I finished the first draft of Bright Freedom yesterday. It came in at just under 68 pages, which is a couple pages shorter than the first drafts for Then the Phone Rang and My Detective Story. It is about a page longer than my first draft of The Doorman’s Sacrifice.
Before I started to write, I made estimates of how long each scene would be. I came up with 91 pages. In the first half of the script, my scenes were shorter than I estimated by about one third. In the second half, I was still short, but not by as much.
I took some time off between the first half and the second half to revise The Doorman’s Sacrifice for Amazon Studios and write the first draft of my Lester Dent style adventure story. I think those experiences helped improve my writing, which is why I had longer scenes. I read up on how to write dialog and that helped too.
I have a short description for the story now.
Throughout her legal career, Bright Freedom has helped the weak against the strong. One day she sees a face from a past she wanted to forget. While she struggles with two difficult cases and the problems of her assistant, Bright must risk her life to reconnect with those she left behind.
I need to do more research on the background to this story before I can finish it. I may use my draft to approach some people who can help me with background.
In the mean time, I want finish My Most Difficult Case and my Lester Dent style adventure story.
At the start of this year, I set a goal of writing three feature scripts by the end of the year. I’ve done two and am a little over half way through the third. I think I’ll get it (Bright Freedom) done this week.
The reason I picked three was that in Dov Ss Simens book From Reel to Deal he said you needed to do three. Or least I think he did, it’s been a while since I read it now.
This week I watched an interview with Robert McKee about script writing.
He says that you need to finish 10 scripts before you have mastered the art. He also says that part of that is a matter of maturing, which can take 10 years!
I felt discouraged about this, but then I have a lot of experience in other types of writing, which I hope will cut down the time I need to develop. In any event, I have had the attitude that I needed to learn more about the art of script writing. I know that I still have much to learn. I may need to write a few more scripts before I write one that really is good.
Another point McKee makes in the interview is that the writer should not expect that the dialog he writes would make it to the screen unchanged. That makes me feel better, because it is similar to what I said in my article How to Write a Feature Movie Script Part One.
I want to get back to work on my script Bright Freedom this week. I’m confident that I will meet my goal to finish three scripts this year.
The script sat idle for a month. I started to reread what I’ve done so far, and review the outline. It will take me a day or two to get back into the story. The script is almost half way through and is shorter than I want it to be. I won’t try to fix that in the first draft.
While I think I have a good story, I don’t plan to make the film and want to do it to learn more about writing. My experience tells me that I still need to learn more about plotting so that my stories don’t come out s short. Another area I need to focus on is dialog.
I found this video about dialog that I found helpful: http://www.ehow.com/video_2390566_write-dialogue-movie-script.html
When I read From Reel to Deal by Dov S-s Simens, he suggested that reading legal dispositions was a good way to learn how natural dialog looked. I haven’t done that. I’m not sure where you would find legal dispositions. I think there must be other sources for natural dialog, but I’m not sure where to find them either. I’ll have to get onto Google one of these days.
Along the same lines, I started to analyse the words I use in my writing. I worry that I over use some words, like anything, something and nothing. I did a word frequency count with the website: http://www.csgnetwork.com/documentanalystcalc.html . I compared some of what I wrote to the Doc Savage book Fear Cay. I noticed some differences, but some reflected that he wrote it in 1933. It might be a good idea to compare my writing to a more recent book, or script.
I want to have my characters use slightly different vocabularies, which is true of real people, so I need to be more aware of the words I use.
I finished the first draft of my story based on the Lester Dent Master Fiction Plot formula.
It came in at 6,463 words, or somewhat longer than the 6,000 words that the formula targets. I will need to rewrite the story to fix some inconsistencies, and I can likely tighten up the story when I do that. I have some other projects I need to take care of. That will give me some distance when I rewrite in a week or two. I don’t have a title for the story yet, or titles for the subsections.
I found the story easy to write; the outline made a big difference. It didn’t perfectly though, several times I had to modify the outline. I also had trouble with some details that I didn’t plan out in advance. I thought of them as McGuffins, so I didn’t put much effort into their development. That was a mistake. I changed my mind about a couple of them half way through and that caused the problem with inconsistencies.
What I’m not sure about now, is how readable the story is. I can’t evaluate my own work very well. The characters are not very deep and there isn’t much in the way of a message. However, the characters are very busy as they run from crisis to crisis, so casual readers may not notice those limitations.
I would like to try a similar approach to a different kind of story. A while back, someone suggested I do a film like Before Sunrise. My efforts in that direction haven’t gone very far. Maybe I could write a short story with a variation of this formula.
The Master Fiction Plot: http://altuspress.com/lesterdentproperties/the-master-fiction-plot/
After I read over Lester Dent’s story formula, I wanted to try it out.
I developed a spreadsheet that I could use to organize the outline. I added some modifications of my own that I thought would help me write. This week I did an outline. I wanted to leave the project until later because I want to finish my Bright Freedom script first.
However, last night I decided to take a stab at it. The formula is supposed to produce a 6,000-word story. The formula is set up in four parts, each 1,500 words long. The longest short story I’ve done, Distraction is 2,700 words, so this would be considerably longer than any of the stories I’ve done so far.
It took me only an hour and a half to get the first part done. It came in at 1,703 words. That is a little longer than 1,500 words, but it needs some editing and that should shorten it down. I am a little unsure if I should finish this story or the Bright Freedom script first. I’m kind of on a roll with the formula story, so I think I will finish it first.
The Master Fiction Plot: http://www.paper-dragon.com/1939/dent.html
Bright Freedom: http://dynamiclethargyfilms.ca/blog/?cat=14
Comment (2011 February 22): I published this story here: http://authspot.com/short-stories/the-abattoir-project-a-ken-walker-adventure/
This week I finished my changes to The Doorman’s Sacrifice and uploaded it to Amazon Studios. http://studios.amazon.com/scripts/show/2171
So far, I’ve had three people download the script and two people posted reviews.
One controversy about the site is that writers are worried about people stealing their ideas. When I did a quick check today, they had about 1,500 projects. Of those, over a fifth hadn’t had anyone download the script, another fifth had only one download. With just three downloads, I have had more than 60 per cent of the projects. If nobody reads your script, nobody is going to steal your ideas.
Another controversy about the site is that some people are getting friends and family to post five star ratings for their films and scripts. My friend and family gave me three stars, so no one can accuse me of stacking the reviews.
I finished my changes to The Doorman’s Sacrifice and uploaded it to Amazon Studios: http://studios.amazon.com/scripts/show/2171
Please have a look. You need to sign up, but it is free. Don’t feel obligated to read it or comment on it, but I would appreciate your support if you did.
When I did a quick check through the script before I submitted it, it struck me that some readers might see the story as a political allegory. I have worked on this story since 2005 and never noticed that aspect of the script before. Maybe it resonates with recent political developments. I didn’t want to have a political thriller, so I tried to shift the script away from that interpretation.
As I read through of the script, I fixed some typos and removed references to events that I had cut out of the script earlier. I changed the last line of the script in line with my empty apple juice can motif. Today I decided that it went too far, so I switched it back.