I think I’ve got better over the years at knowing when not to hang around on a scene that’s not working for too long in early drafts.
I plan a lot before I start a script. I’m not someone who takes a blank page and goes with it. I know exactly what I’m going to write. But no amount of notes and index cards can read the same as an actual script so there’s always scenes that just don’t work.
I like my scripts to be tight. For everything to work together and towards the same goal so if this happens I know it can throw the whole script off-balance. This used to mean I’d basically get stuck until I find a solution and would occasionally mean abandoning the script until the right idea hit me.
While this approach didn’t overly cost me time because I’d always be writing and working on something else, it has meant giant gaps between drafts and being stuck on weird page numbers.
What I’ve learnt now is that simply you can always come back to it. Just move on to the next scene and get to the end of the script. Writing is rewriting after all and that applies to scene and structure as much as dialogue and action.
There’s always a solution and sometimes it means having to change other scenes or sequences but that’s part of redrafting anyway. Is better to have the whole thing to work with than part of it otherwise you could have a problem with a yet unwritten scene that directly affects this one.
The script I’m currently working on I’ve tried 3 different ideas for a particular scene. A different one in each draft because every time I’ve reached that point I’ve known the scene didn’t work. Took me a while to work out that actually the scene before needed to change a little and the scene after.
I’ve now gone back to my original idea for that scene that never made the first draft. Funny how these things work. The scene needs tightening as it feels like a first draft scene not a third. But it flows with the rest of the script now and that’s the most important thing.
Gone are trying to make each draft perfect. Just doesn’t work like that for me. That’s why they’re drafts. I’ve found it more Important to just always be moving forward. Everything can be fixed and corrected and made better at different times. Doesn’t need to be all at once. As long as it comes together for the finished product what does it matter.
This realisation has stopped me hopping around scripts so much. Like I said, hasn’t made me write more or less. Just means I’m finishing things one at a time rather than having nothing for a while and then a few things at once which I think will definitely help in the future when I have actual deadlines instead of self-imposed ones.
Great thing about writing. Will always be learning and improving.