Monday Musings #6

Outback

On Screenwriting:

A couple bloggers that I follow have been posting recently about trying their hand at screenwriting. Which I, for one, think is AWESOME.

While I was in college – well, let me explain a little more detail about my college. I went to a liberal arts university (great experience, ouch on the wallet though) that ran a 4-1-4 schedule. The 1 was a separate term in January.

The January term (aptly called J-Term), was where students could either do a trip abroad, do a month-long internship, or you could take one seminar.

So, while I was in college, I used my J-Terms to just take classes. I had 2 jobs to work, thus no time for an internship or trip abroad.

Each year, I pretty much took a different variation of the same class – something that involved creative writing AND screenwriting.

Freshman year was called Flash: Short Forms of Literature and Film
Sophomore year was called Double Trouble: Texts and Films
Junior year was called Next Episode: TV as a Narrative Text
Senior year (my favorite) was called Writing the TV Sitcom

Sense a trend? LOL

I’ll tell y’all — I LOVE screenwriting. It’s perfect for me. I don’t personally enjoy writing tons of description for things. I occasionally have the tendency (in first drafts) to write talking heads. You know, characters who just talk, but have no other action to them. That doesn’t work in fiction writing, but in screenwriting, you’re leaving lots of interpretation up to the director and the actors! Directors don’t like being told what their characters should be doing.

In high school, I participated in Script Frenzy. I believe that year, the goal was 20,000 words, and I successfully hit the word count goal and completed a screenplay about a group of terrorists who destroy the world’s chocolate supply and four teenage friends who rectify the situation. I sooo wish I would have saved it, but alas, I only backed up on Celtx’s website, and they deleted their archives a couple years ago. I never competed again, and today I unfortunately discovered that it no longer exists! 😦

Other completed projects I have: Two classmates and I wrote a pilot script to a TV show about college RAs titled “Not my Hall, Not My Problem”, a short film rendition of Alice Munroe’s “Runaway”, and I’ve written a spec script for the TV show New Girl.Β Β (<– This is a link to G-docs where you can read my script. Note that in the process of exporting from Celtx, it is possible the formatting is messed up.)

Part of me wonders why I haven’t continued writing scripts. I do really enjoy it! Sometimes more than writing fiction.

I guess the problem I see is that the goal for lots of us writers is for our writing to become profitable someday. And (maybe I’m wrong, but) I don’t think you can make a job out of screenwriting unless you live in Los Angeles or New York City (maybe). And I have no interest in living in either of those places. I’m no city girl. I was born and raised in the country! Besides that, one of my roommates from college lives in LA, and hearing about her 2 hour commutes to work sometimes makes me so not jealous.

Said roommate is also trying to make something of her screenplay she wrote as her creative thesis, entering it into any contest she can find (she was a finalist once, no wins yet). I’m just not one to rely on contests to get my break. Hollywood is where people use favors to make it. That’s not me.

I guess in retrospect though, not every hobby we may pick up over our lives should only be for profit. I guess that’s something I need to wake up and realize.

I think what also really got me thinking about screenwriting again was when I finished the series finale ofΒ Parenthood a couple hours ago. I cried through about 85% of the last episode, plus for about another 20-30 minutes afterwards (I cry a lot, but really. This show was AH-MAZING).

I just kind of think about how great it would be to write something that makes people feel that way. Something longer than a book, that your loyal followers stick around for for 6 years (or more, or less, who knows?).

I mean, I can only imagine how the writers of that show must feel, knowing that millions of people watched that show until the very end, how devastated those fans were when the show was canceled. And those writers, they created that!

And I want to do that too! You know, I’m going to keep working on the novel-writing thing for now. But I think while writing this blog post, I’ve hit an aha! moment in my life. I’m going to do some research on things. Explore some options. Aahhh, y’all. My mind is spinning right now.

Okay —

Right now, I’m pretty focused onΒ Where I Belong. I want so bad to finally finish a draft of that baby. I’ll start posting excerpts soon (maybe WIP Wednesday will be my new weekly blog feature?). But perhaps when I finish it and give it some space, I can pick up screenwriting again. You never know what could come out of it, right?


