Here are the eleven steps to cracking any story:

1. IDEA: A stage of over-confidence in which the screenwriter believes the seed of an idea that just popped into his or her head will make a good CRACKEDstory and that the idea itself is so compelling that “this script will practically write itself.”

2. BEGINNING THE OUTLINE: The part where the writer realizes he bit off more than he could chew.

3. COMPLETING THE OUTLINE: A rush of energy as the writer realizes the hard work is completed. This will, indeed, be a great script. Based on this outline, “This script will practically write itself.”

4. REVIEWING THE OUTLINE A DAY LATER: The point at which the writer realizes he or she was a bit hasty and the story might be a little routine, lack sufficient development, and need just a tweak or two. The writer revises.

5. BEGINNING PAGES: The point at which the writer realizes he or she is a complete fraud, knows nothing about writing, and should be laughed at and chastised for even trying.

6. REOUTLINING: A laborious chore akin to torture during which everything the writer thought was working is thrown out and painstakingly replaced with much thought, self-doubt, struggle, stress, lost sleep and depression.

7. BEGINNING PAGES AGAIN: The point at which the writer now knows for certain he or she is a complete fraud, but by now has too much invested to turn back. A depressing journey into an awareness of one’s limitations.

8. GETTING TO THE MID-POINT OF THE SCRIPT: The point at which the writer believes “there’s only part of the second act and then the third act to go. The rest of this script will virtually write itself.”

9. COMPLETING THE PAGES: Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, the writer picks up speed, gains greater stamina, writes more pages, and completes the first draft.

10. REVIEWING THE PAGES: The writer tosses out the third act, realizing that “picking up speed” might not be the best way to complete a script.

11. REWRITING THE THIRD ACT: The writer relaxes, starts rewriting the third act and realizes the problem with the third act is that the first two acts don’t work. The writer tosses the entire script in the trash, prepares a noose, and – just before swinging – musters up the energy to start again.

Repeat as necessary….

9 thoughts on “CRACKING THE STORY”

  1. Heh heh. Congratulations! You’ve just found the way to keep all the no-talent wannabes from cluttering up my reader’s inbox — I’ll just make them read this first! 😉 Thanks.

  2. “A depressing journey into an awareness of one’s limitations.” That’s the part that really hurts me. As Matt said, “spot on.”

  3. tw

    hmm. i just write off the top of my head and it comes out perfect. no outline, no rewrite, no problem. the method you describe seems like a lot of work and frustration to me. pass.

    excuse me, some damn studio exec is calling to beg me to work on their new project. damn phone, never stops ringing. sorry, i have to take this

  4. My problem is that I don’t hit 4. I normally don’t realize that I should have hit 4 until after I’m deeply ensconced in 11. And then I’m wishing I had hit 4 and think, like a fool. I could’ve avoided all the anguish and misery.

    After all, nguish and misery is what its all about…

  5. Very, very funny…. and sadly true oftentimes as well. I always tell my screenwriting students at that it’s so important to take your writing seriously – but not TOO seriously!

    cheers – Jana/

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