Screenwriting : How do you feel when you complete a screenplay? by Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

How do you feel when you complete a screenplay?

Every time I finish writing a screenplay, I always have a certain, lovely, if not indescribable feeling. Today, I had that pleasurable sensation. I just finished a new limited location thriller called "Purgatory Station". On a creative level, it presented me with many challenges. So after a few days of marathon writing, I'm mentally drained. Therefore, I've decided to let it sit for a week before I begin editing it. In any case, I equate completing a screenplay to the birth process. My scripts are my creative children; each with a personality and life of their own. If that sounds crazy, then color me insane.

Jeremy Trahan

I am very excited when I finish a screenplay but I also know there is more work ahead on the script.

Cherie Grant

Elated. I feel like iIv accomplished something and that means a lot because I haven't accomplished much in this life. Then there's a little dread that I have to polish and refine in a few weeks time. It's a really good feeling.

Tamara Williamson

I feel amazed and excited. Getting over that first hurdle makes me want to work on it more.

CJ Walley

For me, it used to feel like achievement, now it just feels like staying afloat.

Boomer Murrhee

I do get elated, but I'm reminded as what has already been said, that there is always more work to be done. It continues to be a labor of love moving forward every day. I live to write and write to live. Thanks for the post, Phillip.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Are you referring to finishing the first draft, Phillip? If so, I have mixed feelings. While a huge accomplishment, I really just consider it a beginning step in a much larger process. After the first draft is when you must roll up your sleeves and work even harder. :)

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Beth: Yes my friend, I am referring to a first draft. And, I completely understand your process, which is accepted practice by most writers. After I finish the first draft, I generally read it aloud several times. Now, I'm using the Final Draft voice feature, which is working even better for me than reading aloud. I don't know why, but listening to the robotic voice helps me pick out word omissions etc. I also look at any plot holes, things that go nowhere, don't make sense or in general, add no value. I look at economy of words. When I worked with Steve Roeder on my scripts about Michael Rockefeller and also "Gina Jericho", an action story, I made several major story changes. He's pretty flexible but I incorporated about sixty percent of his suggestions. Last week, when he pitched my recent script "Four Negro Girls In A Church" to a major studio, no changes were made to my first draft other than the ones I made. But I've never made major story changes to a script unless someone is interested in the material or has optioned it, as in the case of Mr. Roeder. However, I would never tell anyone my method is the correct process. All I know, is it works for me and that's good enough.

Rick Gates

Boy, that's a tough one. It's like asking "How do you feel when you're done raising your children?" Are you ever truly done? I suppose I would equate it to having just taught a baby to walk. They have progressed to the next stage, but still need lots more work. That being said, it is exciting to know that an idea that once existed only in your head is now manifested physically for others to absorb. Even more exciting to think that, at some point, it could be released out into the world to spread like a virus to more than just a small group of people.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Rick: Great point about if you're ever really done. And until the work makes it to film, if ever, you're not really... done that is. I will illustrate with this personal example. About four months ago, I did a major rewrite on a script that was a few years old. I added a lot to the act and entered it into a couple of upcoming sci-fi competitions. The first draft was a second rounder at 2013 Austin Film Festival. So will see if this version does better or worse.

Phil Parker

You're wise my friend to let it sit for at least a week before rereading it. The more drafts I do, the longer I wait each time, because I'm getting too familiar with the story. Of course by draft #?? you may want to start working on something else in-between or this method will take you forever! ha-ha I'm being facetious, but you know what I mean.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Phillip: And your polish and technique is clearly evident in your work. I've recently started reading "The Third Bomb" and believe it to be one of the top five unproduced scripts that I've read over the past three years. I'm judging the second round of the New York City Midnight Screenwriter's Challenge. But in between, I be reading the Bomb and it is... da bomb!

Bill Costantini

I feel like crying, because I know the easy stuff is done, and now the real hard stuff begins. :)

Shawn Speake

What's good, Phillip! CONGRATS! Anybody who equates finishing a screenplay with giving birth is all right with me! I feel so good when I finish a story! I usually try to celebrate!

