Monday, October 06, 2008

The Writing Week part 40 - Why Did I do That?

This week, like so many recently, has been about re-writes, primarily. I actually spent the week working between three projects, which reminded me just how much I enjoy having multiple things to jump between. Working on multiple projects simultaneously offers so many important freedoms to a writer, particularly the freedom to explore multiple ideas and themes at once, as well as work with multiple characters and genres; it also allows the freedom to experience writer's block on one or even two projects. I'm often at my most productive when, if I freeze on an outline, I can jump to a separate script, and work through my writer's block on the first project that way. It really can be quite liberating.

So, this week's scoreboard featured: the post-Apocalyptic spec's final re-writes for the time being, the character background for the protagonist in my voice over experimental spec, and re-reading and editing my comic book style spec. Three projects all very much alive in my head now, all at different stages, all drawing attention last week.

I can't quite remember which night it was - I believe it was Saturday - I sat down and opened my comic book spec for the first time in nearly a year. The following are the actual first two sentences after the FADE IN: (NAME OF) CITY.

A middle-sized city on the rocky North-Eastern coast of the United States. The city is actually situated on an island, about a mile from the mainland.

I was horrified when I read this. It's not the worst writing in the world, but it is nowhere near the first thing I'd want a producer or agent's intern to read after digging the script out of the pile on his or her desk. So, with a few tweaks, that line became:

A mid-size city on an island off the rocky North-Eastern coast of the United States.

Fewer words. Big change. It just feels much more readable, more streamlined, less unnecessary. In short, I think it reads more professionally. (It might still need work, but it's oh so much better.) This is just one example of cutting back. The ScriptXRay article we linked to a while ago mentioned micro-descriptions. The original phrasing I used isn't exactly the same, but it does the same damage in a different way. It uses more words than necessary and stalls the reader from progressing. (As a whole, though, the 57/101 pages I've re-read so far have been overwhelmingly encouraging. I took my sweet time with this script, and for the most part, it shows.)

Isn't reading old scripts fun?

1 comment:

Zombie said...

The longer it goes since I've worked on a script, the harder it is for me to read it without immediately cringing. I feel like writers are constantly developing and changing - I wonder if this is true for professionals? If Stephen King went back and read a copy of "Pet Semetary" would he be disgusted by it?

Woody Allen refuses to watch his movies after he's done with them. I wonder if any of that is for a similar reason?