Done Deal Pro Forums

Done Deal Pro Forums (http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/index.php)
-   Screenwriting (http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/forumdisplay.php?f=6)
-   -   Your Modus Operandi (http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/showthread.php?t=65237)

TravisPickle 12-05-2011 04:40 PM

Your Modus Operandi
 
Hey cigars and cigarettes,

I was thinking about my workflow, and my productivity in general.

This came about because a younger friend of mine wants to start writing "seriously" and asked me what my routine was.

My first answer was "why would you want to get into writing". But when I realized he was serious, so I thought about it.

I spend a long time thinking about ideas. I send e-mails to friends with log lines, mention an idea in passing, send them an article.

Once I have filtered these to 2-3 ideas, I set out to write pretty lengthy treatments for at least two of them. I say I set out because, inevitably, one takes control (usually the first) and that's the one I end up writing.

The screenplay itself comes pretty quickly. Maybe 5-6 weeks.

And then there's re-writing.

However, when I am not writing I have long bouts of nothingness. Days where I basically just... don't write. I'll read, walk around, see movies, go to shows, talk to friends. Basically live the bohemian lifestyle ;-) but in terms of producing pages? Nada.

I guess my M.O. is "on or off". I absolutely cannot relate to people who wake up and write 5-6 pages no matter what. Pages that (I presume) often just exist by themselves, and are not part of a bigger project.

I'm trying to better myself. And be more productive. But in a way my commitment to a project is like dating- you don't want to overdo it at the beginning while you're still figuring out if you like the person. Then you see more of him/her. And once you've realized that there's chemistry and that you like each other, you spend a ton of time together.

Just my thoughts :)

Would love to hear from you about this.

Madbandit 12-05-2011 05:04 PM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
When I start writing, I read something for inspiration. A novel, perhaps. Two to three chapters, I go through.

Then, I go to a spiral notebook and write four to five pages. A scene or two.

Next, I type the scene, making it a race. The first draft, which is in longhand script, must finish the race before the typed version.

Finally, a polish (some editing and rewriting) of the typed version.

That's it.

TravisPickle 12-05-2011 05:20 PM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
Wow... longhand! That's pretty epic.

Do you find that longhand works best for some genres as opposed to others?

Madbandit 12-05-2011 05:33 PM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TravisPickle (Post 776756)
Wow... longhand! That's pretty epic.

Do you find that longhand works best for some genres as opposed to others?


I'm been writing longhand (getting to be a lost art, I fear) since grade school, and I haven't gave it up because it helped me deal with my physical discoordination. Plus, it doesn't matter what genre I write.

Bellabell 12-05-2011 08:28 PM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
My system is similar to T.P. except my treatments are not lengthy. Since I'm a visual person, I always diagram a synthesis too. I think someone posted a great example of one on here a few years back. It is great to use as a bird's eye view of your story and spot holes before you start.

Writing the screenplay easily takes 3-4 months as I work it around the job that pays the bills.

Dr. Gonzo 12-05-2011 09:20 PM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
For an idea to really get me excited enough to write about it it has to do two things for me:
A) Constantly keep entering into my brain when coming up with ideas.
B) Be fun and original enough for me to want to write, or at least I feel I can add something to that sort of story that someone has not.

I won't just go off writing the first few things I think would make great movies, it's really gotta stick. I think you have to love it if you spend so much time with it.

With the thing I'm working on now I decided to start completely different, for this one I didn't write up a treatment. I drew up a diagram of the beginning the mid point and the ending. I approached this one like Spielberg, Lucas and Kasdan approached the "Raiders of the Lost Ark" story conferences. I made a list of all the things I would love to see in this kind of movie... set pieces, characters, situations. Once I had a pretty descent list a spent a few days piecing it all together in a way that would serve the original story I wanted to tell. Then I began writing.

This is not my usual method but it has been refreshing. A little scary too without the treatment, just a rough outline, but it's been freeing too.

In the beginning I was writing everyday, In the middle I started getting a few jobs so it had to be put on hold, but once the jobs were over I did find it a little more difficult to get back into, in fact it took me weeks to get back into. I'm towards the end now and I have been writing just about everyday squeezing out at least five pages, well mostly.

But between projects I really do get lazy. Something has to really strike a chord for me to want to commit it to paper. I hope to be done with this one before years end.

