My son has Chicken Pox. He is not at school and as I type this, he watches his favourite Lego-themed DVD; ‘Clutch Powers’; Malick The Maligned has stolen Clutch’s father’s Creation Spark….I feel a blog coming on………….
Do you have a bank of ideas? A space in your head where your (as yet) unwritten ideas come from? Some writers I work with have a drawer (metaphorical or actual) where their ideas languish until realised on paper. Others don’t sweat it, but rather expect their creative ideas to come whilst doing something entirely different. Usually repetitive, or mundane tasks, like housework or driving, or taking a bath.
I have worked with writers who must finish one idea in script form, before moving on to the next. The opposite also is true and a lot of writers I help, have more than one idea, at varying stages of development.
There is no right or wrong way, to creating, devising, grabbing-out-of-thin-air, dramatic conceits for the screen. But every writer I have come across has their particular way; something pertinent to them, that aids the creative process.
The urge to tell stories is innate all of us. Some people become more obsessed with the process than others and it is this obsession that separates writers from other people; those that like a good story, but are not concerned about the process of telling one well. The latter is a fixation afflicting all writers I work with. And as a writer myself, I empathise.
The chances are if you are a writer, that you will spend a disproportionate part of your day observing your life in a removed sense; a part of your brain appraising the view from your car, office or kitchen window as a potential scene opener, or the dialogue you over hear on the bus or in the supermarket check out queue becomes great material for a couple of characters you have been bringing to life. Imagery, snatches of dialogue, smells, sounds and the way these things click together, forms the building bricks of future scripts.
And the key to getting these disparate, eclectic images and snatches of spoken word into the beginnings of a beginning, are the connections, the correlations and the relationships you find between the various components of your script.
The narrative: story + plot + subtext; must tie into, weave through and relate to, the visual side of your story; imagery and text work together, counter balancing the narrative, or highlighting aspects of it. Both must be present and both have a specific job to do in the telling of your story.
Your voice; the essential component of all script writing that is particular only to the creator, provides that vital element of a successful piece of screenwriting – the message. There must be a reason why you wrote this script and this reason must come across subliminally, suggestively, subtly, to your audience. It is your voice, your intent, that comes through in the end.
Why tell your story in script format in the first place?
I hazard an opinion here, that you want to tell your story in scenes, filmed by a camera and cut together to make a cohesive narrative, because you are an immediate sort of story teller. You like narrative that has a pace, a rhythm, a beat.
Television writers understand the pr0cussive nature of good story telling. There is always an under tow of momentum in anything worth screen time.
So the idea has hit home. You need to get this down before it either drives you mad, or goes away entirely.
* Pitch it to yourself in a couple of pithy, grabby, interesting lines. If the idea has a purpose, a message and a natural shape, it will become apparent here.
* Then do a quick plot outline. A meets B and C happens. Still hold water? Carry on.
* Write a treatment. No more that eight pages. Six if you can control yourself that much. Less is more. Here’s my blog on definitive treatment writing for quick reference: https://scriptadvice.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/the-definitive-guide-treatments-for-series-and-serials/
* Scrivener, Final Draft, or doing it by hand, now you need to plot your character story arcs across your script. I use post-its, or cards stuck on a wall. You will be able to see at glance, where your plot has holes, or where you need to beef up a story line for a character. Points of contact, of cross-over and correlation will now present themselves between your various story lines.
* Write your script outline. Order your scenes roughly. Using broad strokes, don’t get bogged down in ‘he said then she said’ detail; you will hate yourself and it will be both dull to write and duller to read. This document will highlight the push and pull of your story line; the pace and beat of it. If you find it a good read, then the first draft of your script will reflect this.
Several drafts later, you have your idea fully realised. From creative spark to full script.
Take heart; it is impossible for your creative spark to be stolen. The world around you reflects back into the inner eye of the writer; Malick the Maligned, be warned.
Get help with your creative projects: www.scriptadvice.co.uk