Skip to main content

Quality and Quantity

The idea with this blog, as I recently articulated in my new "What Is This?" page, is to teach myself to write well and quickly. I'll achieve this by writing quickly, a lot, until I eventually adapt to the process and the quality starts getting better.

This is largely a reaction to my last screenplay, which I wrote over the course of about two years. And it came out fantastic, don't get me wrong; the fact that it had two years of work shows. But I know if I want to make it as a professional screenwriter, I need to be able to produce faster than that.

So, because I'd just spent two years focusing on the quality half of the equation, I switched gears to focusing on the quantity. Both sides eventually lead into each other, if you do enough of it; if you write enough quality stuff, you're going to eventually do it quicker, and if you just write a whole lot of stuff, eventually it's going to get better.

And I've already seen that happen here. If you compare Dominion to my Untitled Cinderella Sequel, it's no contest; Dominion is better in every way. And that's just after two months. In the same way, my first 20-page treatment will be up on Saturday, and as much work as I'll pour into it between now and then, I can tell you right now it'll kind of suck - and be short, besides. And I'm okay with that, because I know the second one will be better. And then the third will be better than the second. And so on.

But still, I'm starting to wonder if I shouldn't be working on Quantity or Quality writing; maybe I should instead do both at the same time.

Here's an alternative, quality-focused system I've been thinking about: just take this current system of mine, but pour all of the work into a single product. So instead of writing five loglines a week, write one. Instead of writing four 3-page treatments a month, write one. Instead of writing four 20-page treatments in four months, write one. The first draft could still be written in four months (if you're going off of a 20-page treatment that's had that much work put into it, you should be able to make a good first draft in a few weeks), and then just give the final draft however long it needs.

The end result is writing a first draft every four months, just like my Quantity system - it's just the final draft takes longer.

The thing I can't figure out is where this system fits. Is it something I do alongside the Quantity system, and I just double the workload? Or more likely, do I start giving everything only half the time it currently has? Do I alternate them? If so, what schedule do I use? Every four months? Do I alternate by the step - so one week I write five loglines, the next one? One month I write one treatment, the next four?

I think, as long as I could keep giving enough time to everything, I'd like to do both systems alongside each other, and feed them off of each other. So if, for example, when the time comes to pick which 3-page treatments are going to be made into 20-page treatments, I could pick a Quantity 3-page to make into a Quality 20-page, and vice-versa. But again, really not sure I could keep giving everything enough time.

To top all of that off, I've been thinking getting someone else to do my logline (and treatment etc.) rankings. That's kind of been the goal, it's just that it brings with it the work of getting someone else involved in the process - whereas when I do everything, I can work on my own schedule. So I'm thinking of the best ways to make that work.

Basically, the moral of the story is, expect changes to come in my process soon. We'll see what happens.

 - Teddy