More creative fixes for screenplays, novels, plays, pottery collections, or architecture blocks, from a verteran tv/film writer, journalist and licensed psychotherapist. For a direct free phone consult with the author, on writing, creativity or therapy, click here.
6. You’re bored with all these characters, they won’t do anything.
Characters who won’t do anything (or don’t want to do anything) are boring characters. When you thought of them, they seemed like cool characters and you felt good about them. But they don’t drive the story. Maybe you have the supporting cast. Examine the flow, follow the theme, attitudes, and the logic. Maybe something’s missing from a character who could be the protagonist. A fatal flaw? A duty, to save someone, to repay a debt. What do they really want? Two characters need to have a strong conflict. Is that what’s missing?
7. You keep imagining the things people are going to criticize about your work, and it’s paralyzing.
You’re picturing rejection letters, or depressing phone calls from your agent. Why waste time? Suddenly this idea doesn’t feel like a winner. Why not start something new? That may work. Start another project, then when you get to a natural pause, set that aside. Go back. Another way: Drown out the inner critic. He is necessary for the rewrite, but the first draft, drown him out. Blast the Stones. When self-critical self-talk occurs, STOP, and get up and do something else. Make coffee. Stop negative thinking, center yourself, clear your head and write.
8. You can’t think of the right words for what you’re trying to convey.
This time, you’re in the flow – the story is unfolding, the theme, attitudes, emotions, logic is all flowing. Characters are being revealed. Surprises, twists, it’s great. But you’re stuck on some words. Maybe it’s dialogue or even story action. You know your story, but this dialogue sucks. You can’t think of a clever way to hide some exposition.
A character sounds stilted, forced. His dialogue doesn’t sound conversational, or it’s boring. You’re paralyzed. First, try to visualize the scene in your head. Could it be done without dialogue? However, you may need better characters who talk to you. Do an exercise in which each character talks to all the other characters. If they still sound boring, think about people you know, or real people who sound interesting.
9. You had this incredibly cool story in your head, but now you’re writing it and it’s just not working.
First, determine if it’s your inner critic obsessing. Maybe you’ve lost perspective. Walk away from it. Work on that other project for a while. When you feel ready, read the first script over. If it’s sounding a lot better, great keep writing. BUT – if it still sucks, it might not be a good story.
However, sometimes, it helps to write a synopsis of what you’ve written. When you see the whole layed out in two pages, things may click. Did you miss an opportunity for a plot twist? Sometimes it helps to write parts of the script from different character’s POV. It may spark a new idea.
10. Your revising your script and you can’t find the fix for scenes that feel weak, or dialogue that sucks.
You look at it from different angles, follow the characters, the themes, the logic and attitudes, but nothing generates a fix. You even look at internal struggles with your protagonist, which may or may not involve other characters. Still nothing.
This is when you ask a friend to read it, or even better a professional. If you get good feedback from your friends, then keep rewriting. Incorporate their suggestions if they have good ideas. Another approach; instead of improving the scenes you wrote, try putting everything away and rewriting from scratch. Same story, new words.
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