Building Your Own Process

It’s important to keep in mind—when you’re reading the posts in this series—that this is just one way of approaching the drafting process. There are so many others. Casually browse the library’s shelves for advice about the writing process, and you might start to think that there are as many different approaches to writing as there are writers. I wouldn’t disagree. I hope you find some useful bits of advice here and they end up…

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Getting Feedback On Your Story

This post is the penultimate entry in this series, but that doesn’t mean it should only happen at the end of your process. Instead, it’s probably best to think of getting feedback as much as you can along the way. Some storytellers even seek out feedback before they start their drafting process, sometimes talking through their story with one or more people while they’re still trying to figure out what their story is going to…

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Editing Ruthlessly

As you’ve been working on your draft, you’ve probably noticed several sections that clearly aren’t going to make it into the final version of your script. Those will be the easy pieces to get rid of. As you do so, it’s probably a good idea to have a separate working document open where you can dump those pieces in case they might become the kernel of another story you end up working on later. Even…

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Finding Your Story’s Ending

I watch a lot of Hollywood and independent films, and what I’ve come to notice is that way too often writers and/or directors don’t offer endings that match the quality of the rest of the film. Don’t get me wrong. There are many different ways to effectively bring a film to a close. Sometimes the narrative is an exploration of uncertainty or unfairness or despair and then offer an open-ended closing. And of course, there are…

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Finding Your Story’s Beginning

Once you’ve started to get a sense for what your story is really about, you can start thinking about how you’re going to structure it. You might opt for a linear narrative that begins somewhere and ends somewhere later. You might find that you need to create one scene and then move to a second. You might find that you need to create a flashback scene within a framing scene. You might discover that your…

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Finding the Heart of Your Story

When I’m thinking about trying to locate the heart of my story, I think of it as a “nugget.” I use this term all the time, but now that I’m stopping to think about it, I guess it’s a metaphor about digging for gold–which seems pretty apt. But “prospecting” actually gets closer. And it’s not about digging a hole, but the pile of earth you’re creating beside the hole. Now I’m taking the metaphor too…

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Listening To Your Story

Now that you’ve got yourself a nice, long draft, go back and read it. Really read it. Maybe even aloud. And listen. (At some point I’m going to write a definitive post about why listening is a storyteller’s most crucial skill. Just you wait.) Don’t worry about all the stuff that isn’t working or that you already know is going to get cut. Read it and listen. Read it slowly. One sentence at a time….

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Drafting Long

Usually, I start the process with a stream of consciousness narrative trying to describe a particular moment in my story. It might be the opening moment. It might be one of a couple of different moments I’m trying to reconcile in my head. I try to focus on concrete details as much as possible. What was I wearing? Which room was I in? What could I smell in the house? What was the weather like…

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