Wednesday, March 29, 2006


One summer when I was in college, I wanted to lose 25 pounds, so I decided I would go running every day. I mapped out a mile in my neighborhood and forced myself to go running as soon as I got home from work, at which time, by the way, it would be, like, 90 degrees outside.

I hate running.

But I kept doing it every day, and I lost a bunch of weight, and I even kept doing it when I went back to school. I was in the mandatory health class by that time, so that worked out. I eventually quit because I got super-busy, but I had kept it up for about six months by that time.

And I liked it.

Sometimes, on a much smaller scale, writing is like this for me. Not the actual process, because I like that part. I like writing. But sometimes it's the last thing I'll actually do. I can find a million things to do before I get to writing, even though I actually like it quite a lot.

When I was doing the first and second drafts of this script, I didn't have this problem. I'd gotten disciplined enough that I was now ignoring other things (including my health) so I could write more. But I got sick, and I didn't write for two weeks, and now all my discipline is gone.

So even though I have barely anything to do on what I hesitate to even call a third draft, I'm crawling along. Last night I trolled along through MySpace looking for other people who graduated from my college. I wrote to people from high school. Then I went to bed.

I need someone to kick me. Thank goodness I'm meeting with my writing "group" tomorrow.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Clueless Characters

Had a mostly-swell weekend with the folks, who came on Wednesday. The part before the weekend would have been swell, but I was still pretty sick. Today I learned that I can actually put eyedrops in by myself.

Feeling good about myself because I bought the new Ben Folds that I'd been procrastinating about at the same time I bought this old classic Fleming and John. Great stuff—you should really check it out.

Have now not written in over two weeks. I better get on it, or I might start to lose the drive.

Watched Clueless tonight with the Small-ers. First time seeing this 1995 classic. Fun stuff. Brittany Murphy with a New York accent.

Clueless is a great movie for people like me, who struggle with character. It's based on a Jane Austen book, so it's rife with characters, and Amy Heckerling had to help the audience keep all those kids straight. So in addition to the typical teen-movie stereotypes, she came up with some pretty sparkling ways to make her characters stand out.

Making the misleading love interest a 50s crooner-type was completely genius. And then he's gay. You can't make this stuff up.

One kid's a skater-stoner. Oh sure, I know what you're thinking: "That is sooo 90s." Well, to be fair, this was the 90s. But in addition to the stereotype, Heckerling also made the guy an overenthusiastic stupid-human-trickster with a gift for spills. The fact that he later turns out to be a stunningly cool skater is just icing.

Brittany Murphy plays the pretty ugly girl. You know the one I mean. But she also has a super-thick New York accent. For no reason. And she swears more than everyone else put together.

Alicia Silverstone's Emma (actually Cher in this movie: go figure) is fairly true to form. But for purposes of the plot, she's unfashionably a virgin. So is her best friend. I mean, come on, this is the mid-90s! Sexually-inexperienced teens are supposed to be a thing of the past in movies by this time. But not here. Genius.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Draft Delayed

So here's why I haven't done a thing to my script since last posting.

I finished my draft last Tuesday and gave myself the rest of the week off from writing. I'd been sick, and I was planning to go away for a weekend to a wedding. Besides, I wanted to get some distance from the script so my next take would be a little fresher.

On Sunday, illness #2 came along.

Four days later, I have finally found a doctor and gotten checked. I have pharyngitis and conjunctivitis, so I'll be down for another couple days, probably.


I'm really looking forward to getting back to my characters—maybe this will make me appreciate writing more (if possible).

In the meantime, I read a couple things people tossed my way. One was an old TV script by Charlie Kaufman, courtesy of Jane Espenson (Good), and the other was a short written by I don't know who, which a friend of a friend is thinking about producing this summer (Not Good). I haven't been doing the screenwriting thing for long, but I've already noticed a tendency on many people's part to shop things around for inspection by anyone who shows interest. Maybe I'll develop this habit soon.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Sweater Threads

So for the three of you have been wondering, the house is pretty much fixed (hurray for good water), and the rewrite has been finished and emailed to the interested party.

I don't think he's too interested, because he seems to be leaning toward doing a short rather than a feature, but the whole situation gave me good motivation to finish the draft, so I'm not complaining at all.

This draft was the second, and it was significant. I've never done a second pass at a script before. (I tend to lose faith in my own work before I even get there.) So this was my first encounter with the phenomenon that I shall henceforth refer to as "Pulling at the Sweater Thread."

That is, every time you make a seemingly small change, it will force you to change five other things you hadn't previously realized would be impacted.

For example, I decided that one of the characters should be met several pages earlier than she was in the original draft. Hours later, I found that I had been forced to write a completely new scene with that character and the hero, as well as moving several of the hero's other scenes around into a completely different order. I then had to change a bunch of scene transitions that now didn't make any sense, and finally drag in a much later scene that seemed to want to go there.

Needless to say, my script is quite different now. Same movie. Even, same basic plot. But better: more concise, more structured, and with better character development.

Of course, the outline is now so different that when I tried to pitch it to someone yesterday, I couldn't even remember where all the beats went. Thank goodness it was only Greg, and not someone who is actually part of the development process (as if I would know someone like that, anyway).

I give myself the rest of the week off, and then it's draft-three time. Already making mental notes for it, because I can't help myself.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Fixing Houses and Scripts

So, kids: dilemma of the moment.

No, wait: setup.

Last week, when I was meeting with my writing group (and by group I mean myself and this guy), Greg told me he'd pitched my current(!) script to a friend of his who might be making a super-low-budget feature this summer. Since my script is super-low-budget, Greg passed me this guy's phone number, and I gave him a buzz.

I warned him that the script was in the middle of quite the intensive rewrite, such that if I gave it to him in its current form, it would make no sense. He said, "That's okay; I won't have time to read it until next week, anyway. But if you could send me a one-page synopsis, that'd be great. And then you can just send the whole thing when you finish it."

Well, okay then.

I sent him the synopsis (which, by the way, is more like journalism than screenwriting ever should be), and went back to the rewrite.

Now here's the thing about the rewrite. Originally, I had no intention of finishing it by Monday. No intention at all. So there was this instant mild-panic mode that came over me. But to complicate matters, today is the day when I must fix my stupid broken water softener and water heater. It's going to be quite the plumbing-fest hereabouts.

Anyway, this weekend I have both a house and a script to fix. I want to have this rewrite into at least an intelligible form by Tuesday at the latest. Wish me luck.