Screenwriting : Does anyone use abstract descriptions to be developed later by Gordon Olivea

Gordon Olivea

Does anyone use abstract descriptions to be developed later

I was rewriting the protagonist's actions, and I couldn't figure out how to end a scene so I wrote "He does something cool here which is a set up for ACT III". For the writers who do things like that: how and why does it help?

Shawn Speake

I do it all the time in my development stage. Then it's on the next sequence. I'll come back and figure out more the rest on the next pass.

Randall C Willis

I do this type of thing all the time in my writing. For the most part, it is about moving past a stumbling block to keep the forward momentum up. I find if I allow a degree of indecision or uncertainty to slow me, it becomes a leg trap that absorbs all my attention and energy. And often, I cannot find the write phrase, word or idea in the moment and am left making no headway. Most of the time, the answer will come when you are working on something further along in your story. In my case, it often comes as an "Oh, hey!" moment.

William Martell

What Randall said: I use them as place holders so that I don't get stuck. Keeps me moving forward, and oddly enough my subconscious is still working on that problem and figures out a great solution by the end of the day so that I usually can just go back and fill it in. If not same day, then in a couple of days. You can get hung up on silly things and waste hours trying to figure them out... when you could be writing.

Kerry Douglas Dye

More often I write a dreadful boilerplate scene that I know will need to be completely rewritten later. Otherwise my first drafts would all be 42 pages long. (Which would be fine, I guess, but I feel more accomplished if I have a nice thick 100-page first draft, even 85 of those pages are God-awful.) Plus, you never know if in forcing yourself through a terrible two-pages you might blunder into a decent line of dialogue or cool beat that could make the cut to the next draft. But either way, yes, I don't stop my writing dead until I dream up the cool thing I need to get to the next scene.

Beth Fox Heisinger

I leave myself notes and/or place holders all the time. I'll get stuck otherwise. A place holder allows me to move on, and by the time I've completed other scenes/sections whatever problem that caused me pause the solution works itself out. :)

Derek Ladd

Same here (what everyone else has said). While writing a sci-fi action thriller called 'SUBZERO INVASION' I was itching to write an action scene but there was a gap leading up to it. I wrote the action scene and came back to finish the 'bridge' scenes later. Notes in a script are essential for me.

Bryan McClurg

ALL THE TIME! As Beth simply stated, if you don't do this, you WILL get stuck - sometimes for hours, sometimes days - on that one little annoying detail you just can't figure out. I myself was once a slave to this, being one of those perfectionist writers. But even when you're writing the script, or just developing, I don't think abstraction is bad at all. Some people call what you describe as rushed or lazy, but I would say it actually takes a lot of discipline and guts to take a breath and say, "I'll come back to this later" and move on. Keep your brain stimulated with fresh ideas, fresh scenes, and fun banter between characters. I often write like I'm watching the script play out on the screen in a theater - the movie (like your brain) will keep on going. You can't tell the projectionist to pause, you just have to sit and let it play. Let your brain play on, and see what happens next.

K Kalyanaraman

As a professional technical writer with IBM, I introduced several TBDs (to be done later) in my documents. Now, as a screenplay writer, I am tempted to do that here too. However, in my outline doc, I would like to have my beginning and end frozen out. That allows me to fill out the middle. Ofcourse, this is my personal style-you can perhaps be abstract, as long as you are comfortable with it -and come up with a killer idea, later. It is just the technical writer in me talking :-). All the best, Gordon!

Karl Heyliger

I don't think it's a bad idea. When I' actually on set I get ideas and adjust shots, take shots out, even add scenes. It's all open until the project is wrapped!

B Lee

I've done that before on things that I have no knowledge of and need to move on quickly, rather than get bogged down with technical references.

Rick Reynolds

Not a tool I like to use, but it's definitely found its way to my pages. ;)

Steve Krause

I usually figure that out in the scene outline since every beat has to move the story forward but as mentioned above 'stuff I have no knowledge of...' can be a solution occasionally.

David Kurtz

All the time ...

Steve Krause

If it's 'all the time' you're probably not using a scene outline. That's the heavy lifting...

William Joseph Hill

Anything that helps you get through the story without being blocked is good, in my opinion. Some writers work with an outline, others just start typing the script from scratch. As long as the finished product (multiple drafts later, of course) is top notch, it doesn't matter how you get there. I say feel free to try different methods to see what works for you. That doesn't mean that your method won't change over the course of your career -- as long as you're growing as an artist, your process will change over time.

Steve Krause

Well, kind of. Yes, keep writing & whatever it takes to make that happen is a good thing. I used to be one of those that went straight to script & a few years of technical training from the guy that wrote Band of Brothers, great writing coach, taught me if you're blocked on the script you did something wrong. That is, skipped the heavy lifting. When you get to the script, the fun part, you already know beginning, middle & end of every beat. May or may not use treatment but a beat sheet & outline is the heavy lifting. You could skip all that & script it if it doesn't matter if it's ever produced... if the goal is just to have fun. If you want a green light, well, no shortcuts.

JR Kingsbury

It always good to write the action, even if it's something you're not going to use, who knows maybe an off the cuff will lead to something meaningful later. This can also play well for future scenes and help develope roles/characters. Skipping past action does little to develop a much needed outward expression from your MC.

Geoff Webb

George Lucas wrote 'Darth Vader says something provocative to Luke here, which makes him angry'. A long time later he can up with 'I am your farther'. If it's good enough for George....

Steve Krause

Nice, that kinda goes in the same category as the 'technical field stuff'. George knew exactly what he wanted in that dialogue... he already knew the beginning, middle & end of that beat. Just looking for the right feel ---

Steve Krause

It is, placeholders are handy when you script so you can keep rolling AND YA, can you say REWRITES --

Shane M Wheeler

If it works for you, do it. I've done it a few times. I'd rather put in a quick note for a scene I'm having trouble writing than get stuck staring at it for hours and getting nowhere. Frees me up to write later scenes while in the zone and let my subconscious chip away at it, often knowing what needs to happen when I return to it.

Lauren Lindsey

may I ask what a place holder is? also what is the best outline format to work with? I am working on my first ever feature screenplay now and I must say I am having major writers block when it come to dialogue and how to move a scene along. I know what I want the film to convey and what I want for it to accomplish but it is hard to when you can't really write in feelings and descriptions. I guess this is the struggle every writer has.

Marilyn Du Toit

Hi Lauren, join ISA (international screenwriters association) they frequently have free teleconferences and they have had the dialogue one a few times. It really helped me. It is free to join. They also have a gig page and post gigs.

Dianne Gardner

I use place holders while writing my novels and then go back and insert. Sometimes I even write it in red so I know there's a place holder there. I think once you really know the character, you'll understand what kind of actions he/she will perform under what circumstances. Observe people. I'm a big people watcher. I go to malls, grocery stores, parking lots and watch people. I also observe background actors in good movies. But most of all you need to know your character.

David Kurtz

In CELTX I use something like xxx which can be searched for to find bare spots or trouble areas.

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