Screenwriting : Avoiding the paralysis of analysis. by Jeffrey Walesa

Jeffrey Walesa

Avoiding the paralysis of analysis.

Hey all! I've diligently working on several projects and drafts but I'm finding that I'm over analyzing my stories and characters. At times it feels like there's something missing from the story and I can't seem to solve it. It's like that "IT" factor is missing. Any advice would be appreciated.

Jon Davis

Just give it time. Let it "marinate" in your mind. Good storytelling can't be rushed. The "IT" that is missing will come to you eventually. Have faith in yourself Jeffrey.

Kerry Douglas Dye

Usually when I suspect I have a problem, I do. Letting it marinate may help you, but who knows? You have friends you trust who can give it a read? Or maybe hire a pro if you have the cash. And make sure you've read My Story Can Beat Up Your Story by Jeffrey Schechter. Sometimes reading a screenwriting book -- even when it's covering concepts I theoretically "know" -- focuses my mind on the individual components of the script and helps highlight the weak parts. Good luck.

Jeffrey Walesa

Thanks for the support Jon and Kerry!! I let the story marinate and evolve - letting it take me where it wants to go. Friends have also read them and enjoyed them but I seem to be overthinking it.

Kris Kemp

2 things helped me accomplish writing my first novel, 'the rails' ( and my first screenplay, "The Last Pizza Delivery Driver on Earth" (written in 2009). 1) Sanctuary - Having a place to write 2) Schedule - Having a date in which I planned to have writing completed As you are writing, because you are in the creative moment, you will get other ideas popping up. When you do, jot down notes on them or record yourself on your phone, in a video, talking about the idea, then return to your current project. Go for a walk. Discipline equals freedom. And once you have the discipline to accomplish something you can accomplish that task. Sanctuary and Schedule will help you get there. Kris Kemp writer, photographer, musician

Boomer Murrhee

When I have run into this in the past. I took some time away. Let ideas percolate. Is there enough conflict? are payoffs adequately set-up? could more symbolism be used? is there room for subtext? If I really get stuck. I'll take out my index cards and lay them out again to see if changing the narration will create more tension? Also having trusted friends can help. Send them the outline and see what ideas are generated. I have found that different perspectives can be most helpful, but remember to be true to your vision and the story you want to tell. Hope this helped.

Bill Costantini

If you're feeling like you're in the "paralysis analysis" state, and yet you feel like something is missing (what you call the "IT factor"), then maybe you need a competent professional to critique/analyze your work for you. Good luck!

Jeffrey Walesa

Thanks everyone for the great ideas and now onto more writing!

William Martell

Hemingway said, "Write drunk, edit sober." When you are creating, just create. Once you are finished, bring the analytic side of your brain back into the room and find all of the problems which need to be solved.

Jeffrey Walesa

William. That is great advice. Hemingway was a great writer and I'm a big fan of his work.

Phillip "No Parenthetical" Hardy

Jeffrey: I have written a fair amount of historically based work. I always do research so that I feel comfortable navigating through the period and writing about well-known people such as Charles Bukowski, JD Salinger and Angela Davis. I collect enough data, watch videos if available and then put together an outline of where I want to go. From there, I write a two page synopsis summarizing the story. However, there comes a point where you sit down and write, then take a look at the work and decides what adds value and what doesn't and begin editing accordingly.

Blake Henry

Hi Jeffrey, I'm a new writer but I'm really good at fixing things. Almost every time I get stuck fixing something, the problem always turns out to be something that I was previously convinced that it couldn't be. So, go back to the core story that you're trying to tell and take a fresh look at the assumptions and decisions you've made along the way and see if you've baked in a problem that is the cause of your paralysis. Your gut is trying to tell you something. Find out what it is then you can move forward.

Regina Lee

For many people (not all), if you feel like there's something missing, I recommend that you watch "model movies." Analyze the sources of ongoing tension and how they make you feel as an audience member. Ask yourself if you've given your script an analogous source(s) of ongoing tension. This tension could be comic tension or dramatic tension, depending on the genre. That said, your particular script might not be missing a source of tension. It could be lacking in another area that we can't guess based on this limited info. In any case, happy writing!

Linda Perkins

All of the above is good advice but have you considered submitting your script to 'coverage?' Check it out under Happy Writers. Much Success!

Steven Harris Anzelowitz

Get Naked and write works for me.

Steven Michael

Steven - thanks for the visual, but no thanks. LOL Jeffery - I'm a new writer and have experienced the analysis plight. Time off has helped, but only after I revisit my theme, that's my starting point. If a sequence doesn't feel right or is lacking something, it usually means I have ventured away from my theme. Another trick I use is to write the ending. This is the goal, the payoff. Sometimes it clarifies the tension that should happen earlier in the story.

Patrick M McCormick

Jeffery - try writing an outline of your scenes. Determine the objective of each scene as that is the goal of that scene. Then make the characters achieve each scenes objective. Write each scene with the minimum action and dialog necessary to achieve the objective. Make sure each line makes a contribution. When you finish the first draft, go over the screenplay at least once a day making improvements. By the 60th pass it should start looking good. Don't stop the process until you can no longer find things to improve. Trying to get it right the first time will frustrate you to no end. Understand from the beginning that it is a long process. When you think you have it right, stop working on it for a few days. When you come back to it, you will probably find more to change. Reading through it over and over gives you the opportunity to memorize the work... that allows your subconscious to produce some of those Ah ha moments. Don't rush it.

Shawn Speake

Put a few pages out there for review, my friend! I'm sure you'll get more great advice on the quality of your writing and storytelling!

Elisabeth Meier

The only thing I can recommend is to give the written script a coverage of Happy Writers here on Stage32. It costs some money, but all so called script consultants cost much more. You will get a professional feedback with hints and advice and really can improve your writing. Everything else like feedback from friends and family mostly is not really helpful. If you want to become a professional writer act like one. It really works like this.

Linda Perkins

Amen Elisabeth!

Elisabeth Meier

Well, this morning (here) it sounds a little harsh what I wrote, but it never was meant that way. When I read this question I remembered "The Secret" or Esther Hicks' lessons. They all tell the same. Act as if you already have or are what you want to reach or become. This of course is sometimes challenging and you feel like a pretender (remember Freddy Mercury's song), but it really works this way.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Jeffrey: This is very inexpensive & dramatists (like me) do it all the time. Herd a bunch of actors together for a table read. Afterwards, you listen (in silence) as the actors give you feedback. You can organize this in your living room. LIVE feedback is best. Good stage actors are the best group to get on your side!

Heather Hale

Walk away. Work on something else. And come back to them. It's amazing how clear things can be with a little distance and perspective. ;-) READ. ;-) Read great scripts or classic books. Watch films or television in the same genre and study them. What they do well, what they don't. What you might try. Study the professions and avocations of your characters more. The time period. See if any collision of ideas epiphanies you. <<< Yes, I know that's a plural noun and I'm using it as a verb ;-) but it seemed right. ;-)

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