November 30, 2014 by bck1402
Sometimes, it feels that writing a screenplay should be easier than writing a novel. It’s not always the case. I’ve written scripts for cartoons over the last few years, some of which I’ve shared on my blog along with comments about writing them. Because they’re cartoons, I’ve always stressed that you’re only limited by imagination. Anything can happen in a cartoon because logic often need not apply. That, of course, depends on the world that’s built for the show.
Let’s side-step that for now, I’m not going to dwell on the cartoons since I’m working on an actual screenplay this time. No, it’s not a paying job, just something I want to see to completion. Just taking a short break from it for now.
I have done at least one full script before, and I’m not allowed to share that because the person I wrote it for has paid for it and so, it belongs to him – should he decide to turn it into a movie. At least, that was his intention but given the time that’s passed, I don’t see it happening. I worked with him on a few other projects (a spy thriller was another such project that didn’t get past a scriptment level) and I showed him (so long ago) the idea for this current one I’m working on.
He went on to direct and star in his own movies (local market), but beyond that, I have no idea what he’s up to now, so let’s side-step that too.
I’ve mentioned that I am writing up a B-grade monster movie and I shared my opening scene. I’ve grumbled elsewhere (can’t remember exactly where) about how one of the characters is somehow taking a life of her own and deviating from the notes and plans. Syndi-Jean occasionally did that, but she would eventually go with the flow of the story plan. This one, she’s defiantly deviating and it’s causing some headaches at the moment. Let’s side-step that, too because what got me writing this post is more due to that quote to the right.
The discipline for writing a script or screenplay is very different from writing a novel. Sure, you have the occasional piece of descriptive writing to set the scene, make sure certain elements you need are there or, at least, how you’re imagining it to be. After all, it’s a visual medium you’re dealing with, but screenplays and scripts tend to be more dialogue driven, at least, that’s how I feel. It’s a little more difficult to make sure that the dialogue for each of the characters matches what you’ve planned for their personality, dialect or delivery. That can change depending on the actor reading those lines, so I’ve learnt not to be too precious about it.
You also want the dialogue to flow as smoothly and as naturally as possible, and writing dialogue is unlike writing text for a book. People don’t speak with proper grammar all the time. Sentences can be left hanging and no one really monologues unless they’re some scheming villain bent on world domination and just have to share their plan. Then there’s the info-dump when one character is trying to relate certain events or describe the situation to another person. You don’t want to have a scene where one actor is rambling on for up to five minutes either. Even two minutes might seem like a long time where movie timing is concerned.
And I just had such a scene too.
Sure, there was a little back-and-forth among the characters, but the scene ran up to five pages(!) and that could mean up to three minutes or more of screen time where I’ve got three characters sitting at a bar just talking.
In a monster movie.
Speaking of which, that monster’s been absent for over 25 pages now. And I need to inject some action, just a beat to maybe show-off one character’s personality of stepping up when needed, but not necessarily being the right thing to do. Hmmm…
Well, that’s what editing and second drafts are for anyway. For now, I’m pressing on. The aim for now is to get it done and finished. A minimum of 80 pages to go. I just needed a break from it for a while, hence this post. Prologue’s done. Set-up and character introductions are out of the way. Just have to close this first act.
So, back to work.