Monday, November 24, 2008

When a script just doesn't work...

As you know if you've read my blog, I like to get right into a script, barreling through if I like an idea until it's done, a nice, neat garbage draft.

However, every once and a while, during a re-write, I find that the idea doesn't work, like at all. I'll give you the logline of a spec I'm working on:

"After her father commits suicide, a young girl decides to kill herself, and sets off along a journey to do all of the things she wants to do before she dies".

Now, here's the issue. I love the main character, I love to B story, and I love to scenes. However, I can't wrap my brain about how anyone would find the story palatable, or identify with the main character. And, after so many weeks of thinking about it, I've decided it's time to kill my entire baby. While it kills me in a way, it has to be done. And, I just wanted to send it out into the ether that if you've had to do the same, I feel your pain. So, how did I come up with that conclusion? I want take a moment to discuss some things that may or may not be necessary to think about when killing an idea/script.

1-Does the STRUCTURE make sense?

Many times, character, even dialog, are great in a script, but the actual structure that drives the story doesn't work at ALL. For instance, you have a suicidal girl who is cracking jokes as she attempts different ways to kill himself, but she is not truly searching for anything. Or your B story is about a guy who's parents are dug up and sent home with him, but he doesn't actively seek out anything, your structure is wack and needs to be re-examined.

ANSWER: No. not at all, it is impossible to identify with the main protagonist, and equally impossible to identify with any of the other characters.

2- is it worth taking the script and doing a page 1 rewrite?

When you think of your story, and you decide you need to restructure the story from the beginning, is it worth it? Mainly, is your script marketable in the first place? Have you sunk enough time in to make it necessary to start again from the beginning? Do you have another idea that is better or equally good that you could adapt your current script?

ANSWER: No. the script must be gutted to the point that it is unrecognizable, and a new skeleton must be added to make the story work.

3- How badly do you want to write this movie?

Luckily for myself, I write a lot of scripts, and this was my "labor of love". So, while I loved the script, I don't NEED to make it. It was my kooky script, just for fun. If this is your masterwork, I would suggest you work on it more.

ANSWER: While I like it, I don't love it, and I don't need to have more of it.

So, my short answer is, as my business partner mentioned, to shelve it, and see if maybe in the next few years I can make something of it. Now, I need a new project to work on, any ideas?

1 comment:

dianejwright said...

It's SO good to read this post, Russell. The ability to recognize that a particular idea is not worth pursuing at a particular time is a beautiful and difficult skill to develop. I think it comes from the repeated frustration of wandering down eventual dead-ends, no? It seems that so many writers hold each and every word to be so supremely precious and fleeting that they render themselves unable to hit that delete key (I'm guilty at times, as well). Isn't the truth of the thing that we are filled with words that will never abandon us? If only more of us could trust that.

As an aside, I'd venture to say that if you furthered your concept to include the whys of your heroine's desire to follow her father into death, then you'd have discover a concrete goal for her to pursue. The journey might then be about reaching what she thought she wanted but discovering along the way that she actually wants something entirely different (which may include finding something to live for.) Just a thought.

I say, if a character is in your soul as you say this girl is, she will be back.