An Idea

Fantasy--Not My Strong Suit

So, I am working on a new screenplay, I just haven’t written anything yet. I mean, I jot down notes just about every day in a Word document, sometimes in a journal, but I haven’t written a line of an actual story. I’m sort of afraid to start. My last screenplay, Rolidet, went nowhere. I got to about page fifty, couldn’t think of a satisfactory second act, and gave up. This was only after I had workshopped it with my writers group and they had read several drafts of the first ten pages. I am going back to my old habit of never talking about anything to do with the screenplay until I have a draft in hand. It’s a superstition, sure, but it works.

Rolidet was a fantasy screenplay, which meant pretty much anything goes in the story: griffins with wigs, talking chimps, magical fruit, but somehow, I couldn’t focus it down to something manageable. I was kind of overwhelmed by the plethora of options and gave up.

For this new screenplay, I have an ending and I even have a beginning. There’s a strong concept and even a protagonist. It’s the middle I’m afraid of—the actual plot that keeps me up at night wondering what to write. I wonder if my high concept is just too high concept. I worry that I’ll let it down somehow, that my story won’t live up to my expectations of the story. I worry that I don’t know what the story’s tone is. I worry that I won’t be able to complete it. I worry that people won’t like it. I worry that I’ll send it out to contests and no one will read it. And this worrying takes up too much of my writing time, which worries me in turn.

I guess I just need to find the motivation to write, to stretch my imagination and hope for the best. I tend to lose interest in stories after a couple of weeks anyway, so if I don’t start writing now, I probably won’t write anything.

So how do you get over the hump of not-writing and begin writing? I need help!

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9 responses to “An Idea

  1. Oh no, the typical signs of writer’s block. Worrying about the “what if” is the worst thing about the writing process. I’m wondering why we do it? An artist’s mind?

    The latest script I wrote was a romantic comedy. Actually, it is totally not a genre that I can relate to, but it turned out pretty well, even though one crucial scene is still missing — the studies started again and so I didn’t have the time to finish it. I don’t think that it’s bad, it’s probably a good way to put it aside and subconciously think about it. So don’t be worried about not having finished your script.

    Also, I started to write a fantasy script. It’s also not one of my favorite genres, but who cares about genre if the story is so compelling to yourself? I wrote half of the first act, which in my opinion is always the easier part of it. Anyway, I didn’t come very far. It’s resting… and so do like 20 other stories and finished scripts.

    Do you remember my script Nebraska Sun? I finished it within no time. Re-wrote it four to five times and now it’s been resting for two years or so. A week ago, I had the (to me) perfect idea to make the whole thing more interesting and probably work for the better.

    I think the fear in us is our existential fear. Sometimes, I feel like if I don’t write and don’t sell now, I’ll never make it as a screenwriter and die as a poor homeless in the alley — as terrible as it may sound. But that causes writer’s block.

    You should be happy to be one of the people who take writing seriously and are able to express themselves through it. Writer’s block means that you ARE a writer. Turn a bad situation into a positive meaning!

    If you like to read about writer’s block, I recommend Larry Gelbart’s Writing From The Inside Out or Jenna Glatzer’s Outwitting Writer’s Block.

    • One more tip: I have noticed that scripts that were easy to write included characters that I could fully fall in love with — not true love, but, well, you know what I mean 😉 Check your characters! Are you able to “follow” them without even noticing it? It’s like a mind game. But out of a sudden I wrote scenes that I never even thought about in the first place and wondered where they came from. That’s the beauty of writing. 🙂

      Get to know your character first, his/her habits, family and relationsships — then decide to start and see what happens!

      • Hey, thanks for all of the advice. Very helpful. Nice to hear that you can always come back to your screenplays, even after a couple of years. Maybe if I’m really desperate I’ll try that. There are four in the hole already I can work with.

  2. “I was kind of overwhelmed by the plethora of options and gave up.”

    Yup, I feel that way when I *don’t* plan, actually, and especially with certain genres (like fantasy).

    Btw, this is a NaNoWriMo post, but I think the advice is very solid for any kind of writing: http://writerunboxed.com/2010/11/01/putting-the-nano-in-nanowrimo/

  3. Fantasy requires a commitment to the world you are crafting. The best way to do that is to start with the characters. What can they do? Say, for example, he/she can fly. Then build step by step. Is it magic or does he/she have wings? Do everyone in the village have this ability? If yes, is it controlled/regulated? If not, are you born with that power or is it given/discovered? Next: how does the world perceived said village? Reverence? Fear? Would another village be connected to it or at war with it? Why? Then ask yourself: how does the character view that entire set up, and does he/she commit to it, or wish things were different?

    I’ve been engaged in fantasy stories (movies/TV) for a while, even the occasional RP, and sort of get how it works. I’m a nerd.

  4. So interesting to read about this in your blog…you never told me in conversation!

    Don’t become like me, the complete worry-wart writer! It’s not fun! Remember the advice YOU gave ME…just write without editing, just go for it…

    Did you draft a fantasy land map for Rolidet? How did you come up with the name Rolidet?

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