Time to Write... The Outline

The writing has begun! Well, the pre-writing. I'm a little behind schedule, but I think it was worth spending a lot of time on research and answering key questions about characters, themes, plot.

Some of my writing friends use note cards to figure out the structure of a movie, one card per scene. I prefer to write a detailed breakdown of the entire film, scene by scene, with details of basic action and dialog. I'm often putting all my ideas into the outline so that I have options when I write the first draft, or because I haven't figured out all the questions yet. The dialog is very rough. I'm able to pull snippets from the blog, which is helpful, but also difficult because there's a lot of repetition throughout. Which line works best? Which conveys the greatest meaning? Can I pull lines from some blog entries and use them in unrelated scenes in the screenplay? I'm also finding some major problems structurally. As interesting as the blog is, it's not written as a movie. There's some things that need to be changed to make it work as a fictional narrative. Some artistic license is in order.

For instance, there are a lot of characters that Jaime (the author of the blog) encountered in LA. I need to consolidate and even create a few that will represent a handful of people she knew. Did you know that Oliver Stone did this for at least one character in "JFK?" I had a little less respect for him after learning this. However, I'm not telling a historical drama. Well, not really. I'm hoping that as long as I tell this story in a voice consistent with the blog, and capture the spirit of Jaime, I'll be able to take some necessary license.

There's also the issue of getting from point A to point B. How do I bridge scenes? How do I get from one seemingly unrelated blog entry to the next? There's really three distinct parts to this story which will work well for a three act structure. The LA/movie industry part, the crash and burn (marriage and mentally), and the rediscovery/rebirth in Orlando. But there's some missing pieces. How do I transition the MC (main character) into each? What are the key conflicts or events that precipitated each act?

What's the key that binds this story together? Professionally, there's really an interesting story to tell from Jaime's time as a pornceptionist (Pt1, Pt2) - even the history behind the company where she worked. I know some people may be squeamish about this subject (as was Jaime), but I think it's hilarious and fascinating and seems like such a pivotal part of her journey. Should I take the risk of alienating some folks...?

On a personal level, the story seems to revolve around mental health issues and the need for affordable, accessible health care. The blog doesn't shy away from depressions, and suicide, and all the things we face as artists but are often afraid to discuss. There's such a powerful story throughout the blog about Jaime's heart condition and the fear of not being able to pay for life-saving meds - how life was pre-Obamacare, especially with a pre-existing condition.  Her discussion of the homeless population in LA and the fear of Jaime losing her mind, losing her savings, and ending up on the streets with the people she fears the most needs to be a key part of this story. How can I show the homeless in a way that explains why MC is so afraid while humanizing rather than marginalizing them? What was the history of healthcare and mental health services in CA that led to such a large homeless population?

Still need to determine how I can make the ending I want fit so that I can work towards that. Endings can be a tough nut to crack, but I knew from the beginning, even reading the blog for the first time, that the return of the wedding album would be a great ending for a movie. It's pure action. Pure revenge. Pure fun.

This has to take no longer than a few more days. I need to start writing a first draft...

The Path Less Traveled

I hate this acronym, but OMG!!! I just finished reading the entire LA Stories blog by Jaime Jessup. All 7 years' worth. EVERY SINGLE POST.

I'm tired. My brain box hurts. I need some fresh air. This is a hell of a story. If you haven't taken a gander, here's the basic rundown: Bright-eyed ingénue moves to LA with actor hubby to find her place in the stars as a screenwriter, but LA rains down meteors and crushes her hopes, her dreams, and all she holds dear. Said girl moves back to Orlando for a year to pick up the pieces, regroup, and rediscover herself.

A few key posts worth noting: The Mexico Plan, Origin Story, and if you're really brave, Porn Again Virgin Pt 1 and Pt2 (X-rated! - You've been warned.)

There's at least five different movies that could be made from this blog. At least. It's part movie industry insider story, part relationship/marriage/divorce story, part mental health/healthcare story, part coming of age story, part American Dream allegory... I could go on.

What have I gotten myself into!? I put on deodorant today, but I'm sweating profusely. Did I put deodorant on? Never end a sentence in a preposition, Jeff. Focus. I took the leap but am in way over my head. Where to begin? How do I approach turning such a daunting, far-reaching story into a concise 2-hour film? Maybe I should re-watch the Spike Jonze film "Adaptation." Maybe I need to reread Robert McKee's "Story." ...

Notice the book He's reading

Notice the book He's reading

… Maybe not. It’s mainstream schlock and I want to be original.

The outline alone could take a month. I need AT LEAST 3 weeks to write a first draft, another 2 for a second draft. Probably another 2 for a final. The deadline for a completed feature length screenplay is Oct. 1st and I don't even know where to begin.

Am I going to be able to figure this out? Am I going to be able to pull this off, or am I a goner? And why do I keep thinking of "Trainspotting" and the opening declaration, "Choose life."