First Draft in 10 Weeks

The title sounds impossible, doesn’t it? An entire screenplay in just ten weeks? Impossible. Improbable. Anything is possible when a determined mind to set to the task. I’ve been working on the schedule shown below for the last couple of months. You can see that I’ve assigned a specific task to complete each day of the week for the entire ten weeks. It is my hope to prove that it is more than possible to go from a blank notebook to a competed first draft in just 70 days. The first six weeks is allotted to planning, pre-writing and research. Characters will be designed, back stories written and goals determined. The plot will be built and the structure laid out in three of those first six weeks.


I’m going to build my structure based on my own Nine Story Flag design. Like a nine hole golf course, the flags tell the writer where they are going, but how they get there is left to them to figure out. As some golfers would cut a straight line to the flag, even if it means taking some serious risks, other golfers might take other less direct routes that have there own, often hidden risks. Eventually all golfers get to the flag but the routes are all different. The Story Flags keep the writer on track making sure they don’t get lost within their own story. In my 70 day plan I’ll use three weeks to build those nine flags as well as the remaining 47 flags. Those 56 flags will become my story beats each one pushing the story forward.

The final four weeks are for writing the script itself. Originally the plan was to write 5 pages a day, but when I started to review the individual days I realized that as I developed the story I worked with beats so that I should write the screenplay one beat at a time. When I get to this step it will be written in Scrivener (Never heard of Scrivener, visit here) and each beat will be an individual script file so that they can be easily moved around, revised or replaced as required during the rewrites. So I have rebuilt the schedule to complete the writing as two beats per day. Some days this is going to be an easy challenge while other days could be several pages. If each beat is an average of 2 pages than the 56 beats will give me a 112-page screenplay.

Through the 10 weeks I’m going to post my progress here on as a means of accountability. There will be articles about the experience as well as general progress report. As many of the long-term readers know I’ve been working on a screenplay for years, The Brierwood, and that will be the project I’m going to use for experiment with this process. Earlier this year I read a quote that I wish I could find again as I found it most helpful. I spoke of how writers allow themselves to freely daydream as it shows us different possibilities. While driving to work I allowed a small corner of my brain (the part not needed to drive) to wander freely about other story ideas. A couple of recent news stories were floating around and I came up with an interesting scene. Suddenly that scene came to life when I connected the new character, Shawn, with Melissa (from The Brierwood) and suddenly my older, and staler story suddenly became new and fresh. The Hero, Melissa, suddenly had her own goals when the story starts and it’s a goal that the Villain will oppose by introducing his own goals into Melissa’s life. After a short day dream I had completely redesigned my five year old story. It has completely changed and I am very excited about these changes. It will be a completed different screenplay; it will be a completed screenplay.

If you celebrate this time of year, have a Happy Holidays,
– Steve


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