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Fun Joel's Screenwriting Blog


-- On Screenwriting and Related Topics

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

I moved from NYC to LA in October, 2003. And though I still think NYC is the greatest city in the world, I'm truly loving life here in the City of Angels. I'm a writer, reader, and occasional picture-taker.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

On Flexibility

I am not a very flexible person. Physically that is. My extra gut-pounds definitely causes this to a certain degree, but it goes further than that. I've never been very limber. Sitting cross-legged (or Indian-style, as we used to call it when I was a kid) was never comfortable, and I could never really get my knees to go down very far.

I'm sure I could try some yoga to improve this, and I actually do want to some time (though I still want to lose some weight first, and I'm trying to do so now -- eating better, etc). People who do yoga tell me that it will help me lose the weight, but I still feel I need to make the first improvement on my own, and then use the yoga to take it further.

But none of this is really what this post was intended to be about! It's about a different kind of flexibility. While I am not physically flexible, I am generally a roll-with-the-punches kind of guy. (After reading John August's very cool "Screenwriting Style test" this morning (but more on that later), I referred once again to my Myers-Briggs personality typing. So I'd say this personality trait of mine is likely relatable to my ENTP personality (even though I wrote ENTJ in my comments on JA's post, I realized I was wrong, and very clearly an ENTP)! Which of course dovetails nicely with my Enneagram type 7.)

While some might say I'm actually just easily distracted (I am) -- and this post's rambling manner is clear proof of my distractability (no, it's not really a word) -- I would also point to the strengths of my being able to alter a plan in mid-course, should the need arise. This, of course, applies only to cases when I've even bothered to make a plan in the first place. Usually I don't plan things more than a day or two in advance, anyway!

So other than that brief mention of John August's post, what does this have to do with screenwriting? Good question. Glad you asked. It is this lack of wanting to plan that has made me a more sparse outliner, over the years. Sure, I think it is necessary to have a decent idea of where you going and how you'll get there, when it comes to writing a screenplay. I'm not of the variety of screenwriters who just start writing and see where the script will take tham. Perhaps I simply don't trust myself enough. Whatever the reason -- I don't do it. But I still was never one to write a tremendously detailed outline/treatment/beat sheet/whatever else you'd like to call it. (Maybe that could be another axis on August's system -- Planner versus Improviser or some such.)

Then, when I decided to knock out a cheapo direct-to-DVD type horror script in 15 days (with a revision), I knew I could only do it if I worked out a pretty thorough outline in advance. So when I did it last January, the outline was a huge help. I still need to give it one more quick revision, but it was the quickest, by far, that I'd ever written anything remotely script-like. Then came Hell on Wheels. We decided to lay out a pretty detailed outline first. As I mentioned, with a collaboration, it is that much more important to make sure you and your co-writer are on the same page, so to speak.

So now I'm in the middle of my pages (yes, I'm behind schedule, by a lot), aiming to get done by the end of this week. And I got a good amount done today (though I still am aiming to do about 3-5 more pages before I go to bed). But it was slow going at first due to some structural overhauling I needed to do. When MLee and I last met to discuss the project, we decided to cut out some of our previously planned scenes from the 2nd half of Act 2. We realized they were relatively extraneous and redundant, and also that we had put too much in there.

So I was left the task of figuring out how to make it all work. So before I even began my pages, I had to decide which scenes would be cut, which would then necessarily need to be pushed earlier in the Act (interspersed with the pages MLee wrote), and where to insert those scenes. So, after completing my revisions on the previous pages, I dove into inserting the scenes that had to be pushed up. Then I also began the second half of the act. So I'm hoping it's all downhill from here on out.

Bottom line: it paid to be flexible, even though we'd set out an outline in advance.

And lastly, in case you thought I'd forgotten...

I am an LFRS in John's system, but I'm trying to become more of an LFRT. Which, in fact, is partially what my Expo 4 seminar "Verbalizing the Visual" is about! But I'll post more on that in another day or two!

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Blogger Warren said...

You? An Extrovert ("E") on the Myers-Brigss! Shocking! (Thick tone of sarcasm here.)

Looking forward to your seminar. I'll be at the "Writing to be Read" one.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

Yes, I know it is hard to believe!

So, an early riser, eh Warren? Making it to the 8 AM seminar! I kinda wonder how many people will make it. A lot, I hope!

10:03 PM  

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