Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Think different

Why this deadline was better than my first deadline:

1. I worked more from an outline in rewriting my script this time. The value in knowing specifically where you want/need to go with a story, what you've said, and what remains to be said cannot be understated.

2. I had extensive notes in hand for the rewrite. Some of them identifying flaws I already knew were there, others giving me new directions in which to take the story. Don't try and fix everything yourself; get another set of (competent) eyes to take a look at your work.

3. I put the script down in January and didn't pick it up again until April, partially by the necessity of coordinating my move but also somewhat by design. It helped to gain some distance from the piece after spending about four months with it exclusively. Not that I wasn't thinking about it in the interim, but only letting those thoughts simmer on the back burner until I was ready to dive back in with both feet.

4. I purchased a dedicated screenwriting software package (see previous post) and a laptop, which freed me to write where I wanted when I wanted. No more fussing in WordPerfect with the format, but still able to maintain a regular routine that produced several pages a day over the month. I finished all the substantive drafting and editing the night before everything was due.

5. I also purchased a printer to go with the new computer and software. Attempting to proofread on a monitor screen is no substitute for printing something out and marking it up with a good red pen. I know I caught several egregious errors that I probably would not have if not for reading them on the page.

6. I used a proper script printing service for the final version. Double-sided, card-stock cover, and good brads. The works, and got a good-luck "no charge" for the job to boot. Plus, no running around at 9:00 on deadline eve, making desperate phone calls to colleagues for emergency printing assistance. I reached the post office to mail my submission with hours, not minutes, to spare (two versus ten).

7. I actually liked this draft. The first time around I mostly just wanted to get something out there to see if I was even in the ballpark. I thought the spine was solid but also knew it was still a first draft. This time, the changes -- I think -- improved the story, tightened up the pacing (down to a lean 122 pages now), and took it from "not completely hating" to "like." Still not at "love" or "LOVE love" but it's getting there. There is no good screenwriting, only good screen-rewriting. Unfortunately, the pudding containing the proof won't be ready until August 1, when the quarterfinalists are announced.

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