When You And Your Screenplay Have Irreconcilable Differences

I think the biggest problem every screenwriter faces is that we get lost in our own point of view. In the early stages of the scriptwriting process, getting lost in our scripts is good. It’s what launches us. But that kind of single-mindedness can only take us so far. At some point we have to pull back and be more objective and self-critical.
The further we allow ourselves to go into our own little wormhole the easier it is to become imprisoned there. Once that happens it’s easy to be overwhelmed by some of the problems listed in my last post.
It’s a matter of getting back your focus. It’s kind of like falling back in love with your material. Think of you and your script as having had a huge lovers quarrel. You're not speaking. You've separated, maybe even divorced. You might even have started working on another script which is tantamount to cheating. But you want to come back and your screenplay is ready to welcome you so the two of you can try again. (Gimme a break. I'm reaching for an analogy here. You know what I'm saying).
A good way to accomplish this reconciliation is by doing things you’ve heard before. Maybe you’ve tried them. Maybe not. Maybe it’s time.
·      Re-type your entire screenplay from page one. It’ll help you get back into the feel of where you left off
·      Set a writing time you won’t veer from
·      Give yourself a daily page count - even if it’s only one page
·      Edit any scene that looks too talkie or has too many stage directions
·      If a scene is tormenting you, maybe it shouldn’t be there. Every scene must have a dramatic purpose. If it doesn’t, cut it
·      Try to write something every day. Even if it’s only a long email to someone
·      Give yourself an imaginary deadline to complete your script
·      Watch movies. Sometimes losing yourself in a film, good or bad, will get your juices flowing again
Without sounding too New Age, the object is to get into a mindset that will guide you into that wonderful zone where you’re totally into the material.
You’re in love again!


  1. James (he's everywhere) Cameron was just on Larry King discussing the long journey that was Avatar. Over the course of it, he said, he was ready to put a pistol in his mouth and pull the trigger 20 times.

    How's that for misery loves company?

    But he said something encouraging, too: when you venture into something new, you're bound to get lost. However, that DOES NOT mean you won't get there. He compared the process to Lewis and Clark, a bit, saying that they had a destination in mind. Even if vague at times, there was an end point -- and certainly no one can anticipate every step along every trail along the way.

    The end point for us, even if sometimes vague, is two little words: fade out. They make you hot? Say 'em out loud. Slowly. Deeply. With a bit of come hither.

    See what I mean? If you can't fall back in love with your script, at least think about getting laid. Focus on the pure physical satisfaction of looking at those two little motherf______ words on the screen. Dare I say it? The thought might be enough to get you through the night.

  2. ABW = Always Be Writing!

    It also doubles as Always be a Walrus... but the first acronym applies more here I think.

  3. Sometimes I will get a good Act I finished and feel so good about it that I become over-confident. What usually happens next is something else demands my attention like a job or my dog needs a walk and my cockiness about Act I leads me to believe that when I finally return my attention to it I'll dive in once more with assurance. It's like I said on the other post about the 9 deadly sins - #7: abusing the Muse. To keep her on your side you have to follow the advice D.B. gives above - keep writing even if it's only a page. Stay connected to the story. I read a good piece of advice, I can't remember where but it was along the lines of "Leave yourself a backdoor into your art". Whatever trick works: tie a string around your finger, etc. allow that thing to be the way back into your art.

    your pal, Roger

  4. I would say all of those ideas are solid unless you are in fact a number 9. I am not sure there is a cure for a true 9er beside maybe Kevin Spacey, circa 1995, showing up and making my write at gun point "DETECTIVE"!

  5. I felt like my last three screenplays walked out on me. I tried, but I couldn't make any of them work. Do you also do marriage counseling?

  6. If I don't write every day, I mean, every day, it throws me off my game. Even if it's only for fifteen minutes. It's a matter of keeping moving forward.

  7. Perseverance is the only thing that will keep slow progress from dwindling to nothing.

  8. What works for me is waiting until the last minute. Self imposed deadlines. Parkinson's Law (work expands to fill the time). I promise someone I'll get them pages by a certain date and usually the day before I start writing. It works for me.

  9. Sometime I switch from one script to another I feel like I'm cheating on my first script.

  10. I tried retyping my script from page one to get back into it and it worked. I didn't have to do the whole thing. After about 20 pages I felt it all coming back.

  11. That every scene should have a dramatic purpose is good to know. I've had problems with scenes that I thought were funny or kind of cool to have around because of something that went on in them, but after taking a long, hard look at them I often realize that they aren't doing anything to further the story.

  12. My new screenplay and I have taken a time out. I'm secretly hoping it will write itself.

  13. It isn’t clear that the hero faces off against the foe in a final climactic battle. climax buildup