Thursday, 24 March 2011

FADE OUT....and relax....

I've literally just written FADE OUT on the feature script I've been writing this week. And what a relief it is!

Time being quite important on this one, I didn't plan as much as I should have. I know, a big slap on my wrist. I hang my head in shame. I was working from 10-page outline when, for a feature script, I'd normally like something twice that long to go by.

Anyway, I started writing the script itself on Monday at 5am. By Monday 5pm, I was nearly half way through the outline. And I'd written just under 30 pages. You do the maths on that one - if half is 30 pages, then the full script would be 60 pages. For a feature script. To sum up ------

So it suddenly dawned on me that I'd fucked up somewhere down the line. On something we often take for granted - length. This has never been an issue before, not really. I've had to cut the odd page here and there before, but I've never come up so monumentally short on the page count.

So I panicked. Like you do. Impressively, I resisted the urge to open with an Alien-esque tracking shot, which would probably add at least three minutes to it. Self-control, people!

So instead, over the course of Tuesday, half of Wednesday (I took the afternoon off), and today, I was constantly thinking of ways to lengthen the story. There had to be bits missing that would have worked really well. There had to be subplots or characters that weren't developed fully.

And there were. I found myself doing a very strange rewrite whilst writing. If that makes any sense. I was writing draft two before I'd finished draft one. I'd be working on scene 80, then I'd suddenly stop, go back to scene 5, and put in a few extra lines of dialogue. Or a completely new scene.

Anyway, I wrote FADE OUT, then clicked 'Type Set/PDF.' That will mean something to those of you using Celtx. You wait, painstakingly, for about 10 looooog seconds as the little green bar fills, the text next to it saying "formatting script" all god-like.

I won't give away the spoiler, but suffice to say it's longer than 60 pages. Which is good. It's not yet a feature length piece, but I'm leaving it until Monday now. The weekend will give me some perspective. Space to breathe. To get my head round everything and brainstorm a few ideas. Then I can attack it on Monday and finish everything off.

So this is a cautionary tale. I'm a big planning dude. I love it. It gets a little slow after a while, but it means that when you come to write the script, you're itching to go. And nothing can stop you. You can write a 60-minute drama in just under three hours on a good day.

My other piece of advice - don't panic. Everything works out in the end. You'll come up with something. Take that half day off (like I did). Get out of the house, go for a walk, meet up with some friends, get completely sozzled in a crummy bar. Do something other than writing! This way, you won't get a massive headache! Which is always good.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to bash my head against a brick wall.

Over and out. Shiny writing!


Sofluid said...

Oh dear! Like you say though, everything works out in the end :) Well done and good luck for Monday's bashing-out sesh!

Neil said...

Thanks. Monday's bashing-out sesh has now become Friday's bashing-out sesh. I can't leave it alone, got loads I want to change now. Ah well.