Daily Dojo

Rapping On Writing - In The Folder Marked “Screenplays” …

This may not interest those who aren’t writers, but in the folder marked screenplays …. Wait, back up a minute …

Obviously on my computer I have a folder titled, appropriately enough, “Josh’s Folder” (which goes hand in hand with the computer, called “Josh’s computer) and in Josh’s folder I have MORE folders, some for letters, resumes, journals, anything most folks have (I removed games) … and the big three, novels, plays and, of course, screenplays.

Now IN the folder marked screenplays I have, yes, more folders, but the big three are “Dead Folder, Active-Screenplays and last and more important, Completed Scripts Folder.

In the Active folder is anything and everything that may be a film script someday, either a log line idea or half a script. If it’s an idea I may write, I’ll usually do at least a page of notes and put it in there as its own folder, under title (for example) with all relevant info necessary.

So there are a lot of folders in Active Screenplays folder, all in different states of creation.

In the DEAD idea folders, these are scripts or ideas that, well, are dead. I won’t write them or, if started, won’t finish them … usually because by this time I’ve found that it’s not nearly as good an idea as it seemed at first. It does, however, take a lot for me to can an idea. I usually wait because I don’t just write any old idea down, but it happens that an idea’s time will come, or a short script, or whatever … pass it on, mourn it, let it go.

Now in the Completed Scripts Folder are the files for every full length screenplay I’ve written that is completed (but not done, more on that later) which means that if I started a script, wrote it to the end and typed FADE OUT, it goes in here.

Regardless of whether or not I like it, think it has potential, want to keep rewriting it, if it’s completed, it goes in this folder. Early scripts, recent ones, a couple I wrote for money that didn’t get made, and of course … those COMPLETED scripts I am proud to share which are out in the world gathering admirers right now as we speak.

Luckily I have a few more of those as of late. Evidently I’m getting better at this.

So if I get an assignment, say I’m hired to write DARK KNIGHT TWO, PENGUIN BOOGALOO (don’t laugh, it could happen) I create a file folder named as such, with the outline and notes and start the FD rough draft of the script, and when I hit FADE OUT, I move the folder to Completed … it’s not finished then, I go back and start my personal rewrite process that I do for everything before the eyes of others see what I have wrought (more on that on another day).

But if I hit FADE OUT, I move it to Completed, regardless of the shape it’s in.

If I don’t, I won’t.

So in Active Screenplays I could have a 100 pages of a script that’s nearly completely but not quite, so it stays in Active, because I haven’t written FADE OUT yet.

In Completed, I could be working on my 10th rewrite of a script that I’ve been working on for someone for over a year, and still its in COMPLETED, because I had written FADE OUT awhile ago.

It may not make sense, but that’s my personal line of demarcation. Here’s why.

Many a pro will tell you that the most important part of the writing process is the rewriting part of it, and I’m not denying that at all … I’d say I do MANY more hours on a script after I type FADE OUT than before … however …

The first draft is, for me, usually the steepest climb … most writers love to dig into a script that’s completed, figure out what’s wrong and fix it … it’s not nearly as frightening a climb because the words are there, just wrong.

A blank page, however, can be a void that frightens you to your very soul. It’s why many a pro will crank out the first draft (often called, appropriately enough, the vomit draft) as fast as they can to get it out, even if it’s not all right yet … because they have faith that they can fix whatever is wrong, once it’s down.

Fixing a blank page, however, is a different game altogether.

So one thing I myself do is that whenever I type FADE OUT on a script … I take that folder and move it from ACTIVE to COMPLETED … in my mind, I did the heavy lifting, and that’s the reward.

It’s hard work to write a 120 (or so) page script that started from nothing but an idea in the beginning, it’s very hard. So I have that goal in mind (ten more pages and I move this sucker to COMPLETED) and it’s immensely satisfying on some primal level, for me.

Obviously there’s always a LOT more work to do, because as anyone will tell you, COMPLETED is a far cry from DONE, and as I noted, more hours happen after FADE OUT than before, chasing the elusive DONE … but getting to Completed is like planting a flag on a new undiscovered country, for me, so I acknowledge that, if only to myself.

Plus, I can look at that folder with pride, I know what’s been COMPLETED.

The great, the good, the bad or ugly, if it’s completed it’s there.

Anyone can have ideas. Anyone can START something.

It’s hard to finish something, so I honor that.

Then I get right back to work on that script, because while many a thing can be COMPLETED, few are DONE.

And I strive for DONE.

That is all for now (this post is completed … but not done, heheheh.).

Leave a Reply