A Screenwriter’s Journey – Week 3, Post 1#

It’s been three weeks since I started to write my screenplay, a modern day science fiction set in Australia and well, Space. I wrote eight pages last night and have now drafted forty-seven pages in all. I think it’s a good pace for me even if on average I’m only committing two to three days a week to the script. But now that my blog writing career is about to take off again, especially the in depth review I plan to do for ‘Kids On Speed?’ part II, I think I deserve a break from now and then.

I can’t tell you too much about the plot on a page that is accessible to the entire web because I don’t want my idea taken. I’ve put four years into a novel and have gone from a story with a very brief outline to a world so sophisticated and full of detail and background that it seems more real to me than the real world. Really, there’s only one person to tell this story and if my idea was stolen not only would that frustrate me but it will also be put together quickly and completely miss the point I’m trying to make here.

What I can tell you is that it deals with an on and off hot topic in the media and gives it a real sci-fi interpretation. I want to put some autism self-advocacy in there but I’m aiming for the script to be no more than 120 pages. My first draft should be no more than 200. I’ve already cut chunks out of the novel and changed things around for the screenplay, so it can translate better onto film. Funny thing is to write the novel and include all the descriptions I saw in my head as a predominately visual thinker – what I see in my head I assume all can see so I don’t bother writing down the details – I had to learn to write like a verbal thinker, and now I have to cut down on my descriptions. Anyway, I was very successful in writing what I saw down into a few descriptive sentences people could make sense of. I have a bit of a cheat: I can mimic the writing styles of my favourite authors perfectly. I had to stop reading Asimov and Pullman for that reason and read a tonne of books in the Ender’s Game saga.

I think I was able to pick up on the structure of screen writing for the same reason, but after reading about 4-5 scripts one issue keeps coming up: I have no confidence about how to properly structure an action scene. I think after reading through Elysium I picked up more of the structure and seemed to know exactly how to put in the ‘cut to’ parts – pity novice screenwriter’s are discouraged from putting those in – but when you write really fast paced and exciting actions scenes you must capitalise words or a couple of words at a time to grab the attention of the reader. It seems common to capitalise nouns or just names and words that seem to jump off the page basically. It’s still very hard for me because I think the writer has to choose what to capitalise and not have to follow strict instructions down to a t – and it’s that last part that I need.

I plan on reading through The Matrix: Reloaded, maybe Revolutions and Man of Steel to hopefully get this structure stuck in my head. Right now I’m having difficulty reading over the last eight pages of my script. In fact I’m having difficulty focusing on doing anything but writing this post. This is all very normal for me. It was the reason why I was medicated. Now I just take fish oil. Yesterday I pushed the dosage to 6000mg and did eventually write as I have mentioned but then I didn’t sleep at all. They increase my focus and energy and sometimes the energy just doesn’t stop. I’ve only taken 1500mg today and all I can do, apart from impulsive spending, is write this post.

While it’s good for me to have a break from working on my script or even thinking about future scenes playing in my head like my own personal cinema, when I think I’ve had enough rest trying to get back into the flow of thinking up scenes, writing, structuring and even jotting down notes, can be incredibly difficult.

Sometimes I need to push everything else aside and that includes people. I hate to have to do it but I need 100% focus on this little story in my head that’s been entertaining me during sleepless nights, long car rides, and boring TV shows for four years.

I’ll probably not continue onto the next few scenes – though last night was a sleepless night that made me think up at three more scenes and I still couldn’t sleep – because I found that while writing last night the words were so spontaneous that the whole scene lost consistency. So, I need to structure the whole scene in point form notes. Note taking is something I haven’t done yet. I have hundreds of notes from the novel because of all the detail and scientific knowledge and other research involved. I even wrote the paragraphs like they were scenes and the chapters were long and rich in description of everything; character development, locations and even common everyday objects. And oh God how I hated to describe face expressions. I hardly can interpret them properly anyway so it was a real chore.

