Cracked 100 pages on the hitman script. A few more scenes and I’m at the end of the story.
But it’s too early to celebrate.
This has been a new process for me.
The two main differences are that, unlike other scripts, for this one I: 1) sketched out the main plot points start to finish to create a rough outline before I got deep into writing and 2) tried really hard not to self-edit as I’ve written.
The rough outline was really helpful. I kept it loose because I knew that some of my best writing kind of comes out of nowhere, so I wanted to allow some space for that. But I also found it helpful to have a good idea of the next big beat I wanted to get to by a certain point – then wing it getting there.
A little yin, a little yang.
And it’s been dadburn plum liberating not to edit as I go. Normally, before I proceed, I need to make sure everything is clicking. This means a lot of stopping, reviewing, rewriting, stopping, reviewing. This makes it so that, by the time I get through my first draft, it’s usually pretty solid – it might not be good, but at least it will make sense. To most people. But it’s very time consuming, and I think it really interrupts the flow.
So this time, I stopped myself from doing that. If I wrote something that wasn’t consistent with a character as developed so far, I kept it. If it wasn’t motivated yet, I kept it. If it contradicted the plot heretofore, I kept it. I tried to be good about leaving notes for myself – like “Plant the seed for this in act one so it makes sense here” or “Where the fuck did this come from? Justify it or lose it” – but sometimes I just plowed on.
I thought this was important for this script, because it’s an action script, more reliant on plot than others I’ve written, and it’s me writing it. It’s a big, twisty, lots of movement movie, for me anyway, and I knew my character-driven, mildly OCD self would get bogged down in plot specifics if I stopped to worry about which day it was, and how they got to this location, if that dialogue was unique to that character’s voice, who they got the gun from, how they traced that car...
For the first draft, I just wanted to get all the fun things in my head out. So that’s what I’m almost finished with. It's been great, and I think it's working, and I like what this script will be.
Incidentally, I have this friend, whom I hate. He writes these amazing, complex movies that are so fun and so goddamn stylish – and he just wings it. He’s so natural at story and so freakishly smart, he just writes scene one, then two, then three, then four – and without outlining or anything, he has this awesome thing that totally works. And he hardly ever revises.
Did I mention I hate him?
So anyway, I’m nearing the end of the story. Which means of course that, like I told Ryan, once I bang out the last scene and type FADE OUT, the real work begins – because then I have to go back and make it all make sense, have relevance, mean something, be entertaining. I have to make it work.
And that’s a lot of work. But I'm up for it.