I am currently engaged in top secret writing endeavor (Muahaha – evil laugher!). Let’s call it Nathan’s Screenplay Number Seven.
Writing is funnest part of the process … and it’s also the hardest. It’s true, sometimes the characters will occasionally leap from the page, telling you what they’re going to do or say. That’s just wonderful. Other times, however, that same group of characters stand and collectively glare at you, waiting for you to tell them what the hell they’re supposed to be doing.
My process generally consists of outlining and structuring the dammed thing for weeks or perhaps months. Or, if you want to get technical about it, most of these movie ideas have been germinating for even years in my brain, they just never had the priority in the queue to get any attention. Structuring the development of the story is important in screenplays. When you read a book, you rarely read it in one sitting. The reader controls how much content they take in depending on their own time and interest. When you watch a movie, it’s almost always in one sitting. A single experience moving through time, much like a song. Because of this, movies are very structural. Like a poem. There is an economy of time that has to be mastered.
George Lucas said a movie is made up of sixty small movies, two minutes each.
This is not to say that I’m talking about a formula or anything. If there WAS a formula it’d make my life a whole lot freaking easier!
Before “The Transgalactic Zoo”, my record for writing a screenplay was two or three years. Yeah, that’s nothing to brag about. “The Transgalactic Zoo” came out of the sky like lightning. From initial idea to finished screenplay was five weeks. Two weeks of outlining, three weeks of writing.
When I’m writing I try to get five pages done a day, usually after dinner. I wish I could do my writing first thing in the morning like Stephen King. During the day, however, I prep what I’m going to write. I figure out all the significant beats in the scenes I’m going to do that night. That’s usually about an hour of work over lunch. It’s like priming the pump, so the actual writing process is more about putting one foot in front of the other and just getting it done. I used to take one day off a week, but then I realized how much momentum I lose even with that one day off. It’s easy to lose the discipline. Real easy. Why? ‘Cause writing is hard. Real hard. Well … sometimes. But still fun. Sometimes.
When you’re writing you look for any excuse not to write. “Oh! Let’s do more research on the internet! Watch a movie! That’s working, right?!” Olive Stone put it best. The “formula” (oh yay, there IS a formula!!) for a screenplay is Ass + Chair = Screenplay (oh, unyay that formula …).
So obviously I’m not being TOO coy here about what I’m writing. I mean, I posted this picture didn’t I? Certainly a clever person such as yourself didn’t need me to hint at where the Easter eggs were hidden, did you?