Why story days are essential for your screenplay: Rocketboy redraft nears completion

Yesterday, we wrote the final few words of ‘Rocketboy’.

It was an emotional moment to get to the end, but also an emotional moment to see what happens to these characters we have fallen in love with. To write those final few scenes that you have been dreaming of, structuring and planning for so long, was for me a real treat.

Of course the script is not finished, we now need to go back and fix all the inconsistencies, quirks and incorporate the new ideas we have cooked up on our journey from page one to page one hundred.

We also need to sort out our ‘story days’.

When we are writing, we often just flow from ‘now, to then’, from ‘day to night to day’, from one slice of time to the next. It often works and makes sense, but it can also hide story problems that we the writers can have blind spots about. Remember, we can never read the script without the baggage of knowing everything in advance. This is a serious handicap.

For instance, we have a couple of ludicrously long days in Rocketboy that we needed to bisect with a ‘story day’ break. We just didn’t recognize this until we went through the script and assigned ‘story days’.

‘Story days’ are very important in physical production, when a script goes to set. But they also important when writing.

It’s essential to know how many hours, days, weeks, months or years your story spans.

We had guessed Rocketboy took place over a couple weeks, but now we know it takes place over twenty four specific days, during which we visit the characters on seventeen of those days. We figured this out by writing it all down on a whiteboard.

Knowing this helps us structure our interweaving stories too, as we can see when characters are not present, creating subtle voids in the structure that will be all too present in the final edit. Maybe this way of thinking comes from the fact that I am also an editor.

Personally, I wouldn’t get too deep into ‘story days’ until you are a few drafts down the line as it’s easy to get stuck in logistical gymnastics. This can tie you up in technical structuring and you forget to get on with the big ideas and creative writing. But as you approach the your final drafts, it’s fundamental to check your ‘story days’.

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones
My movies www.LivingSpiritGroup.com
My Facebook www.Facebook.com/ChrisJonesFilmmaker
My Twitter @LivingSpiritPix

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