Zero Draft Thirty: Your characters want you to tell their story

T minus 4 days. On November 1, the Zero Draft Thirty challenge kicks off!

Zero Draft is what some writers call the vomit draft… or muscle draft… the just-get-the-damn-thing-done draft.

And thirty is… well… the number 30 which is… oh, yeah… the number of days in November!

Write an entire first draft of a script in November — FADE IN to FADE OUT in 30 days.

Feature length movie screenplay. Original TV pilot. Rewrite a current project. Break a story in prep. Generate a month’s worth of story concepts.

Whatever you feel will ratchet your creative ambitions into overdrive, do THAT!

Go here, here, here, and here to learn about the #ZD30SCRIPT challenge.

Check out the comments and see how over 300 writers have signed up. And you are invited to join the creative fracas.

By the way, Indiewire has picked up on the challenge. And it’s been translated into Spanish. So this thing has legs!

Last week, I focused on story prep, a series of posts to help you break your story before typing FADE IN. This week: The psychology of writing, an exploration of a writer’s inner life and dynamics which inhibit our creative output.

Today: Your characters want you to tell their story.

I found myself blurting this out in a recent teleconference with some writers in one of my screenwriting classes. I assume someone has said or written this before. I don’t know the source. But I do believe it.

When we write a story, we deal with characters. We may think of them as existing in our imaginations. But as we dig into and develop them, details begin to emerge and ‘attach’ themselves to each character, aspects of their personality, events in their past, different parts of their psychological makeup. In this process, I think it’s fair to say these characters begin to feel more and more real to us. Indeed the entire story universe in which these characters exist emerges into view as a tangible place.

We can look at this experience — characters and universe becoming more and more real — as a natural result of our hard work, brainstorming and creativity. But what if we choose to look at the dynamic in a slightly different light? What if by doing due diligence and really spending time with our characters in the places where they live, these same characters honor us by revealing themselves and their universe to us? What if they have been waiting for us to come along and find them?

What if our characters want us to tell their story?

What if we actually believed that? What if you believed that? Imagine what a difference that could make in your writing experience.

Instead of an aimless foray into narrative mush, might not the fact these characters know a specific story they want told give us hope we can find that story?

Instead of painful plodding through a creative miasma, perhaps if we reach out to these characters, they will show us the way to FADE IN?

Instead of a solitary sojourn through the process, our characters can act as allies to encourage and lead us?

You may choose to think this is illogical. The characters exist in our minds. Period.

But what if we choose this other way: The characters actually exist in their own story universe. In this respect, it is the ultimate act of creation: The word become flesh. Incarnation.

What if we elect to believe these characters want us to tell their story?

Isn’t that possibility at least worth considering?

Go into your characters. Seek them out. They have a story to tell. Will you tell it?

The Zero Draft Thirty challenge.

November 1: Type FADE IN / In the Beginning.
November 30: Type FADE OUT / The End.

30 days. A first draft of an original story.

Who’s with me?

It’s cool! It’s crazy! It’s free!

NOTE: For those of you using Twitter, use the hashtag #ZD30SCRIPT.

Background on the Zero Draft Thirty challenge:

Who’s with me to pound out a script in November
Zero Draft Thirty: Write a Script in a Month Challenge
Zero Draft Thirty: Story Prep — Overview
Zero Draft Thirty: Story Prep — Index Cards
Zero Draft Thirty: Story Prep — Character Development
Zero Draft Thirty: Story Prep — Script Diary
Zero Draft Thirty: What Are You Afraid Of
Zero Draft Thirty: The Despair of the Blank Page


Comment Archive

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store