I made a snap decision on March 31st, and I've been wondering ever since why I signed up for Script Frenzy, which commits me to write a 100-page script by the end of April. The words I keep repeating sound like a mantra or a hallucinatory mumble: “Because it’s on my Bucket List.”
For a long time, I have wanted to write a screenplay. Of course, I intended to learn the ropes in a logical fashion by taking a workshop or a course on screenwriting. I got very close a few times, but there were always scheduling conflicts. So, now I get to do it the hard way – learn by doing! Fortunately, the Script Frenzy website provides heaps of information, including a section of Writer's Resources, that is a crash course in the basics. In fact, there is so much detail that I have not even started writing the script yet, and by now I’m supposed to have written 13.2 pages, at the recommended rate of 3.3 pages per day.
If I had planned to write a screenplay in the same month that I have to do my income tax (oops, I guess I forgot about that conflict), I would have done more preparation. (Such as filing my income tax in March.) The Script Frenzy guru suggested plotting an outline, creating story boards in advance, and other nifty techniques which would allow for full steam ahead on the script, beginning Day One. I’m following a variation of that suggestion.
To back up a bit, this is a challenge from the same wonderful people who bring us NaNoWriMo in November. Call it their idea of "How to Torture Writers in April.” After all, it is the cruellest month. All you have to do is write an original 100-page script in 30 days. How hard can that be? (How come they choose months with only 30 days for these wild adventures? Why not March or October? One more day would come in handy.)
And did they say “original” script? Well, I think I’ve got that covered because I’ve never written a script before, so by definition anything I do will be original. Right? I’m not counting the adaptation of the fairy tale Snow White and Rose Red that I did when I was twelve for a school Christmas concert. However, I have to confess that what I plan to do is ... er, write an adaptation ... of the novel I’ve been working on forever. And I’m not even going to ask them if it's okay.
It may be madness to start work on yet another project when I have several already awaiting completion. However, there is some reason to my plan. I am close to starting revision of the first draft of my novel. Some of you know about my characters, Laura and her daughter Fiona, and their tangled relationships. I have been unhappy for some time with some key elements of the story as it currently exists. When I was thinking about what kind of script I’d write, I got this diabolical idea of writing the same story as a screenplay as a way to approach the revision. I plan to do it without referring to the draft of the novel. This approach could be a very cathartic experience – writing a fresh, dramatic presentation of the same plot, through new eyes as it were. I know the characters very well already – which is recommended by said guru. It will be as if I am a screen writer who has just stumbled on an idea for a story. Hopefully, I’ll have progress to report in two weeks time that will substantiate my plan.
Since I have thought of little else over the past few days, talking about this preoccupation made sense when I started writing my post. Since then, I have noticed there were three previous posts in the past year on this topic. Click on “Screenwriting” in the list of labels on the left side of this page to find what connie, Karyn, and honorary Chick Kate Bridges, had to say. If you like, you could call this my response to the question: “Have you ever tried screenwriting?”
As well as the Script Frenzy site, check out the tips contained in a collection of articles found at Screenplay Notes. Another site, Screenwriting.Info, provides an overview of the elements required in a script. The writer refers to Final Draft software, which is one of the four programs recommended by the Script Frenzy folks. Even with a discount as a participant, it’s a little too pricey for me. Instead I downloaded a free software program, which now I have to learn to use!
Comments on my crazy plan for April are welcome. Alternatively, tell us how you spent the Easter weekend. I laid low at home trying to avoid getting and spreading a head cold; part of my “therapy” was watching movies. Easter programming on Turner Classic Movies included The Silver Chalice (1954), a biblical story adapted from Thomas B. Costain’s novel. It was Paul Newman’s first film (which he said in later years was the worst movie ever made), also starring Virginia Mayo, Jack Palance, and Pier Angeli. I also watched the first part of Ben Hur, the remake on CBC. If you saw it, what did you think?