Masters tales

Screenwriting 5

Hope you all had a really good Easter. I have been working on the script but it hasn’t been easy. It is all a matter of plot and subplot and all the intricacies in-between.

My lecturer at the beginning of the module had said, “Work out your plot and then write it.”

And being just like a student I thought, “Bah… I’ll wing it.”

Oops. Well, I have finally worked it out but it has so many layers. I felt like I was writing the plot to a Jonathan Creek episode rather than a small hour and a half drama. I didn’t help matters by choosing a thriller. It has been complicated working out the characters and how they worked to further the plot. Not forgetting the red-herrings and the twists. Now though I think I can work it out and have all the twists. I also know who done it and why and who I hope the audience will think did it.

The only problem is that I’ve got to get the whole thing into an hour and a half or ninety minutes. The rule with writing the scripts is that 1 page = 1 minute. So I need 90 pages. Sounds a lot but I am anxious that I won’t fit it all in. When the outline is six pages long without dialogue or actions I worry that my screenplay will over-run. Still, I’m going to give it my best shot.

That brings me to dialogue… In a short story I find dialogue easy because the character can muse things or think aspects that other characters don’t know, allowing the plot to move forward. But in a screenplay all you can use is action and speech. So the speech becomes so important. And my first attempt failed.

I laboured away and produced a five-page epic between two characters where they talk about nothing and everything. The lecturer read it and then said it was good and not stilted. He then asked me to sum up what they had actually said. I did in a couple of lines. He then said that this is what I ought to have written and that less is more.

He was so right. By writing less and inferring more the plot moved just as swiftly but with more penash. The dialogue seemed polished. The other thing I’ve got to write and not be scared of is silences. I find them particularly difficult. If a character can say something with a look then they have to, but I seem to like to write a running commentary. Bad idea! Luckily though the lecturer has set me a task. I must write the screenplay in rough and then he will help me tighten up the speech and add those all important silences.

So wish me luck as I have ten days left and 75 pages still to do…


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