So that's how I'm working. Lately :|

Patrick Sweeney 12-05-2011 10:02 PM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
Once I settle on an idea, I write a longhand list of brainstorming ideas - scenes, characters, setpieces, whatever. Everything I'd like to see if I went to see this movie.

Then I work on structure, normally starting with the opening, midpoint, and ending. Often the All is Lost beat as well, not traditionally one of the big ones but a key one for me. Once those are locked in, I break my ideas down into acts, and then into sequences within those acts. I'm also working on the characters at this point, coming up with names, skills, personalities, and so forth.

I normally start a "flotsam" file of partial scenes, bits of dialogue, etc., that start coming to me while outlining.

I keep trying to force myself to outline down to the scene level in the hopes that it will make writing the first draft easier, but I never seem to make it -- I always end up digging into the writing once I get a sequence outline I'm happy with.

I normally write sequentially. On my next first draft, I'd like to try something John August does - he writes the first 40 pages out of sequence but focusing on the beginning, middle, and end. I especially like the idea of writing the ending early, because by the time I reach that point in my first draft I'm normally so worn out and sick of the project it gets short shrift because I just want the damn thing to be over. So then I have to go and pretty much totally rewrite it in the next draft. I'll have to see if I can break out of my sequential habit, though.

And then it's on to rewrites, normally 1-2 fairly sizable ones, followed by any number of touch-ups & polish passes.

Mark Somers 12-06-2011 01:25 PM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
First, I use the "incremental escalation method" in combination with the "mythological thrust" to calculate the metric of the grand ladder-structure.

Taormina 12-06-2011 03:14 PM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
Absolutely can't do to save my life:
1. Write a treatment
2. Use index cards
3. use a beat sheet
4. make an outline

Besides that, I just write away and try to hammer away at it until it's done. Sometimes, the previous days work is shitcanned, mostly, it's not. On a bad day I can't even crack of a page. On a good day, I have done up to 20 pages when an idea really takes hold and I must get it out of my head.

Normally, I am quite happy with five pages. :bounce:

SkyPolynomial 12-06-2011 03:28 PM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
I'm not a pro writer or anything, but here is my MO:

I come up with an idea, I do an outline. Not a whole bunch -- think wiki style plot synopsis. I make sure to have major points worked out -- End of Act 1, Midpoint, End of Act 2, Climax, End.

Then I go for it. I can get the first draft done in 1.5-2 months.

But now, let me tell you where a lot of my time goes...

Scrapping ideas. I have this disease where I come up with and idea, outline it, maybe write a few pages, and then...scrap. I'll argue myself into doing it, having fallen out of love with the idea.

I try to tell myself that if the love stays then it was meant to be written. I dunno what it is. I'm too young in my writing quest to say. Hopefully years from now I'll understand what it is. But it does waste a lot of time. And it is very frustrating.

hscope 12-06-2011 04:29 PM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
When I come up with a feature idea I think about it and basically assemble the entire film in my head. This can take weeks or sometimes months.

Once I'm convinced there is a movie there and all the main elements are in place, I start writing the screenplay, initially a few hours each weekend and then more frequently as I get into it.

I don't do any written notes, beatsheets or treatments and I'm not a 'write-something-every-day' kind of guy.

TravisPickle 12-07-2011 01:33 AM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
:confused:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mark Somers (Post 776885)
First, I use the "incremental escalation method" in combination with the "mythological thrust" to calculate the metric of the grand ladder-structure.


The Road Warrior 12-07-2011 01:49 AM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TravisPickle (Post 776751)
Hey cigars and cigarettes,

I was thinking about my workflow, and my productivity in general.

This came about because a younger friend of mine wants to start writing "seriously" and asked me what my routine was.

My first answer was "why would you want to get into writing". But when I realized he was serious, so I thought about it.

I spend a long time thinking about ideas. I send e-mails to friends with log lines, mention an idea in passing, send them an article.

Once I have filtered these to 2-3 ideas, I set out to write pretty lengthy treatments for at least two of them. I say I set out because, inevitably, one takes control (usually the first) and that's the one I end up writing.

The screenplay itself comes pretty quickly. Maybe 5-6 weeks.

And then there's re-writing.

