Tuesday, June 22, 2010
In my last post I talked about how writers are called upon to wear many hats and I mentioned some of the hats my career has asked me to don. One that I didn’t elaborate on much in that last post was my screenplay hat. I signed up for an online screenwriting course and I have just finished the adaptation of my “Buddy” book into a movie. The followers of this blog who have delved into the art of screen writing, will know that it’s a whole ‘nuther ball game; a different style of writing altogether. The reader has to actually see the movie on paper through the characters‘ dialogue, their actions, and a very limited narrative prose.
We can only write what can be seen on the screen—the ultimate in “show, don’t tell.” An example might be a scene in which “Buddy” is very cold. The script might read: Buddy shivered, reached down, picked up his dog Blondie and held her tight to his chest. Hopefully, we see Buddy’s desperation. As stated in my lesson manual, screenplays are sparse in detail. The screen writer must learn to strike a balance by providing only enough description for the reader to “see” the film and still keep things brief enough for that reader to experience a sense of “moving” through the story. Scripts must adhere to a strict format as well. If one deviates from that format, the script will in all likelihood not even get a reading, let alone be considered for purchase.
Something else I learned about screenplay writing is that screenplays usually appear in two scripts; the spec script and the shooting script. The spec script is the script that a producer buys. It contains very little detail about camera angles, or any other kind of direction. All that comes later in the shooting script.
All in all, this screenplay has been a fun challenge. Although novels and short stories are still my favorite venue, with the aid and direction from my screenplay instructor, I am looking forward to maybe someday seeing the final product of my little movie on the big screen.
Bill lives in Pocatello. He is a two time Associated Press award-winning columnist and writes fiction under the name Will Edwinson. His national award-winning book, Buddy…His Trials and Treasures, is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, or by asking for it at your favorite bookstore. Check his web site and blog at www.willedwinson.com. Bill also writes free-lance for IDAHO magazine.