I started working on this comedy pilot spec (which means it’s my own story, not an assignment from producer or director) about two months ago. But I started to have ideas about it around a year ago. And yet, I wasn’t in the best headspace to birth it then.
Fortunately, a year later, the storyline and the ‘Why’ of telling this story now became more salient for me. It was time to start working.
From early March to late May, I probably deleted more than 100 pages for this 30-page script. The set pieces were shifted more than a few times on my notebook, in my head, on my whiteboard. Teaching screenwriting is one thing, but writing it is a whole other story:
- You have to be nimble and lenient with your first draft (aka. vomit draft).
- You need to write more than it is required on the pages. Don’t think. Just type.
- You have to feel the heat when your character gets angry.
- You must fight back tears as your heroine breaks down crying.
- If you cheat or cut corners or just fucking can’t sit through a difficult scene, it shows. And you know it.
- Don’t be glamorous with your words if you can be essential.
- The list goes on… (I will keep blogging about #screenwriting as I learn and teach it on the go.)
What’s fascinating to me about screenwriting is that it’s both left-brain and right-brain. You want to touch your audience with the emotions you’ve created. At the same time, you don’t want them to poke holes and find you ill-logic. In a word, you have to be somewhat a schizophrenic.
When you are done with your first draft, put it away for at two weeks. So when the open-heart surgery begins, you won’t quiver. Just start cutting.
At this stage of my own script, it’s ready for an initial read. I just sent it to a dear friend for a review. With that, I will know whether it’s ready to cast a wider net. Or, if it’s ready for submission.
And lastly, writers write. It’s our job. So treat it like one.
Tomorrow, I will start a new project. It’ll be a TV series in Chinese.
To quote Gertrude Stein, “To write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write.”