To do, or not to do, Scriptfrenzy this year? That is the question. For some of you, the question might be: “What the heck is Scriptfrenzy? ” Scriptfrenzy is a wonderful event where writers all over the world sign up on a website – http://www.scriptfrenzy.org – and vow to write a 100 page script within 30 days from April 1 to April 30th. It could be a stage play, a movie script or a script of an episode of your favorite television show. It’s a great exercise for novelists and scriptwriters alike because it forces you to focus on dialogue and to plot out your story in three acts scene by scene. I used it as a tool to plot out and visualize my third book and it was very useful.
So, should I participate in Scriptfrenzy this year? You see, I have a nasty habit of starting new projects and finishing first drafts, but then not completing the editing necessary to get the projects ready for publication. On one hand, my participation in activities like Nanowrimo and Scriptfrenzy since 2007 have resulted in my having first drafts (and, in one case, a nice chunk of a second draft) of three novels and a movie script. On the other hand, none of those projects are complete enough to send out to agents and editors for review. I think the problem is that I love to get together with fellow writers during Nanowrimo and Scriptfrenzy in cafes to write and I do my best work under pressure. It has to do with having a set time parameter in which to complete a measurable task and doing it in a group setting with all of the attendant cheerleading, accountability and support endemic to such an exercise.
Writing is normally a solitary task and, although I am a solitary child, it’s hard to self-motivate to complete a rewrite of something you’ve already “finished.” I put the word “finished” in quotation marks because a first draft of a novel or a script is usually far from finished and you rarely even finish a first draft in 30 days. This is especially true if you have a full-time job, gospel choir practice, a diet and exercise regime, a blog and maybe a husband and some kids (I don’t have those last two items, but some do). Events like Scriptfrenzy and Nanowrimo get you fired up and motivated to get some writing done. Unfortunately though, they require you to work on new projects and not existing ones.
When I pitched to agents at the San Francisco Writers Conference, they were happy to hear that I had written three novels. Agents and editors want their writers to be prolific – the more product, the more sales. However, they also want writers who timely complete their projects.
So, knowing that I have to finish editing my second novel and then complete the rewrite of my first book and the editing of my third book so that they are ready for Romance Writers of America’s national conference in June and Thrillerfest in July, am I really going to throw myself into writing a new movie script in April? You bet I am! Why? Not only because I’m just crazy like that, but also, when I finish editing and selling (I’m claiming it) my other works, I’m going to need to have new projects in the pipeline. Moreover, I need an outlet for the new ideas rattling around in my brain. You wouldn’t believe the things that rattle around writers’ brains. I find it best to only express those thoughts with other writers for fear of being locked up in a loony bin.
If you have a story idea rattling around in your brain and you can see it play out on a stage or on a big or little screen, you may want to seriously consider participating in Scriptfrenzy. If, like me the first year, you have no clue how a movie script should be formatted, invest in a copy of “Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need” by Blake Snyder. It is fabulous and proved to be an invaluable resource for me. Also, check out Scriptfrenzy’s website (http://www.scriptfrenzy.org). It will give you leads on scriptwriting software (which formats scripts for you) and other great resources. I used Celtx. Also, download scripts of a couple of your favorite movies to see how they were done.
I have to go now. I have a book to edit and a script to plot out. Let me know if you decide to participate in Scriptfrenzy. If you’re in Miami maybe we can get together for write-ins.