You can read more about "Sleb" here.
Draft 1.1 of "Sleb" - my one-off television comedy drama about the world of celebrity - is complete. I was aiming for 60 pages, and landed right where I wanted to. All said and done, I think it's gone pretty well...
Click "READ MORE" below for, well, more...
My previous script "Cold Shadows" (currently at Draft 1.2, but I'll be doing a second draft pass of it soon) was a 45 pager, so naturally this one took a touch longer, but then again "Sleb" has some juicy dialogue exchanges - you can write five pages of sparky dialogue in the same amount of time it takes to do a single page of solid action, particularly if, in the case of page one (currently) of this script, is essentially a history of the main protagonist (Roxie Black) in a single page.
Now, why did I say 'currently' when talking about page one? Well, last night I had a cracking idea for a new first scene, one that really captures the sardonic and darkly comic tone I'm aiming for with this script. It's interesting how an idea will suddenly hit you - for me it's often an image - and then very quickly that image will birth a second image, then a third, then a fourth, and so on. Pockets of dialogue also spring forth, and within a few minutes you've got a pretty tasty scene laid out before you ... and then come the little tidbit ideas that enhance various scenes throughout, and help focus the aim of your script.
However, when I first seriously got into this screenwriting malarkey I couldn't do that. I still had initial sparks of ideas in the forms of images that were iconic to what the script would become, but initially I didn't have that jigsaw-like sense of "this, then how about this, and then oh yes that will definitely have to happen here..." - but that's what learning and honing your skills is all about.
Short-hand creativity and quick-thinking are learned - you become able to connect the dots not only within scenes, but across disparate scenes (i.e. 'themes'), and that will often give you a neat little idea to sneak in somewhere else to pull the strings ever tighter.
So how did the writing process on Draft 1.1 of "Sleb" go then? Well, the Easter holidays got in the way a little bit to begin with, and Act I was a little tricky to get down on the page - even though the idea was quite vivid - but this happens a lot when embarking on a brand new script, particularly if you're changing tone, and even more particularly if you're starting a new one when you've only just finished your last one.
"Cold Shadows" still needs a thorough second draft (2.1 and 2.2 as I like to class it), so it's technically a work-in-progress, and yet here I am bashing away at another script - I usually get one locked down solid before moving on, but - and this is where the sheer excitement illustrated in my previous post concerning "Sleb" comes into play - the idea for this one-off 60 pager hit so hard and fast and vividly that I simply had to act on it straight away.
In spite of a slightly tricky start with Act I, Act II got underway with a bang - a flurry of ideas spewed forth as I was trying to go to sleep one night, that gave definition to the extensive notes I already had, but which didn't quite provide a steady bearing at that point. The first scene of Act II is where things really got underway, and I found myself routinely writing more pages in each session than my usual target.
There are some changes you make on-the-fly as well - for instance, the first scene of Act III became the last scene of Act II in a mid-session realisation. How the scene was originally intended shifted slightly when it was realised on the page, and I knew then that it simply had to move to become the close of Act II.
Lest I ramble on too long though, I'll say this one last thing - even though I like to refer to little reminders regarding format (and general story-telling tips) as I continue to write, I've found with "Eyes In Your Window", "Cold Shadows" and now "Sleb" that I'm increasingly writing from my gut. The progression of the story unfolds via an instinctual part of my imagination - the scenes, and their placement, generally unfold from a place of innate sense - a natural order for the story and the plot appears. This brings me back to what I was saying about honing your skills - the more you shave the wood, or polish the surface, or whatever random metaphor takes your fancy, the more abilities you 'unlock' - and an instinctual approach to storytelling is one of them.