Every writer has their quirks when tackling a new project.
When I first get the inspiration for a new story (no matter what format) I pull out one of those yellow legal pads (invest in the kind with heavy chipboard back – it’s worth it) and label the top with the working title, then proceed to scribble every thought I have onto its pages, this is my story’s bible throughout. Even when I jot things down on matchbook covers or register receipts, they get taped onto its pages. I’m also one of those people with an incredible memory so my story’s ‘treatment’ typically lives in my head. When I’m nearly through with the first draft, I scribble a skeletal outline on my yellow pages, which is more of a to-do list of loose ends that need tying up.
For my BEST SCREENPLAY however, I have decided to play homage to the great Blake Snyder. (see the neighboring blog roll for his site) Blake passed away too soon, last year. He lived and loved screenwriting and turned that love into the SAVE THE CAT method. Having worked at the House of Mouse, where Blake sold a lot of work, I was fortunate to have been introduced to SAVE THE CAT and Blake, sometime ago. I have his software and books, which are certainly dog-eared. However, I have to admit that given my memory and quirks, I have never been much of an outliner or scene card person, I’ve tried it, but it seems like busy work to me. What I typically do is use his material as a check list after the fact and tweak based on his insights. But because this time/story is different (the best in fact). And because there is SO much history and mystery to convey. I am starting from scratch with the Save the Cat Method. I’ve got my Logline, my title, and have ‘beat it out’, now I am onto what I believe the hardest part, the scene cards (he only allows 40) and they have to be THE BEST.
All of this leads to the last part of my question, to drink or not to drink? Let’s face it writing is a drinker’s profession, it liberates and relaxes and of course a relaxed mind is a creative mind. Just read this quote that came from Francis Ford Coppola’s winery: “Winemaking and filmmaking are two great art forms that are very important in the development of California. They both start with raw ingredients—in the case of wine, the land and the grapes, and in the case of film, the script and the actors’ performances…In both cases you have to start with top notch raw materials—whether it’s the land or a script.” -Francis Ford Coppola
I must admit, I’m a glutton for his DIRECTOR’S CUT – Cabernet. However, given the exactitude and importance of a SAVE THE CAT homage, plus the nature of my story’s history and scientific mystery laced with its dramatic comedy… I need to be on top of my game big time. It’s like cramming for an exam of SAT proportions. So… until my 40 scene card are at perfect score level, the cork is in the Cabernet (until the fun part of writing is in full swing anyway).
Unless, of course Mr. Coppola produces a screenwriter’s label!