Writing is hard. Just ask anyone who has tried to write something that is somewhat coherent and actually has a story that makes sense. There are so many rules, regulations that you have to follow as well as being creative at the same time. For me, I have always found it hard to get too far past the first act and into the “fun and games,” (as Blake Snyder calls it) portion of any script. Today, however, was the exception.
I actually sat down to write a ten page short that I could fund and shoot myself (by fun I meant it actually doesn’t cost anything other than time), I knew what I wanted, I knew what I needed to get there. Yet, I still held fast to the baked in rules of screenwriting. I didn’t mean to, but I did it anyway. Like I say in my podcast all the time, I plotted it out, found the turns and went in for the kill, but ten pages just isn’t enough time.
I got to the point I wanted to make, I set up the relationship of the main character with her boyfriend, I introduced the characters for the “B” story and gave the boyfriend more time to tell his story so his role could grow. Then came the mentor. The mentor is the Obi-Wan Kenobi character that teaches our main protagonist how to navigate the world and the tools they will need to defeat the Dark Night of the Soul. Then I thought, wait… How many pages is this? I looked, and I was on page 14. CRAP!
See; usually, a screenplay needs to have the first ten pages for setup and the turn into the second act, give or take. The reason for the ten pages is mostly due to the script readers at the studios only giving you ten pages to hook them. The mentor comes in just before that, and you should have a visit from every character so we can see just where they are starting out in the world, set the rules of the world and a couple of other things, things the audience needs to know.
After looking up and seeing my page count, I realized that I had accidentally hit every beat of a FIRST ACT. I completely missed my target of getting to all the beats needed to make a sound, readable story in ten pages. Heck, the mentor for the story was even introduced on page eight, and the turn into act two was expressed. DANG IT! I didn’t mean to do that.
Accepting my fate, I went ahead and thought about the next things that needed to be done. Fun and Games, Dark Night of the Soul, and the Finale. The damn thing is, I hit them all and more. The “B” stories come to fruition right at the page they should, they team up and war against the Antagonist at just the right time and find that one of the “B” story characters is the key to defeating the bad guy. I didn’t set out to make this a movie but damn it...
Why am I mad about this, you may ask. Well, I need a short film to shoot not ANOTHER screenplay to finish. I have about fifty already. But this one is way ahead of the game. The only downfall of this screenplay is that it is more of a Rom-Com than anything else. I’ve never attempted one of these before, and I am not sure it is a good enough story to actually spend all the time it takes to write.
I guess I’ll keep pluggin along. Maybe it will turn into something interesting a draft or two into it.