Saturday, August 12, 2006

If it's not broke...break it.

It's weird how all the screenwriting books and magazines and podcasts are the worst kind of procrastination tools for writers. Man, if we're trying to avoid writing there's nothing better.

The irony is they may serve you best when you're actually working on something.

An example: I'm working on a rewrite of a feature and like a good boy I've been trying to avoid buying and reading the latest issues of the usual magazines. Trying to stay away from the usual websites. Keep away from my iPod.

I need to be strict with myself. Why? Things like: I once took a whole week off work because I convinced myself I had to watch the first three seasons of Buffy-- all at once. I mean, it made my dialogue very Weldonesque for a while but really.

The thing is when I'm actually working on something-- maybe that's the best time to be getting ideas from other writers. Today I had to take a longish drive out of town so I decided to take my iPod and listen to an old Creative Screenwriting Podcast with James Mangold talking about I Walk The Line.

Mangold was sharing a story about the trouble with shooting the musical numbers-- about needing to have a problem in every musical number. To make it not just be about the music. To have drama in the scene.

Insert awakening metaphor here.

It was just the reminder I needed. I find sometimes I wraps things up too early. I resolve problems between characters too soon. Maybe it's because I'm a middle child and have a natural tendency to play the peacemaker... But having the couple make up, or the bully get his comeuppance, or Indy find the Ark of the Convenant, before they absolutely have to is a mistake.

The reason the story goes on is because something isn't right, or unresolved, or broke. And once it's fixed whether you have 2 pages left or twenty-- your story is done.

So resist your natural and wholesome urge to fix things. Indulge your unnatural and evil urge to prolong the suffering of your characters until the last possible moment.

And save all those magazines, books and podcasts until you're actually working on something.


Annie said...

I am reading this instead of working on something.
Thanks for validating my procreastination.

Annie said...

I meant procrastination.

Not a good day to proofread, I guess.

Dave said...

i believe the word you're looking for is "procrast-a-matation!"