Thursday, January 15, 2009

I, Organized

A question that always gets raised when starting any sort of writing project, from War and Peace to a grocery list is that of organization and planning.

Famously the vision of the struggling writer is a person furiously scribbling away in a notebook. Random thoughts, plot points, characters, and just stuff to fill out this one horse idea that nestled its way into our brain. Once there it devours. Devours all other attempts at thought outside this one idea.

Problem is, at least for me, my thoughts aren't chronological. They are completely all over the map. If you were to see my notebook you would see that I write on only one side of the ledger in neat orderly lines. The other side of the book (the back of the previous page) is full of arrows and corrections and scribbles, all assaulting my original orderly braindroppings.

I recently found a notebook that I had the very first idea for The Last Happiness, it is without a doubt the most dense and dumbfounding document in the world. I have no idea what the hell it says or what it says about my mental condition. Fortunately I lost the damn thing and started over in another book.

I have a job in which I don't do anything but play around on the internet. That's it. About a year ago I started reading screenplays online because it was a good way to past the time. After reading about 20 or so I realized that, "Hey this doesn't look that hard. I should try this." So after a few trials and errors and finding a program called Celtx, I learned the format and wrote The Last Happiness (then called The Sheeted Dead) as a screenplay.

It was enormously flawed, rediculous, and stunted but it was done, complete. I had taken characters to point A to point B in 119 pages. A screenplay exists in dialogue and fast screen depictions but the story was done.

So what was I going to do with this thing? I obviously wasn't going to try and sell a first draft, but did I want to spend a year rewriting this thing over and over as a screenplay?

Then it hits me. This screenplay reads like a very detailed outline. While it has conflict moments, plot building, dialogue it has no character introspective, description of scene. In short it is a screen play, not a novel.

But for once I had the ducks in order, I knew where Billy and Seth were going. So adding 3-4 pages for every screenplay page would leave me with 357-476 pages of manuscript or using 225 words a page average 80,325-107,100.

Currently I'm stuck around 34,000 words. But not stuck because of plot. Stuck because after writing in 2 notebooks, a screenplay, and the first 15 chapters or so, I'm bored with it. I need distance from Billy and Seth because they are taking too much of my attention.

So I'm moving to a new project, set my brain on someone else and return to Billy and Seth later.

How about you guys? How much prep do you do before you type the words "Chapter 1"


Sling Words aka Joan Reeves said...

Hello, BA Boucher. Thanks for signing on as a follower. As to prep time before writing, you might find the series HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO WRITE A BOOK that I did several months ago of interest. (I think the search box on the blog will pull it up - started around Sept. 8 and has 4-6 parts. Can't remember, a lot of words have flowed under the bridge since then.)

Good luck with your screenplay-into-book. Teaser makes it sound very noir-ish.

Best wishes! JR

BA Boucher said...

I will indeed check that out.