Deadlines Revisited by Nevada McPherson
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Nevada McPherson as she shares with us “Deadlines Revisited.” Enjoy!
In the last few weeks I’ve been working on completing some projects to clear the decks for new ones I’m about to start. I’m also about to begin rewrites on some much older projects that I haven’t worked on in quite a long time. These older projects now seem new as I read them after an extended cooling-off period. The author Ray Bradbury once said that when he completed a story he would often put it in a drawer not to look at it again for a year. Sometimes if we need to get something done we don’t have the luxury of putting a project away for that long, but these projects have been hiding out for well over a year. How do I feel about them now that I’m looking at them again? Are they better than I remember? Worse? Well, both.
On the positive side I’m pleased about my attention to detail and the way the characters are very distinct with their own quirky interests, hopes and fears. There’s a great deal of local color included in my New Orleans-set screenplay, Egyptomania, including mentions of once-popular places that “ain’t dere no more” (referring to the local band Benny Grunch and the Bunch’s song about beloved stores, institutions and traditions that were there for years and now are gone). In my screenplay there are places that I used to walk past almost daily, pieces of my everyday life that, now that I no longer live in New Orleans, I don’t get to experience anymore. What could be better as I revisit past works than to revisit these places in my work?
Overall, I’m pleased with my dialogue in this script but there are places where, now that I’ve written several other screenplays since then, and adapted others into books, I see where the dialogue could be leaner and richer with subtext. In fact, there are places in the description that could be trimmed without losing anything. When I wrote this screenplay, I was under a tough time constraint trying to write a screenplay in a month. For those who have ever participated in NaNoWriMo, where during the month of November writers attempt to write a novel in one month, you know the pressure of writing a longer piece of work under such a deadline: the peaks and valleys, highs and lows of writing your story in a hurry. One wonderful thing about taking on such a challenge such as a contest is that you get it done. On the other hand, a less wonderful thing is that it could maybe use another draft/ rewrite/ polish before it’s at its best. Nevertheless, having it done even if it is a big, rough piece of rock rather than a polished and refined sculpture is definitely better than no rock at all.
One thing that I seek to work on in this rewrite is the ending. I believe I’ve gotten better at endings, but something about the ending of this story always seemed a bit rushed and a little too “easy” to me. That’s another pitfall of writing something in a hurry – you tend to rush things, but sometimes you have to to get it over the transom, to beat the deadline. Of course that doesn’t excuse a substandard ending, but that’s the reason they sometimes happen. I have room in my page count to develop and improve this one considerably, so that’s what I intend to do.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nevada McPherson McPherson lives with her husband Bill and rescue Chihuahua, Mitzi in Milledgeville, Georgia, where she is an associate professor of Humanities at Georgia Military College. Nevada received a BA in English/ Creative Writing and an MFA in Screenwriting from Louisiana State University-Baton Rouge. She has written over a dozen feature-length screenplays, plays, short stories and the graphic novels, Uptowners and Piano Lessons. Queensgate, the sequel to Uptowners, is her third graphic novel. For more information, visit www.nevada-mcpherson.com.