Thursday, August 08, 2013

The Writing Week (vol. 6) part 274 - Busy, Productive Week

Sunday morning, 10am - I meet with a friend in the publishing industry to ask her about what my next steps and considerations should be for my children's book. She tells me that she's moving upstate in two hours. "What? Do you even have time to do this today?" She says she does, so while we wait in line for our bagels and coffee, I tell her I've decided to pursue getting it out there sooner rather than later, that I'm jazzed about it now and want to see if I can make anything happen with it. I give her the pitch and find myself sounding 100% like the token writer I've always tried to avoid being, "I'm really excited about the book. I believe in it and think that it can be great. No, I haven't thought much about the marketing yet, but I kind of thought that the idea itself would be the big grab."


I dial it back a bit. My friend - who, by the way, came to our breakfast meeting with the names of agents she thinks might be a good fit - tells me I should come up with some followup book ideas. Of course! How dumb of me not to have considered this. When in school, the head of our department told my friends and I not to begin pitching to agents and managers until we had at least three projects we could talk about. No rep wants a one-time only client. They want someone who can become a franchise and a more guaranteed sell. D'uh. Silly me. Good to think on.

We part. She - to go move. I immediately head into my apartment and email her the book. That night, she reads it. The following day (her birthday), she texts me that she's read it, that she loves it and thinks it's fantastic. Notes forthcoming. 


So I set that pot on the backburner for the time being. Meanwhile, I need to get the current, and hopefully final (before sending to our representatives) draft of the sci-fi spec to my writing partner, W.A. He cautioned me earlier this week to take my time, to make sure that I've done a solid dialogue and action pass before giving it to him. We want to be able to send this incarnation to our producer and representatives soon, to essentially make this version the one we go out with. Sure, we're open to edits still, but we've identified everything we want the movie to be, and our hope is that we'll have nailed all of that in this draft. 

I spend a few weeks doing edits. Along the way, I trim dialogue and descriptions, but the main legwork is done on scenes and sequences, excising the fat, cutting what's no longer relevant, adding in scenes to fill in the gaps, and trimming back gratuitous elements. The script drops five pages. 

Before I send it to W.A., I pull up a PDF of the script on my iPad Mini, open Adobe Reader (a great, free app for editing PDFs), and spend two nights doing a thorough dialogue and action pass. I trim. Boy, how I trim. If there's a block of text that ends with one lone word on its own line, I reword the paragraph to cut that hanging line. Redundant dialogue goes. Description gets pared down, consolidated, clarified, and, when possible, nixed. The script drops four more pages.

Finally, I do a second dialogue-only pass. I use this to find further redundancies and to track the science in the script - how do the characters refer to everything, and where are the anomalies? I find a few instances that need edits. All that remains, now, is one tiny, though important, beat wherein the protagonist has to realize something. I know what he finds out; I just have to plant something that helps him discover it. The options to do this are manifold, yet I haven't settled on the right one. Once I do, the script goes out to W.A. for his approval. Perhaps, just perhaps, we'll get new eyes on it then.