Back to the drawing board, and again, and again.
The challenge of writing-for-hire is figuring out exactly what your client wants to say. What’s really necessary for the story, what is just wishful thinking on the client’s part and what just will not work?
And then, there are the late night phone calls with new ideas or wholesale changes. I’ve learned to keep my phone and my notebook and pen handy at all times.
What strikes me in this collaborative process is that we discard ideas and change our minds just as much as if I were the only one working on a project. It just feels different because I’m working on a for-hire basis, which means my creativity must link to another’s and I can’t get personally attached to what I’ve written, because it’s not my story.
When I’m writing one of my stories or books my delete key gets used just as much as with this one, but it feels different. When I write, for me, ideas get discarded or resurrected at random as the story progresses and changes. But when someone else is controlling the story, I realize I need to keep my ego out of the process.
So where are we in the process? Have I started the actual screenplay yet? Not quite. We’re on version 3 of the outline. But we’ve hashed out a fair amount of information and I’ve done research on our subject matter. Again, I can’t tell you what it’s about, much as I would like to because I think this is a story that could benefit from a greater collaboration. I anticipate that at some point in the future I will be able to open it up to discussion and input so that we end up with a stellar product, but not just yet.
In the meantime, I’ll keep working and learning. And reading screenplays to see how others have done it. As I mentioned I’ve been reading the script for “Inception” and it was a relief to learn that the director and writer, Christopher Nolan, took ten years to get it just right. I don’t think my client wants us to take that long though!