Shawn Speake

That's no way to celebrate, Bill! :) Finishing a story - meaning it's complete without any plot holes - is a major achievement in my book and should be treated as such! Creating is hands down harder than rewriting. I believe we should celebrate the completion of our creation in a big way!

Phil Parker

Phil: . Thank you kind sir. Coming from someone with much more experience, I value your opinion and treasure that compliment. Shawn: Absolutely, it IS a time to celebrate. We have to give ourselves rewards for reaching the mile posts along the way. My girlfriend and I usually go to our local tapas bar for cocktails and Spanish delights :-)

Shawn Speake

YES! Loving life today! So glad to hear it! We''d be honored if you had a toast and included us here at S32! Way to work, Phillip! CHEERS!

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Shawn: Will do. One of my colleagues Skype called today and we're already discussing adapting a well known author's work for a mini-series. Lifting my glass Here's to you Shawn!

Shawn Speake

YES! MY MAN!

Regina Lee

@Phillip E. Hardy, congrats!! Go get 'em!!

Anthony Cawood

@Phil - by weird coincidence I finished 1st draft of my latest feature, Graft. I always write some notes on the final page of the things that I want to go back and focus on, change, polish etc... then I leave it for a couple of weeks and write some shorts... I do have my own Paul Sheldon moment, a cold bottle Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. Chugging one now and raising a toast to my S32 friends... cheers all!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Well, I didn't finish anything today but I'm still going to enjoy a fine glass of wine. Cheers to you guys! @Phillip Hardy, sounds like another great project. Congrats! ...Oh, and what's with equating a finished script to giving birth?? -- yeah, sorry, not even close!! Just saying.... LOL! ;)

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Anthony: You've had a prolific year thus far. Congratulations as an artist and for your continuing hard work with your writing, as well as your continuing support for others. Being from California, Sierra is a great beer with a wonderful story of success. One of my favorites. Cheers to you my friend!

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

BFH: You're right, my comparison is a stretch so to speak. Thanks as always for your support.

Beth Fox Heisinger

Oh Phillip, my dear, just giving you some grief... LOL! Yes, I'm thrilled to learn of your recent successes and possibilities. Very exciting! Now go enjoy that drink. ;)

Anthony Cawood

Philip - thought of your recent script when I saw the news from Charleston, distressing to think that the same can happen again, progress seems minimal when you see news like that ;-( Hope yours gets picked up, the themes are timeless!

Lisa Clemens

As many have already said, I'm glad I'm done but now comes the proof read, editing, rewriting, sending a descent version in to the producer/director (when I do work for hire) and waiting for their input followed by the rewrites and more rewrites and oh yeah....the rewrites (oh and the occasional rewrites for re-shoots!)

Jason Levy

When I finish a draft, I'm on top of the world. Hours of hard work pay off as you look at your baby which is now more developed. This last week I completed the final rewrite of a script I started last year. While I know it's not completely finished and will have a little more work to be done, I feel amazing. Because I followed through and what was just an idea last year is now a thoroughly developed screenplay that I can easily see as a feature film.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Anthony: It's very ironic that I wrote about the murder of those young girls at the Baptist church only back in April. And, that history repeats itself nearly 50 years ago. When one of colleagues pitched the script this week, he was accused of bad taste and being an opportunist. Actually, to me Charleston painfully underscore what I wrote about; and the reason I wrote it. But, I have veered off my happy topic. I shall now head back.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Jason: Well done!

Linda Scarlett

I love it. As it sits for awhile, I get started on my next one.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

@Linda: I like your style. I've written five screenplays since January. So, I'm always thinking of the next story.

Richard Allis

When I first started out, I felt on top of the world when I finished a screenplay. (I later learned that I never really finish rewriting.) But after a few scripts getting finished, I would feel down afterwards because the journey was over. The joy I was getting from writing something had stopped. I wanted to continue writing. The only step left was to start all over and plan something new. So now I'm working on several things to keep that feeling of writing and creating going. When I get tired of one thing, I go to something else (though I only have a couple main ones at one time.) When I get a little tired of writing for the moment, I research and plan something else to replace a script I finish writing when that time comes. That way I hope to never have to feel down because I have to start from scratch all over again. I guess I was getting a little postpartum depression.

