Up until about page 50, I’ve been basically copying each scene from my vomit draft and pasting it into my new draft. Then changing things within that scene. Lots of dialogue change, possible addition or deletions of characters, but still the same general scene. Now I’m at the point where my story really needs to be completely different. Yes, my characters are still going to New York City, but where they go and what they do there and what needs to be revealed is completely different this time around. I know they’re going Christmas shopping, but where? Which of the six characters involved should be in scenes with each other? How do I get my protagonist to go from being intent on achieving something on this trip, to giving in and not doing it at all? What needs to happen? How do I accomplish this?
These are big questions to answer. Prior to this, I’ve been more or less strengthening my characters. It’s an ensemble cast, and in the first draft, I only focused on a few of them. Now I’m trying to pay more attention to the others. That’s not too hard. But changing my storyline has me at a stand still. I know what I need to do but I don’t know how to do it. Hell, maybe I don’t know what I need to do.
With the first draft, I was able to plough through to the end, just to finish it. It was important to finish the script, especially since it’s my very first script. But now, on the second draft, I have to be more careful. I don’t want to just plough through it to finish it, but I’m starting to feel that way. All I want to do is finish it so that I can start rewriting it again. But it has to make sense. There’s no point in rushing to the end if I’m going to have to face the same issues the third time around.
I wish the end of the this post was to say I’ve figured it out. But I haven’t. Not being able to figure out what to do at page 51 has me questioning my whole screenplay. Instead of looking at the next piece, I keep looking at this thing as a whole.
Besides my screenplay, I’m writing for two blogs and working on another screenplay with a fellow writer from my acting group (Action!). When it comes time to write (which is hopefully most days) it’s very easy to push my screenplay to the side and work on other projects (for instance, this blog post).
I don’t want to get sidetracked with other projects and not put all my effort into my screenplay, but I also don’t want to work on something that doesn’t make me happy. The two blogs I write for are always fun to write, and the other screenplay I’m working on is still in its beginning stages, so that is of course very exciting.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my screenplay, or what I know it will eventually be, and I’m not giving up. I would never give up on something I believe in. But I refuse to not enjoy it. So, until I come up with some answers and feel good about moving forward, I’m not going to let myself stress over this. Because I do. It’s on my mind every single day. The thing is, no one is putting pressure on me to finish it except for myself. Realizing that took a little weight off my shoulders.
This was somewhat of a rant, but I do have a point. Write what makes you happy. Simple.
Lindsay Stetson is a former collegiate field hockey player and sports journalist who is currently writing, producing and acting in the web anthology Conversations In Cars while working on feature spec scripts and her acting career. She’s on Twitter (but only technically) @LStet