Developing Creative Discipline – part 9

August 19, 2020
Bob Eckhard

Hi all,

…and welcome to part 9 in this series of Developing Creative Discipline. I must confess I never thought there would be this many things to suggest but I just keep finding resources which I think are really useful. Today, I offer you a way to utilise your screenwriting notes to organise yourself with a start to finish system for planning, writing and editing screenplays (and other formats!)

Initially, the idea came to me when writing up notes taken at screenwriting events. My problem was how to file them as the nuggets contained within the notes would often be an amalgamation of:

  • what to do at the start (planning your screenplay, research, developing characters arcs, plotting ideas),
  • tips for writing it (visceral v vicarious, midpoint, show don’t tell, etc)  and
  • editing with a view to presenting your work flawless for when sending it in to others (tips, dos and don’ts, active verbs, punctuation, etc)

So…one summer…I determined to print off and place into a (physical) folder system  that which was currently stored on my hard  drive and seldom referenced. The result being a systematic storage of useful information in 3 folders to accompany the stages of:

BEFORE: Every note and idea taken that is relevant to planing it out – in other words: the ‘before’ stage of writing a screenplay

DURING: Every seminar/course attended and book I read about problem solving your screenplay – in other words, the process that occurs ‘during’ the writing of it.

(and lastly)

AFTER(WARDS): Every session attended where I made a note or left with a handout as to the different things to watch out for when editing a script. Plot holes? Unresolved arcs? Active verbs over passive ones, Spelling etc – everything  you need to address before even thinking about sending it out.

For myself, the process of organising the material into a comprehensive system of planing, writing and editing has been an invaluable experience. A means by which I am more confident these days that my creative endeavours – however they fare in a competition or submission – are better planned, executed and edited.

I know this post won’t appeal to everyone but for those of you who are serious about stepping up as a writer and having a more professional approach, I do believe creating an organisational file/system that keeps you true to the process of planning, writing and editing, is a positive step forward.

All the best and (without the split infinitive this week) boldly go!

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