MY SCREENWRITING PROCESS
In the middle of writing a screenplay, thought I'd share my process.
- •JournalingWith each screenplay I write, I try to jot all my thoughts into a journal reserved specifically for that story. Nothing fancy or intricate, just something I can think out loud onto and go back and search for good bits later. It helps me get to know my characters and really explore theme. If I'm not in the mood to work on a draft of the screenplay, I'll pull up a prompt or a scene breakdown and just see where it takes me.
- •Scene PlacementThis is like the first step beyond maybe constructing my characters, because this is the template from which the story grows. I start with figuring out the Opening, Plot Points 1 & 2, and the Ending. Then I fill in the spaces around those ideas. What leads up to them and what needs to happen in order to get there. Then I lay the cards out on the floor and arrange them till it becomes a fluid, coherent story from start to finish. Of course this isn't concrete, but it's a great place to start.
- •More JournalingFor when I get ideas on the go, and I just want to jot something down to add in later, or explore in-depth later. I just use my Notes app, which is great for writing. Sometimes I'll just think of a good line or visual or something. It's way more convenient than bringing out a journal, and designating a spot for random notes. This way I can go back through it when I'm stuck and find something to pull out of here and implement into my screenplay.
- •Construction of EventsFor elaborate conflicts with multiple storylines working for and against one another, you have to know when to plant certain information in its respective sequence in order for it to have the impact later on. This requires a lot of mixing and matching, experimenting with different factors and outcomes and eventually it becomes clear to you. Because of this, I can patch up any plot holes that might arise, or clear up any questions where loose ends may have been left untied.
- •Narrative SynopsisScene by scene breakdown of what basically happens in each scene. I end up reading over this so many times it's easier to visualize the next step as you're writing. What's going to happen or what needs to happen. What hints or foreshadowing I can throw in and have it appear later.
- •First DraftI wrote this for my Creative Writing class, it's a good template and I got helpful feedback on it. It's nice to have something physical where I can write down what I want to do with a scene to really flesh it out.
- •Referring to My Second Bible"Screenplay" by Syd Field. I've gone through and marked and highlighted all the important things I need to remember. It's a great book for learning formatting, construction, and even publishing. I've condensed and organized the most important parts in my notebook, but there's lots of good tips to really chiseling out the perfect draft in here that I tend to overlook. Sometimes you just need to step back and remember this is a craft just as much as it is art, and craft needs to be studied.
- •PlaylistSongs that match mood or theme or just feel like something a character would listen to. This isn't necessarily the soundtrack in mind, but it's something set that I can write to without getting distracted or inconsistent. While I love listening to Taylor Swift, hearing her while I'm trying to write a fiery death scene doesn't exactly get my head in the right place.
- •VisualsI keep a Pinterest board with photography or art that matches character mindsets or moods that I want to invoke in my writing. Plus it's just fun to imagine what it's ideally going to look like.
- •Climax ConstructionAll these notes are for one scene. White notes for talking points throughout the climax, this is at the point where my characters are kind of just getting it all out there. Yellow and green are for what's going on inside the respective characters' heads, what urges them to say what they're saying or how they're reacting to what's being said. I wish I could do this for every scene, but I feel like it might not really need this level of intricacy in every scene.
- •Reference MaterialI'm always going back to Silence of the Lambs, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, Gone Girl, and Black Swan for reference. Sometimes it's tone, sometimes it's dialogue, sometimes it's character, sometimes I just really wanna watch these movies again.
- •Actually WritingThe WORST part of this whole process. I hate it. I love rewriting, but there's too much pressure getting each new version done even when there's no one to read it. I put sticky notes around my frame sometimes to remind myself of the essence of what I'm writing, or reminders of character mindsets, stuff like that. I work better when I'm not at home. Sometimes I go to the lab at my school & churn out a bunch of pages. Too many distractions at home. I'm avoiding writing right now making this list.