I finally finished the treatment for Little Miss Litty, and I think it's good :)
I write these things in stages. I know that for me, the biggest hurdle I hit when I'm writing is that if I know how the story ends, I stop actually writing it down. I tell it to people instead. Nowhere near as useful, or as satisfying as a well crafted story - but unfortunately at that point, my personal need to understand and tell the story has been met.
This time I tried something else; Little Miss Litty is a short story I first worked on about 12 or so years ago. I never completed it, but I came across it recently and it seemed like a great kernel for a longer story.
So I took what I had, and expanded on it, this time in screenplay form.
Once I ran out of that source material, I started "rolling" on the story. I normally hate planning stories too far in advance because once things get going, the characters like to do their own thing. I can push them in one direction or another, but the rest of it is really truly and honestly up to them.
Sounds kind of weird, I know, but the characters do know what's going on better than I do at any point.
So my new process involves writing a chunk of treatment in OneNote - enough to get me going for the next 20 to 40 pages, and then a very brief outline following that of the next 30 or so pages after that, in italic so that I know it's not yet fleshed out.
(I do the same thing for any bits I get stuck on - just put them in rough, in italic, so I know I need to do some research or expand on them later - this stops me from getting stuck, or letting myself succumb to writer's block).
Next, I write this up in Final Draft in screenplay format, striking out bits of the treatment as I go through it.
This method seems to work well. It means I have a guide-rope (so to speak) that I can follow through the story, but without blowing it all for me as I'm discovering it. It's just enough to keep me going without having to make it up on the fly in long-form.
Some writers keep note cards to plan out scenes, and rearrange them once they have a script going. I don't do that - I don't need to. Programming (for better or for worse) has taught me all the tools I need to do that in my head. Once I have the script written, I've got a visual map of elements and blocks that I can rearrange to make sure the structure's right. To be honest, I don't need to do it that often - like with my day-job, I seem to have gotten that down to an intuitive process, so most of the time it comes out right first time.
I also use OneNote to throw elements of story ideas I come up with in there. That way I can mine it later for bits and pieces that I want to use later. The other advantage to this is that once it's written down, I can drop it out of my brain until I want to pick it up again later, rather than spinning on this latest greatest idea for too long and letting it get in the way of the real writing work.
That doesn't, of course, stop me from wasting time on the blog though ;-)
Current screen-play page count: 69. Dude. About 30 more to go, give or take.
More medical writing to come soon, btw. It's such a heavy topic, and things have been rough at work with the crunch, so I needed to switch to something a little easier for the time being... More soon on that topic, I promise.
Simon Cooke is an occasional video game developer, ex-freelance journalist, screenwriter, film-maker, musician, and software engineer in Seattle, WA.
The views posted on this blog are his and his alone, and have no relation to anything he's working on, his employer, or anything else and are not an official statement of any kind by them (and barely even one by him most of the time).