Eric A Vasallo

it is most def a birthing process. I also wait a week or two before going back to get a fresh look and really get dirty in edit process. Kudos to finishing!! Sometimes the birthing process can feel like your birthing quadruplets but it's never a dull ride! Thanks for sharing.

Andrew Martin Smith

When I have chunked out the first draft - the first thing I always do is celebrate by taking my wife out for dinner. It has become a ritual. I pay. I write two screenplays a year - so that's two dinners where we don't go Dutch. I don't look at it again until it has spent seven days in the wilderness - despite much temptation - and then begins a brutal bout of redrafting.

Stephen Barber

Great job Phillip! What a great feeling! I find it's like ending a serious relationship... the time to move on begins, and yet, we both, (the script and myself), anxiously await the inevitable booty-calls, (re-writes) when we both are in need of removing the emotions, and getting down straight to business!

Shawn Speake

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Shawn Speake

Thank you! … Back to you guys….

Bill Hartin

Kudos on finishing your script. First draft or final draft, it is always an accomplishment. For me it is a blend of relief, uncertainty and vulnerability, because like most creatives, I secretly believe it can be better.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Stephen, great observations.

Howard Allen

Nothing better than finishing the first draft of a script -- especially if your passion for the story is still intact and you're not being Too critical about where it landed. Don't forget the passion when you've let it rest a while, when you've let trusted writer-friends look at it and when you've discovered how much still needs to be done. Also, don't forget your actor, designer, director collaborators in the future who might jump in and Finish your story.

Dru Holley

Like I just pushed out a beautiful baby

Anthony DeFay

Only finished one, so far. But it kind of went like this: INT. HOME OFFICE - NIGHT Sitting at a black wooden desk, the only thing Crate n Barrel for miles, ANTHONY (40s) types furiously. A smile begins to spread across his face like the rising sun splitting the darkness. Faster he types, and wider the smile. Still faster, and a wider smile, faster he types - then: Anthony rips his hands away from the keyboard and lurches back in his faux leather office chair, an OfficeDepot classic. He stares for a long beat. That smile fading like a balloon slowly losing its air. ANTHONY: That's F#*!ing horrible. What was I thinking? A screenwriter? On what planet am I a screenwriter? Man. INT. HOME OFFICE - MORNING - ONE WEEK LATER Sitting quietly at that black desk, Anthony sips coffee from a thick ceramic mug. His face is buried in a computer monitor - he's reading a screenplay. ANTHONY (V.O.): Did I write this? Beat ANTHONY: Not bad. Moral of the story, always let it simmer....IMHO.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Anthony: Definitely

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Steven: I hear you. I think I'm always amped up for a few days and then I crash.

Craig D Griffiths

I am pleased, I want to get it read and for people to enjoy it. Then I begin to question a few things. I'll start doing focused passes through the script, this is not as creative and relies on craft. After that I am so familiar with it can't be bothered even reading it. When I am sick of my own idea, I know it's ready. A bit of a gauntlet to run. I love every minute of it.

Michael Eddy

I get an adrenalin rush when I know I'm approaching "Fade Out". Finishing a script - no matter which draft - but especially a First - is a feeling of accomplishment and time to do the dance of joy. Subsequent drafts - although they may be (should be) improving on the first - become exponentially less exciting because they seem more like work than that first one - when it's all shiny and new and the ideas are percolating at warp speed. And what's with all the GUYS on this thread comparing it to childbirth - what's your frame of reference - other than being there at the moment of conception?

Beth Fox Heisinger

Michael, I know, right?! ...Men. Sheesh! I love you guys, but you truly have no idea! LOL! ;)

Doug Nelson

I’ve never “completed” a screenplay yet, (been tryin’ for 30+ years.) Occasionally, someone pries one out of my hands for production but then I still tweak ‘em (especially after I view the film.)

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Doug: I get what you're saying. And I"m always tweaking them here or there as well.

David Levy

When I finish a script it makes me want to finish a glass or two of scotch! Unloading a meantal file of what you think is a good first draft. A first draft is an accomplishment to itself. Great job.

