Thursday, November 1, 2007

Puttin' my hat on and gettin' to work!

Today is the Day

I'm going to put my writer hat on my head.

(Yes, Virginia, writers do exist!)

I’m ignoring the potential WGA strike by doing this, not that this matters much to me since I'm not yet a member of WGA...(sigh)...

(Yes, Virginia writers do write the movies and no, they don't get paid when you download the movie on your iPod.)

November has become National [blank] Writing Month.

It all began with the National Novel Writing Month. Then this included playwrights in the National Playwriting Month .

There’s even one for bloggers, can you believe it?

This means a bunch of workaholics are going to put some things on hold (like their lives) and write a novel/play/blog in one month. They will probably drink a lot of coffee and never sleep and their hands will cramp up typing. They may not even shower or shave. So try to avoid them in public. They may bite if you get too close.

Me. I’m charting a different path for myself.

I’m going to write a screenplay in 21 days.



Well, I saw this book that was titled How to Write a Move in 21 Daysby Vicki King. It intrigued me. Can it be done? How?

So I got the book.

As a “how to” book, and especially as a book on dramatic writing, it’s not that great. And trust me, I’ve read a lot of them, for my own personal study and for analyzing whether or not they’d be helpful textbooks for a class.

But it does have a schedule breakdown. As in…Day 1 you do this, then Day 2 you do this…etc. etc. It’s the challenge aspect of this idea that really excites me. I like the idea of having assigments and working under pressure. Sometimes as writers we really need that kick in the butt.

So today I start writing the movie—in fact, Day 1 is to write the first 10 pages. And then by November 22nd I will have a draft of my movie.

Until then, I’m going to be very cranky.

Granted, I’ve already got some of the hard work done. I’ve thought about the story and the characters and have written a short outline of my story. It’s still gestating and the story needs to be rewritten, fooled with, adjusted, etc. I learned a lot writing my last screenplay about how important it is to know what your story is, who it’s about, and where it should begin and end…before you write FADE IN. The writing of the scenes and dialogue is usually pretty easy for me once I get going. Of course, the rewriting of everything afterwards is where it gets difficult.

For instance, creating a logline can go through several revisions. Here’s the original:

“As a touring group of actors perform a children’s play across the nation, they embark on a journey from isolated individuals to forming their own version of a ragtag family truly unique to the theater.”

Okay, not bad. Not great either. I mean, what’s the story? Who is it really about?

I decided it’s really a love story—because everybody loves a love story. It’s a love story of a man and a woman, but it’s also another kind of love story—my love for theatre (good and bad as it is). The latter is hard to convey, but the first is quite easy.

So let me take another stab, this time naming my lead character.

“Eric takes a job as a Stage Manager for a children’s theater tour and falls for one of the lead actresses. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know how to win her heart while they travel on the road, forging new relationships and experience the different cities and towns of America.”

Better, but not quite there. Why does he take the job? What’s her name, for crying out loud and what does she want? And “forging new relationships” just sounds cliché, like something you’d find on a job resume.

So one more try.

“Out of job and running from a disastrous long-term relationship, fledgling film director Eric swears off love forever and flees New York by signing on as Stage Manager of a children’s theater tour. But he falls for Carey, the lead actress, already engaged to a successful dentist and planning to move to L.A. to do TV and film work. Can he win her heart while the show travels through the heartland from theater to small town schools before they return to the city?”

Now, that’s a little bit better. Still not quite there yet but you start to get the idea of what kind of movie this is, who the characters are, and what might be in store.

If I were to make a movie poster slogan, it might go something like this:

“All’s fair in love and children’s theater.”


“Love broke his heart, but his spirit might get mended on the road.”

Yuck. That sounds too sentimental or life-changing.

How about…

“Hell isn’t other people. It’s children’s theater.”

Actually, that last one is pretty catchy, but maybe too intellectual. I’ll keep working on it.

Stay tuned for updates on the progress!

Write on!

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