometimes, especially for emotionally-fraught moments, you need to give your characters the breathing space to say, or demonstrate, something significant. Lots of movies have sections where characters interact and speak to one another for more than the suggested 3/5 minute turnaround. It’s all about pacing, and of course, the genre of the film.

I have to put my main character through hell, however. In this draft he will have to face much more difficult crises and decisions, but I suspect in subsequent drafts he will have an even harder time of it.

I’m learning a lot, and (mostly) enjoying the writing. I’m not always adept at making myself sit down and write, especially since I’ve so much research to absorb and assimilate. And sometimes I need to sit down and think it through, scribble notes on paper, stare at the scurrying clouds, play with the dog, or go to the gym.

Now that I’m immersed in the process my thoughts are never far away from this project. I’m always thinking about scenes, characters, plot devices, and methods of exposition. At the moment when I watch films I pay attention to how they successfully (or badly) convey the story and detail the characters. I consider how I can employ these tricks in my script.

There is no off switch at the moment.