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I know my lines, I just don't know what order they come in

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I'm so terminally stuck on fixing a hole in my Stargate Atlantis spec script that I really just want to burn the 11th place-certificate winning-love-of-my-life-best-story-over-script motherfucker. It took me a year to get through the first two acts, because I'm such a massive procrastinator (plus your first significant *anything* is massively intimidating), yet I managed an incredible burst of productivity to where I banged out almost two full acts in two days. When I got about five pages from the end of the script, I realized I didn't have enough time to start something that I had wanted to happen on the last page. I had to go back and set that event in motion, but where?

I had five pages in the first act that were probably the best five pages of the entire script. It was a devious scene made up entirely of dialog where a pivotal guest character is setup to either be a really good guy in a tough situation, working for other people of very questionable character, or a guy who is one of those questionable characters. It was a great setup, and in my mind, it really stood out. People said they loved it, that it was a great hook and made them want to find out what the deal was. Problem is it didn't fit with the show.

Stargate Atlantis is not deep, there isn't a lot of behind the scenes drama going on, and B-stories almost never carry over to other episodes unless they're a primary thread. (For some reason, "primary thread(s)" suddenly strikes me as a cool episode title. Geek..) The way I knew that it didn't belong in this script and this show is that I can delete it whole-sale and replace it with five minutes of a monkey juggling, and it really wouldn't hurt the story. I pride myself on seeing that, because it actually is the best part of the script insofar as writing is concerned, but it had to go, and the script and story will be better for it.

So I have five pages to fill in, but this isn't a good place because it's too early in the story. Great, now I have two problems instead of one. I could just suck up everything that comes after the hole, such that the script overall is now five pages shorter than it was a day ago (or stranger than it was a year ago..get it? West Wing forever bitches..), or I could write five new pages to fit in that nice little hole. Or I could just go into other parts of the script where the page limits where making me write more tightly than I really wanted to, and expand in some areas until the total page count came back up. The easiest thing would be to simply write those five new pages, because all the other options leave me with an even bigger problem: all my act breaks will be offset now. That's a problem you really don't want to have to deal with, so that's pretty much out of the question.

I've been dragging out a script appraisal for longer than I should have, trying to juggle a number of things at once in order to show everyone that I'm doing something for their deal while still getting something done for everyone else. The appraisal is almost done and will probably range from 6-12 pages; I wrote some PERL scripts to do some spam analyzation in order to help a moderated newsgroup (writing related) better filter spam that's been bugging us all,; I'm trying to advance and finish this SGA spec script so that I can move onto other things that are equally as good and have been waiting a long time for me to get to them; I started and then stopped an original screenplay for the latest Writers Digest contest (15 pages in 7 hours, haven't touched it since), and then I try to write something for my weblog every day.

Truth be told, I like being busy, I just hate the feeling that I'm not ever getting anything finished. Getting this spec out of the way will be a massive milestone for me, and I can't wait till then. 42-45 pages of 48 and I have to toss out the entire third and fourth acts to accommodate my lack of experience in writing scripts, then fix the five page hole in act one, and if I want to be true to my vision, write at least another episode because it's a big story and was supposed to be a two-part finale. (two-part...finale..spec script? Shaddup...)

For anyone that cares, here is the scene (or two) that I deleted from the SGA spec "Remnants". This is, I'd like to add, about the first script spec or otherwise that I'd ever written.

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The text of this article is Copyright © 2006,2007 Paul William Tenny. All rights reserved. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License. Attribution by: full name and original URL. Comments are copyrighted by their authors and are not subject to the Creative Commons license of the article itself.