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Betsy Echagarrua

Professor Pierson

ENC 1101

12 October 2017

Analysis of Personal Writing Process for Scriptwriting

Filmmaking is a complex art that requires various departments to work in conjunction,

with the script as the heart of all operations, carrying its pulse to keep these departments alive. In

essence, scriptwriting is essential to a film because a script mandates the direction of a film, and

can determine its success before it is even produced. The writing process of scriptwriting,

although mostly based in the planning and writing stage of preproduction, spans across the

production and postproduction stages, which involve heavy revision and editing. The dynamic

nature of scriptwriting is an ongoing recursive process, that requires meticulousness and focus at

all of its three stages.

The stage of preproduction is often regarded as the most important stage, since it is where

the script is conceived. In preparation for developing a script, I first have to obtain inspiration,

whether it be from other scripts, movies, books, experiences, or events. Engaging in this textual

coordination allows me to use some of the concepts of these different works and piece them

together as the story of my script. In addition, I also engage in social coordination, through social

media and in person, as I have other scriptwriters read my work and take into consideration their

opinion and reaction to the story idea. This is relatable to how Pigg (2014) identified how social

media allowed for not only textual coordination, but also social coordination, since different

writers can easily come together and bring together different amounts of knowledge that
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influence the creation of a text. After having solidified an idea of what to write about, I begin

preparations for writing, by structuring the script, in the form of an outline. In scriptwriting, the

major concepts used for structure are the Three-Act Structure and the Heros Journey, as the

backbone of a script, in order to create a good film with a solid story and well-developed

characters. The Three-Act Structure consists of the crucial plot points of a cinematic story, the

Setup, the Confrontation, and the Resolution. In it, the main protagonist goes through a Heros

Journey, otherwise known, as stated by Vogler (2007), [the collectively] few common structural

elements found universally in myths, fairy tales, dreams, and movies, (p. xxvii). This journey is

one in which, as seen in almost any story or myth, the hero goes through an adventure fraught

with several obstacles, where they face many trials and tests, while meeting several different

character archetypes, to achieve their goals.

While developing this Heros Journey, as the rhetor of my script, I also have to take

into consideration the exigence of my audience, while also molding it. I have to acknowledge

that in order to achieve my primary goal of creating a successful film, I have to also have the

secondary objective of pleasing the audience, in order to achieve the ultimate goal. While

scriptwriting, I write down any questions I may have, to reconceive the script and ensure that it

accomplishes such needs. Such questions I often pose are, Does my audience want the hero to

succeed? Do they sympathize with him/her? Am I making the hero relatable? Does he/her have

flaws? Such revision falls under Murrays (1983) idea of reconceiving, in which [a writer]

scans[s] or rescan[s] ones text from the perspective of an external reader and continue[s] to

redraft until all [concerns] have been resolved (p. 838). Throughout this process, I usually

take breaks, cued by writers block or fatigue. While on these breaks, varying from hours to

days, I often incubate my mind and think about script ideas or editions, while doing other
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activities on break. Thus, when I get back to writing, I find that I am able to easily engage in

recursive, by making the necessary revisions or edits that are deemed proper for the script. After

any major change is done to the story, I label the script as a new draft, out of many. In order for

me to focus on such a meticulous process, in the preproduction stage, I often find that having a

quiet, indoor environment helps me concentrate on the task at hand. However, after having

fulfilled the exigence of a proper Heros Journey, I break this silence, as I begin to develop the

dialogue. While writing the dialogue of a script, I read aloud what is written or have other

scriptwriters or actors peer review the dialogue and also the script as a whole. This is done in

order to assure that the dialogue sounds natural and true to the personality of the characters.

After this difficult process is complete, and a final draft has been accomplished, the process is

now moved into the production stage.

Although the stage of preproduction is highly valued in the writing process of a script, it

is important to note that the stages of production and post-production also have their equal merit

as well. In production, it is always the case that the script does not go as planned. As Williams

(1981) would argue that writing is not perfectible. As perfect as the script may be in the writers

mind, while filming, there is always room for errors, suggestions, accommodation to location or

time, and improvisation, all which require the script to be edited or even revised. Writing a

script is about constantly learning more about what one wants to tell and the best way to tell it.

This knowledge can, for instance, come from research, conversations with creative collaborators,

or improvisations with actors (Redvall, 2009, p. 34). Such a statement is extremely evident

throughout the previously mentioned stages of the script writing process, however, it is not just

limited to preproduction and production.


