So far I have written 40 pages of the first draft. Screenplays tend to have three acts, and I have already completed the first act. I’m happy with the progress, but now it’s time to fight all my instincts and press forward.
The hardest part of my job as conductor of this script train is to stay on the tracks and keep aiming for the station, which is roughly 50-70 pages away. It’s a hard job because more than anything I want to go back. Now that I’m this far in, I know so much more about my lead character and I want to enhance the details. My supporting characters are barely sketched out now, and I know what they desire and need. Locations now have detailed items in them. Some scenes can be shorter. Other need to be longer. I want to go back and fix these things.
But I won’t. I can’t speak for every writer, but I know from experience now that if I go back and fix things I will fall behind, and will unlikely catch up. Once I get into tweaking things, that process will never stop. Little tweaks beget little tweaks, and before I know it I’ll have an extremely tight and brilliant 20 pages, and I’ll be 85-years-old and straining from reading my script on my iPhone 37G.
It’s not too dramatic to say if I stop the train and it’s momentum, I will not get it going again and I will never reach the station. Also, like most trains and modes of travel, there is an arrival time. Writing a script should be no different. I’m going to say that the First Draft Express is due to arrive at Completion Station on March 15th. Arbitrary? Sure. But an arbitrary deadline is much better than no deadline.