The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Stick with what you know

I don't know everything about this movie project, but I know certain things: characters, events, thematic aspects, rhythms, moral quandaries...stuff like that. Locations. Eras. Social structures.

If there are a million things I don't know about the movie, and only a hundred things I'm sure of, then I'll keep re-examining those hundred things. Every time I look at the story a different way, I see something a little different. So I just go over and over and over it. Here are some ways I've broken it down:

1) Index cards. A physical stack of cards, one scene per card, wrapped with a rubber band and carried with me everywhere.

2) Index card programs. An Ipad app, and the "Index Card" view of Final Draft.

3) Outline in an offline word processor. Using MS Word.

4) Outline in an online "cloud" based word processor, easy to access through multiple devices: desktop, laptop, Ipad, Iphone. and Google Docs.

5) Giant sheets of graph paper, creating a visual "map" of the story.

6) Screenwriting software. Final Draft. Working on my computer with FD is terrific, moving back and forth between script and Index card views (in my mind, they screwed up FD a little. Use to be able to "click" through from the index card to script views. Can't do that any longer, and it's a bad choice.

7) Printed script. Just printed it out for the first time yesterday. Only thirty-one pages right now. I will read it through twice, making notes about characters, scenes, sequences. Looking at the structure, and trying to feel if that structure is a match for the events and thematics. I'm not worrying about dialogue right now...just events, and character needs.

Moving the story back and forth between these modes, and continuing research, produces about five pages of work a day (I juggle other projects). And enough to keep me busy, and happy.

more later...



Kay said...

Thanks for the tip about the various iPad apps (Index Cards for writing. I am a tenure track faculty member (a career change for me) and I am going to try using some of the apps to eliminate my stash of post its, sticky notes, etc.

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