However, when I am not writing I have long bouts of nothingness. Days where I basically just... don't write. I'll read, walk around, see movies, go to shows, talk to friends. Basically live the bohemian lifestyle ;-) but in terms of producing pages? Nada.

I guess my M.O. is "on or off". I absolutely cannot relate to people who wake up and write 5-6 pages no matter what. Pages that (I presume) often just exist by themselves, and are not part of a bigger project.

I'm trying to better myself. And be more productive. But in a way my commitment to a project is like dating- you don't want to overdo it at the beginning while you're still figuring out if you like the person. Then you see more of him/her. And once you've realized that there's chemistry and that you like each other, you spend a ton of time together.

Just my thoughts :)

Would love to hear from you about this.

I'm writing a novel at the moment, so I have to do that 'every day' thing, or I wouldn't get anywhere, so it's early mornings, when it's still dark, and I write even if the ideas aren't flowing, sometimes I'll have a few days of writing which does nothing more than move me towards something better, so it will come out in edit, but it keeps up the discipline, so it's a bit like the gym, it keeps you toned.

WIth scripts, pretty much what hscope, say -- hello hscope btw, hope you're well -- and plan it in my head, and then write at least 25 pages up quickly, if that seems to be working, finish the script as soon as possible whilst the idea is fresh, and that usually means putting other writing on hold, or using the weekends, and doing longer sessions, but ....

None of the above is set in stone, life intrudes, so I've been where you are, the movies, books, and doing other things, but.... if you want to be productive, there's no way around getting those pesky words down, a need to write helps I think, and if you write a lot, it begins to feel 'odd' when you don't write, that becomes like the addiction I get from running, when you don't run, you get guilt and think, 'slacker' and it's a bit like that with writing for me, if I write the guilt and slacker aspect recedes, and so writing becomes a way of getting rid of those uncomfortable feelings.

Stephen King in his popular book says write a lot and read a lot, I think that more or less says it all.

:cool:

VanceVanCleaf 12-07-2011 07:39 AM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
I have an idea, or some ideas, and move them around in my mind some time, create some artwork fitting into them (covers and illustrations) which make me dive deeper into the characters and see if I have the right link to them.

When the idea has formed an outline and laid out plotpoints, I start to make basic research for the background, see if this can be done at all.

Then, I just start writing. I tried index cards once and it does not work for me. However, I make character sheets with my people's background.

I tend to rewrite several scenes before the whole thing is done, and then start to rewrite more, until I feel everything falls into the place where it should be. It's a constant process.

As for the writing business in general, I'm always onto something, thinking about stories/scenes or writing them - on paper or keyboard, depends on the situation I'm in at that moment. Mostly, I have several simultaneous writing projects, not all commercial, some just for fun and practice. When it happens I have nothing to write at all... I get the black hole, if you know what I mean. Thanks God, this happens not very often.

emily blake 12-07-2011 10:12 AM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
As time has gone by I've created more and more detailed outlines. Then I revise the outline until I've made the best possible decision about every scene.

Then I write - usually on the weekends. I put on my proper playlist - general writing music, action scenes or romantic scenes - and lock myself in my office until I've written as much as I feel like I can write. I try to go for 5 pages. Any time I feel like quitting, I push myself to write one more page, and often I end up writing two or three more.

Then I take notes on all the changes I want to make, then I revise. Then I get notes. Then I do a major rewrite. Then I get more notes. Then I rewrite again. Then I put it down for a week. Then I rewrite again. Then I send it out. Then I think about it and probably rewrite some stuff again because as you know, nothing is ever finished.

Mark Somers 12-07-2011 11:45 AM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TravisPickle (Post 776950)
:confused:

Mr. Pickle, you gotta check out BDZ's "The key to it all" thread, it's a riot ... err I mean it's very informative.

Rhodi 12-07-2011 04:47 PM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
I write first thing in the morning powered mainly by coffee. The creativity tends to wear off along with the caffeine. :o

Dr. Gonzo 12-07-2011 07:15 PM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Rhodi (Post 777039)
I write first thing in the morning powered mainly by coffee. The creativity tends to wear off along with the caffeine. :o

I've been a night writer as of late. I go to sleep at 4am wake up at noon start writing around 9 or 10pm and like Mr. "monkey man" Dazzler... Spin. Cycle. Repeat. Just not a morning person (since that's when I sleep)

Rhodi 12-07-2011 07:39 PM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
Yeah, I understand that. I like writing in the morning because I'm well-rested and my head is clear of the mental detritus of the day. It's funny, I rarely come across writers that prefer writing late afternoons; must be the proximity to dinner.

