There's an episode of American Dad, where Roger the alien sells off his dive bar (the one he operates out of the Smith home's attic). And he eventually becomes part of the business franchise, as its pitch-man, repeating the catch-phrase "Dive on in!", in a heavy Australian accent.
I was reminded of this when I was working on one of my latest feature specs.
I had the initial inspiration - an idea, some characters, but not really any deep understanding of what the story or the plot might be.
But that didn't stop me. Certainly, each writer has their own way of working, and over the years, it's become clear to me that I won't generally wait for a fully-realized concept before getting in there and digging for some goodies. It could be an image, a line of dialogue or a skeletal character idea, and I'll take it and run with it.
Such is the case on my script "Trip". I'm already 39 pages into a first draft, and I don't quite know where it's headed. But I'm sure having fun figuring that out. Writing scenes, I'm beginning to understand the characters, their histories and trajectories. And eventually, these discoveries will lead me in the direction necessary, to formulate a plot and an all-encompassing story. Structure.
I've said this in pitch meetings and to friends. "I let the characters tell me where they're gonna go and what they're gonna do."
And yes, that sounds very "writerly" and a somewhat douchy thing to say, but I've found it to be accurate. Once you "get" your characters, things will naturally begin to materialize in your story.
So to go back to this entry's title and inspiration (thanks American Dad), I've always found it more fun to simply "dive on in" with any tiny nugget of an idea or exciting image which your imagination throws at you. I mean, if it doesn't pan out into a fully realized story or script, you were still writing, right? Chalk it up to "writing exercises". And perhaps these scratchings can be used in later projects.
And if you are more a planner, I salute you. Goodness knows my way of writing (train of thought process) makes for additional structural work down the road, since it was never mapped out properly in the beginning. But that's how I get my writing ya-yas and indeed, it's my process.
[Side note: I've done treatments for several projects, so I know that a process of "planning" is still in my wheelhouse, but those were "for hire" gigs. When working for myself, letting the fates decide is always preferable.]
I also will point out that some of my most brilliant (in my mind, of course) discoveries were found by just getting into a scene and doing it - with no idea of where it was going.
I implore you to try this type of writing if you don't already. I find it freeing to "dive on in" and see where the day, the characters and your unstructured, uninhibited imagination might take you.
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