Let me be an example to all. Heed my warning. Do your research thoroughly before you start writing.
I was polishing my first screenplay, getting it all pretty for submission season, when I discovered I had made a rather large error. In trying to create a more compelling version of my female protagonist, I did a little research into women’s roles in Ancient Rome and learned something that would change everything. Ancient Rome was not what I thought. I allowed my ignorant assumptions, probably based on remnant memories of movies/tv/fiction past to create a world that was a bit on the inaccurate side. As I have commented (numerous times) before, I have always struggled with the third act. I have rewritten it so many times, and I’m still sort of displeased with it. I thought if I could change a few character details, maybe that would give me a different perspective on how to alter the finale. So I went into research mode. I’m not sure if I should kick myself now, for not having done this sooner, but nonetheless, here I am…again: major rewrite in progress…*Sigh
Oh, writing. Why are you so painful some days. On Monday at my writer’s group, I did some “reworking” and deleted everything I wrote. Two hours had passed and I was no closer to solving my dilemma. I’m going on two weeks with no new developments, and I have a week and a half before I want to start submitting it. Tick tock. Tick tock.
There’s this idea that in order to get the story out, you just write. You don’t worry about it being good or bad, you just get it on paper. We discussed this on Monday, and I agree, but this isn’t currently where I am on this piece. It had its days of being “bad”. Until a few days ago, I loved the first two acts (and I still do). I just wanted a way to wrap it up nicely. Stupid period piece and your historical inaccuracy.
My tip of the day: Do your homework. Seriously. Don’t follow in my footsteps. Unless you really know what you’re talking about, don’t rely on fictionalized accounts and a faulty memory, do a little research. I love doing research, so I’m quite surprised to learn I was not more thorough. Create special folders on your computer of sites you visit for information as a quick reference tool for each story. Read up on different aspects (time period, male/female roles, political climate, cultural influences, scientific advancements, etc.) of the story you’re telling, and you may be surprised to learn something that changes your story for the better (or worse, for your characters anyway, depending on your tale).
Now I must go and stare blankly at my script in the hopes “M” will come to life by some sheer force of will. That picture above is the equivalent of my mind at the moment…
I hope your day goes better. Wishing you all the best!