Thursday, March 29, 2007

Not a Fan of Fishing

Friends, bloggers, and fellow screenwriters, my original intent was to blog about how far I've come on my Nicholl rewrite, detail the work I've done so far, and hint that while I'm confident that this draft is far better than anything I've written before, I could use some polishing suggestions. But, then I tripped up on my own thoughts. It was the word "hint". Why would I hint?

Why, indeed. Because all the discussion on Unk's blog about manipulative characters is turning me into a paraniod one! So, rather than spend a lot of time writing flowery crap and trying to manipulate you into posting replies that will help me become a better writer, I'll just come right out and ask for help.

Help. I need some polishing suggestions.


And, I didn't even manipulate you.

Or, did I?

Here's the rub. My screenplay is done, but I don't think my screenplay is "done". What the?? I don't think it will ever be "done". It's more like "stopped". I'm serious. I could write, improve, rewrite, and second guess this thing from now until the cows come home -- which is a very long time since I have no cows -- and it still won't be done. It's not due to nagging self doubt or a gut feeling that the screenplay is inherently flawed. It's because I don't think ANY screenplay is ever really done. You just stop editing one day.

In city government, we spend several months out of every year preparing a budget for the next fiscal year. We study fees, evaluate staff needs, look at facility issues, revise programs, and go round and round until the absolute last second the law allows. We're bound by statutory requirements to do things like hold certain hearings and publish proposed changes in effective tax rates. The calendar is a cruel task master and it demands we take the budget before the public and the governing body, ready or not. And, it's always "not". The budget is never ready. One day, you just quit working on it.

The Nicholl deadline, like that cruel task master, won't wait until I'm ready -- which, of course, I never will be. I've done these things - Tactics for Making Passes - but, I only have four weeks. What am I going to do in four weeks to turn what's at least a "pretty good" screenplay into a great one?

I'm not fishing. I'm asking.

ADDENDUM: One emailer asked how I know the screenplay is pretty good. He seems to think I have a very long way to go. Don't we all? But, it's a valid question. ANSWER -- Go get your Cheetos and fix the aluminum foil on on your rabbit ears. Montel is on.


Emily Blake said...

The best thing in the world is hearing lines aloud. You could try having a few friends with mild acting talent over to do a read-through. Then you'll hear things you never realized were there.

shecanfilmit said...

I've written 8 screenplays that have had various placements in contests. Last year, I finally made a dent at Austin with the 7th and got to the 2nd round. How? By not relying on casual advice and instead, paying for and working with professional feedback.

You wouldn't ask an amateur plumber to come over and evaluate a potentially damanging plumbing situation - you'd pay a pro to fix it.

My advice is to pay a pro to advise you on what you can do to your script in the month ahead. I don't need to mention names, a good one is on your sidebar.

Ann Wesley Hardin said...

MaryAn, Lord knows I know nothing about anything except novel writing. But I *have* read a few screenplays that captivated me for reasons I could never explain. If you want to take a chance and send me yours, I'll read it.

I'm a hard nose. I'll rip you a new one if I think you need it, and I probably won't help you in the least with my ignorance. BUT, I'll try.

So, if you're desperate, send it to me at: annwesleyhardin @ g mail . com (no spaces). I think you're one funny lady. You have talent. And I like movies. Ya never know...

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Shecan, I'm looking for polishing suggestions, not necessarily sombody to read although I have used Scott and he rocks.

emily, I like that idea.

Tracy said...

Hi MaryAn,

Take a breather. Step back, and then look at it with fresh eyes. Maybe even start to outline or preplan another story idea. I really believe that the subconscious is a powerful thing.

Watch some movies, read books, magazines, newspapers. Again, your subconscious might pick up on things. Then go back and give it another read.

I entered my scripts in a lot of contests over the years. I’ve placed in a few, though never cracking the Nicholls. Last year, I made it to semis. Most might say luck. Others might note the courses and classes I’ve taken. What I felt was different was that I finally decided to just do me. I’d taken all the conflicting advice, notes and feedback and chucked it aside and made one last pass of the script with a f-it attitude. If I was going to put this much energy into it, it might as well be one fun, helluva ride.

So, the biggest piece of non-professional advice – spit-shine your script with a polish of fun-loving MaryAn and only MaryAn.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

Tracy, funny you should say that. I haven't picked the thing up in a couple of days but the last time I did, I was reading through and thinking "what stiff wrote this thing?" Portions didn't sound like me. They sounded like excerpts from the Encyclopedia Brittanica. Trying waaaaaaaay too hard. Good comment. Thank you.

EDDIE said...

Work on your other screenplays for a while, and come back to this one in a couple of weeks.

Mystery Man said...

If you want some quick feedback, let me know. I'll be happy to help.


Piers said...

Ditto that.

MaryAn Batchellor said...

You guys rock. But like I said, I'm not fishing for feedback. I may, however, take you up on it in a week or so..