But I went out and bought myself a notebook just for this script and one more for this blog too. So, I’m becoming more organised the deeper I get into this script.

A problem I ran into with writing chapters of the novel was that when I didn’t have perfect structure I didn’t think I was of capable writing like that so I kept going back and editing, then I would change my mind about something and go back and change that and to keep the story canon I had to re-write several other chapters completely too.

So, I won’t do that this time. It’s hard though especially when I’m struggling with the action scenes. I think as long as I have the changes written in my notebook I’ll be ok. I wrote my Doctor Who fan fiction in the same way – the way you’re supposed to – and just went over and fixed it all up when I had finished the first draft and it worked out. You can read my fan fiction online by the way. I’m not really sure if you should though. My grammar was horrible back then.

I gave up on the novel because once I went off medication the task of writing a whole novel which I wanted to continue as a trilogy was just overwhelming. Even on the medication I would get a few hours in then become way too impulsive and go off and start ranting at people and committing to photo projects I could get done in a couple of hours. I’m better without it, sort of, and script writing seems to be just the right amount of work I can handle.

I wish I could tell you about some of the themes but again it might give too much away. What I can tell you is that I’ve done a lot of research into video game development. I was interested the psychology of gamers and how developer’s exploited this. You have to do it to sell a product. I’m interested in this type of marketing. I’ve not just played a lot of video games, especially those using augmented reality and have come up with new ways to experience gaming, but psychological articles and even paid attention to downright negative stuff. I’ve studied everything really short of learning my own code but I know what goes on in an average video game development company.

Then one day I came up with a revolutionary new console and way to play video games and during the more depressive phases of writing or not writing my novel I would get drunk and tell my friends all about it. They probably have forgotten about it but to me I was revealing a government secret to them. I’m proud of it even if the technology is maybe decades or centuries away. I just really had to make this a great piece of sci-fi technology. My problem is I’m a very literal person and I thought most of the technology was just five years away or even in development. In fact, I found many articles about technology that I was writing about. The good part was I got more of a scientific explanation; the bad part was it was no longer futuristic.

The console has evolved in the last couple of days too. I really like where it’s going. Originally it would take up a few paragraphs, then a chapter and now it’s become a greater part of the story.

Anyway, that’s enough spoilers for you. Now I have to go out and buy more FPS games to do some more research.

I’ve been in love with films since before I saw the inside of a school classroom and during a very lonely childhood my wanderings of the schoolyard at lunchtime turned into vivid fantasies of all those films I loved but I could change how things happened, how I think they should have gone. Over the years I would begin using a protagonist, a withdrawn boy – like in many of the children’s films I loved – and he would star in many films over many years; as I grew he grew and the stories he was in started to change and become more sophisticated the more I continued to watch a variety of films and began to get ideas from them.

After a brief break when I attempted to be a normal person I went back into my world of film and now had hundreds of real films memorised that I could build my stories from. I started to develop more characters and then gave more care to imagining the background scenery.Admittedly, I became more influenced by the screenwriter’s of Doctor Who like Russell T Davies and various Canadian sci-fi such as Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly and The 4400.

Now I’m back to studying film but still learning from TV shows too. One thing I‘ve really learned over the years from science fiction in particular is how to better pick up on people’s emotions and why they do the things they do, such as lying to people. And then I began to appreciate teamwork for the first time. It was the military sci-fi where they fight hoards of aliens when Earth or other worlds are in threat of extinction or being enslaved by this technologically advanced species who see us only as puny primitives. Although, I really like when we the human side of aliens in which the word ‘human’ used as a descriptive word in this case becomes redundant. We get to see their issues are just like ours and they care about the survival of their species as much as we care about the survival of ours, and they’re not just trying to obliterate us for no real reason. Most of the time, at least.

That was a long post. I promise you the next one will try to stay more on topic. I just thought some background history was necessary.

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