JibJib 12-08-2011 03:45 PM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by hscope (Post 776910)
When I come up with a feature idea I think about it and basically assemble the entire film in my head. This can take weeks or sometimes months.

Once I'm convinced there is a movie there and all the main elements are in place, I start writing the screenplay, initially a few hours each weekend and then more frequently as I get into it.

I don't do any written notes, beatsheets or treatments and I'm not a 'write-something-every-day' kind of guy.

I think I am the opposite... I feel guilty if I am not tapping on that keyboard. Or scribbling in a notebook. I use Freedom to clock how much time I spend writing each week and in total... I have to be strict with myself. But it's all about finding your own personal workflow I guess. Constructing/assembling the film in my head is something I do too, but in smaller chunks, not the whole thing. I'd start forgetting bits. ;-)

Taormina 12-08-2011 05:10 PM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
Evening and night writer here. Can't do mornings.

jtwg50 12-09-2011 03:33 PM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
I'm also an incremental escalation guy, but I don't do as much mythological thrusting as I did when I was younger. And I sometimes get short of breath trying to climb the ladder, so I bought a trampoline and now just bounce myself to the top. It seems to work, but not for dramas or vampire stories.

JibJib 12-09-2011 04:59 PM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
Can't get enough myth thrust.

Ron Aberdeen 12-10-2011 09:16 AM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
I start each day around 8 am answering emails planning the day and starting in earnest about 10 am.

When working on an assignment I normally have a time schedule so it is straight down to work.

When working on a spec I drift with ideas until I work on the outline, once the outline is written then its all go until the first draft of screenplay is completed which I try to do based on a page an hour.

With rewrite I normally take a couple of hours a page.

I take an hour for lunch and normally leave my office at 6pm.

I believe self discipline is the hardest discipline for a writer to learn.

Vance 12-12-2011 04:03 AM

Re: Your Modus Operandi
 
I used to write all my first drafts longhand, by hand. I still write longhand, but a boxer break in my left hand has ended doing that with a pen and paper so I've changed things up a bit.

Formative work on a story is oral. I take walks with any friend willing to put up with my crap and talk it out, give and take, which is great pitch practice.

I keep a small army of notebooks, enough to conquer a small, papery Belgium. Each one is dedicated to a future project, because 1) I will have ideas for future stories that have been brewing in my mind and 2) I refuse to write multiple scripts at once. Nothing burns me out faster. So with the notebooks I can jot down an idea or piece of dialogue for another project without splitting my time.

(As a side note, does anybody else get a warm feeling from seeing two consecutive pages covered in their own handwriting?)

When I've chosen a project I'll either write a scene guide or a treatment, depending on how much detail I already have in my mind. Just the essentials. I'm just creating my road map to make sure the scene transitions aren't arbitrary.

Sometimes I'll start cold writing a script before the outline or treatment and go on so long as I feel comfortable, but I usually stop within ten pages or so to start the formative work. My target in script mode is seven pages a day, but I'm not upset with myself if I occasionally fall short because I definitely have days where I hit some kind of natural high and burn through twenty or more. Those are the days where I feel like I'm standing in some hallway I've never seen before, bloody hatchet in hand, wondering what the hell happened THIS time.

Good dialogue is not a concern on the first draft. It tends to be highly expository. My thoughts here are to get it on the page and keep the momentum, you can be awfully clever later. So I've developed a bit of a natural rhythm that I edit the previous day's work for about an hour before starting in on the new pages because I can't stand looking back at a whole script full of banal dialogue. Nothing kills my will to live faster than realizing I've set myself up for the mother of all editing jobs.

I tend to reliably get a 1.5 draft out within a few weeks to a month.

At this point the script goes out to five friends, sometimes industry but always the type of people who aren't afraid to put on combat boots and stomp me when I deserve it. I used to send a sixth copy to my grandmother in case everybody else hated it. I move onto the next project while they digest it, and when I'm done with that I'll revisit the original work with a fresh eye and a full set of notes to consider.


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 03:28 PM.

Powered by vBulletin Version 3.6.2
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Done Deal Pro