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Have a Plan

Whether you’re writing a short story, a novel, a screenplay, or a short film script, the writing will go quicker if you have a plan. After compiling the ideas for a story, I break those ideas down into story beats. The images and ideas you have for a story will lend themselves to the beginning, the middle or the end.

Sometimes I will outline before I sit down to write. My earliest outlines would be drawings of boxes with the two characters in each scene. Each box would represent a scene. When I outline now I usually include what the characters are trying to accomplish. Continue Reading

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Saving Time

Between work, the Internet, friends, family, and all the other distractions in life it can be difficult to find writing time. When I’m working on a larger writing project like a novel or feature length screenplay I get in the habit of working on it during lunch and the first hour after I am finished with my regular job. 

I usually spend three to four weeks preparing ground work before diving into one of these projects. This includes character bios, plot outlines, and everything I do to get ready for a big project.

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Building the Foundation

After I find an idea that I’m really interested in pursuing I start building a foundation for the story. This applies to a short story or a short script. I’ve found that brainstorming around an idea can be very helpful. For example, in collaborating with a couple of other filmmakers I needed to develop a suspense / thriller script. I pitched a number of ideas to the filmmaking team and they were interested in an idea for a psychological thriller. I never wrote that type of script before. After the pitch meeting I didn’t really know where to start, so I found some writing time and put on one of my favorite albums from the band, Godflesh.

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Generating Ideas

One of the biggest challenges when you first try to tell stories is finding ideas. When I first started writing, I would do free-writing exercises, I would listen to music, and I would stay up past midnight until my internal censor would get tired. Continue Reading

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Motivation and Marathons

For a year or two years I felt uninspired. I had submitted screenplays to competition and had done pretty well, I had already had four of my plays produced in Chicago, and I already had a bunch of my poems and short stories published in independent zines. I was still working full time and finding time for my creative pursuits was difficult. Trying to balance the creative life, work, and relationships was always a struggle. I didn’t have any ideas that I was passionate about. So I decided to try to be normal. I focused on work, going to the gym, and finding a woman I could feel serious about.

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