David Levy

I had some great results with the rep wanting to stay in touch and doesn't mind if I send him over pages to read or full rewrites. Glad I have someone willing to read my work. Be humble, take the feedback and notes. Ask as many questions as you can. It is educational so take in as much as you can. If you have any other questions message me direct.

Samantha Girod

I just finished my a script yesterday, and I felt great. It's definitely an accomplishment since some people have a lot of drafts that go unfinished, but at the same time, the script is far from done. I've started editing, but it will still be awhile before I can start sending it out.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Samantha: First off, congratulations on finishing your script. And, I advocate letting yourself enjoy the moment. I tend to think along the lines of Doug's recent post. I'm still tweaking most of my screenplays as I go along. I had someone ask for "The Immortal Jack the Ripper a few days back. And they're reading that as a period piece sample. Though written two years ago, I did a read through and made a few more changes. Again, I never polish any script to make it a diamond before I send it out. I edit it, trim it, sometimes ad to it and then move on. They're never finished until optioned, made or forgotten; and more often than not, it will be third category.

Doug Nelson

Basically, a screenplay is never finished.

Michael Eddy

How about after they turn it into a movie? If you're still rewriting after the movie's made - you need a new hobby.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

@Michael: Then you can be like JD Salinger and wave your fist at the screen after they make a bad movie off your script. Or act like Hank Moody and beat up the director.

Doug Nelson

I write scripts, I rewrite ‘em, They go thru table reads, I rewrite ‘em some more, they get picked up & put on the screen. I watch the results and learn more from the mistakes I catch; so yes, I rewrite ‘em more. Learning from my mistakes makes me a better writer. I’m driven to earn an Oscar before I die. Ambitious? Certainly but that’s my hobby.

Michael Eddy

@Phillip - after the movie's made - it's too late to beat up the director. The right time is on the set - like George Clooney vs. David O. Russell on "Three Kings". But I guess there's no statute of limitations on a writer wronged. If I ever get in a room with a certain director - you'll be able to read about it in the trades and Fisticuffs Monthly.

Michael Eddy

Hey Doug - if you're watching the results and learning from your mistakes - that's one thing (assuming the mistakes can't be attributed to a rewriter or the director or the actors). But if you're still rewriting AFTER the movie's made - that seems a bit of overkill to me. First time I screened a script of mine - I was in search of a flight sickness bag. No thoughts of any further revisions - I knew who f***ed it up - and it wasn't me. So why flog a deceased horse? As for the Oscars - I'm with you on that one. First time I ever donned a tux - at a cousin's wedding - I spent 5 minutes in the mirror - delivering my acceptance speech. No music to play me off. By now - I have the whole thing committed to memory and ready to go.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

@Doug: That's setting the bar high. I like your style. @Michael: I've had some pretty good disagreements over rewrites last year. That's why I won't do rewrites for others on spec anymore.

Michael Eddy

@ Phillip - nor should you. If someone is interested in something you've written to want revisions - you should be getting paid to do them. The Writers Guild does not allow "speculative writing" for no pay. Even if you're not a WGA member - it's a good policy. Most times - you end up doing a lot of work for nothing - and the movie doesn't get made anyway. Bad habit to get into.

Doug Nelson

Hey Michael – it’s evident that you didn’t get the nuance of what I wrote – it’s my mistake. I wrote “learn more from the mistakes I catch” whereas I probably should have written something along the line of “learn from my mistakes that I see”. So yes, even after my writing goes out, I often find where I’ve made a mistake. If the scene is wrong – the Director didn’t see it, the Actor didn’t understand how to deliver the dialog – then yes, it’s my fault as the writer. We all strive for perfection, none ever get

William Martell

My skin is still dry... which is why I never feel myself after I finish a screenplay, I go out into the public and feel some stranger.

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

@William: Maybe you consider feeling yourself more often. And as far as feeling strangers? Sometimes they've become fast friends.

Howard Allen

Personally, I feel it's a little bit of an out-of-body experience when a script is finished or I'm on a role writing Inside it. So I AM the stranger at that point and feeling it. It's why I teach writers to learn what actors do and how they do it.

