Tag Archives: writerslife

To Keep or Not to Keep Notes

So this blog is more of a question really.

What do you do with your notes when you’ve finished a script/book if you’ve hand written them?

Maybe this is my bad for writing notes on notepads for so long but I have a whole wardrobe filled with notes for different scripts of which quite a few are completed.

It’s my hope that the ones that I’ve never really started, or are unfinished, I can scan the notes onto my computer and save them as PDF so that they don’t take up so much room anymore, but what of the notes for completed scripts.

I can’t decide whether I still need them or not. A lot of the notes will be irrelevant any way due to later drafts, re-writes etc, but there’s still a lot of information within them. If I sold these scripts and had to do another rewrite do I think I would go back to these notes or start afresh with the document in front of me. I’m just not sure.

I have folders and folders worth of notes that take up so so much room and just can’t decide whether they are still needed or not.

If I get rid of them, that’s that. No getting them back. But surely my script contains all the information I need about the project along with my outline and treatment.

I could scan them as well, but that feels very daunting. There really are a lot of notes and I’d rather spend the time writing new scripts or trying to get noticed the ones that are finished.

Part of me wants to just get rid of them. Like that’s done and I’m happy with what I’ve got and if anyone wants changes in the future I’ll be taking into account their notes not mine. But another part of me worries that I will need something.

But would that something be a make or break thing… Probably not. After all it isn’t factual. I can always decide something new for the character or story rather than trolling through 500 pages for a single detail.

And like I said I’m pretty certain half them notes are redundant. just part of the process to find the story and characters I ended up with.

I think I’m leaning towards not keeping them. I want to get rid of the clutter and scanning them all really is a massive job for work that’s already completed.

Am just keen to know if anyone else is in this situation with scripts or books and whether they kept their notes or not.

Stephen.

 

Writing Naked

And now for something completely different…

…Writing Naked.

Is there a better way to write? I don’t think so.

I can’t be the only way who likes to do it, in fact through a few conversations I know I’m not. I reckon every writer must have done it at some point even if it’s not a regular thing. There’s just something about it right… right?

I’m not saying I always do it, or can always do it for that matter considering how often I write in coffee shops (my favourite of all clichés), but there’s just something about it. I find it almost helpful. Freeing might be a bad word to use here, but I struggle to think of another way to say it (Although I’m sure if I got naked right now I would come up with several better words).

The words just flow that little bit easier. Maybe it’s because it really is just you and the keyboard, or because of some vulnerability or freedom. Or because you’re at your most relaxed or it’s fucking cold and you just want to get the word count complete so you can get dressed. But I don’t know. There’s just something.

I’ve practically written whole scripts this way. I know a musician who told me she wrote her whole album that way. It just gets the creativity flowing. Maybe it’s just being in that natural state. There’s just something. You know.

I haven’t done any research on the subject which maybe I should as it interests me enough to write a blog about it but I’m sure there has to be some biological or chemical reason for it. It just feels right. It can’t be coincidence that I can get some of my best work done this way. That others have too. It’s not like it works with everything I’m sure, but with writing it’s like it’s meant to be done this way at times. Right? Right? You get what I’m meaning right? Just something… Something 😉

There are draw backs, especially when writing on a computer in that way. You’re only ever a click away from some form of distraction. And getting up to make a coffee can be a struggle, especially if you share the house as getting dressed and then undressed doesn’t feel as right. Like it breaks the naked momentum or something. So it isn’t always practical even in the comfort of your home. But these are minor setbacks I think.

Surely the creativity and word count created by the state far outweigh’s these drawbacks. Maybe I will do some research. Like I said, there must be a reason it works. Or am I crazy and it’s just me. But like I said I know others, but they’re also slightly crazy. But then most creative people are crazy so it can’t just be me. But it doesn’t sound normal at first. But it does feel normal. Natural. I don’t know. Where was I…

… Oh yes. There’s just something about it…

 

Stephen.

(Working out what image to use for this blog was a struggle).

 

Proof Reading

I hate it. I hate doing it, and I hate that it’s necessary. I mean I get it. Completely. But it’s just something that I’ve never been good at and find boring.

