Why do I always pick writing projects that are so challenging? I must like torturing myself. I’m a masochist. Yeah. That’s it. Don’t get me wrong. I love the story development process. It’s just a big beast to tackle. For me, it’s the hardest part of screenwriting and the most time consuming. I’d rather get down to crafting the script and rewriting. Those are the areas where I get to play!
My current screenplay is a one-hour pilot which I’m having a tough time getting it off the ground because the characters, world, and subject matter are complicated. My main character is an attorney who deals with racial discrimination cases. I have no clue as to how the legal system works, so I have to do a lot of research, which includes Googling law websites like FindLaw, watching mock trials on YouTube, and studying TV shows like The Good Wife. I’m trying to get my research done as fast as possible because I don’t want to get lost in research when I could be spending that precious time writing. However, I need to know the basics of the legal system to ensure that the story makes sense.
Initially, I designed my storyline to center around a different case each week, but then I decided to stretch the pilot storyline throughout the entire series, which required everything to be re-worked in a major way. Sigh …. This isn’t going to be easy. I have to figure out how to do it and keep it interesting. So, I’ve been studying two TV shows that do this successfully: House of Cards and American Crime. I’ve already watched each episode of House of Cards a million times, but now I’m re-watching and taking notes on the steps Frank Underwood takes to reach his goal of being the president of the United States, the obstacles he faces, and how he gets around them.
It’s been challenging to craft my story, but I’m up for the challenge.