by Jess Hinds
BEFORE YOU WRITE CHECKLIST
1. Have you settled into a comfortable space with everything you might need?
2. Do you have water?
3. Have you turned off your phone and disconnected from wifi?
4. Have you written down your goals/intentions for this writing session?
5. Have you taken a few moments to let go of anything that will not serve you in this writing session?
6. Have you taken long deep breaths to help calm your nervous system and get some oxygen to your brain?
7. Have you connected with your character/s?
8. Have you taken a few moments to step into your character in the time and place that your scene begins?
9. Have you allowed yourself to fully feel the weight of what is happening to them at the moment?
10. Can you feel the characters emotional need?
11. Can you visualize their tangible want?
AFTER YOU WRITE CHECKLIST
1. Did you thank your character and let them know that you will be back?
2. Did you take a few breathes to let go of your scene and return back to your own life?
3. Did you cross off your goals and celebrate accomplishing them?
4. Did you categorize today as a successful writing day because today you wrote, and the definition of a writer is someone who writes?
5. Did you schedule into your calendar your next writing session time, location, and goal?
Hey There Writer,
I hear you. I see it. Sometimes it feels like we are writing and rewriting and rewriting for so long that we start to believe that we might never finish a project. I wish I could tell you that every script requires three draft and a polish and then you're done. But the truth is, when it comes to art, there is no rule. There is no algorithm. Anyone who tries to tell you that there is only x amount of draft you need is misguided or ill-intentioned.
Scripts are like children. Some are quiet and learn to crawl, walk, and speak according to research averages. Others start to walk before they crawl. Others learn how to speak three languages by the age of four. Some wet the bed until they are nine. Some pull the whiskers off Mister FuzzyPants and blames it on their recently deceased GamGam. You can waste a lot of precious energy wishing your script were easier or on a more traditional track. But that won't help nearly as much as meeting the script wherever it is at and helping take the next step forward.
The scripts that I work the hardest on are always the ones I am the proudest of. They are the ones I learn the most from. My sci-fi/romance/gender-morphing/reincarnation script that took me five years to bring to completion taught me more about the craft of action writing, the art of allowing an audience to fall in love, and most important - helped me work through my deep-seated fears of commitment (well most of them, let’s not get too excited). I would never take those growths away in exchange for it to “be easier”.
If it were easy everyone would do it, and it would be of far less value. What you are learning in this process will take you so far beyond this individual script. You are developing muscles and tools that will serve you on your next fifty scripts.
You must remember that you are not just working on a single script, you are training and conditioning yourself as a writer. Time spent training, practicing, developing your voice and craft is never a waste.
Every script is written one word at a time. Just keep writing word after word. One day you will look up and realize you’re done… well at least with this script. Then the joy will wash over you, causing you to forget how difficult the journey was, encouraging you to start the next script.
Always Keep Writing,
I hope you are having a wonderful start to spring. As I was cleaning out my closets and inboxes I stumbled upon an email I wrote specifically for one of my writers who was struggling with a first draft of a new screenplay. They gave me permission to share it. I hope it provides a little motivation and direction.
Hey There Writer,
I totally understand how frustrating it can be to feel like you have no idea where you are going in a first draft. That’s normal. Remember this is art - not algebra. The first draft is really just you discovering what the story is, what it wants to be. It is a time for you to tell the truth, surrender to the truth, be brave enough to allow your emotional truth to pour out onto the page. It is a time for emotional logic, not intellectual logic (that comes later) If you attempt to control and curate every part of a new experience you miss out of the actual experience.
Don't rob yourself of the excitement of not knowing what's around the next corner. (amazing how similar fear and excitement are) If you need to practice bravery and surrender they will help you more in a first draft than any kind of craft or logic. This is the time to surrender to your unconscious (the collective unconscious if you enjoy Jung) and remember that the unconscious speaks in metaphor and symbol. This is another reason why a first draft might look like it makes no sense. But when you take the time to interpret the symbols you realize it does and it is more powerful than anything you thought yourself capable of writing. If you cling to what you know, if you clutch to complete control, you rob yourself of the thing you need most to create great art. Writing a first draft is like falling in love. You can only do so through bravery, vulnerability, surrender, and time.
Later drafts are when you take care of things like page count, joke density, clean formatting, scene structure, character orchestration, theme, dialectics, etc. It’s like cooking, when you add in what ingredients has an effect on the taste of the food. So when that nagging voice pops up and says “this looks messy” or “you haven’t figured out the normal world yet” just respectfully let that voice know that eventually yes you will work on those things, but right now, today, we are working on surrendering to the great adventure that is diving into the artistic soul and discovery what story wants to be told.
Always Keep Writing,
1. Identify the minimal exposition you need the audience to know - Bob and Hope have been friends for 14 years.
2. Identify what Bob wants from Hope - He wants Hope to pretend to be his fiancee at his brother's wedding.
3. Ask yourself "How could Bob use this information as a weapon to manipulate Hope?" - Gilt.
Now, rewrite the dialogue.
BOB: What? You are telling me that after fourteen years of being your excuse to get out of whatever boring date or office party, or S.A.T. test that now you can't fib your way through a three-course meal?
HOPE: Fine! Alright. But no kissing.
Much better. Now your reader won't want to burn your script. =D
Want more? Check out SCREENWRITING CRAFT: The Mind of The Reader
How To Draft Your Script So a Reader Has The Emotional Experience of Watching Your Film
by Jessica Hinds
By Jessica Hinds
Written by a dyslexic, proof read by an apathetic foreigner.
39 West 29th Street 2nd Floor New York, NY
The Science & Art of Writing was founded by award winning writer & certified yoga instructor Jessica Hinds.