Back in school every single parent teacher night, every single report card, every single marked paper made some comment about my spelling and grammar. It was something that stuck with me through first school, middle school and high school. Even in college. Although by college i’d somewhat stopped caring. There was just always mention of it.

I get it’s important, I really do. But I worked hard to improve my spelling and grammar in school and while I could pass most spelling tests easily enough, that was just more memory. When I had to write an essay or story that’s when it showed and that’s when I’d get comments on it.

The problem  was that I wrote quickly. I had idea’s, stories, and I had to get them out. The quicker I write the more appalling my spelling becomes. Has just always gone hand in hand. It bothered me, I wanted to be better. But the improvement was never great enough. I’ve always been interested in writing. I wouldn’t say it became a big passion until around 16, but even before that I wrote all the time. Any chance to put pen to paper I was there, and I can tell you right now it wasn’t for drawing because my stick men where worse than my spelling.

So here’s the big thing that bothered me about it all. After being told how bad I was at it every year, I passed my English GCSE with ease. Very high B, 2 marks off an A. Turns out that at the time (Don’t know if it’s still true now) spelling and grammar accounted for about 5-10% of the actual exams. What the Fuck. So I was basically told my whole life how bad I was at English, but what they really meant was you suck at 5-10% of it. Why didn’t someone explain that better to me!

And that’s stuck with me. Now I think back on how well praised my stories where and how people found them interesting and wanted to read more. But that was always under the could do better in spelling part which was my main focus when reading my feedback.

So now as an adult (kinda) proof reading has become a big part of my life again. You can’t send scripts off riddled with mistakes or publish stories (something I’d like to do one day) with errors everywhere. It’s distracting and unprofessional.

The problem I have here is obviously the script should be judged on the story. Same for the book. Is it interesting? Do I care about or relate to the characters? Am I intrigued, excited, emotionally attached? When the film hits the screen no one can look for spelling mistakes. But at that point it’s not a written art as such. But again. I get it. Correct spelling and grammar along with formatting shows you’re professional and can save time for the reader producers etc. But as a writer being a storyteller and being great at spelling and grammar don’t just go hand in hand.

So what’s a writer to do?

For me personally I’ve worked very hard at it. But it’s not been easy. I get people I know who are strong at proof reading to go through my work for me after I’ve tried. (Luckily they’re kind enough to do it for free). I can see from script to script that I have far fewer errors than the last. My first script probably had about 10 a page. This latest one maybe one or two every 10 pages. Big difference. But that’s over a near 10 year period with the progress only really coming in the last couple of years.

I ignore spelling and grammar errors in early drafts because they’re only for me at the moment. When I have paid work and someone wants to see each draft as it’s done, that’s when I’ll be begging my friends to take a look, or paying someone because despite the improvement I’ll never trust myself to be perfect or even near perfect at all. I know there will always be mistakes.

It’s one of them skills in life I wish I can just do. Not sure why I can’t, I just don’t see the mistakes. When someone asks be what’s wrong with this and points to it, I can tell them. But I wouldn’t have spotted it on my own. Am sure there will be mistakes in this blog despite me checking it a few times over (And don’t tell me please, just let it be).

So I will continue to try. I’ll put in the effort. I always do. But I guess what it comes down to is I’ll always struggle and doubt myself when it comes to proof reading, have my whole life. But I’ve got a little better, and I’ve got friends who will help. So why not take advantage of them right 😉

 

Stephen.

 

Writing A Book Not A Script

About two years ago I started work on a new feature script. I had this very clear idea in my head of the story and how it would play out. I worked on the notes for a few months creating the lead and supporting cast, went through a couple of different idea’s for the ending as I plotted the story and generally felt good about the whole process.

It was a different type of script for me, similar to the first one I ever wrote rather than the horror I’ve written in recent years. More a slice of life than genre. Was good to be writing something different, something I could maybe even describe as a little more personal. All in all the pre-work before the first draft was maybe the best I’d done at the time. Everything felt right.

Then I began the first draft… And it sucked!

