Wednesday, December 14, 2011


At 6:58 pm (I know because the coffee shop closed at 7, and the barista was loudly and deliberating cleaning up around me) today, I typed the two most beautiful words known to screenwriters everywhere -- FADE OUT. Draft 0 of Consideration, my script assignment for V., is done.

I have spent the evening celebrating by watching TV and not caring about the drool sliding down my chin. The last two months have been some of the most productive of my writing career but also some of the most draining. I have neglected friends, sleep, and the holiday season, and I am not all that sorry. I am just tired.

No rest of the weary, though. Tomorrow I meet with V. to discuss this week's pages, and I'm sure, since it's the end of the script, the notes will run long and deep. I will give myself the rest of the night off (off to handle other responsibilities), and then Friday comes around swinging. I promised V. a draft before Christmas, but I want it to be a readable draft, a draft we can give people for notes. So this week's goal is to do a complete pass of the script with the notes he's given me during our weekly meetings. I am basically going to attempt to rewrite the script. In 5 days.

But it's ok. This script is going into production next summer, and if it costs me a little bit of sleep and a tiny bit of sanity to make it the best story I can deliver, I'll gladly count the cost. Not many writers get the chance to see their words on screen. I already got paid for this assignment, but I'm still here to earn it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


I don't know what working with a producer or creative exec is like on a Hollywood movie, but this is a bit of how it's worked on the script I'm writing for V.

We meet weekly (and with the exception of Thanksgiving, we've been pretty good about making this time every week). The first few weeks we did some brainstorming together, developing the characters, outlining the plot, discussing theme. Because I am not a very quick thinker (which I'll have to conquer when I move to LA, I know), I would usually just nod and take notes and go home and really flesh out the characters and story on my own time. We did character profiles and an outline and beat sheet for the first half of the script. We talked about a treatment but never did one. That was fine with me.

When we got to the actual writing, I would work on the pages during the week, email them to him the night before our meeting, and go discuss and take notes the next day. If I was surprisingly motivated, I would rework previous pages to incorporate notes and send those along as well. That happened twice. V. would give me his notes, I would argue them if I felt strongly, we'd discuss what we think happens next, and then we'd adjourn.

We started working on the story at the end of August, and as of today I'm hovering on the precipice of the Act II break. My goal is to have the script finished by next week's meeting and then do a quick run through to incorporate the notes I've gotten the past few months and have a draft 1.5 ready the following week to hand over the night before I leave for Christmas.

And then we start giving it to other people for notes.

And then we'll rewrite it.

And THEN we'll start preproduction.

It all seems very fast to me. I told V. how difficult it was to come to our meetings sometimes, nervous about what he was going to say about certain pages. I haven't shown any a 'draft zero' like this since I was in college, and then it was expected that everything we wrote was going to be rather crappy. In fact, the only people who have read any of my scripts since graduation have been family members, and none of those scripts were at 'draft zero' stage. With V. I (am beginning to) feel comfortable showing pages that are that rough, but even with a quick pass/rewrite, it goes against all my instincts to show anyone a script that's fewer than 3 or 4 drafts refined. When I personally know that there are ways I can improve and rewrite it, it's difficult to hand it over, knowing that it has problems, even just to a friend for notes.

Getting notes sometimes makes me nervous. Actually, GETTING notes doesn't make me nervous. Harsh criticism makes me nervous. Hearing that something is unfixably terrible makes me nervous. Hearing that I'm a talentless hack makes me nervous. I don't I will be receiving those "notes" this time, but there is this anxiety of hearing that, not only is the script not where it should be, but that I won't be able to be the one to get it there.

I am sharing a draft of The Exit Strategy for the first time. A film friend who's been asking to see it for about 9 months has a copy, along with a long list of questions and thoughts that I have. I was planning on rewriting it one more time before sending it to her, but then I figured it'd be nice to have someone as a sounding board for the changes I was going to implement. I love this script dearly and I know she won't be mean, but at the end of the email I asked her the big questions --

Is this story worth it? Is there any potential here?
Were you invested? Were you bored? Could you see this as an (indie) movie?

Should I spend my time rewriting and rewriting and rewriting it? Or simply move on?

I texted the Hockey Player to tell him I had sent the Exit Strategy to my friend, and he responded, "Great! Now send it to a producer! If that's the next step." I said, "Rewriting is the next step."

Because 98% of the time, rewriting is always the next step.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011


We had our first real snow last night. It rained all day, and then suddenly I came out of the coffee shop to see my car covered in these gorgeous fluffy flakes as if the minivan had been part of a you-grow crystal kit. I wish I had taken some pictures, because it was truly a winter wonderland.

Then I had to drive in it. Driving in the snow at night is kind of like driving through an optical illusion. Living in Michigan has some real pro/con moments.

I have crested the midpoint in my script for V. and am now hopefully barreling down the hill into Act III. We didn't have a solid plan for the second half of the script and writing it feels a little bit like driving through a snowstorm at night. I feel like I'm holding on to my ambiguous outline with the same tense relaxation that you grip your steering wheel with in bad weather.
It's terrifying and you're thrilled that you're just staying on the road.

I'm feeling stressed and good -- stressed when I think about writing and good when I actually am writing. I have a (semi self-imposed?) deadline of finishing the first draft before Christmas. I am fully confident I can pull this off. I am also fully exhausted.

I basically replaced NaNoWriMo with Finish Script Now Month (FiScriNoMo?). I took a weekend to catch up with friends I hadn't seen since pre-Thanksgiving and then refocused. I've been using a lot of mantras to help keep me on task. Get words on page. In it to win it. The only way out is through.

I'm not incredibly competitive, but the thought that someone out there wants exactly what I want, the same jobs and assignments I want, and is prepping right now by putting in the time and the effort and the lonely frustrating hours at the keyboard motivates me. At the end of the day, I don't want to miss out on my dream career because I failed to prepare. That's not going to happen.

Overnight success is years in the making. And those who stay will be champions.

Friday, December 02, 2011


Oh hello.

The non-stop hellbent ride that is November is over. I have stopped buying sketchy sandwiches from coffee shops, feeling guilty about not working on my script, and exhaustion-based drooling. Thanksgiving was a hit (both in fun and to my word count), so I had to make up 16k words in 3 days. Basically, I'm a winner AND a baller. This novel is a hot mess, but there are some moments and/or characters that I'm fond of, and after I take a break I'm going to attack it with a highlighter, lift the three moments that actually work, and structure something new.

I mean, that's the plan so far.

In the meantime, I have some very specific goals (I outlined day-by-days goal about a week ago, in an attempt to productive to the max. I didn't write for the subsequent two days).

1. Finish the script for V. We are halfway through and I promised the script before Christmas. I'm confident that I can get it done. Every meeting I go into with him I'm expecting to get fired. I don't really know why I feel this way, but I have this mental picture of us sitting down, him looking at the pages quietly, and then saying, "Yeahhhh, this isn't going to work."

But not so! We had a great meeting yesterday, and he's even secured a DP already. Every time I think about him talking to someone about the film, I get a little hyperventilatey-nervous. It makes it super real. It also makes me feel a little bit famous.

2. Rewrite The Exit Strategy over Christmas break. This seems unreasonable when I say it, but I'm going to prep for rewriting all this month, reread the script, figure out the new elements, restructure, replot, reoutline. I have a week and a day off for the holidays, and I can knock through a prepped script that quickly. I think.

3. See some movies. There are some great indie films out that I want to catch, and the holidays are going to bring both popcorn flicks and award nominees. I'm down.

4. Blog about screenwriting more. The novel distraction is over. It's back to work.