Writing by ‘Feel’

Writing an episode of Boardwalk Empire is proving to be the most challenging thing I’ve ever taken on as a writer.  I knew what I was getting myself into when I decided to take it on, but damn – it’s one thing to know what you’re getting into, and quite another to experience it.

The step outline didn’t take very long to complete.  Once I figured out the beats of my five stories, plotting them into the series’ template wasn’t difficult.  In fact, I was quite surprised at how well these five stories juxtapose next to each other.  This script will be a gooder when it’s complete.  Unfortunately, this script ain’t writing itself.

Dialogue is the trickiest bit.  I know what I want the characters to say, but the specific words they use, requires quite a bit of thought.  1920s vernacular, sub-divided by class, education, and ethnic background.  All of this needs to be reflected in the dialogue of the individual characters.

Some dialogue is trickier than others.  I have a scene between Chalky White and Dunn Pernsley – two very strong black characters.  Their dialogue is a whole other language.  The cadence, their choice of words, and their punctuation is completely foreign to me.  To get a handle on it, I actually watched an episode where they appear together – and I transcribed every word of their dialogue.  It’s helped quite a bit.

Getting a handle on someone else’s characters is really quite intimidating.  I keep second guessing myself.  These characters belong to Terrence Winter and I’m just borrowing them for a spell.  He’s spent years with them.  I’m doing a one-night-stand.

I’m about a fifth of the way through the script.  Not a very great pace, but I expect I’ll be moving faster as I get a better feel for everyone’s dialogue.  I’ve taken to watching parts of different episodes while composing my own script.  It gives me confidence to feel the series, while writing it.

Gonna wrap this up now.  I have a shitpile of scenes to write in a very short period of time.

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