Thursday, June 04, 2009

Cut and Paste Screenplay Writing

I'm in the middle of writing the White Angel sequel and still hoping to get the first draft finished by the end of the month.

The first act looks good to my eye. It's come out at the right sort of length and with the right sort of tone. I had been concerned about the strength of the central character. Make her too weak and it becomes a victim flick make her too strong and all the tension goes out of the story. Seeing the first act written and having added the dialogue (as the great man once said) it all seems to be working.

The second act is planed out in detail and I am just about to get into the dialogue adding phase. But before doing that, I need to get my head around the sub-plots. It is important that I haven't missed any opportunities and that events develop in the best possible order. Getting this right will make the story feel more compelling and less linear.

For this review, I'm using a technique taught to me by Clare Littleford. I have printed out my extended treatment of Act 2, cut it into scenes and am laying portions of it out on the carpet. I can ask myself how the story would change if I moved a scene from one place to another.

This is the sticky tape stage - reassembling the story in a better form.

Then it is just a matter of making any changes to the documents on the computer.


Niki M said...

I do that Rod. Before I even write the scenes I plan them out on index cards which I can then play with as much as I like. It's amazing how scenes can be swapped and how much difference it can make sometimes.

Lizzie L said...

It's interesting to see how different writers takle the problem of planning and making the whole thing flow. My method is to write things down on post-its and then stick them on the back on my study door. I use different colours for different aspects of the novel: pink for characters, blue for sub plot etc and then keep moving them around, overlapping them etc. Only problem is they lose their stickiness and I have to resort to cellotape or drawing pins to keep them in place. But I can tell at a glance if I've got too much of one aspect of the chapter by scanning the number of coloured post-its. Works for me, anyway.

Rod Duncan said...

I do go through an earlier index card stage as well - which gave rise to the extended treatment.

Printing out is unusual for me - because I like to keep things as paperless as possible. But at this stage, I do sacrifice the trees and resort to a printout. I can then check it through, making sure there is no improvement I could make by shuffling a scene here or there. This is more about the rhythm of storytelling than the specific unfolding of the plot.

Fascinating how different people work differently. :-)