questionmarkI’ve been busy writing a script, and I have the whole idea mapped out in my head. But for some reason, my writing doesn’t seem to flow. I struggle to get from one point to the next. Is this normal? If I go back through the script again after I’ve jotted down my rough dialogue, will it flow then? Do you do a quick rough draft before you get into the real writing?

–Bob

answer iconWell, are you a good writer? I ask because it sounds like this is your first screenplay, and there’s every chance you’re a terrible writer. It’s my experience that most people in Los Angeles feel like they could write a good movie. The reason why most of them aren’t successful screenwriters is that they’re really aren’t good writers.

It’s easy to see how they get mislead: If you read a script, you’d think any monkey could do it. Most monkeys can’t.

I’m not picking on you, honestly. I hope you’re a terrific writer who’s just realizing how incredibly difficult screenwriting can be. It’s great when the writing flows, but most of the time, it doesn’t. You work your ass off to get to the end of a sentence, then start another. You end up deleting scenes that took you four hours to write, then rewriting entire scripts based on problems you should have spotted before you even started writing.

It’s not grueling, back-breaking labor like building a road, but it is labor. It’s exhausting. And while Final Draft might make formatting your script easier, it’s still just as hard to write.

Often, when I approach a scene, I will do a quick rough draft, by which I mean all of a scene’s crucial dialogue lines scribbled on the back of an envelope. It’s mostly just to get the shape of the scene, but it is "real" writing just as much as the endless tweaking that will inevitably be entailed.

Above all this, I would stress: Don’t wait for flow. It might come; it might not. But it’s your job to keep writing anyway.