I write a lot of scripts. I want to get a career in screen-writing, because I have a lot of stories rattling around my head and scripts are my way of sharing those stories with the world. However, as someone who writes a lot of scripts, there are certain factors that get in my way. I thought I would share them with you to see if I am alone in these worries and also, I might have some advice for the problems I have figured a way around.
3 – ONE THOUGHT COULD RUIN THE WHOLE WRITING PROCESS
The worst feeling in script-writing is being halfway through writing a script and then one thought hits you that renders the entire thing obsolete. Sometimes, it happens mid-flow; sometimes is happens when a thought crosses my mind at night (I do my best thinking, before falling asleep). Suddenly the entire script in front of you becomes useless and this can be one of the most disheartening thing for a writer ever.
As I got older and left University, I have stopped writing for fun as much and write scripts that I could feasibly get off of the ground. Therefore, ideally I want to make a story that can be shot easily, filmed with a minimum of actors and that would be fairly cheap to get off the ground (at the moment, I want to get a no-profit Youtube series going, but am unsure where to start or who to work with). However, I get so lost in the story that I keep going too far with my idea. What will start off as a cheap idea will slowly evolve into an action thriller that would be better suited in the hands of Michael Bay or J.J. Abrams… or at least a bigger budget than 10p and a chewing gum wrapper. This is the most common though that crops up, but there are many that just make me lose all faith in the script I am working on.
2 – A GOOD STORY SOMETIMES LOOKS BAD IN SCRIPT FORMAT
One thought I have gotten over is the fact that the story doesn’t look right in front of me. Sometimes, a great story just doesn’t look right when it’s in script format. Comedy is the worst. When writing your script, you have to explain the joke to the point where it loses its comedy effect and that can be disheartening. It was the winning joke and on paper, it looks a little pathetic. Also, when reading back on a script, you realise that maybe a joke could be missed, because in your head, you have a certain tone you want a line said in, and the script-reader might totally skip past that, not realising the genius hidden in your work.
I have also learnt that every action or horror script is one bad director away from becoming a terrible B-Movie. Every piece of dialogue could either be picked up Christian Bale who could breathe life into a character or some rookie actor who totally flunks the line and the script is blamed for being lazy. The script takes most of the blame for a bad movie. Yes, a good script can save a bad actor’s career, but it is nice to know that someone is working with you on the movie. I have just learnt to ignore all of these negative thoughts and trust that someone on the other end of the production line will be able to actually do his job as well as I can. Trust is a key word for a writer, because it is not something we are very good at. Stories and scripts are like our babies and we don’t like handing them over to the babysitter. But more often than not, the ‘babysitter’ knows what they are doing and won’t lead your project astray. Unless you give your script to the IPC. He just gives my scripts back with notes on the side, saying: ‘more boobs!’
1 – THIS IS YOUR FIRST DRAFT
The biggest piece of advice I can give fellow writers, and myself, is that you are writing your first draft. Sometimes I will get rid of a script simply because I cannot think of an effective way to get through a chunky bit of exposition or maybe I have written the character into a situation I have no idea how she can get out of. Not long ago, I had a great idea for an opening scene of a script, but I was working so much I had to plan it out, rather than actually writing it. When I did write it, it seemed lacklustre compared to the scene in my head and I lost faith in it. What I totally forgot was that it was my first draft. I will be coming back to this story, maybe three times or more, before I have a finished project I am happy with. Do not throw it away!
I never delete anything anymore. I think back a year and remember a failed script I got rid of. I reckon I have solved the issue I had with at least three of my old ideas, but I ruined my chance of making something out of that, in a moment of anger. I hate myself for that. Sure, you might look at your work right now and doubt your credibility as a writer, but do not give up. Save it and start another project. You will come back to that script before long and suddenly something will click in your mind. You will solve that problem your script was stuck on. Believe in yourself a lot more. Script-writing is a game for a patient man and maybe that is the best piece of advice I can offer you.