This week, I finished the first draft of my latest screenplay.
Funnily, I'd begun to doubt the playlist I'd made for it a month ago. I'd listen back to it and feel completely alien to particular songs. What's that even doing here? But then I'd be driving... or hiking up hills in the pouring rain... or sitting on the train... and a song would come on that was so perfect, so apt, and so totally specific to one aspect of the project. My faith in the power of the playlist was restored.
This rendition of 'Blue Moon' by The Chromatics was one such song. It was only after listening to it on repeat for a very long time, that I realised just how perfectly it spoke to my project. It became the working title of the film.
One of the most gratifying moments of the last few weeks, though, was realising just how much I've grown as a writer. The issues I was having, in trying to overcome writing blocks and story problems, were me asking myself necessary story questions and pushing myself to fix them.
Some notes I wrote myself during the development:
— Why does she stay?
— Why does she feel like she's got nowhere else to go?
— What reception does she get on the island?
— Where does the weirdness start?
— We need to see her make a choice.
On the page, these are pretty simple, straight-forward questions. But being able to take a step back from the work and be more objective, dig deeper at this early stage, really did help me produce a better first draft. And I think it's much more solid than first drafts have been on my previous projects.
Having said that, it does mean that the things to work on in draft two are less obvious. And the feedback I've received so far hasn't pointed to any gaping holes—in fact, the notes are mostly small and varied.
So that's where I'm at. The excitement of bashing out a first draft aside, I really do feel pleased and proud to be able to track my own growth as a screenwriter. The work may not be getting easier, but it is getting better—and that's all you can really ask for, right?