Not in that all first drafts sucks way. I never overly care about the quality of the read on my first draft, it’s about getting the story and characters down and shaping it all to be as good as possible in later drafts. NO this was in the it actually sucks sucks way. Like I could write 5-6 drafts and this won’t get any better type way. Total failure. There where obviously ways to improve it, and later drafts would have helped, but every way to improve it would take it further away from the story I wanted to tell.

I beat myself up over this one for a while. I thought I’d made enough progress as a writer to be able to tell this type of story. It was out my comfort zone and a challenge but one I gladly accepted and dived head first into. So how could it have ended up so bad. I didn’t have an answer. Not one to get stuck with writer’s block or anything like that I moved onto a different script and kind of forgot about this one…

… Until a few months ago.

That’s when I got that eureka moment (Once again in the bath as apparently that’s where I do all my best thinking). The problem is simple. I’m trying to tell a very internal story in a cinematic format that’s completely show don’t tell. The problem is this shouldn’t be a script, It’s not a story for film… It’s a book.

So I got out the bath and wrote the first three chapters and sure enough I felt a million times better about what I was reading back. Yeah it still sucked, but that was because I’d never written a book before and just bashed these pages out. The important thing was it felt right, I was telling the exact story I wanted too.

At the time I was half way through another script and didn’t have time to take on a book so I put it to one side knowing that this worked. That I could come back to this and tell the story. I’d always be annoyed at not being able to carry on with that script and here was my chance to totally redeem myself.

Fast forward to the present and I find myself with some time spare in between scripts. First thing on my mind, go back to this book. So I have. I wrote up all my film notes into Scrivener  and started to work out idea’s for chapters as well as writing some. Everything is in one place and now being written in the correct medium. I don’t know how it will turn out, whether it will be any good or not as I haven’t written a book before.

But I do know this is the correct way to tell this story, and I want to tell it. If it ends up being just for me, or a free e-book, then so be it. But as a writer I have to get these stories out of me and if this is the way to do it, then this is the way I’ll do it. The bonus to it all is that I’m really enjoying it. Good at it or all I’m loving writing a book. I hope that feeling carries on because I have idea’s for others and maybe this could be another way for me to tell stories in the future alongside my scriptwriting.

But that’s getting ahead of myself. Let’s see how this goes first.

 

Stephen.

 

Blogging Next Year

So for the first time I’ve managed to keep my blog going for a year. Was a little gap in the middle of the year when life got in the way but I’ve mostly updated it regularly and feel like I’m improving and expanding with it.

My question to myself is what would I like to do with it in 2017.

Am always looking to improve the quality so would like to spend a little more time on the posts which I believe I can do, and maybe look for a set amount of posts a week along with certain set days that they come out.

Have a lot of ambition for 2017 that isn’t just scriptwriting so think that the blog will end up being more than just a scriptwriting blog and would cover a lot more of my other creative endeavours, but feel it’s already going that way anyway.

Know that it’s best for a blog to really centre around one core thing but that’s just not the way my brain works.

Would like to write more about past writing and filming experiences so will look to do that. Will keep up to date with my script writing and any thoughts I have on the subject along with trying to be as transparent as possible about my script writing career.

Have plans on making plenty of music videos and short films next year so that will become a bigger part of the blog along with a little more about my photography. Alongside this I’m looking to put a lot more work into the film review channel so will write about, and promote, that more which I’m sure will also lead to a couple more bulk review blogs.

The idea of the blog was always to track my creative progress and give a little insight to who I am and that remains the main idea. I want to share anything I learn and experience in the writing and film world while also sharing stuff I love and am passionate about.

Feel like next year has to be a big one for one, although I do feel that every year. Have a few things lined up that could really make that happen and will share as much of that as possible. Recently finished (I hope) a new feature script so will be looking to do something with that later in the year and have another one ready to get out there.

Going to make things happens, one way or another. Feel more confident about my writing and where I’m at with it and have made big steps forward this year behind the camera so now need to do something with that. So have my sights set firmly forward.

So thank you to everyone who’s been reading this year. Have had far more readers than any other year, in fact probably all the previous years and blogs combined don’t come close to this year so that’s been awesome and hopefully will only get better.

Stephen.

(This my final blog of the year most likely, but will be back super early next year)

 

Stuck on a Scene

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.

Stephen