Jeff Time: Day 15


Sorry about that glare. I don't know how to fix that yet.

Sorry about that glare. I don't know how to fix that yet.


Okay, I’m figuring this out.  One of the most valuable things for a writer to have is focus.  I’ve been working on a story idea for over a year now and it has been a frustrating thing.  It’s like I have a blob of ideas that I like but it hasn’t been fitting together very well.  I’ll get an epiphany and then I’ll forget.  I’ll write ten pages one day and then put it in some folder and forget where I put the folder.  This is normal for me.

Last night, just to spice things up, I wrote in a storage room in my dad’s garage so I could get out of my bedroom/writing room for at least a few hours. As I was piddling around and looking at old boxes and file cabinets I saw a corkboard.

Now, this was a very exciting moment for me.  And I don’t know what that says about me as a person, but I was stoked.  

I grabbed the thing and dusted it off and took it back in my bedroom/writing room like I’d just found gold.

You see, I am a visual person and I can’t seem to get my stories to make sense in my head.  I’ll try to write them down but I’ll forget parts of the story.

Anyway, I started mapping out not only one of my story ideas but also my goals as a person.  I realized that I have lost track of myself in the middle of all this nutty writing.

You know how when people write things they start out with an outline?  You know how that happens?   Well, I just learned about this maybe 2 weeks ago.  I thought every time somebody wrote a book or something that they just made it up as they went, like Indiana Jones.  It turns out that people actually build writings on top of carefully designed structures!  Can you believe that?!

I’m saying all of this to say that finding that corkboard was a huge moment for me.  Now I can write little notes to myself and pin them next to other thoughts and… well, perhaps conquer the world, I guess.  You know how when you look at a comic book and it’s a bunch of boxes laid out but you can follow them and how it makes a story, even though the pictures don’t move or anything?  That’s sequential art.  It’s like storyboarding.  It’s a way of visualizing situations where one thing happens and then another thing and then another thing.  Know what I’m talking about?

Well, now I can do the same thing with my corkboard!!!!!  


Anyway, I am learning that trying to write a long thing is very hard.  It takes time and work.  And every day I have had to relearn how to do it.  I might have a good day and then 4 iffy days.  I’ve read a lot about how every writer is different and has to figure out their own way of doing it.  

See, I’ve been working on this idea.  I think it might be a movie.  I’ve been trying to figure it out.  I’ve already talked about it in this blog.  I am trying to learn how to write a movie but it is harder than it looks.  This has been a very humbling time for me.  I’ve felt mostly dumb for the last year. 

You see, it turns out that movie scripts are written in a specific format (again, I have already talked about this).  I’ve been studying up on this format and my conclusion is that I don’t like it.  It’s like having a story you want to tell and then having to translate it into another language so it will be “official”.  And I’ve tried it but it’s slowing me down and destroying all the fun of writing the story.  It’s been like trying to build a fence instead of a movie.

So I have decided to abandon the official screenplay format and do things my own way…

You see, the reasoning behind trying to write in a certain format is because most screenwriters are trying to sell their scripts to movie studios.  So they have these rules that are so ridiculous.  I think it’s just to weed most of the people out.  The thing is that all you really need is a story.  You can be great with format and not even have a story.  


This one's got a glare too.

It's book burning time.


Screenplays give you this information about each scene (and I’m probably oversimplifying this):

1) Whether it’s inside or outside

2) Where it is

3) Time of day

4) Camera direction

5) Basic scene descriptions/direction

6) Dialogue

See, if I can make sure to include these things, then I think I can write scenes.  And if I can write about 60 scenes (which I think is the average number for modern movies) I can write a whole movie.

I’ve been reading the screenplay for Inglourious Basterds by Quentin Tarantino.  Guess what?  It’s NOT in official screenplay format!  Guess why?  Well, this is Quentin Tarantino and he can do whatever he wants… but there is something specific about what kind of director Quentin Tarantino is.  He is not just a director but a writer/director.  He writes movies for he himself to make.  Therefore, all he has to do is make it so it make sense to him (and whoever he’s working with).  P.T. Anderson is another writer/director.  There’s a lot of them actually.  

Anyway, I decided that I am going to approach writing my movie as if I myself am going to direct it.  I know how I write.  I know my language.  I don’t have to re-explain anything to myself.  I get my sense of humor.  I don’t have to sell myself to myself.  I’m already down with my style.

I know this probably doesn’t sound like a big deal but it is pretty big for me.  It frees me up a lot and gives me more room to breathe.  And I think it will still make sense and be readable to others.  I hope it is.  

Wow, I’m just on the top of the world here…

…now all I’ve gotta do is write the thing.

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