Monday, April 5, 2010

Because it's on my Bucket List. That's why!

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?


Silver James said...

Helena, you are a brave soul. I did ScriptFrenzy a couple of years ago. It was fun. Granted, I had no other projects going at the time and I was on the road a lot for softball tournaments with The Only so I had lots of downtime to think and write. Every once in awhile, I consider turning the script into a book. I love the idea of using the screenplay as a way to work through revisions. Dialogue. It's all about dialogue!

I never did use a software program for it. I have a book by Syd Fields simply title SCREENPLAY. It showed me the formatting to use, though I didn't worry so much about it until I was all but done. I tend to think in *TV movies* when I write anyway. The prologue is the opening followed by a a commercial, and then the chapters are each part of the "screenplay" with a commercial at the end of each chapter. I want a hook so the reader will either sit through the commercial, or rush back when the show starts again.

Good luck! You can do it and I'm betting what you discover in the writing of it will make a difference in your current WIP!

Jana Richards said...

Hi Helena,
I've heard of Scriptfrenzy on some of the loops I'm on. I've often thought it would be fun to write a screenplay but I had no idea how to go about doing it. For now I think I'll stick to novels.

I agree with Silver. You are a brave soul! But I think this crazy venture might turn out to be the kick start your novel needs. Good luck!


Sheila said...

I found Prairie Chicks again! Yeah! Nice! Helena! :)

Helena said...

Thanks for your encouraging words, Silver. I'm hoping for a positive experience. If I learn something (anything!) plus get a jump on re-thinking my story, I'll be a winner.

Glad of your comment re software. I'm beginning to think I won't take time to fuss with that now, but perhaps I'll be glad to have it for future projects. The Script Frenzy website seems to have the essentials, but I'm always curious about how programs work.

That's me, curious (but I don't know about brave). Thanks again for your support!

Helena said...

Jana, good to "see" you here!

Yeah, I'm feeling a little crazy right now -- maybe biting off a bit more than I can chew (as far as sticking to the rules, that is). As I said to Silver, I hope to learn a little, and thank you for the kick start image. Exactly my sentiments!

Helena said...

A BIG welcome back, Sheila!! Glad you found us again.

Thanks for visiting, and for your support -- always!

Janet said...

Ambitious, Helena! I can't wait to hear more about your month - and how it influences/changes/enhances your writing (says me who's stuck on revisions of Lady Bells).

(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.) LOL - seems diabolical, doesn't it?

Helena said...

Janet, don't despair. You probably are not in the revising state of mind just now. Sometimes hiding a toy from a child for a few months and then bringing it out again re-ignites the interest, like finding a long lost friend. And if it needs fixing, sometimes a break from it makes the cracks more obvious when you pick it up again. (Not that you're a child, but I just thought of the analogy. Maybe you should just ignore if for a while, then bring it out when you can feel 'revision mood' setting in. It might work, what do you think?)

As for my month of Frenzy,I seem to do my best work when I'm under the gun, so maybe it's for the best that I decided to give it a whirl. Sure didn't give it much thought before taking the plunge.

Would love to sit down and chat about revisions and stuff, but my trip to the Maritimes isn't on my calendar just yet. But it's not forgotten. You will find me on your doorstep some day!

Janet said...

Don't forget about MSN, Helena - a click away :)

Anita Mae Draper said...

Helena, I congratulate you for taking this on. One of these days I will attempt Script Frenzy, too - but not this year.

They just closed a contest where they were looking for inspirational scripts. I felt the pull of that contest but not enough to get a clear idea for the script itself.

I did however, upload a script writing app to my iTouch so that if the urge ever hits, I'll be ready. The app is formatted to script writing with proper indentation for dialogue, etc so it will be a big help.

And so will your excellent post. Thank you.

I'm so proud of you for undertaking this endeavor. Good luck.

Helena said...

Anita, I was feeling embarrassed that I did not check back to see your comment ---- until I noticed what time you posted it! Sorry, I was snoring by then.

I'm feeling jittery about doing this, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say.

I think the software I downloaded is supposed to be intuitive like the app you described. More about all of this later ...