The Psychology of Final Draft’s Script Notes …

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An amazing tool I am using on Final Draft 8 is the Script Note function in the software program. You can add a note that might go on for pages and you can add the note at precisely the point you think it needs to be added in the script. Anywhere you want to add notes to your screenplay you simply click the icon at the top of the page and a small box appears. You can write pages and pages in the boxes. When you close, it goes back to the little box after the word you placed it after. A word in the Scene level. Or in the Exposition/Action level. Or the Character level. There are three major categories you might chose to write notes about that remind you of things to add or distract from the screenplay. You can then print out a report that gathers all of the notes you have written in your screenplay naming the page the notes are in. Then, you can PDF the report so readers or collaborators can read them.

Many things have been written on the creative process of screenwriting. Yet little attention (it seems to me) has been placed in looking at the Script Note Report of a screenwriter who has been faithful to using them throughout his or her screenplay. An honest Script Report takes a screenwriter who uses it as the key source of comment on the script. All his key concerns need to go into these notes. The people he has spoken to. The other places a character or action or event can go at a particular point in the screenplay. The point in the screenplay when the roads converge like the Robert Frost poem.

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I find that the content in the Script Note boxes exist just outside the story enough but are able to comment truthfully on it like an anxious parent might observe the growth of his or her own child. The child is the action-filled content of the story. But the Script Note function seems the ultimate outside observer of the story. Outside observations that need to be considered and incorporated into a screenplay story. Adding, subtracting or modifying Scenes. Adding, subtracting or modifying Exposition/Action. Adding, subtracting or modifying Characters. In effect, they are that “glow” that Joseph Conrad once said “enveloped” the overall story. Each one of the notes can go on for pages and are able to hide in small little boxes the size of the words of the screenplay.

Perhaps someday these Script Notes parts of a screenplay might be viewed in light of the theories Carl Jung’s analytical psychology and the theories and ideas of symbolism. I think that Jungians would have field days with truthful and thick Script Notes from serious screenwriters. I think that collaborators on scripts would find them of great importance in understanding what their collaborator(s) wanted to do. Better than a phone call or a Skype or text message in that all can be said at the most important place it needs to be said in the creation of a story.

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In a way, Script Notes itself represents a type of symbolic “context” Joseph Conrad defined as a “glow” enveloping the “content” of a story. An example of these comments are in the Script Note Report (below in PDF for first 20 pages of my script in progress The Once And Future Cowboy.)  I think these have a tremendous importance in seeing a screenplay from a different perspective. The screenwriter wears a different “hat” in writing Script Notes than worn during the onstage process of the creation of the screenplay on that stage called white pages.

These screenplay Script Notes are just enough under the conscious, action level of the screenplay the hard-pushing screenwriter dwells in most of his or her days, just enough under the surface of the screenplay (or perhaps above the surface?) to be able to comment very truthfully on the on-page work. Actually the box is sitting on the page disguised and made small by the software.

Things written into Script Notes can serve as offstage voices reminding the screenwriter that he or she is being watched from a certain outside position. Outside the positions inhabited by the old narrators of recent fiction. Now this voice might best be viewed in the Script Notes sections of screenplays. The real person behind the screenwriter might inhabit these invisible boxes more than he or she does in the visible pages of the screenplay. Screenwriters place various Jungian archetype characters into their screenplay.

Of course, the one requirement is that the word and ideas in the small boxes be translated into scenes, action or character dialogue. No more of the rambling words in the boxes. The word involved in creating a performance are now needed. Not the words representing the notes on the performance. They need translation onto the pages of the  screenplay. This presents a considerable challenge. Yet the Script Notes exist at the precise moment in the screenplay story. The moment they need to exist. Options. Questions. Comments. Dialogue.

Someday, a type of community might evolve around Script Notes. A more powerful community than even that exists around the Final Draft 8 mothership.

Once & Future Cowboy – Note Report

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