I’m in the process of learning how to develop a story concept in screenplay format. Towards that end I’m reading;
- Writing a Great Movie: Key Tools for Successful Screenwriting by Jeff Kitchen (2006)
Lays out a pretty thorough explanation for the different elements that go into your typical 3 act screenplay. Elaborates on methods that allow you to better grow your characters, your plot, your conflict, and overall connect more deeply with your audience.
- The Making of Star Wars: The Definitive Story Behind the Original Film by J.W. Rinzler (2007)
Mostly composed of cast and crew interviews which took place before the original Star Wars became hugely successful. The benefit for me is that George Lucas in particular was at that point very forthcoming about the long evolution of the original screenplay. He was also very honest about his overall struggles with the creative process, and clearly layed out how he overcame those frustrations. It’s actually making me like him again, which after the the release of Episode’s 1 – 3 I thought I would never say.
Additionally I’ve begun taking notes on the plot and characters in an actual notebook (!) which seems deeply archaic, but has so far been pretty beneficial; I don’t get caught up in formatting or spelling, and since this is the ‘sausage making’ portion of the stories development, I don’t worry about others reading it. Before the notebook I had attempted to jump right into the writing using a screenplay format, which looked cool but wasn’t really resulting in good work. So instead I’m going to do my best to really map out the story, make a step outline, and when I have everything pretty much figured out (like who the bad guy is), then I’ll move forward with the screenplay.
This is all in an effort to avoid getting bogged down, caught up in non-critical details, and burned out. I’ve started and stopped writing half a dozen stories over the past 8 to 10 years, and am now in a process of constantly shifting strategies in hopes of finding a method that will allow me to actually finish something. Because that would be sweet.