The Highs and Lows of Finishing the First Draft

A big red rollercoaster with a carriage of people about to descend

I’m not entirely sure where all this time has gone. I think it’s been sucked into a vortex of disturbed nights, madcap days and juggling three too many things at once. But… I finished the first draft of my screenplay! On June 15th to be exact. It was momentous. I’d had the initial idea over 10 YEARS AGO. It still makes me twitch to think about the time that’s passed, not to mention I’m getting to an age where I can speak in decades quite comfortably…. anyway, it felt great. What have I been doing since? Well, first I cut …

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What to Do When the Blank Page Unhinges You

A film still of Gandalf the Grey from LOTR at the point where he faces off with a Balrog and shouts: You Shall Not Pass! We see his head and torso and two staffs that he's holding aloft.

After several years and a couple of false starts, I’ve finally broken the seal and started the screenplay. Egads! I’ve somehow slowly made my way through Act One over the last fortnight. It’s very rough but it exists. It’s there on the screen in black and white. Words. Characters talking. Action. The slow birth of a story. I’m even moving into Act Two (!) and having an easier time of it now I’ve started. But it was weirdly tough to begin. I was surprised to find myself paralysed in front of the blank screen. What a cliché. I have little …

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Plotting a Path through the Wild

Colourful wooden slats laid down to make a gently winding path though a wild, dark green forest

I’m on the cusp of starting my screenplay. I’ve been immersed in the story for a few weeks now so the characters are keen to come out, interrupting my thoughts with flashes of action and snippets of dialogue. My brain is making connections, imagination fired up. It’s the Muse in motion, skipping along merrily and I, the scruffy intern, follow after, notepad in hand. My reluctant (and enlightening) pitstop at structure Admittedly, I wanted to skip the part of the screenplay guide (Save the Cat) that talked about structure. I’d already sketched out rough scenes (about two years ago) and …

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Loglines and a lot of head-scratching

Black and white photo of a typically scraggly-haired Einstein next to a quote which says: If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.

I clearly needed to get a hold of my script idea before it went off on a tangent. First stop, write the logline – screenwriting guru Blake Snyder’s first piece of advice in his book Save the Cat. The logline is the one (or two)-liner that sums up what the film, TV programme or book is about. Why a logline? It’s useful for pitching your idea to the people who could potentially commission it, but it also serves as a handy guide whenever you’re stuck with the writing, helping you re-focus. The point, Snyder writes, is if you don’t understand what …

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Screenwriting books

A colourful pile of screenwriting books with a baby monitor on top

I’ve begun many of my journeys with a ‘how to’ book. Even if I’ve ended up cursing and chucking it over my shoulder, the habit is long established and reassuring. So, I gathered all the books on my shelf that were related to writing and the above pile was the result. The lowdown I’ve read the War of Art, which is fabulous for creatives, outlining the struggle to battle our inner demons and just GET ON WITH THE DAMN WORK. And I’ve read The Right to Write, or rather I enjoyed doing the exercises, as it’s very interactive and nurturing. …

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