Confession time… My picture is to let you know how I feel about not being able to blog over this last little while. But it also is about writing cover letters, artistic statements, bios, and everything else needed to apply to some screenwriting/filmmaking fellowships/labs/contests, etc. It’s for the simple reason that I drive myself crazy trying to write them.
Saying good words about my projects is the fun part of I get to dream about their possibilities while I write about them. These different documents help me to start to not just dream in that they help me to start to formulate a game plan. And the reality of seeing my script be so much more than words on a page starts to take shape. It’s really so cool for I see the nuts and bolts of getting my stories ready for production. This is still a long way off except it would never happen if I can’t even imagine it happening in the first place.
But there is also a downside to writing all of these different documents: Driving myself crazy over my word choices. I know there are a million ways to say something and many of those variations make it in my drafts if I have time. It’s the old: Let me check it just one more time just in case… This enviably leads to many drafts later. Oops! Did I just write drafts? I meant hours and sometimes even days or weeks. There are three things that cause me the most against in writing these documents.
My first challenge is tied to my second one. It’s the stylistic rule that the same word shouldn’t start multiple sentences in a row. I believe it’s because you feel like you’re reading the same sentence again. Plus, it shows a real lack of imagination if you stick with just one word for starting your sentences. People will also wonder if your script is worth their time if you are this sloppy in your supporting documents.
I know this sounds harsh except I’ve learned something incredibly important in being a reader and contest judge. It’s that you can usually tell within a script’s first paragraph if a person can write or not. The supporting documents mean you don’t even have to get to that first paragraph in order to make that decision. So… I whip myself into a frenzy to ensure no two sentences in a row start with the same word. The same could be said about the first word in a paragraph on a page. I also try to apply that to all other pages of a document unless it’s really long.
As a result of this, I end up with some clunky starts to sentences thereby making this reason number two. One turn of phrase that I come to use a lot is “It’s that…”. I personally think that it’s dumb since it adds no value beyond a different starting word for a sentence. This particular filler also is two words instead of one. Screenwriters know that this is a total “no no” for less is always more in that kind of writing. Hell! It’s that way for all writing for more words can easily lead to confusion.
This could cause a reader to read slower and/or reread something more than once. They’ll cease being your reader if this happens too many times or even a few times depending on the reader. You really want your reader to feel like they’re having a treat when s/he escapes into this incredible world you’ve created. I know that my advice sounds a bit “ticky tacky” for it’s about what seems like small details. The only thing to keep in mind is that writing is made up of them.
And it’s in mastering these smaller steps that one is able to move on to bigger things like commas. This is my third writing challenge that I believe that I’ve mentioned before. However, it bears repeating since commas are a challenge for everyone. I wish that there was some magic formula for how to use them. Everyone seems to have their own opinion on proper comma usage. This makes me honestly want to shoot myself. My solution is to try to write shorter sentences without commas. I also find that longer sentences containing commas often talk about more than one thing.
Talking about more than one thing in a sentence can come across as an “exposition dump.” That particular phrase explains when a bunch of information is given about a character or location or whatever other information that the writer feels their audience needs to know. A challenge with this is that your audience doesn’t remember information s/he needs to know if a bunch is conveyed at once. Your audience also doesn’t know what is important. Yes. There is an assumption that everything is important or it wouldn’t be in the story except each item needs to stand out to reinforce that it’s “need to know” information.
Okay. I’ve said my piece for it’s been bubbling up over these last days for I’ve been working on supporting documents. I hope in sharing these thoughts it can help others with their own writing.
Here’s also the deal… I actually love this process even while it drives me crazy. There is no doubt in my mind that I would have moved on from writing long ago if it didn’t challenge me every time I do it. Life is too short to be bored.
Feel free to share your own experiences.
Have a good day!