Fiona Faith Ross

Well...I have just - today - finished a first draft. 8 weeks. So, okay, it's not submission ready, but I feel a great sense of relief. It's been so hard-going, and 6 weeks in, I didn't think I could do it. It feels like I've reached a big milestone. I have RSI, a sore shoulder, and blurry eyes, otherwise I feel great. The moment when you save your file as "FIRST DRAFT" is quite special.

Fiona Faith Ross

@Steven Thanks. I love your title, "Hope Saves Manhattan".

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Fiona: Congrats!

Michael Eddy

Fiona - any time a writer gets to FADE OUT - is a good time. Congratulations. And 8 weeks - impressive as well. Don't know what RSI is though. I once raced to complete a rewrite and stayed up until the wee hours so I could get it done before going on a trip with my kids. Ended up with a bulging disc in my back, severe pain and permanent tingling in a couple of fingers. Ahh, the lot of the lonely writer.

Fiona Faith Ross

Michael, RSI is Repetitive Strain Injury - in the wrists (also Carpal Tunnel Syndrome). The tendon to the fingers passes through one narrow tube on the inner wrist (bad design). If you overuse your hands for typing, eventually you will get inflammation and strain in this nerve. The only solution is WEEKS off any kind of key board work - not possible for a screenwriter to contemplate. If the injury becomes permanent, you can no longer write. The tingling in your fingers is a warning to rest your wrist to allow the inflammation to subside, and thereby to avoid permanent damage from RSI.

Andrew Martin Smith

It is just easy so work your butt off on a given project and end up with an aching back. So - sitting on top of my computer is a kitchen timer in the shape of an egg, which has to be physically wound up. Every hour it whirls into action and I get up and wander around the room. It has ended up in the bin on occasions - but it has slowly dawned on me that to ignore it - is to be rewarded with a bout of pain. . I would love to tell you that egg is my idea - but I would be lying. It was my wife's.

Debbie Croysdale

I'm glad somebody else feels the same way. Your right that screenplays have a life of their own, and they grow and change, " like children." Also they can evoke feelings of guilt in me, if I leave them aside for too long. The title of your screenplay evokes curiosity, hope to see it one day.

Michael Eddy

Dan - you jaded bastard. Don't throw it in yet. Stay surly and p.o.ed - keeps the creative juices flowing. And Fiona - thanks for the RSI explanation. Carpal tunnel I've heard of. My disc problem sort of corrected after seeing a doctor and being prescribed pain meds and muscle relaxants etc. He knew what it was even before x-rays. He also said that if it wasn't caught fast enough - the tingling/occasional numbness in the tops of two fingers would be permanent. It is. But it comes and goes and I don't notice it a helluva lot - and it's on my left hand (I'm right handed). No effect on my typing or ballplaying or anything else that I can tell.

Michael Eddy

Andrew - have you ever thought of getting up once every hour, sitting on the egg and seeing if something hatches? I wonder - with the generation of kids that is growing up texting 24/7 - whether the future will bring humans with no fingers - just two enormous opposable thumbs.

Fiona Faith Ross

I think when the mobile phone phenomenon first took off, some wag journalist labelled users the "thumb tribe".

Marc Sigoloff

I feel a sense of loss.

Doug Nelson

Dan; a great idea! I retired from my day job years ago and took up film production in the (then) emerging DSLR world as a hobby. Now I own my own little-bitty production company – I work when, and with whom I chose; as much or as little as I want. When I want a new piece of equipment, I produce a couple of local commercials for a few bucks. Life is good.

Shane M Wheeler

Sometimes, I feel elation, sometimes I feel satisfied, sometimes I feel surprised it got done so fast, but lately, I feel like I've just won a major battle, only to see another army marching over the hill with flags emblazoned "Revision".

Phillip "The Genuine Article" Hardy

Finished another script today. Started this one back in February and because of the dark subject matter, I wasn't feeling it at the time. So, I came back to it three weeks ago, hit the groove and wrote 60 pages. Not sure how I feel about it and too tired to care. So I'll start reading and editing in a week.

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