Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 253 - The Elephant Graveyard

I like to think that I'm far from alone in having what I call an elephant graveyard of scripts. You know what I'm talking about; years ago, you had a great idea for a new spec, and you flew through draft one, and then... stopped. Or you wrote that draft, and while letting it settle, you decided to jump onto something new. And then never jumped back. Or you were in a rut, so you decided to just write something - anything - and got out of your rut successfully, leaving a draft of something you were lukewarm about in your wake. The end result of all those efforts (and others)? First drafts. Lots of them. Sitting on your hard drive or in your desk drawer with nothing to do but take up space. 

However, that's not quite true, is it? With any luck, even projects that we abandon entirely after typing THE END for the first and last time on them teach us something. My theory is that a piece of writing should never be a total waste. Even if the lesson learned is that that specific type of script or genre isn't your cup of tea, then it's been valuable. But what of all the other scripts that you have a draft of, which you like the concept of, but that you haven't touched in years? What becomes of them?

I've come to realize that, for me personally, the desired answer to this is, "something." The sci-fi project I'm collaborating on, which just saw a very upsetting similar project announced, is still in the works. The holiday week will hopefully bring forth a necessarily strong draft two from me that I can give my partner in early January. Of course, I also have other ideas that I want to work on when that is done. And, somewhere, the post-apocalyptic spec is still floating in the Hollywood ether. But let's go back to that elephant graveyard, shall we?

I don't quite know how many first drafts (or second drafts) or projects sit on my computer. Off the top of my head, I can easily count seven projects that I took from initial idea to at least one full draft (not including the three mentioned above). I'm probably forgetting some. I also have at least as many that I developed to some degree outlines, partial drafts, etc. Beyond that, there's a slew of two dozen or so loglines I came up with for completely different concepts. Bottom line: there's a lot of material there. Of the seven I did a draft of, there is not one I refuse to work on again. In fact, I still feel excited by most of them. At the very least, I would be willing to commit to getting them more industry ready.

I don't know what my next project will be. I have one idea in particular that I am really stoked to work on, but I don't know nearly enough about it yet to begin writing. As I keep thinking about what to do next, I can't help but mentally revisiting some of these other ideas. More than that I like any of them better than the other projects I'm tossing around, I dislike the notion that I poured myself into these works once, and then abandoned them. I try to make it a rule that I will only write things I would want to see, and I would still want to see all seven of those. So why not revisit them? If nothing else, I am farther along in their development for the sheer fact that they each have a full script to work off. Is there any reason not to try to bring one of them to fruition?

Do you have an elephant graveyard of scripts? Does it grow each year, or do you try to cull the proverbial skeletal herd?