Friday, June 08, 2007

Script Frenzy

(For some background information on Script Frenzy, please read my Helium article. Or, I guess, you could go directly to the Script Frenzy website.)

As a three-time NaNoWriMo veteran and winner, I thought Script Frenzy would be a breeze. I mean, come on! Plays are all dialogue, right? Writing dialogue is my strength! And the word count - 20,000 words? That's it? That's less than half of NaNoWriMo's 50,000-word goal. I can do that in my sleep!

I guess three Winner certificates hanging on your wall can give you a misguided sense of hubris.

Armed with my laptop, detailed formatting guidelines, and a great story idea, I started typing. Slowly. And not just because I had to keep checking the formatting guidelines and centering the character tags... writing a script is hard! There are no thoughts, no feelings. No reactions. You can't even take your characters into the other room!

You know what the problem is?

You have to plan.

I'm not good at planning.

I have always been a write-by-the-seat-of-your-pantser. Sit, write. It'll come. If you get stuck, describe the room. Or have some random conversation - you can always cut it out later, and who knows, it might end up going somewhere.

However, in a script, you can't describe anything. And a script made up of random conversations is what they call in the business, "utter crap."

I tried sticking to my original idea, but it was depressing me, because I was getting nowhere and I was ruining a good idea. So I quit.

Now I see why Stanley Kubrick wrote his screenplays from novels. He even asked Arthur C. Clarke to write 2001 as a novel, so he could adapt it into a screenplay. The planning is done for you! You have the ideas, all you have to do it take them and put them in the proper format.

Also, with a screenplay you have more freedom than with a stage play - you can have voice overs (yes, you could probably do that in a stage play too, but it's less common and more complicated, and it sounds crappier because it has to be pre-recorded, yadda, yadda), you can show TV and computer screens, letters, signs, etc. for your audience to read, and you aren't as limited with location and sets. You can have a three-minute scene on the beach sandwiched between a scene in the movie theater and one in the library. On a stage... not so much.

Now, a smart person would ask at this point why I don't just take my story and write a screenplay, instead of stage play.

Because I like to be difficult, that's why.

Although the screenplay has the above-mentioned freedoms, I feel more comfortable with the stage play. I set out to write a stage play, and I don't like to admit defeat. (Also, deep down inside, I want to stick to the stage play because I feel it's more "cultured" - every Tom, Dick, and Harry will be writing a screenplay because it's "trendy," and I want to be different. Yes, it's childish, but so's your face.)

Eight days into the Frenzy, I'm throwing my original idea, and its 1,225 words, out. With 22 days to go, I'm starting over. With one set, and not much more than a general idea... but one that lets me focus on my strength, dialogues, instead of trying to develop an intricate plot. Will it be any good? Who cares! As long as it fills 20,000 words, it's beautiful.


  1. You can always have everyone exit the stage and have people do long monologues about memories and such. You could even have stuff where you have 2 characters each doing that on the stage, talking out into the audience, each "lost in their own thoughts", taking turns talking and ignoring each other.

    Good luck!

  2. What a great challenge! I wrote my entrance essay for law school along the same lines: just start writing and edit later.

    I always get stuck on the first paragraph of my papers, so I got in the habit of writing it last. :)

  3. Lacey4:59 PM

    i REwrote a script and 1- it took me forever and 2- it was vair hard. it is soo hard to tie everything up in all the little good luck. im sure it will be amazing!