Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Making a Plot to Slay the Agents

I'm not a plot guy.

Some people can take an idea and go nuts with it. Tell them something you came up with, and they'll tell you ten other things that could go along with it and are probably better ideas anyway.

Greg is one of these people. I hate that jerk.

My friend Shawn is even more one of those people. Of course, I hate him less because he's not a writer, and therefore does not make me feel quite as bad about myself.

I am not one of those people. Show me an idea, and I'll say to you, "That's an idea, right there."

I mean, I'd dress it up more and so forth, but at the time, I'll have nothing to add.

I will then spend six weeks thinking about it, and if I'm lucky, I'll have a storyline for you to tear apart and tell me to rethink.

But it's a hella-long process, making a plot.

Now, fortunately for me, there are other things about writing that I am good at. This tends to redeem me in my own eyes.

But plot is hard.

And that is why I was overjoyed today when both Greg and myself deemed my current storyline good enough to at least start rewriting.

Because, while I get a kick out of making progress on a plot, and I do get that giddy writer feeling, too often the outlining process is full of very frustrating roadblocks.

Whereas draft time goes by so fast. It's the most fun, and I fly pretty well at it. It makes me happy.

This is only the second time I've tried to rewrite a script. So I'm looking forward to seeing how it comes out when I rewrite a concept that actually has high saleability.

If I'm lucky and work hard, I hope to have a ready-to-pitch script in a couple months' time.

And that's a very frightening idea, indeed.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

If Only I Practiced

My girlfriend is going to be a fashion designer.

Hold on … I said that wrong. Do over.

My girlfriend is a fashion designer.

How do I know she is a fashion designer? Well gee, apart from the fact that she talks about fashion all the time, sighs every time we pass a shop with a badly-laid-out window, checks out scads of books on fashion from the library, comments on the clothes first with regard to everything she sees on TV, and—hell— the fact that she told me she was a fashion designer, the main reason I know it is that that's what she actually does.

She shames me, really. Last night I asked her why she stayed up until two instead of going to sleep, and she admitted, in a surprisingly shamefaced manner, that she had been drawing.

So instead of sleeping or catching up on all the coursework she has been procrastinating on for her entire semester, she just couldn't resist practicing her craft.

Isn't that sick?

It was sad for me to have to admit to her that I will do almost anything but write. And I love writing. It makes me giddy, at least when it's going well. When it's going badly, I tear my hair out.

But I don't seize every spare moment, and then some extra moments to do it.

I clean my house.

I pay bills.

I look up things on wikipedia.

Now, in some mitigation, this may be partly because I have a job that allows me to write at work, and I try to do most of my writing there.

But still.

On a brighter note, I did in fact work on my script last night, and I'm two scenes away from a whole plot. Maybe tonight I'll finish, and then next week I can start the rewrite.

So my girl isn't showing me up.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Thoughts You Shouldn't Think

I caught myself doing something alarming today.

See, I'm working on this comedy. I drafted it once. Now I'm rewriting it.

It's kind of biting me on the ass at the moment. In a slow, deliberate, cud-chewing sort of way.

I don't generally think of myself as a very funny person. Some people laugh at me. That may not always be by my choice. But often it is. Still, if anything, I'm more of a one-liner type of guy. Exploiting a situation to its limit isn't really my bag, baby.

Of course, when writing a comedy, that is exactly what one is called upon to do.

To me, comedy is made up a two elements. I may have said this before. What you do is you get 1) some great quirky and outlandish characters, and then you think of 2) some crazy situations to happen to them. You throw 1 and 2 together, and that's how you create comedy.

I think that comedy is so much harder than drama, which is why I'm always angry when the Oscars are over.

Anyway, I was thinking about how unlikely it is that I'll be writing the next 40-Year-Old Virgin (which I think is the most recent truly original comedy). And even the odds of writing another movie like Wedding Crashers, which I didn't think was very original but was definitely hilarious, are pretty low for me.

Then this sentence formed itself if my head:

"I really just need to write something that's funny enough to get sold, and lots of extremely not-funny comedies are made every year, so selling one shouldn't be that hard."

Do you see the trap in that? The seductive but fatal lure? No?

It's the Siren call of mediocrity, my friends. The belief attempting to take over in my mind that all I need to do is just be a tiny bit better than all the other trash out there.

Now, even if this was technically true (which is debatable), this is not at all the kind of artistic philosophy with which I am anything close to on board. This is anathema.

So even though I'm not very strong in the world of comedy, this script is going to have to be worked on and worked on and worked on and worked on until either I can't possibly make it any funnier, or it really has reached the heights of excellence at which one wishes to aim.

But if someone offered to buy it from me tomorrow for a reasonable price, I wouldn't say no.

Now that's some good philosophy.