Shepherd or Screenwriter?

screenwriting, screenplays, writing, movies, humor, Modern PhilosopherI’ve been hard at work on a new screenplay, Modern Philosophers, and things are going well.

At last check, I had written 86 pages and there’s a general understanding of where the story is headed.

If you’ve hung around this blog long enough, you’ll know that I don’t write my screenplays in the conventional Hollywood manner.

There’s never an outline, I rarely have any idea of the story past the first ten pages when I start writing, and I do a lot of editing and rewriting of early pages as new ideas come to me later in the process.

Right now, I’m at a point where I’m more like a shepherd than a screenwriter.

Did he just call himself a shepherd?  I thought this was a blog post about screenwriting!

Let me try to explain what I mean by that shepherd comment, and if you are allergic to wool, there’s no need to worry as there will be no sheep involved with this blog post.

Even though I’m 86 pages into the script, which is almost the end of the Second Act, I’m still constantly rewriting earlier pages.  My screenplays are forever in flux because I could come up with an amazing idea on page 99, which would mean having to go back to page 1 to plant the seed for that idea.

At the moment, I’m trying to shepherd my characters in a totally different direction from where they were headed because I had a really cool idea last night.

screenwriting, screenplay, writing, movies, humor, Modern PhilosopherAs often happens, an idea just popped into my head out of the blue.  I was watching the Notre Dame game last, and a voice in my headed shouted out a much more creative and creepy way to reveal the murder that sends the story spiraling in a new direction.

Making this idea work meant I had to get rid of the scene where the murder is revealed to the audience, but not to the characters.

Then I had to rewrite a scene to tease at the reveal, so I had to shepherd one character to do something entirely different in a scene that I already liked very much.

After this, I had to completely blow up a long and crucial scene so that the murder could be revealed to the characters and the audience simultaneously.  Not only did I have to basically scratch five pages and rewrite them from scratch, but I also had to blow up the following scene where the characters had originally learned about the murder in a totally different manner.

He keeps talking about murder.  I’m confused and uncomfortable!

But I’m not even done yet.  While watching a very exciting football game that ended up going into double overtime (overtime…the story of my life lately!) I had to figure out how to best use modern technology to reveal the gruesome details of the murder when the killer and the main characters didn’t really know each other.

screenwriting, screenplay, writing, movies, humor, Modern PhilosopherThankfully, my big brain came up with a plausible way to share this data.  Once I had the how figured out, I then had to shepherd the characters and the story into the direction I now needed them to go.

It might all sound ridiculously confusing to you, but for me, it’s the kind of creative challenge I crave.

I was fortunate that today was Labor Day, so I had all the time I needed to use my screenwriter’s crook to skillfully maneuver those sheep into position.

I had no idea screenwriters used crooks.  I thought it was all done on computers!

I’m sure I’ll end up rewriting today’s rewrites, but I’m very happy with the work I got done in the screenwriting fields.

Hopefully, I’ll have a first draft done within the next two weeks.

Then the serious rewriting can begin!

Let me be your virtual shepherd…follow me on Pinterest, my lambs!


About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
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11 Responses to Shepherd or Screenwriter?

  1. Jennifer says:

    And I thought screenwriters only used crooks in their stories, not on their stories.

  2. This is awesome — I always enjoy reading about the creative process. I mean, a creative process in which work actually gets done.

    Too often, mine involves me staring at the computer for ten minutes, then flopping onto the couch for inspiration. (Or a nap; whichever comes first.)

  3. CMJaynes says:

    I love the idea of “shepherding” instead of writing. I’m not a screenwriter by any means, but I feel like the same idea could applied to novel writing or even blogging. Very interesting and awesome post!
    Ps – the Notre Dame game was one for the history books! So exciting!

  4. Austin, have you read _The War of Art_ by Steven Pressfield? I read it last week and it inspired and taught me. I wonder what you think of it?

  5. celiamae says:

    The Notre Dame game was awesome! Glad you got extra time on Labor Day to get some work done. Good luck with the rest of it!

  6. Oh you make me laugh! Thank you for that! 😂😂😂

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