27.12.06

An unlessoned girl, unschooled, unpracticed

I am new to these worlds: LA, Hollywood, screenwriting. They are new to me, shiny and enticing, like a wrapped present on Christmas morning. I'm still in the Honeymoon Stage of cultural adjustment. Next comes Hostility, so I'll need to keep a close eye on that.

I'm not so new to writing though. In fact, I've written all manner of things - electronics reviews, essays on Shakespeare, Bob Dylan, and modern Canadian poetry, a dating advice column, love letters, an entire website for one of the world's largest commercial real estate companies, buying guides for state-of-the-art home theater equipment, html, javascript, song lyrics, grocery lists, email.... Really, I know how to write. However, aside from having watched quite a number of movies, I know nothing of screenplay writing.

Happily, I am not yet so old but I may learn.

Starting with a poke around Amazon.com, I narrowed down the thousands of books on screenwriting by surveying the user reviews. Blake Snyder's "Save the Cat" seemed as good a place to start as any, and it was. Snyder explains the basics of screenplay structure while being a gracious and entertaining host. Since I'd never considered that a screenplay might have a structure, the book was just the kickstart I needed.

I then spent many hair-tearing days structuring my first story idea. This is the practice idea. The idea that will live with me in mutual torture for months, years even. The idea that I will grow to detest and hack to death during the learning process. The idea that I will eventually want to jump up and down on until it smashes into little bitty pieces all over the floor. Maybe I'll just hit Delete. Less vacuuming involved.

Anyway, I have better ideas, great ideas. But I'm saving them for a me that is less likely to make a mangled wreck of them. Perhaps this is my first mistake.

So, with my adequate idea in hand, I set everything up using Snyder's advice. I was satisfied with my beats and set-pieces, pacing and arcs. Then I wrote the first act and hit a big old brick wall. Realizing that 'satisfied' was hitting way below the mark, and with little bruises and cuts stinging my once unscathed psyche, I went back to the board. Again and again. I've written the first act of seven immensely dull screenplays now. So far, lucky number eight seems to be The One.

1 comment:

Moviequill said...

I recommend David Trottier's "Screenwriter's Bible," "The Hollywood Standard" by Chris Riley and "Writing For Emotional Impact" by Karl Iglesias. I have been writing for awhile now and always flip through these three