“And the Bad Version is … “
This comes via my friend Charlie Daly, who got it from a screenwriter friend of his.
It’s a trick to get your writing going when you’re stuck.
Charlie’s friend will sit down at his laptop, set his fingers on the keys and tell himself, “And the bad version is … “
Then he’ll start typing.
I realized, when Charlie told me this, that I’ve been using this sneaky bit of business myself for thirty years. I just never had the nomenclature.
The Bad Version. We can all do that, right?
By telling ourselves that we’re only writing the Bad Version, we take the pressure off. Our sentences don’t have to be brilliant. Our dialogue can be lame. We’re free to lose complete track of theme, narrative, everything.
It’s all okay because our aim is only to write the Bad Version.
And later, when we read over our Bad Version, we’re free to cut ourselves some slack for its quality. So it’s bad? That’s what we said it would be!
The other great thing about writing the Bad Version is when we’re done, we’ve got a version. It might be bad, but it’s something. We can build on that something. We can rewrite. We can reconfigure. We can reconstitute.
And the best part? Sometimes, in the middle of pounding out the Bad Version, we stumble onto a run of phrases or snatches of dialogue that we can later steal when we go back and craft the Bad Version into the Good Version.
Thanks, Charlie! And thanks to your “bad” friend from Tinseltown.