Saturday 15 October 2011

Making use of story fragments

If you're like me, you have a bunch of partial scripts lying around, things that started out as a good idea, but eventually went nowhere. I started thinking about some of mine after I read the following quote from the 2011 BAFTA Screenwriters' Lecture by Charlie Kaufman.

I wrote Being John Malkovich while I was waiting for [the next sitcom] hiring season. My idea was that I would write a script and use it to get work. I had this idea that someone finds a portal into someone's head, and I had another idea that somebody has a story about someone having an affair with a co-worker. And neither one was going anywhere, so I just decided to combine them.           Charlie Kaufman

And that reminded me of a quote by Shane Black from Tales from the Script, a collection of interviews with fifty Hollywood screenwriters, about how he approaches writing a screenplay.
I play Tetris obsessively with scripts, and realise that I still have nothing resembling a finished draft, because I’m still stuffing ideas in and hoping that these three things will come together to form one hybrid. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang started as a romantic comedy. Then it was a straight comedy. Then I added the detective character, and it became this dark thriller. Then I went back in time to the forties and tried to get some of these old-time detective pulp novels involved, and say everything I had to say about that. By the end it’s sort of this mishmash. It’s a pulp-style, homage, fairy-tale, retro, film-noir, comedy, “kids in the big city,” Capra-esque murder tragedy. You know, it’s everything stuffed together. For some reason, that one worked—but you can play that game forever and never get anything done.  Shane Black
If your script isn't going well, maybe think about mashing it up with another idea.  


Anonymous said...

Well, considering how my brain works, I think I do this intuitively. Nice to meet you on Twitter. I hope you'll check out my website and blog as well. Peace!

Kathy said...

I find these snippets fascinating.