Board with Structure
Moving on, I finished the treatment, sent it to my manager and got the nod to start Really Writing. He wants to see a first draft by Thanksgiving, but I’d like to be a good chunk of the way there before heading off to The Austin Film Festival and Screenwriters’ Conference next month.
Have I ever told you I have (the laughingly-misnomered) Attention Deficit Disorder? I mean really, not like half the writers I know who think they have it, or the Ritalin kids on the covers of Time and Newsweek. As a result of this faulty wiring, I find that without structure, I get scattered and overwhelmed – in writing, as in life.
So, in order to go from treatment to script, I had to swing by Staples for The Board.
For my PB rewrites, I’d stuck index card sized post-its on the closet doors in my home office, but they didn’t stick well to the semi-gloss and flew all over whenever we had to get into the closet. Problem is, there’s no free wall in here, at least no area that’s at least 5’ wide, which is the ideal size for a board, allowing for up to 10 index cards across. Wouldn’t you know, the 5’ trifold corkboard of my dreams either doesn’t exist or just doesn’t exist at Staples, so I went ahead and picked up two 3’ boards.
Placed side-by-side, there’s plenty of room for 8-10 cards per row and I’ve allotted the space at the top for my title and other at-a-glance stuff like character lists and locations. No method’s right for everybody, but The Board is perfect for me. It’s tactile and visual and gives me just enough structure to stay grounded when I need to, but not so much that I can’t fly if I choose.
I wrote up index cards for all the scenes in my treatment, tacked them to The Board and Voila!
I’ve got an overstuffed first act, although a few of those cards can be combined. The first half of Act 2 is a little light, no biggie. But look — after the midpoint, all the bad stuff I envisioned that snowballs in the second half of Act 2, it somehow all wound up in a single whopper of a scene, and that won’t do at all. Act 3 is also a little light, but when I finish filling in the gaping holes in Act 2, I know some of that stuff will spill over into 3.
I’m excited, ‘cause I know what elements of the story I need and want to beef up and now I see very clearly where they need to go.
Isn’t that awesome? Isn’t it the next best thing to having a Fairy Goldman tell you how to solve your story problems?