It NEVER gets any easier. Inevitably, the jubilation of convening with your fellow writers and hashing out a terrific story is extinguished by the prospect of having to actually write the damn script. You sit down, type FADE IN and then…What? Oh, you know what the scene is going to be (You just broke it the other week) and you can imagine the great version (Not the actual words, mind you, but the reactions of people who read it or watch the finished product. Best Scene Ever!), but actually realizing it to its fullest potential…now that’s where things get sticky.
I once worked with a writer who would force out a first pass, no matter how half-assed, just to get something down before returning to it for countless rewrites, revisions that – in theory – would develop and improve on what he’d written. Sure. And I once worked with another writer who’d always tell me: “Shit don’t take a good buff.” In other words, you can polish that half-assed pass all you want but, in the end, all you’ll end up with is a polished half-assed pass. Which is why, when I sit down to write a script, those first few lines have to be tight. I’ll work through a variety of false starts – a dozen, often more – before finding the right opening exchange, then develop the scene from that promising beginning. I’ll pace (or drive or shower or eat or feign interest in the conversations going on around me) and run the scene in my head, over and over, building the beats, the dialogue, the set-ups, the pay-offs until, satisfied, I’ll finally sit down and actually, physically, start writing. And, once I have it all down, I’ll re-read and reconsider and revise and rewrite and, once I’m satisfied, I’ll move on to the next scene and repeat the process. Then, the next morning, I’ll start from the top: re-reading, reconsidering, revising and rewriting – all the while reflecting, with a certain wistfulness, on how nice it had been to sit in company and create something.
So, today I completed the Tease of episode #2 and I’m at the point where I’ve gone over it so many times I can almost recite it by heart. I pushed ahead and wrote the first two scenes of Act I, hitting and surpassing my “5 pages a day” target. It’s interesting how the characters seem to take on a life of their own on the page. It’s early and, as much as I struggle to maintain quality equality, I already do have my favorites. I think the key, as I progress through this first draft, is to find those unique instances of humor in each of the crew members because humor, I’ve always felt, goes such a long way toward humanizing characters, making them a little vulnerable and, thus, so much easier for the viewers at home to connect with them. I think back to my time on Stargate and characters like Jack O’Neill, Vala Mal Doran, Rodney McKay, Eli Wallace – even Teal’c, Ronon Dex, General Hank Landry, Todd the Wraith, and Richard Woolsey. All funny in their own distinct way. It’s just a matter of finding, and drawing out, those distinct instances in each.
What do you think? What humorous instances endeared you to a particular Stargate character?
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