Monday, February 28, 2011

The Writing Week (Vol. 4) part 165 - What to do When You're Stuck on Your Script

Raise your hand if you've been here - you're working on a new script (maybe outlining, maybe writing pages blind). Act One maps itself out pretty coherently and fairly naturally. Then, Act Two begins. And promptly stops. From there, your cursor blinks, and blinks, and blinks, but does not otherwise move. 

Unfortunately, this is exactly where I am and where I've been for about a week now. I have an idea of where the script - should I say, rather, the character and his journey - will go. But I have no idea how to help him get there, and he's sure as Hell not telling me. At a certain point, staring at the same blinking cursor started to drive me nuts, and every writing session - no matter how long I spent at the computer - began to feel fruitless.  What was my solution?

Start another project. Perhaps that answer seems completely intuitive, even obvious. Perhaps it doesn't. The fact of the matter is, I can still feel the wall that I haven't been able to scale between Acts One and Two in my horror script, and I know when something is going to click. Like the old woman who can feel an impending storm in her bones, I can usually sense when the creative dam in my brain will break, and the ideas will come flowing. Until that happens with the horror script, I've started working simultaneously on my Medieval spec (not in the same writing session, mind you, but doubling up on my time at the computer each day). The hope is that creative juices flowing on the one script will start them pumping on the other; and failing that, at the very least, I will still turn out pages soon, only on a project different than I originally intended. 

Another short tip that I've actually found helpful on this - writing the outline in narrative format. Rather than trying to conceive of the outline and story by beats, I've opened a new Word doc and started writing it as prose - a short story, if you will. When it clicks that way, I transcribe it into outline format. It helped a lot for some of the beats that happen off camera and in Act One, so tonight I begin the process for Act Two. Maybe that approach will help you when you're stuck. 

Finally, a brief update on the situation with the production company from last week. The week began with a call (slated for Tuesday) to confirm that the independent producers on my team wanted to work with a major production company that had expressed interest in my post-Apocalyptic spec. The call got bumped. On Wednesday, someone was sick, and it got bumped. It happened on Friday. The long and short of it is that, while the parties are still interested in working together, the relationship will be determined by the agreement that we can (or can't) reach - on paper - about the rights to the script. By "we" here, I mean the already-attached independent producers and the mega-producer who heads the production company. If "we" can come to an amenable agreement about rights and producer credits/roles in the next two weeks, which results in my team retaining the overall rights to the script, then we're a go. If not, then who knows. 

It's one hell of a roller coaster, folks.