My impressions so far in trying to write a first full-length screenplay:
Over the last few weeks I have been helping my son construct a gigantic lego Star Wars craft of some kind (you’ll have to ask him the details). The pieces are strewn all over his bedroom floor, and in the course of going to the bathroom at night and simple day-to-day activities some of the pieces collect in odd corners of the house.
Eventually, as we painstakingly work our way through the directions, we find the pieces required for the next step in building (or something close that will work) and plug the miniscule plastic bits into their appropriate spots.
It’s a slow, grueling process, and I’m sure you see where I’m going with this.
However, screenwriting is not exactly like building an enormous fictional flying machine. It’s close, but in screenwriting the little plastic bits are not simply somewhere on the floor or under a pile of dirty pajamas an arm’s length away.
In screenwriting the plastic bits are somewhere in town. They could be on the floor next to you, or they could be out back by the dumpster at the deli down the street.
For the sake of time and sanity you can substitute plastic bits that are close to being right, sure, but eventually you’re going to have to dismantle that sloppy machine you threw together and find the precise, right bits.
Even then, I bet, there’s no guarantee it will fly…