Writing Progress Wednesday: Turning Old Drafts Into a New Screenplay, Part One: Bits and Pieces

Lately I’ve been going through some drafts of some older work, including all of the bits and pieces. By that I mean I have several drafts that sometimes didn’t even make it past one page, and if they did, they sort of meander and peter off. I always thought that I would someday go back to each and every one of them to finally “finish” the story. After years of improving my writing (I hope) I went back to these files and came to one overall conclusion: they’re shit. Some of them are less shit than others, but aside from some general ideas of plot and so on, the writing is shit. So, does it mean that it’s time to let them go, to abandon these stories (if you can even call them that) and move on with my life?

Oh, if it was only that easy. But I can’t let anything go. Still, I can’t really do much with these drafts as they are. There may be a few passages that are worthy of inclusion into something else, but nothing to build off of by themselves. There’s some interesting plot or character ideas. Some of them even might work together in one larger piece. What to do? Well, why not a new screenplay?

I know, I know: I have a tendency to complete a first draft and before I can progress with it I start a new one, leaving the other one to dust. I’m not abandoning the latest screenplay. I’m just waiting for some feedback from other people on it. And of course, I’ll return to edit it while I wait for them. But there’s nothing wrong with starting a new writing project, even if the sole purpose of that project is to keep myself busy writing. I can’t spend all my writing time on this blog.

I pulled some ideas from various drafts that I would classify under the “bits and pieces” description above. Do any of them work coherently together? Therein lies the beauty of this project: none of the bits and pieces work coherently within themselves. I’m going to experiment with the surreal here. Besides, there’s plenty of room to maneuver. When I write an outline for a screenplay or novel, I typically have thirty plot points to work with. I have less than half of that with these drafts. I left some out that I may want to include, but they won’t bring the total up that much. I can certainly invent a thread to run though the whole story.

If this doesn’t work, that’s fine, too. Not every experiment produces desirable results. At the same time, if it doesn’t work now I could probably get it to work in a few years. It’s not mean to be my next big screenplay project—unless it turns out so well that I have to see it through. I’m not shooting for that goal. This time, the writing of the piece is the reward in of itself.

There are other drafts in my “Fiction” folder that I may want to work into screenplays as well. This time I’m referring to completed short stories and even early drafts of novels. I decided to split this topic into two blog posts, with the more realized works being the focus of the second post.

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