The First Draft of Anything is S***

scriptThese immortal words by Ernest Hemingway have been my ongoing mantra this past week.

I’m taking a scriptwriting evening class at the local University, in the hope of learning a shiny new skill; I like writing and I like telly.


First lesson learned – it’s nowhere as easy as it looks. Second lesson – I need to watch more telly (bonus).

Sadly though, I won’t be watching for fun. I’ll be counting the scenes, looking out for important close-ups (C/U’s!)and listening to dialogue really, really carefully. In short, it’ll be endless homework.

Speaking of homework, I have to present my pitch in class tomorrow for a ten-minute script. In front of 16-odd other people who know every obscure writer/film/technique ever. And I can’t even count scenes yet.

Anyway, I threw myself into it – I have to get a great story, believable characters and short, punchy scenes into a measly ten minutes. Nothing too art-house, so my idea of a middle-aged woman contemplating the fragility of life while standing in a chip-shop queue might not translate that well (totally not based on my own experiences).

I wrote and deleted countless ideas. I watched more telly. I dipped in to tv scripts. I googled. And I still don’t have a pitch for tomorrow.

What’s most interesting about this course is the idea of ‘conflict’ and ‘journey’ – from conflict to resolution – according to the book I’m reading, scripts should present a way of conveying chaos/conflict and the character’s journey through it, back to order again.

Hmm. In short, my blog, over five years? Chaos to acceptance? Does this mean I’m The Hero? Can I start to undress in a telephone box without being arrested?

I doubt it, but it’s definitely food for thought, along with the popcorn I haven’t eaten for fear of missing vital scenes. I still haven’t completed my homework, but this course has definitely opened my eyes to how we portray real emotions, real passions and real conflicts. If I could only transcribe them, I would be happy:

INT: very attractive 40-something, seated at table, pen to mouth. She is obviously extremely talented and yet somehow doubts her innate abilities.

HANDSOME MAN: Wow, what you’ve written is amazing!

V. ATTRACTIVE FEMALE: (bats eyelashes, looks down shyly at reams of paper)

Oh, you know …

HANDSOME MAN: Seriously, it’s incredible. Let me make a few phonecalls. Baby, you’ll be a star!

V. ATTRACTIVE FEMALE: Shucks, it was nothing!

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6 thoughts on “The First Draft of Anything is S***

  1. Liz says:

    Don’t / shouldn’t doubt you’ll continue to impress, me & your audience(s)….tomorrow and beyond…., yeahhh, go girl?!

    • stumbling in flats says:

      Thank you so much!! Or rather:
      VERY SHY PEEP: (whispers) Thank you (looks down)
      I have no idea what I’ll pitch tomorrow. Gah!!!

      • Liz says:

        What more can I say? ( found out a couple of weeks back, that my own MS was diagnosed August ‘87, half way through my Economics degree)…. beastly Disease, MS….we’re both better! than that! ?


        • stumbling in flats says:

          Oh, totally!!!
          If it’s one thing MS teaches us, it’s that life is too darned short not to follow your dreams/make a fool of yourself in the process.
          As someone once told me, the only failure is in not trying and I really try to believe that.
          Liz, you are an inspiration.

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