Screenwriting : When do you decide to give up on a project?....or not by Owen Mowatt

Owen Mowatt

When do you decide to give up on a project?....or not

Ive got to be honest, I never really saw this as a hurdle to becoming a scriptwriter, but slowly coming to the realization that sometimes, you just have to let things go to move on. Do you think its just a question of resolving problems before your great story reveals itself? Are there unsolvable issues that will condemn it to failure, or do you know what the problem is but just cant fix it? Very interested to hear opinions.

Stacy Gentile

I refuse to quit anything ... that's why I wont go to AA. In all seriousness. Maybe ask yourself 2 questions. "Why" did you begin this journey and "What" do you want to get out of it. I guess there is a second part to the second question "How bad do you want what you want?". The answer to your question is in there ... inside you.

Owen Mowatt

Do you mean that you use to give up often, but now you`ve resolved the problem you don't anymore?

Owen Mowatt

So you`re saying that you now never give up on your concept?

D Marcus

Some concepts just don't work. I give it my best but I don't keep going once I realize that fact. I've seen too many movies that have a good concept but even a team of writers couldn't make work. I don't want to be that writer so I "give up" projects that just don't work. Not quite the same as giving up on writing. I often begin a journey that I soon see has no where to go. For me better to stop and find another journey than to continue beating that path. I am a writer with a LOT of journeys to take.

Owen Mowatt

Everything works in theory, Lisa, but have you not encountered any practical problems that ground you to a halt?

Owen Mowatt

You said that you tell your story to people first, that is the theoretical side of it, the practical is actually writing it. My question was about practical problems writers encounter and what they then do.

Debbie Elicksen

Owen, I think it comes down to how passionate you are about the topic. As an author, I've had many projects that I considered starting and didn't finish, but they still remain in the "pending" file. Others I moved heaven and earth to complete, and if I couldn't find someone to publish it, I did it myself. If you really believe in the story, then keep working it to make it sing off the page.

Kerry Douglas Dye

I definitely have a few first (or fifth) drafts that I haven't quite nailed and are waiting at the back of the queue. I wouldn't say I've quit them exactly, but I've lost the conviction that they're one rewrite from genius, and thus I have higher priorities.

Jean-Pierre Chapoteau

I'm with Debbie. I never entirely stop working on a project. It just sits there for years, but I always find my way back to it somehow.

Owen Mowatt

Thanks for the replies. I remember reading that Joe Eszterhas (Basic Instinct) gives up on a project once he is satisfied that he`s taken the story as far as it can go. He didn't elaborate on his methods/routine prior to writing, but I just wanted to know if anyone else had done the same.

Mike Romoth

I think most of us have a ton of ideas...but not all of them are worth seeing through to completion. Some need to be discarded. Others deserve a second look. The most important issue to remember is that you are always learning whenever you are working on anything....even something that you throw away completely. In other words, the process is just as important as the project. I believe that working up the nerve to completely throw away something you've been working on is the mark of a real professional...because it shows that there is a high standard (and nothing below that standard will be tolerated) and there is much more good work where that "bad" work came from.

Owen Mowatt

...and BAM! LOL Great post, Lyse, hope it works out for you.

Owen Mowatt

I gave up on it after trying everything I could to make it work, Lyse. Took out the best scene (thats another tough hurdle imo), looked for a different theme, changed the protag to a female, nothing helped. It all kept leading to a point where I didn't believe what was happening anymore; and thats poison. My strength in writing is plotting, but my weakness is over thinking. It could just be that the story IS there but I`m just not ready as a writer to write it.

Owen Mowatt

Music is where I find my muse, gets me into a rhythm. Nothing happens in my shower. I don't like getting water in my ears. :)

Owen Mowatt

So if you have thousands of moved on from stories/scripts......but getting stuck on them was just an excuse......sorry, what are you saying again??

Michael Wearing

I never give up on any project.... I just put some on the back burner for longer than others...

Shane M Wheeler

I've written a lot of features. Some I know are good, marketable products. Some I know could become good, marketable products. Some I know are good, but not marketable. And some I've set aside as a lost cause (at least for the time being). I think it's good to change gears and find something new when you hit the wall. Maybe you'll come back to it, maybe you won't, but if you write a project into the ground and never manage to fix it, when you could've created something new with less issue? Way more efficient . You can always try to save the lost causes another day.

Cherie Grant

I have struggled with one in particular and have let it go often and come back to it. i's' not impossible to finish. there aren't any plot difficulties more i just cant seem to decide on certain aspects. it's driving me mad and all I can do is keep writing so I have to move on and maybe when i get better at it I can finally finish the bastard. I haven't given up completely. I just need to find the right.... something.

LindaAnn Loschiavo

Owen, Edward Albee said that no stage play is finished -- only abandoned. Abandon your current script -- for now. Stick it in a drawer, work on a fresh project. Move on for the time being. You'll know if (when) you have new ideas for the older ms.

Andrew Pritzker

Often the problems a screenwriter runs into are problems that needed to be worked out in a synopsis and treatment before starting a first draft. If you already have a draft that you're not happy with, select what works and start writing a new solid treatment. Work out the problems and start again. If you're in the middle of a draft and have hit a roadblock. Stop. Outline what works and work out the rest in treatment. If you're buiding a house, you don't sketch out a blueprint as you build it, you blueprint the design before you start.

Phillip "Le Raconteur" Hardy

I read your loglines and your story ideas seem to be sound. So I’m just going to throw out some stream of consciousness thoughts regarding your post. • Sometimes an idea just sucks • Polish your script until it shines like gold • Just spew your ideas out on paper and move on • Maybe you’re being too hard on yourself • If people reading your scripts continually hate them, that could be a good indicator something is wrong • Story ideas are a dime a dozen; good screenplays are not • You may write a script today and love it. But in a year, you’ll say to yourself “Really?” • You may be writing the world’s greatest joke and the world may not be in on it… wink, wink • Are you being too hard on yourself? • I’ve never started a spec screenplay that I haven’t finished. So I probably have no idea what the F#%k I’m talking about

Andrew Pritzker

If you can write that way, John Hunter, great! If you run into a roadblock, consider my advice.

Andrew Pritzker

John, I couldn't have said it any better.

Doug Nelson

I don’t believe that I ever really just give up on a project. When I begin a story, I’m pretty hot & heavy into it – then I bump into a glitch or my Muse goes on vacation; so the unfinished script just gathers dust for awhile – generally because I’m hot on the trail of some bright shiny new storyline. Right now, I have over half a dozen partially finished scripts on my computer. They’re all patiently awaiting my return.

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