Running Notes

Hello there, it's me.  I'm taking a short break from writing fiction like some possessed jackanapes, to take a quick tea-break and tell you about a technique I've quite recently started using during script drafts.  You might well do it yourself and I certainly didn't invent it, but just in case you don't already do it, you might want to consider it.  Got that?  *Exhales*

Wait a second, while I have a sip of tea.  I'm gasping.

Right.  I'm currently writing two scripts at once.  Both first drafts.  With deadlines being what they are right now - somewhat pressing - the priority has to be to keep going.  I'm always like that with first drafts - keep going, don't look back, don't let the Devil gnaw your heels, for he almost certainly is riddled with syphilis - but in this case I need to be even more steamrolleresque.

Among the many enemies of first draft momentum - any draft momentum, in fact - are niggling thoughts.  You're working on Page 7, while your hind-brain slags you off for making a terrible job of Page 6.  "Why did she say that?  And because she's said that, this now doesn't make sense".  And the like.  Your hind-brain may well be right, but unless these niggles will seriously affect the structure of what's to come, you can wait 'til the second draft to fix them.

Except your hind-brain doesn't want to wait.  Oh no.  It starts throwing your mental furniture around, protesting that it won't be able to settle until these Page 6 niggles are straightened out.  And while it's up, what the hell were you thinking on Page 3?  You didn't even mention that Jemima and Hieronymous were siblings!  These things must be fixed NOW, godammit, or they might even be forgotten, down the line.

This is where running notes come in.  A simple notepad, by your side, in which you write the likes of 'Page 3: State J & H are sibs'.  There.  The hind-brain is silenced, its moans purged, but you haven't had to go back in the script and break your Page 7 concentration for more than a few seconds. You know that, when you come to that second draft, you can make these relatively small yet important changes.  But for now, all that matters is finishing the first draft and meeting that deadline.

Whaddaya mean, you're writing a spec and so don't have a deadline?  You should have given yourself one.

Oh, for Christ's sake.  Tea's gone cold.  Honestly, you could've told me I was going on a bit.

Good day to you.
                                                                            * * *

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Andy Conway said...

This might sound absurdly simple to someone who doesn't write screenplays and doesn't understand the the importance of outlawing all left brain thinking while engaged in right brain work.

But yes, a great idea and a simple, easy way to quiet the left brain's incessant desire for logical revision while you get on with the creative stuff.

And it might get me back to writing with a pen. On paper.

Jason Arnopp said...

Ah yes, thank you Lord Conway - THAT'S the distinction between the left brain and right. I was too busy trying to drink tea to Google it and remind myself.

Still, it's nice to use "hind-brain" in case any Ood are reading.

Unknown said...

The Ood already know.
I have an excel sheet that I put the revision notes into. Paper gets lost in the mess.
And Lord Conway - where was today's SP Screenwriter's bulletin?

James Davis said...

Only 3 years late but better late than never... My Dell computer has a function called "Sticky Notes" - In a nutshell this is Post It Note facility which you open and it allows you to enter quick notes on the side of the screen so whilst you're typing in First Draft you can see them. Invaluable for me as my brain is always throwing things at me which I tend to forget if I don't make a note of them straight away. Also, even if your pc crashes they still pop up when you reboot.