I’ve spent the last few months working on a new project, and the adventure has been quite interesting. I’m writing a screenplay. Or should I say I’m trying to write a screenplay. There is this awesome screenplay contest for female writers over the age of forty, and the deadline for entries is early April. So when I started this endeavor, I based my completion date to be around that time frame.
My goal was to have it written, reworked and reviewed by my critique partners by the end of March.
I didn’t sit down blind, mind you. I’ve taken a few screenwriting courses over the last couple of years, read several craft books and purchased a great software program to help make the adjustment from writing novels to the visual medium of movies.
It’s not like I haven’t written a few books. How hard could this transition be? Piece of cake—right? Ummm….no! Wrong! In no way am I saying that writing a screenplay is harder than writing a novel. I’m just saying it’s different. Very different.
The FORMATTING alone that comes along with screenwriting has sent me crying in my wine glass a few times. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with how it works, but you are stopping constantly to change scene location, action and label dialogue.
INT. LORI’S OFFICE – AFTERNOON
Lori grabs her laptop and car keys and heads out the door.
EXT. PARKING LOT – AFTERNOON CONTINUED.
Lori hurries to her red mustang parked close to the building in a spot marked reserved. A hot guy leans against a truck in the next space over.
Thanks . . .
Later if she actually gets in the car, you’re stopping AGAIN for INT., etc., etc. The constant interruption in the flow of the writing has taken me a while to get used to. Then there’s the fact that you only have 120 pages to tell your entire story. And in movies, the industry professionals like to see a lot of white space on those 120 pages.
When I’m writing novels, I have more time to describe my characters, actions and settings. I can get into their thoughts with deep POV. With screenplays you’re limited to only what you can see and hear.
Trust me, I’m not complaining. I love this new adventure I’ve embarked on. LOVE IT! Even so, with the adjustment being a little more complicated then I’d anticipated, I’ve had to face the harsh reality that there is no way I will make the contest deadline. Sure, I could rush the process and send something in, but if I want this to be the best screenplay that I’m capable of writing, I’ll need to admit defeat. At least with this one contest.
Which leads me back to RUSHED or READY?
Have you ever found yourself in this type of situation? Maybe you’re under deadline and you find your work feels more rushed than ready. Unfortunately with the demands publishers are putting on their authors these days, the challenges are becoming more and more common.
However, if you’re not under deadline, please don’t be in such a hurry to enter a contest or send in a submission that’s not ready. Make sure you’re submitting the best work possible. You want your story to impress and stand out from the others. This is not an excuse to slack off on writing. Writers must write, just don’t rush it.
I know I’m missing my goal deadline but on the bright side, I plan to enter some other contest this year once my screenplay is complete. I’ve recently started reading another craft book for more advice on this new and strange way of writing, Michael Hauge’s, Writing Screenplays That Sell.
This way when I do submit I will feel confident in the fact that I’m READY!
How about you? Does your project have you feeling rushed or ready? I’d love to talk about it!
Remember to Dream Big!