Thursday, February 01, 2007

Words, Bothersome Words

After two months of rewriting my Nicholl entry, I went through every page beginning to end only to find that the graceful and lyrical design in my head (right) has translated into a jerky discordant composition on paper (left).

I'm heartsick. Puzzled. Curious. And, a little bewildered. The story on paper is what I wrote. It's the same story that was in my head. It's exactly what I outlined and exactly what I sent to the Nicholl last year. But when I read it from beginning to end, it's not what I anticipated. It's not bad. It's different. The story works better. The characters are better. Everything about it is better, but the sum of the parts feels -- I dunno -- different.

What is that? Buyer's remorse?

Or, do I know in my gut that something still doesn't work?

Why can't the story in my head just telekinetically appear on paper without all this annoying fuss and fret and flap and flutter over words?

Of course, there are those who find the weird sand art on the left far more interesting than the exquisite sand art on the right. The left one has a spiraling structure with parallel layers as opposed to the linear one on the right. Sure, that left one has all those boring square parts but they're positioned in such an edgy and quirky way that they have depth, character and a distinctiveness that captures the viewer's eye and holds his attention...


Moviequill said...

the one on the right, I'm all about curves...

"Why can't the story in my head just telekinetically appear"

Last weekend I awoke with an entire plot in my head, chaarcter quirks, some dialogue, antagonist, helpers, beginning, end and major scenes... rushed to my desk and penciled out an outline. There was a movie in my head by gosh

Unk said...

I hate to be the one to recommend this... But it's my job. LOL.

If it just doesn't feel right, REWRITE IT.

Make a new outline. Start from scratch. Outline it the way it is in your head and then strive to write it that way as well.

The new one will NOT be identical to the one you now have.

Before you write, ask yourself the following questions of the original:

1) Are the characters perfect or could I come up with even BETTER characters i.e., quirks, names, jobs, backstory, etc?

2) Are the locations perfect as is or could this story be set someplace where it would be served even better?

3) Can my theme be more developed? Is it clear?

4) Are my minor characters unique enough? Do they help move the story along? Do the main characters play off of them ENOUGH to get to theme and Protagonist character arc?

5) Do all the character have a clear and unique VOICE? Can I develop their voices even MORE?

6) Are all the motivations of my characters CLEAR?

7) Are there any weak scenes in my script? Do I need them? Can I cut them? Can I combine what is in that scene with another scene to make THAT scene even more powerful? Does at least one character WANT something just for that scene?

8) Are all my characters under enough stress in every scene?

9) Is the conflict between the Protagonist and Antagonist believable? Are both characters sufficiently motivated to achieve their goals? How can I ENHANCE that motivation?

10) Does the bottom of each page make me want to turn to the next page? If not, why not? Can I change it so that it does? If not all the pages then the most important pages?

11) Have I read the script out loud to see if everything's perfect? If you can't get others to help you read it and listen to them, try reading it into a recorder and then listen to that.

12) Is my structure correct? Are there enough twists and turns?

13) Does my Protagonist have a powerful dilemma? If not why not? Can I give my Protagonist a dilemma to enhance their motivation?

14) Is my story powerful? Is it unusual? What makes it different than other stories within the genre? Can I make it more powerful overall?

--These are jut off the top of my head but I would think that if you've got all these questions licked then the script is solid. If not, rewrite it from scratch but write it like a first draft in that you just LET IF FLOW.

Good luck!


ECHenry said...

Marry Ann,

It sounds like you don't know where the "magic" lies in your story -- if you did what you rewrote wouldn't sound so different from what you expected. Sounds like your rewrite tweaked your plot, and what you were expecting was a mere polish to make it sound better.

I think all "GOOD" writing requires an enormous ammount of thinking/sweating/hard work on behalf of the writer. You need to realize that first comes good plotting, THEN you work on eliquent sounding prose.

When you define your own work as "quirky" and "edgy" -- I think that's a bad sign. You, as the writer, should know how you want the audience to feel, step by step, scene by scene, as they experience your movie. If you can't honestly answer that, you're still toying with the plot.

(A little sugar as I say good-bye) Just make your writing as awesome as you are, and you'll be just fine! If you were a flavor on the Baskin Robbin's menu -- why I'd have two scoops! (Smile)

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Okay, unk, been through the entire list and except for a few wedding day jitters and #10 and #11, I appear to be on pretty solid ground. So, back to work.

E.C., pralines and cream

Far away said...

hmm.. looking at the pic, I'd worry about fluidity. The left one, although more interesting - kind of seems a bit jerky, piecemeal and rough around the edges..