Sunday, September 24, 2006

Board with Structure

Moving on, I finished the treatment, sent it to my manager and got the nod to start Really Writing. He wants to see a first draft by Thanksgiving, but I’d like to be a good chunk of the way there before heading off to The Austin Film Festival and Screenwriters’ Conference next month.

Have I ever told you I have (the laughingly-misnomered) Attention Deficit Disorder? I mean really, not like half the writers I know who think they have it, or the Ritalin kids on the covers of Time and Newsweek. As a result of this faulty wiring, I find that without structure, I get scattered and overwhelmed – in writing, as in life.

So, in order to go from treatment to script, I had to swing by Staples for The Board. For my POOL BOY rewrites, I’d stuck index card sized post-its on the closet doors in my home office, but they didn’t stick well to the semi-gloss and flew all over whenever we had to get into the closet. Problem is, there’s no free wall in here, at least no area that’s at least 5’ wide, which is the ideal size for a board, allowing for up to 10 index cards across. Wouldn’t you know, the 5’ trifold corkboard of my dreams either doesn’t exist or just doesn’t exist at Staples, so I went ahead and picked up two 3’ boards.

Placed side-by-side, there’s plenty of room for 8-10 cards per row and I’ve allotted the space at the top for my title and other at-a-glance stuff like character lists and locations. No method’s right for everybody, but The Board is perfect for me. It’s tactile and visual and gives me just enough structure to stay grounded when I need to, but not so much that I can’t fly if I choose.

I wrote up index cards for all the scenes in my treatment, tacked them to The Board and Voila!

I’ve got an overstuffed first act, although a few of those cards can be combined. The first half of Act 2 is a little light, no biggie. But look -- after the midpoint, all the bad stuff I envisioned that snowballs in the second half of Act 2, it somehow all wound up in a single whopper of a scene, and that won’t do at all. Act 3 is also a little light, but when I finish filling in the gaping holes in Act 2, I know some of that stuff will spill over into 3.

I’m excited, ‘cause I know what elements of the story I need and want to beef up and now I see very clearly where they need to go.

Isn’t that awesome? Isn’t it the next best thing to having a Fairy Goldman tell you how to solve your story problems?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Hit me baby one more time

Sorry I’ve been scarce, but you don’t want me to write when I have nothing to say, do you? I’ve always made it a point not to post anything here unless I was feeling an emotion I wanted to share or I had some sort of interesting news.

It’s not that nothing’s going on lately, but there haven’t been any big blogworthy moments or epiphanies. However, I hate to see all your hits go unrewarded, so here’s a mishmash of some of the stuff in my head (you've been warned):

POOL BOY is still scheduled to begin shooting in late October in Louisiana. A couple of actors you know have expressed interest and will hopefully sign on. (Yes, I do have a calendar, but this is what I’ve been told.)

I’m having fun with my new dramedy, THE MIDDLE AGES. My manager dug the beat sheet I sent and asked me to flesh it out. He wanted more details and more of a feel for the characters, so I’m now writing my first treatment and it’s going well.

Oh yeah – Bill has found a home in THE MIDDLE AGES as both antagonist and love interest. He’s happy to have something new to sink his teeth into (he’s so method).

In less-happy news... sigh... Steve Irwin. I wasn't a rabid fan, but I enjoyed his show and I’ve been haunted by his death. It finally hit me yesterday –- what makes his death particularly hard for me to accept is that Steve always seemed more alive than other people.

I think there’s something in that idea to inform written characters, too, something to do with degrees of change... But I’m still working it out for myself, so I’ll let you find your own meaning in that, if you choose. And if you do, I’d love to hear about it, ‘cause I can talk about this stuff all day long.