Krystian Morgan's blog featuring motion graphics, short film experiments and feature film.

By Krystian Oct.25.2010
In: Blog, Theory and Thoughts

Thoughts on Writing a First Screenplay.


There’s a lot I can say on this subject and there is a lot that has already been written on this subject. I don’t necessarily believe there is one way, when doing a little research into screenwriting I sparingly took advice and more went with what I felt was right for me. Hopefully if you are looking for some info and thoughts on screenplay writing, this will offer a different perspective and minus any BS.

How It All Started and Not Listening.
So, I committed to the plan of making a feature film. I wanted to write it as apposed to adapting or using someone else’s script. I really wanted my own story something that felt mine during production, I wanted it to feel like only I could do it (in a weird way). I’m a stubborn person in my goals so I knew I would complete it, my worry was that it wouldn’t be good, I’d be unhappy with the final piece and a lot of time would have been wasted. It’s also very disheartening reading on various writing sites that when you finish your first script, ‘Throw it in the bin, and start on something new’, the idea that a first script cannot be good or worthwhile. Personally I think that’s a very scary and limiting thought that is easy to say when you’re a person who has written 10 scripts, but for some one knee deep into their first, what is the motivation to complete it and how does it impact your writing with that in your head – that it’s going to be disposed of shortly after?

Little Research.
Regarding research, I didn’t really do all that much. The main thing I looked up was formatting, how a script is organised, between actions, dialogues and transitions etc… and again I very loosely learned this, not particularly worried if It wasn’t 100% right as I’m self producing it, not submitting for purchase. I soon found that if you use a script writing software, it pretty much does all the work for you. I really liked Robert Rodriguez’s thoughts on making mistakes and how writing with little knowledge will likely lead you with original results and not a cookie cutter hollywood script. As someone who’s very much into films, I understand three act structure and what works but is predictable so I didn’t read into anything on actual story development as I didn’t want to be too influenced by others. As for reading other scripts, I downloaded a few on my computer, but I used them more again for formatting reference and have only read one script other than mine all the way through prior to writing (and that was for something unrelated). What I found from reading a script from start to finish is, ‘Wow, that was really quick’. The page formatting allows for a really fluid and easy read which made the idea of being able to write one myself all the more achievable.

Story Develop…….ment.
I think the way I started was unique from the way most people would think of starting. I basically said to myself, ‘I’m going to write a script. So write it’. When I started and sat in front of my computer on the first day, I had absolutely no story whatsoever. No characters, no scenes. The only thing I had was an image of this fantastical place in my head that I thought was very striking and that was my starting point. Everything just came from that. It definitely wasn’t easy at first, I found like most things that writing is something you can condition. Once you get into the zone of coming up with ideas and defiling the page with a 100 words per second you have exercised those skills to a point where there’s no writers block and you can sit down with a cockiness of not knowing what to expect but knowing it will be something. Starting off for me was very hard, I didn’t write with a genre in mind, infact the type of film I was making shifted many times during the writing process to where it is now. Coming up with ideas early on was very, very hard because I was untrained in doing that, but it just got easier and easier as time went on. I now feel like I could outline an entirely new script after I finish this post.

Deadline Set. Go!
I felt I would benefit from a deadline, I definitely wanted a year to really let the ideas ferment over a long time to ensure that I was still happy with them and to look at the writing from many angles and give it a true effort. I scheduled a script consultation early on, which costs money and is an outside element for me to adhere to. This helped a lot.

Hardest Thing to Overcome.
Early on in the writing process I was avoiding the actual page, I loved the outlining process and did it for the scenes and the whole story alike many times, I also used tools like evernote for if inspiration struck on the train, I could make a note of it to remember later. I did so many things that procrastinated writing that in the end I felt I was over-prepared and going in circles fearing the page. I was happy every time I got a scene down and finished. It’s one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever had, I’d outline what I’d expect the scene to entail, but when It came down to the actual writing It was as if the character’s were alive and had other plans, they did their own thing and took the story into their directions it was quite exciting and new to me, but also quite scary. I had this strange idea that it’s all to do with timing, ‘If I sit down now as apposed to in an hour or the next day will what I get down be as good, as I know it would be completely different if I left it a day? That was definitely the hardest thing for me to get over, worrying would writing now would be better or worse than if I did it later? Thankfully the deadline forced me to sit down and write nonetheless and I’m happy with the results.

And Now.
I had the script consultation on September 30th 2010. I was really nervous, I was worried that what I had written was actually just crap and a waste of a year, and just a roadblock on the film. Luckily for me it went alot better than I had hoped, I got given some great advice on what worked well and what could be improved, and everything made alot of sense to me. I was told that my 3rd act was fine and I could pretty much leave that as it is. Some suggestions that were made was to not be so Director-oriented on my actions and also not write so articulately and explaining with some of my character’s dialogue. Pretty simple stuff really. I was suggested to do two passes, one for the action, which is basically keeping it the same but more simple, and also a story pass to add some extra intrigue and elements into the first and second acts. These wont take me long to do at all, I’ve done the drafts in my head and they just need to be put on paper. In ink, not Berol.

I can honestly say I love writing, and will start some more writing endeavours soon too, such as shorts and other features.

Useful Links:

Writer’s Store – The best place for everything screen writing including printing goods.
Script Formatting – I didn’t use this place, but seems to describe formatting easily.
Daily Script – Great place to read produced film screenplays.
Evernote – Great note taking app for mobile and desktop.