Every week I come across a writer who is confused and despondent about their draft. This is more often than not because their story is unclear on the actual page, yet it’s clear in their head. There will be a disconnect between what they want to write and it hitting the ‘bull’s eye’ for the reader. Supersadface.

Nine times out of ten, a draft’s story is unclear because the writer has some kind of craft problem. This will usually relate to concept, character and structure. Basically, these are the ‘holy trinity’ in terms of making your potential audience UNDERSTAND what your story is about.

help my draft is unclear

How does this happen?

When stories are unclear, it’s often because writers have:

Here’s What To Do To Fix It

Whatever the case, it’s usually because writers have not road tested their concepts effectively. When this occurs, this is what B2W recommends:

1) Return FIRST to the concept

Write a logline on what the story is supposed to be overall. Try and keep it short and sweet – under 60 words is ideal. This will help you ‘focus in’ on what your story is MEANT to be.
Then road test your logline with your peers – no one is scared of a couple of sentences! Post it at Bang2writers, or recruit a couple of writers to talk off social media with you. See if they know what you’re trying to do. Rinse and repeat as necessary.
Do remember a good logline is not a tagline, plus it is not *just* ‘about a character’ … It is ‘about a character who DOES [something] BECAUSE.’ MORE: Loglines Are Not Taglines

2) Write a cast list of your characters

Write some very short character biographies for ALL your main characters. You’ll need to assign their tole functions, such as protagonist and antagonist, plus 2-5 others (love interest, mentor, comic relief etc – whatever you feel is needed for plotting purposes).
Next, assign their motivations (what they want and why, plus how this intersects with or opposes your protagonist and antagonist’s goals). You will soon why who is needed and who’s not. MORE: The ONLY 2 Things You Need To Know About Characterisation

3) Write a short outline

Now, using your logline and characters, go back to your outline – or actually do one this time, or throw out your old one if necessary. 4-10 pages should do it and get you back on the road.
(BTW, if you’re writing a TV pilot? Write the series story as a whole first, then work out which bit is your pilot. Starting BIG and then ‘focusing in’ always helps). MORE: Why Planning Beats Seat-Of-Your-Pants Every Time

Last Points

Most writers won’t want to do the above. Instead they will fiddle with individual scenes, characters, etc and hope that will work instead. If it does, it will be by accident rather than design – and will take twice as long. The above might seem like a lot of work, but it’s actually the quickest and most efficient way to get a hold of a draft that is ‘misfiring’.

Want more writing craft tips?

stop hammertimeStruggling with structure? Anxious about exposition? Dazzled by description? Confused by characterisation?? Then The Screenwriting Craft Crash Course is for you!!! If you’ve ever seen my Live Script Edit at LondonSWF, you will know how we put all this stuff under the microscope! Except instead of 2 hours, it’s TWO DAYS!

Loads of Bang2writers have come to me and confessed they’re BAMBOOZLED about what makes ‘good craft’ in their storytelling … After reading stacks of screenplays – coming up 20K in fact – I can help!!!  The Screenwriting Craft Crash Course this November, 11-12th 2017 will help you take your writing to THE NEXT LEVEL. Can you afford to miss out??

What’s more, I’ve negotiated a whopping £40 off your ticket – taking it from £139 to £99. Just click the button below and enter CCCSpecial at the checkout.

See you there?

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