Have you written/do you write screenplays? Tell me about it!

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21 thoughts on “Monday Musings #6

  1. back an eon ago I wrote a short story for a class I was taking, posted it to my blog, and wouldn’t you know it, someone who knew someone who knew someone suggested someone should read it. Who loved it. Bought it. Had me work it into a screen play for a film short. This so inspired me I wrote another who film script for a feature length film while waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And learning just be cause it got bought, doesn’t mean anything more will ever happen. I walked away, from writing in it’s entirety for a while actually.

  2. I have an idea for a contemporary sitcom that I’ve been trying to get down in script form. I’m intimidated by all the “rules” for screenwriting. Maybe later you can blog a quick overview of the important things to know, or links you value, or HOW TO, you know, in your spare time. πŸ˜‰

  3. I’ve never done screenwriting, but I did do playwriting for a while and loved it. πŸ™‚ I found it really helpful for learning how to write dialogue and how to show and not tell. I also had the opportunity to see some of my short plays onstage, which was awesome! I haven’t written any scripts in a while, but I hope it’s something I can return to someday.

    • That’s awesome! I knew a grad student in college who was playwriting. She took a creative writing seminar where she was basically writing her play in fiction-format, and then working on her play at the same time. She won the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival New Play Award – 2013 which is AWESOME!
      Good luck if you get back into it! πŸ™‚

  4. I took a screenwriting class in college, but it was the last semester of my senior year so that was the only one. I wish I could have done it sooner, screenplays were fun.

    • Yes! Besides those j-terms I only took one other regular semester class about adapting short stories into short films. It was one of the only ones they offered as a full semester course. 😦 Of course though they have an MFA in screenwriting, but no undergrad classes.

  5. I would love to try my hand at screenwriting! I don’t know the first thing about doing it because I have never taken a class for it, but I am one who likes to tell a story through dialogue as well. I did write plays in elementary through high school, though. They were actually used for class plays πŸ™‚ One play was given 2nd place in a state competition. I think about all of that a lot. I discovered early on that I am a horrible actor, but one doesn’t have to be good at that to write the script. Thank God! I would love it if you would post some tips and tutorials on screenwriting. πŸ˜€

    • That’s awesome about your plays in school! My schools always did super well known plays like Annie lol. And my college did plays by people in the MFA Playwriting program.
      A couple requests for screenwriting tips means I’ll put it on my docket! I’ll whip some stuff together, try to get a post out next week! πŸ™‚

  6. Danielle,

    I also enjoy screenplay writing because I have no interest in intricately describing a scene to my audience. I am way to lazy and I lack the stamina. It’s suuupper time consuming. I like leaving the story up to the audience’s imagination. There’s so much freedom in that, for both the writer and reader. The last screenplay I wrote was a comedy. It was simple . It was a skit. It was in real time and about a situation that plays out in a class period.
    P.s. : I hope you get back to your screenplay writing! πŸ™‚

    – M

    • That’s exactly how I feel sometimes! I’ve never been great at describing setting. None of my first drafts ever have scene description. In screenwriting, you just need to point out the important things.
      I wrote a skit for a group of friends in sixth grade. We won the talent show with it πŸ˜‰
      And I am going to! I’m making it a big goal of the month!

  7. I’ve tried screenwriting and writing plays and even writing comics. I just… it’s not my thing. I have a lot of trouble getting my mind around a script. I have so many things I want to convey that have to do with mood and senses other than sight and sound that don’t really work in a script. And while I’m obsessing over that, I’m forgetting to put in the visual elements in there, or talking about them in a way that makes filming or illustrating them difficult.

    I’m always in awe of people who can write scripts that work. It’s a skill I haven’t developed quite yet, but maybe one day.

    Hope the WIP goes well and you get back to screenwriting soon!

    • Thanks! I agree it’s definitely not for everyone. For people who enjoy writing more description, it’s tough to do script writing. I am not one of those people lol.
      Thanks! πŸ™‚

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