I had been planning for it and talking about it long enough, it was time to roll my sleeves up and get to work on my first script.
The conditions were right:
– retired and having time on my hands,
– the right working environment (my studio),
– the right background music, and
– a number of completed blog posts, ready for posting, which frees my mind for other projects.
Whether you want to call it a New Year’s resolution or just simply a writing goal that happened to coincide with the New Year, my plan was to spend January in preparation mode for screenwriting.
Over the month, I absorbed training material like a sponge. I devoured every article, tweet and video I could find on the theme of screenwriting. Meanwhile, I jotted down several ideas for the outline for my first story. I also started the background research needed to fill in some of my knowledge gaps about my subject. It was a very productive month.
Then in February, it was time to start fleshing out the story. Given the amount of material that I could see flowing organically from my story, I set a target of eight episodes of roughly 40 minutes each.
I wouldn’t even rule out the idea of overwriting, creating more material than needed, and then trim back to what I think are the strongest story lines and subplots.
Does this project sound ambitious? It sure is!
But as they say, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it.
Here is the reason for assigning myself such a mighty mountain to climb: this is my first script.
Although, if memory serves, I did collaborate on a few short scripts in high school drama class. Dare I admit… that was about 40 years ago? Not exactly an accomplishment for the “Recent Experience” heading on my writing CV.
In not having written a script professionally before, how do I know if I can commit to writing an entire series based on just a pilot (which I believe is the standard approach in the industry)?
However, when I look back on my blog, over the span of eight years, I have written 440 posts of about 800 words each, roughly 352,000 words in total. You could say that this is like three or four novels. I think it would be safe to say that I probably do have the stamina for writing a script… or two… or three…
Also, I have the experience of producing thousands of pages of different types of written material for different target audiences over the course of my public sector career. With that, I feel I have versatility in my writing.
But the process of screenwriting is different. Even as I am composing my first script, my brain feels like it is being engaged in a different way, having to focus on dialogue to move the action forward. I can feel the brain cells screaming, “What are you doing to us?”
Given how different a script is from a blog post or a corporate report, I feel I need to actually go through a more fulsome script writing exercise to get the practice and to develop the reflexes to prove to myself that I can do it.
I don’t think that I can accomplish that with one pilot or one movie script, although I applaud writers with the talent, confidence and Midas touch to make it happen. I just need to push myself forward, training wheels and all, and prove to myself that I can do it.
With at least one completed series in my back pocket (whether it ever sees the light of day or not) I feel that will offer me the confidence to keep writing in this genre and to confidently sell myself as a screenwriter.
Maybe it comes from a fear of disappointing others (or perhaps disappointing myself) but I don’t want to pitch an idea, have someone bankroll the project, and then realize that I am in over my head. If I was able to complete one project (or two, or three) from idea to a fully fleshed out series, then I can say with certainty that I am up for the creative challenge.
Is that a lot of extra work and energy? Sure it is. However, I have found that with every page, the energy seems to replenish itself as I see my artistic vision becoming a reality.
Plus I am learning so much with every writing session (while still consulting a variety of sources for training materials and behind-the-scenes stories of TV and movie development) I consider this my own personal script writing boot camp… and I enjoy every moment!
In addition, with a fully developed series, I feel I can defend it better, having pondered every word, every action and every scene, for the major story line as well as the minor ones.
My goal is not perfection, just a strong degree of completion with enough polish for me to be sufficiently satisfied to move on to the next project.
This story is one of perhaps ten distinct story lines that have been percolating in my head for years, waiting to find their way out of my head and onto paper. Whether this project successfully gets a green light or only served as a warm-up exercise for me, I am fine either way.
Could I pick a writing goal that is a little less ambitious? Certainly. But staying with a story for eight episodes will be the validation I need that my instincts were right and that screenwriting is the next logical step for me.
If inspiration suddenly strikes and one of the other percolating projects comes together in my mind, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of putting this project aside temporarily. I often find it easier (and more productive) to go with the flow of ideas rather than fight it. I can always come back to this project later.
Even though I am still very early in this new venture, I have already found it incredibly rewarding. To be able to see my creativity flexing in a completely different direction, to breathe life into a new universe of characters and to be able to do so with tips and hints from experienced screenwriters makes my heart soar.
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Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
3 responses to “My First Script”
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