Monday, June 18, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 232 - The 30 Day Screenplay Challenge

Something unusual and unexpected occurred at last week's writers group meeting. No one had any pages to present, so we had decided to meet for dinner and just talk about our current projects and anything else that was on our minds. Toward the end of the meal, Austin (aka Zombie) mentioned that he had decided to do a 30 day screenplay challenge, and he was wondering if any of us wanted in. The goal: write the first draft of a new script in the next 30 days. 

I jumped on board before he was even done pitching it.

For months now, it seems, I've been stymied when it comes to fleshing out new material. After a couple comprehensive yet flawed outlines, I've gone back to the drawing board to work on character backstories and development for the sci-fi collaboration I'm working on. My demon thriller is basically the Swiss cheese of outlines. And let's not even touch the potential page-one (as a comic book) rewrite of the post-Apocalyptic spec I'm looking at. I felt as though I was mired in the world of endlessly blinking cursors and text pages offering little plot advancement to speak of, and I needed a kick in the pants. Austin's drop of the gauntlet was exactly the elixir I thirsted for.

Last week, after the meeting, the four of us who decided to embark on the challenge shot messages back and forth to one another in an attempt to settle on the rules. Beginning today, June 18, we would have until end of the day July 18 to write a full - or as much of a - first draft of a project. Unless we feel the overwhelming need to, we won't meet too regularly about our work. We'll check in once a week to note progress and talk through any story issues any of us is experiencing, but since we're in a time crunch, we're not going to devote our evenings to  lengthy meetings and psychiatry sessions. 

I've decided to push ahead on the demon thriller for my project. I had a pretty thorough outline until I received feedback from my manager on it. I agreed with his note, and I'm excited about the possibilities for change that come from it, but at the moment, I'm going into this month-long experiment with a fairly coherent understanding of act one, and not a whole lot beyond that. My fear is that the fist draft is going to be one of the more poorly written pieces I've turned out in a long time. On the flip side of that is the fact that it will also be the fist new draft I've produced in a long time, so I can't argue with it too much. 

I generally prefer to have the backdrop of a much more solid outline before I begin on pages, but the time crunch doesn't allow for that now. My nights will be spent producing actual pages (fingers crossed), while I'll pretty much have my outline and notes open all day long at the office, and any down time at the day job will go to working out that night's beats and story problems. 

I'm excited to see where this takes me. Mainly, I'm just eager to be writing again. I feel as though the grey matter between my ears has been a bit dammed up as of late, so hopefully this will open the floodgates, and I'll come out of it with both material and a surge of creative juices to pour into the other projects on my desk.

Let the challenge... begin!