The Screenplay: Day Fifteen

I spent most of today revising my mess of a screenplay.   As usual, whenever I get stuck, I go back and revise.  Usually once I've sorted out whatever problems there are, my writer's block melts away.  Usually.  Not always. (Some writers label their drafts: Draft 1, Draft 2, etc.  By the time I've finished something, I'm usually on Draft 394* or something like that.)

It's obvious by this point that I won't finish my screenplay in twenty-one days, whatever the book says.  But I'll take it as far as I can before time's up.

*Yes, this is an obscure Harry Potter reference.

The Screenplay: Day Fourteen

'If you were picking up stones in the dark, you would know when you picked up a puppy instead. It's warm; it wriggles; it's alive.'...Stories have lives of their own; the writer is their biographer. I don't make the stuff up: I watch it, listen to it, try to learn more about it, poke into its closets and talk to its friends: and try to write it down as well as I can. -Robin McKinley, FAQ: "Where do you get your ideas?"

At this point, my screenplay is so stuck that I'm afraid I may have picked up a stone instead of a puppy.


The Screenplay: Day Seven

Though originally I planned to follow How to Write a Movie in 21 Days to the letter, I am now hopelessly off track, mostly due to the fact that the daily assignments got so HUGE that I couldn't keep up.  For example, Day Seven's assignment is:

Guess what?  You're going to write thirty pages today...This will probably be the easiest day so far.  You are not allowed to write for more than three hours.

According to the book, at the end of Day Seven I should have finished my complete rough draft of a 120 page screenplay.  Yeah...not happening.  In fact, after re-reading what I've written so far, my screenplay feels as if it's skimming along the surface of character development and story.  I don't like this.

I should explain that my ideal storytelling device is an 800 to 1,000 page novel along the lines of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or Gone with the Wind or The Count of Monte Cristo.

I don't know how to instill a 120 page screenplay with the depth of plot and character found in a 1,000 page novel.   I don't even know if that's possible.

Screenplay Preparation: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Day One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six.

Music & Writer's Block

I am by no means an expert on overcoming writer's block.  When I sat down to write this post, I spent a good half hour checking Tumblr (must see if anybody's updated) and watching Youtube videos on facial masks (cuz, you know, maybe someday I'll go to a spa).  But there comes a point when enough is enough.  It's time to write.  Or else. I have various ways of breaking through this brick wall.

One is to push the computer aside and do something else.  Maybe I'll do something else for a week.  Or a month.  I believe stories are like pot roast-- they taste better after being left to simmer for a long time, then chilled overnight.

Another is to re-read what I've written, from the beginning.  I once heard that getting stuck in the middle of a story probably means there's something wrong somewhere.

Yet another is to go back to Youtube.  Not for facial mask DIYs, but for music.

While writing the Manuscript, I made a playlist of WWII era music.   Sometimes writer's block is simply this-- I've forgotten why I'm writing.  I've gotten so bogged down in details and research that I've lost the heart and soul of my story.

That's where music comes in.  It's all there-- cigarettes and Victory Rolls, bittersweet romance, the lushness of Glenn Miller's orchestra, the smoke of Auschwitz.

Here are a few of the songs I played over and over again, whenever I found my writing drifting off course...

The Holocaust in one song:

Romance heavy and lush as summer air:


...And after listening, I would remember why I'd wanted to tell this story in the first place. The brick wall of writer's block would crumble into dust, and I could write again.

"What passion cannot music raise and quell?" -John Dryden