Screenwriting : Variety is the spice of...something by Fiona Faith Ross

Fiona Faith Ross

Variety is the spice of...something

I have lots of different kinds of writing on the go: screenwriting, my blog, fiction writing. It helps the creative process to switch from one to another. How do you find it or do you like to work one project at a time?

Bill Costantini

For me, I've discovered that trying to perfect one story and one group of characters at a time is the best way for me to achieve my goal.

David Taylor

I don't blog, otherwise...ditto.

David Levy

I agree with Bill. If I;m working a project where all the characters are yelling at me at one time, I need to listen to each one individually to flush out the story concept. I can't work on another project or script unless I at least have an outline together for the script and the characters feel like friends.

Shawn Speake

Unfortunately, I'm so pressed for time now, I'm forced to prioritize by the Project's Pay Load. What's the project's potential? What's the pay? What's my credit? That's the next project.

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

I try to focus on one story, but it's agonizing to have all the others stewing away in there. I try to think of my brain as a refrigerator....each story is nicely stashed in a Tupperware, and nothing goes bad, and I will get to each one in my own good time. Sometimes I worry I'll get brain cancer if I don't write them all down. Sometimes I worry I'll die before I get the chance to write them all down. But for sanity's sake, it's best to focus on the 'fridge analogy, and work on one story at a time. As for the other stuff, I will ALWAYS journal (it's a necessary therapy), and online activity is now narrowed down to just stage32....that's plenty of a distraction as it is (and you guys are great). Thanks for this thread, Fiona.

Anthony Cawood

I usually have a feature (or two), a short (or two), a new article and an interview on the go... like Fiona, I like been able to switch between em,

Michael Eddy

Because ideas that I think are good enough to go full bore on and commit to paper are sort of few and far between - this is not a problem I have had to wrestle with much in the past. My short answer is: one writing project at a time. Occasionally, while writing one script - I may have an idea for the next one drift down out of the ether and embed itself in what passes for my brain these days. In that case - I jot down a few notes and put it away and return to the task at hand. It's always good to know what's on board next - but I wouldn't try doing double duty. The only time I tried to write 2 different screenplays simultaneously - it got very confusing (character-wise, plot-wise, other wise) very quickly - and I put an end to the practice. As for indulging in different types of writing at the same time - blogs (I don't have one), e-mails, grocery lists etc. - I would think that if any of the other writing outlets are sapping creative juices from your main venue - it should be avoided for the duration until FADE OUT hits the page. The same way that I would advise against doing something "creative" as your weekly job, rather than something that takes little or nothing away from your time at the computer - writing. I've taken some flak on this in the past - from some whose definition of "creative" does not coincide with my own - but it was one of the better pieces of advice I got in film school - and I stand by it.

Dan Guardino

I only work on one screenplay at a time and screenwriting is the only sort writing I can write. I tried a novel once and it was awful. After about fifty pages I gave up.

Cherie Grant

I write different projects at a time. I have a couple novels stewing away and a third finished, but they are so much harder than screenwriting so I am struggling with plot and having to put so much on 'paper'. But it's good to write poems and short stories and novels and articles and etc. It exercises your brain and, just like screenwriting, if you're not too good at it you just practice.

Ben Trebilcook

Hi Fiona, Nice question you posed and it's great to read that you work on a few things at a time. People used to say to me "If you work on so many different things at the same time, you're just going to have lots of unfinished pieces of work." Not true! For some, perhaps. BLOG: I used to have a blog, but I felt it got too much and so I held back. I also thought I'd put the experiences I was writing about into a book one day instead as the stories of me in this industry could be a little off the wall. For example, when I took what was potentially going to be Val Kilmer's helicopter: Screenwriter, Doug Richardson, does some amazing blogs AND he writes novels. He can be found here: NOVELS So, with my blog on the back-burner, I write novels and screenplays as well as a job teaching in an incredibly challenging school. This week has been easier as I've been off for the Easter Break, so my time has been 'full days' instead of getting home from the school at around 4pm, switching heads and writing for a few hours. The past two weeks, being off, have had me focus on two very different projects; a female driven spy novel set in London and China and an action movie script set in the Himalayas. I divided the time up for both of them and focussed on one every other day. One day, a few hours for the book, the next for the script. I'd take regular breaks at set times, tea, lunch, go for a walk, moving away from the 'writing spot' and then get back into it. One project will naturally be completed before the other, so that leaves me to focus on that solely. When I'm hired to write a script, however, I'll focus on JUST that as it the priority. I like working on different things simultaneously. Some of my writer friends do not. One said he loses it and ends up putting one character from one script into another script and that he has to focus on one and only one. I said it'd be fun to put a superhero into a period piece and should just go with whatever consciousness is taking control! My suggestion is whatever works for you, as long as you're being creative and it makes you feel positive. Thanks for reading. Ben - This is Day 9 of the RB Content Challenge.

Michael Eddy

Dan and Cherie: on the contrary - I've only made 2 forays into novel writing - finished one and had a couple of feelers from publishers about doing it as a softcover original (but none came to fruition) and one attempt at novelizing one of my own screenplays. I got about 100 manuscript pages on paper on the latter and then put it aside for a series of paying gigs and never went back to it. Might have to rummage around in my storage boxes and see if I can dig it up. Take a look and see whether it's something I might want to revisit after a very long gestation period. Truth is - the screenplay upon which it was based - I've revised about a half a dozen times in the interim and it's probably one of my better works, so I'm much more excited about testing the viability of that one as a feature and trying to put something together. As for novels themselves vs. screenplays - I found the novel form to be far more freeing. Screenplays are restrictive in the sense that you're trying to be as concise as possible. Molding your action and dialogue to that 110 page limit and the structural confines of the screenplay form. With a book - you have no limitations other than your imagination. You can take 10 pages to introduce a character and their backstory rather than banging out, "A young man, scarred by life, who looks older than he is. Cut him in half and you'd be shocked at the number of rings on his psyche". Characters can say a single line of dialogue and then you can spend the next 5 pages telling the reader what he or she means and what they DIDN'T say. You can overdescribe settings and actions to your heart's content. I've also toyed with the idea of doing a play for a long time. The difficulty for me in that regard is in coming up with an idea that I think will fit well on a stage in 3 acts (or two - or one without an intermission - very popular these days) and not thinking in cinematic terms. The stage - at least at the outset - seems a bit confining to me. With movies - anything your imagination can conjure - the FX wizards of Hollywood can make happen. Although - I see 35-40 plays and musicals a year on Broadway - and I'm dazzled by what they can do in that arena.

Dan Guardino

Michael. Your are lucky you can do both. I would rather be writing novels but I know I am not good at it.

Linda Bradshaw Rogers

I've started with two but eventually one dominates my mine/time until completion.

Michael Eddy

Dan - not sure I'm good at it either. I've yet to make any money at novels - and in truth - the 2nd go round - began as an attempt to possibly back door a novel into a movie sale - in which case - the screenplay was already written. But that would presuppose the novel selling in the first place (never finished) and the galleys getting some interest from Hollywood. And so - both a published novel and a play remain embedded on my bucket list.

Fiona Faith Ross

Terrific response from all of you. Thanks!

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