How to Finish An Animated Musical Script

You may have noticed I've been kind of quiet on the "about making films" front lately. Even if the number of posts seems to indicate otherwise, It's not because of the war. I've been writing, rewriting, actually, on the fourth draft of the Animated Musical script. Looking back to November, when I finished the second draft, I have to say I'm very pleased with the progress:

A couple of major characters needed to be more fully developed. A couple of ways I did this: wrote down brief descriptions, including some backstory, for each character as I saw them; and read the script through for each character, to see how they actually appear. Reconcile the two embodiments of the character. One other thing I put forward in my mind was actors; I imagine actors being asked to play this or that character, and write characters that they'd want to take on. [cf. Julianne Moore interviews and, yes, In The Actor's Studio.]

What remains right now is a complete front-to-back read for pacing, timing and flow, to see how tension builds, how the story unfolds, how expectations are set and met (or not).

The big showdown ending, for lack of a better term, had troubled me for a long time. I knew what should happen, how it should end, but not necessarily how to get to the resolution I had in mind. The incidents it's partly based on didn't have a decisive ending, so I couldn't just turn to real life for the solution. And besides, it has to be believable, coherent, and it wasn't, for a long time.

Here's how I (think I) fixed/finished it: To see how the action unfolds, I wrote out the entire third act in one-line elements. Those just-the-facts elements were mostly actions/reactions, or statements, or realizations, but usually not specific dialogue, details, or shots. These no-nonsense, flourish-free elements became the structure and flow of the story; it's easy to keep track of one-line elements, to move them around, add or delete them, thereby pinning down the sequence of things and making it much easier to lay down the details, dialogue, etc.

more to come...

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

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first published: April 9, 2003.

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