I have to say I’m in a much better “writing” place today than I have been over the last week. Writing out each chapter in plain sentences is really helping. I finished the whole opening (basically up through chapter 7) and I also explained some key concepts, which took an extra page. Doing this has allowed me to connect some plot points from chapter to chapter that had otherwise not connected. It’s allowed me to see-in more detail than on the notecards-what exactly is happening and why. Also, from a sci-fi standpoint I was able to clearly delineate my concepts and that is pretty key since having a firm handle on the science I’m using will be critical in selling the story, even if it’s futuristic and somewhat made up, actually, especially if it’s futuristic and somewhat made up.
I’m getting at least one more opinion on the story as it stands now in its barest form from a friend who said to me the other night, “I understand. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint.” This was in response to my comment that I was doing well, San Diego had been a blast, but that my anxiety over this story was bringing me down. It’s a downer when you’re stuck in your story, as it can also be the best feeling when you’re moving right along. I realized that I’m going to go through these phases, up and down, all the time and it’s good to accept that and to hope that the few who follow my blog don’t mind reading about it. (This, of course, was after I contemplated giving up, maybe not seriously, but just enough to stress myself out more)
To understand this past week’s lower points I tried to decide why all of this was happening now. In the beginning, I thought I knew what my tone was. I thought I knew what my story was for the most part and I had already written a sizable amount of pages. As I neared the end of the first act, however, I realized how stuck I had become. My tone wasn’t right, was it? My story wasn’t complete. How much was missing? How had I let this happen? *after reflection* I see that I may be giving myself too hard of a time. This is a process. It’s the kind of project that takes patience and effort. I am still a young writer and I am still learning how to write most effectively and how to get the best writing out of myself, but for all I know, I may go through a process like this one every time I sit down to a writing project.
Side note, I had to look up manuscript format the other day and as a result I’m including some information on formatting and general grammar. I blogged a little about creative writing rules before, but this is different. Unless a writer is specifically and knowingly breaking grammatical rules, the rules should be learned and followed. Bad grammar will just bring a story down. In past writing classes of mine I definitely found it distracting when I ended up editing a classmate’s story mostly for grammar instead of focusing on his or her story. I have a link here that explains manuscript format pretty clearly, in case that’s helpful to anyone. There are a few specifics about manuscript formating, such as what the header should say and how the beginning of a manuscript should look, that could be easily overlooked. Also, and perhaps a bit random, I like switching my font to courier even though it’s not mandatory. I am preoccupied with typewriters and I think the link lies somewhere in that fact. You should give it a try if you don’t use that font already, maybe you’ll enjoy it as well.
Some basic rules of writing: http://www.junketstudies.com/rulesofw/
Now with screenwriting, that’s a whole different animal. I know this is a book writing blog, but screenwriting is important to me as well so I’ll include it here. Basically if you want to learn screenplay format the best thing to do is start reading scripts. After that, a writing program like Final Draft (more standard) or Movie Magic Screenwriter will be a huge help. Also, when writing a script, passive voice is really, really unnecessary and should be avoided. That’s my pet peeve, passive voice. There’s an example of it in the second link.
This page seems to have concrete examples of screenplay format: http://www.storysense.com/format.htm
Also, if you’re interested in screenwriting check out STORY by Robert McKee. It’s a pretty definitive book on the subject.