The Writer as Editor

Have you ever watched a movie a second time and felt like you watched a completely different movie? It's amazing the details you miss on the first viewing. To find the story, I had to reread the entire LA Stories blog. It took a lot more time than I was anticipating, but it was worth it. There's a lot of great material here - in fact, a ton of it. A few key entries that stood out even more this time: Red Flags & Cockrings, California Dreamin', Best Served Cold. There's something about this line that I love: "...he is not exactly what I'd imagined, but everything I'd hoped for." Where in the screenplay can I use this?

Editing normally happens after you write a first draft, but with adaptation, I'm finding it comes into play early in the writing process. So it's time to put on my editor's cap. I need to find key elements of the blog to be able to create a concise narrative suitable for the screen:

Theme/Message: What is the thesis? Purpose? What am I trying to say?

Metaphors/Objects: Jaime Jessup, the writer of the blog, is a very figurative writer. Lots of metaphors. Objects are symbolic or have specific meaning to characters. An eagle feather, wishbone necklace, butterfly journal, red '67 Mustang.

Characters: Who are the key players? MC (Main Character), MC's husband, MC's close friend in LA (Hope?), Tribe of artist/street performer friends, homeless man in parking garage, Shit-Tits!, LA - the city is a character in this story.

Character Traits of MC: who is she, what does she want, where is she trying to go? What are her flaws? What's preventing her from achieving her goals? Why does she want to write for TV and movies? Did specific shows or films influence her as a child? What is her arc?

Character Traits of MC's Husband: What drives him? How and why does he change over the course of the film? How to portray him honestly without being one-sided in favor of MC.

Character Traits of supporting characters: see above.

Structure: What are the basic plot points for a three-act screenplay? What conflicts move the story along?

Scenes: What are some key scenes I see being part of the movie? How does movie begin and end?

Specific Lines: See highlighted lines from blog

Tone/Visual/Music Elements: What genre is this? Comedic drama, dramatic comedy, dark comedy? How should story be told? Firs person? Voice over? Relatable to girls and guys - window into a girls mind, but not simply demeaning towards men - NO F'ING LIFETIME MOVIE. Magical realism, but not too much. "Ride" by Lana Del Rey. Cheesy '80s power ballads.

 

Thoughts/Ideas/Questions: What stories are missing? There's some stuff Jaime has told me that's not in the blog but needs to be in the movie. How did certain events/places look? What can I change or alter? How much artistic license can I take? Focus more on relationships vs. entertainment industry. Needs to be a story that's bigger than a single person. Need an awesome title.

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."