The Rush to the Finish

I read a lot of screenplays as a screenwriting mentor, and I have discovered an anomaly in most all early drafts. One that I suspect is common to all screenwriters and, perhaps, novelists as well. We all get what I call “What If Moments,” that flash of an idea, that interrupts all else, even deep sleep. I have learned to scribble them down the moment they come to me, for they have a tendency to disappear in the ‘Ether’ as quickly as they came—usually lost forever.

Anyway, once we get these ‘what if moments,’ the writers journey begins. We spend hours on end developing a story, populating it with characters and then we sit down to write it. This process takes more hours, spent in solitude over a keyboard, laboriously filling pages—hour after hour, day after day, long night after long night. And then one day, like the dawning of time, the end comes in sight. And we one and all race toward the finish line. That’s right I said race! We actually begin to type faster, our whole process speeds up, we are so happy, so relieved to finally reach the end, we can hardly contain ourselves. Thus the anomaly I spoke of back in the first sentence. In this rush we make more typos, we misspell more words; we make more omissions, as we dash, pell-mell, for the ending.

I am trying to rein in my urge to dash for the finish line. After all, I write spec scripts, so there is no deadline, no reason to race ahead—damn the torpedoes! I am, from now on, taking my time, stopping to smell the roses, thinking about each word, to see if it truly fits. After all, the end of your story is the last bit one reads—and remembers, hopefully, the most.

Wally Lane

(Photo credit – Jar O’Marbles)


3 responses to “The Rush to the Finish

  1. *laughs* I’m totally guilty of that, Wally!

    It’s one of the reasons I like zero drafts, so I can rush pell-mell for the ending. Then the ending is usually where I concentrate the most attention during edits.

    Sometimes though, I do force myself to slow down and really focus on what’s going on so that I don’t lose something in that mad dash.


  2. Guilty as charged with novels, though not so much with scripts. The last 50 pages or so are the ones I do a run through edit on BEFORE I send them to my CPs. (Usually.) *laughs* Sometimes I’m so excited I push “send” the second I’m finished. But then I usually resend a cleaned-up file later.

    Zero drafts for the win! Even if they really end up being first drafts, I love the freedom of considering them as “zero”.

  3. Jar O' Marbles

    Photography has taught me the art of patience and the art of knowing when to rush. It’s amazing how instinctual these things become when looking through a camera lens. If you take too long on the shot, the lighting might change or the bird move(they like to do that). If you rush, you might blur the image too much.

    It’s a tricky dance to figure out. I imagine it’s similar to writing those last chapters.

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