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Whether the changes in production be superficial, such as editing dialogue, or drastic,

such as completely modifying the story, a similar effect is done while in post-production. Post-

production mainly consists of the visual and auditory editing of the film. However, similar to

production, any change that is done while film editing must also be accounted for in the script.

For example, the film may be scripted in the form of a linear story, meaning that the events occur

in chronological order. However, while editing, one might see that the story is best told in a non-

linear fashion, therefore, the script has to be revisited and edited to adjust to these changes.

Throughout the process of production and post-production, since the majority of the

overall structure of the story has already been established, I find that when I write in these stages,

I encounter less writers block and take fewer breaks than in the preproduction stage. In addition,

I listen to music while editing or revising, to get inspiration for a possible song to put in the film,

or listen to the exact song that is to be in the film, so I feel the rhythm or tone, and use the

feelings I get to by incorporating them as the pacing of the script. I also find that, due to the fact

that the overall bulk of the story is developed, even with revisions or edits still occurring in these

stages, I feel that I have less anxiety or pressure on me to develop a good story. Thus, I require

less effort to focus and I find that, because of that, I vary the locations that I write, be it indoors

or outdoors, contrary to just being indoors in quiet surroundings for the preproduction stage.

Depending on the task at hand or stage I was in, I differed my writing environment and habit,

much like how Berkenkotter (1983) found in her research that the circumstance of the writer

affects the situation, whether it be relating to work environment or being under the pressure of

having to appeal to an audience.

Due to the complexity of my scriptwriting process, there are both strengths and

weaknesses to it. In regards to strengths, I believe that through heavy planning and outlining a
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story, beforehand to writing, it gives way to a good story with strong substance and a well

written script. In addition, through the heavy editing and revision stages of production and post-

production, I can further ensure that almost all details and ideas are properly done in the script.

In regards to weaknesses, I believe that the most serious one is that this process of scriptwriting

requires an immense amount of time, which may conflict with personal schedules. In addition,

this may cause fatigue. In order to solve this issue, I believe that the best solution would be to, as

part of the planning stage, develop a writing schedule or a checklist that evenly distributes work.

This idea was drawn from Netos (2014) research, in which he developed new skills for planning

his own writing, in order to avoid writers fatigue. This way, the writers stress is reduced or

avoided, and the writer can efficiently construct a script in an adequate amount of time.

Overall, my writing process for scriptwriting is meticulous and arduous. However, that is

expected due to the complexity of film. By carefully going through the planning and writing

stage of preproduction, and the revising and editing stages of production and post-production,

one can assure that a script is properly up to par and that it will lead to a successful film, one

which fulfill the exigence of the audience. Although my scriptwriting process, as all in general,

requires maximum effort and several days of dedication, ultimately, it benefits the film in the

end. Understanding my own writing process towards scriptwriting has helped me understand

how this very process affects my scriptwriting, and thus, I can now adjust the process to my

needs in scriptwriting. Therefore, in having developed this cognition of my scriptwriting process,

I feel that I can become a more efficient and effective scriptwriter, which will benefit me in the

future of my film career endeavors.


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References

Berkenkotter, C. (1983). Decisions and revisions: The planning strategies of a publishing writer.

In E. Wardle & D. Downs (Eds). Writing about Writing: A college reader. Boston:

Bedford/St. Martins.

Murray, M.D. (1983). Response of a laboratory rat or, being protocoled. In E. Wardle &

Downs (Eds). Writing about Writing: A college reader (pp. 838). Boston: Bedford/St.

Martins.

Neto, A.C. (2014). Tug of war: The writing process of a bilingual writer and his struggles. In E.

Wardle & D. Downs (Eds). Writing about Writing: A college reader. Boston: Bedford/St.

Martins.

Pigg, S. (2014). Coordinating constant invention. In E. Wardle & D. Downs (Eds). Writing about

Writing: A college reader. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins.

Redvall, E. (2009). Scriptwriting as a creative, collaborative learning process of problem finding

and problem solving. MedieKultur: Journal of media and communication research,

25(46), 22. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.7146/mediekultur.v25i46.1342

Vogler, C. (1998). The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. (3rd ed.) (pp. xxvii).

Studio City, CA. Michael Wiese Productions.

Williams, J.M. (1981). The phenomenology of error. In E. Wardle & D. Downs (Eds). Writing

about Writing: A college reader. Boston: Bedford/St. Martins.