Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Stuck? Stuck stuck stuck!

Remember the bit in the film "A Christmas Story" when the kid licks the school flagpole and his tongue freezes to the metal? No? Okay, then you'll have to trust me when I say this post's title is a bit of dialogue from that wonderful scene.

I'm still working on my feature film script doctoring -- oops, collaboration -- gig, and we're in the middle of delivering a new draft. Most of the work on said new draft was meant to fall to me, but late last week I locked up. I knew what we needed to achieve, we'd agreed on a way to achieve it, but I couldn't make any progress. The longer this went on, the more stressed out I got about it and the worse my locked-up state got. On Monday I passed the script to my collaborator and asked him to work on it for a few days. My hope is that the passage of time and whatever changes he makes will get me unlocked and making progress again.

Anyone got any tips on overcoming writer's block? I could use some ideas for times when "make someone else do it" isn't an option.

4 Comments:

Blogger Phillip Barron said...

I go and have a nice lie down, maybe watch some TV and wait for the answer to come to me.

It's hard how to advise specifically without knowing specifics.

If it's a story sticking point, an overview usually helps - whether on cards or bullet points or just re-writing the synopsis.

If it's a character sticking point - why would they do that? The answer probably is, they wouldn't. Maybe you're using the wrong character?

If it's a length sticking point - just hack scenes out indiscriminately and see if it still works.

Any use?

11:40 PM  
Blogger Phillip Barron said...

Now that is weird. Why does it still say 0 comments?

6:32 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

Did you hit 'reload' on your browser Phill?

The specific problem is, we've been given a note to make the audience care more about one of the characters. We've devised a bit of backstory that rather neatly solves maybe 50% of the issue. The other 50% is a matter of going through and adding references to said backstory in such a way that the amorphous 'audience sympathy factor' is achieved. This is the bit that scares me to death and makes me want to run in circles screaming lines from Bugs Bunny cartoons -- how do I tell whether I've succeeded? I have a set of tools to use when stories don't work. There are generally some quantifiable, non-mysterious things you can do to fix story problems. But I don't think I've been taught anything concrete to do when confronted with the 'I just didn't care enough about him' note.

10:32 AM  
Blogger Phillip Barron said...

People care about a character because they see a bit of themselves/their situation in them.

They think the character's cool/funny and would like to be more like them.

Feel sorry for the character and want to mother them.

There are probably other reasons, but these seem (to me) to be the main ones. Similarly, people tend to dislike characters for the opposite reasons:

They're unlike anyone they've ever met (they don't believe people are like that).

They are boring with no redeeming features.

They are jealous of the character because life's too easy for them and they want them to fail.

Sorry if all this is obvious. I have no formal training, and this is all derived from observation.

2:44 PM  

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