Last month I wrote a complete, feature-length screen play in about four days. Granted, it still needed some polishing but if I’d been trying to beat the deadline for a competition I would have succeeded.
No matter what work of genius you may have in front of you, the first question any producer will ask is what else you have. Or so I’ve been told. In that case there’s not much point polishing anything mirror-smooth until you know someone else is about to read it (someone willing to part with money, that is) so I lately have been focussing on quantity over quality.
To a certain degree. Churning out unreadable crap is even more pointless.
I came up with my newest premise (a Vampire idea I’d been toying with) and wanted to see if I could now match my previous record. Next time I’ll try this when I’m not expecting visitors for three days. Still, tallying two full days I’ve managed a complete outline and I’m at 60 pages. Another two-day burst and I could be ready to move on to the next project.
And more query letters. And loglines. Those really do need to be perfect. Gleaming in the brilliant morning sun.
It helps to have a formula and by that I don’t mean writing the same screenplay over and over again with only slight variations. Although any creative endeavor is partly alchemy (magic!), there is a hard science to it as well, and following particular steps is what enables me to crank out a fully-realized story within the space of a week.
So here are my steps to writing at full speed, patent pending:
- begin with an idea of course. Make sure it’s a decent one.
- decide on some main characters, at least two.
- figure out what happens to the main characters and what they do about it.
- hash out a full plot – beginning, middle and end* in one go
- start the first scene. Where, when, who. I try to introduce at least one major character here.
- then I just write out a couple of lines for each subsequent scene until I’m at the end.
- from there, just flesh out each scene into dialog and action and –
Voilà! Your screenplay is done.
Okay, so I’ve had a little practice. It might take someone else a little longer. I’ve left out a couple of elements for the sake of brevity but also because no magician reveals all her tricks. Hollywood-type screenplays do follow particular formula regarding over-all length and various plot points that I advise to study extensively while writing out the various scenes.
I try not to switch around scenes too much – it’s easier to decide what goes where while there’s only two lines you’re looking at, rather than possibly a couple of pages.
Now off to see if I can get the rest of my current screenplay finished in two days, since that’s all the time I have to work uninterrupted until some time next week. I’m also thinking it could be turned into a rather decent Novella as well. *bangs head on desk*
*I learned the hard way. NEVER spend a lot of work on something if you don’t know how it is going to end.