FeatureScreenwriting

3 Things That Will Help You Get That Feature Script Completed

By October 21, 2021No Comments

Finishing your feature script is a great accomplishment. With an average page length of 95 to 125 pages, these things can be three to four times as long as an episodic script, so in length alone it is a bigger task. More than that, it’s easy to get lost in the doldrums and uncertainty of Act II — a dark place for writers and our characters alike.

If you’re working on your first feature, the uncertainty can plant some seeds of doubt — but even if you’ve been around the block a few times, the blank page is daunting for anyone.

The key to finishing your feature — or any script — is to set yourself up for success. Here are a few ways to do just that.

Outline

Creating a very thorough outline is one of the best practices you can do as a writer. It eliminates some of the unknowns in developing your story. It’s your blueprint and map — it allows you to know exactly where to go. As you develop your outline and fill it out with more details, you’ll also become more clear on the story you’re trying to tell.

An outline can start with ideating on index cards and then arranging them in order or brainstorming ideas in a digital document or hand-written on paper. From there, you can flesh out your outline and include bits of dialogue and more descriptive actions.

My favorite final step is to actually create the slug lines and scene descriptions of my full script. I’ll always end up adding more as I move along, but the foundation of my story is there — I just have to fill it in.

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Realistic Goals

It helps to know how quickly you can produce quality content. Once I’ve completed my research and my outline, I know that I can write about four pages an hour and I can comfortably write an hour a day. If I don’t have any other deadline, then this will let me leisurely complete a feature draft in a month.

One hour a day is a comfortable pace, especially if I’m working it in with my day job and taking a day off here and there. I’ve also had success with bouts where I wrote two hours a day. I tend to top out at three. When motivation strikes, I can do more hours but I usually break up my writing hours with stretching, walking, and relaxing.

While it’s completely doable to enter a fever dream and write twenty-five pages a day, let me tell you right now — it’s not enjoyable. So know your pace, set realistic goals, and then get your butt in the chair and meet that daily goal. Every day.

Write Out of Sequence

It’s common to get stuck on a scene, but rather than waste time trying to work it out, I recommend adding in a space filler and moving on. I usually have something like “Write something cool here” or “Something happens and she leaves.” You can figure out the details later when you’re a bit more fresh — but the key is to not lose your momentum.

The Only Way Out is Through

It’s really easy to fall out of love with your script halfway through. You’re a creative person. You’ve studied Emmy and Oscar-nominated screenplays. You know what a great shooting script looks like…and your first draft isn’t there yet. The thing to remember is that you’re not writing a shooting script — you’re writing a first draft. You have to get through that first draft so that Future You can edit it and make it great.

There will be time to punch up your jokes, get notes from respected peers, hear it out loud in a table read, and workshop it later. Right now, you just have to finish your script.

Writing that first draft is as much an act of discipline as it is an act of imagination, so stay the course and get her done.

Conclusion

Remember, everyone who has ever written any script has had doubts. That’s part of being a writer. Set yourself up for success with a healthy outline and a daily writing goal — then meet that goal and follow your roadmap until you have a first draft. Revisions are where it gets fun.

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Shannon Corbeil is a writer, actor, and filmmaker in Los Angeles with recent appearances on SEAL Team and The Rookie. An Air Force veteran, her articles have been published in Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, and Military.com. She has written and produced hundreds of digital videos with millions of views. You can read more about her on her website or come play on Instagram and Twitter!


screenwriting competitionShannon Corbeil is a writer, actor, and filmmaker in Los Angeles with recent appearances on SEAL Team and The Rookie. An Air Force veteran, her articles have been published in Business Insider, We Are The Mighty, and Military.com. She has written and produced hundreds of digital videos with millions of views. You can read more about her on her website or come play on Instagram and Twitter!