I've been reading a lot lately about the importance of pre-writing and planning. After yesterday's post, I sketched out this story as a straight up "flash fiction" piece and had to laugh at myself. I kept struggling with tenses. Screenplays use the present tense for everything (except certain lines of dialogue) and most fiction is written in the past tense. The 300 words I spewed out were all over the time-space continuum.
What I found, however, was that having written that yesterday, and reflecting on it this morning prior to boarding the train, I was able to write the entire scene straight through without having to stop and think about what was going to happen. I already knew the characters and the start/finish lines. It freed me up to edit and tweak the dialogue and action once it was finished.
Those suggestions about pre-writing? Good advice. I encourage you to take the time to plan your ideas. They don’t stifle creativity if you understand planning is about picking a place to start and end with an idea of what you want to cover along the way. Be willing to veer off the path when it seems like a good idea, if you get lost it won’t matter because… you’ve got a map.
The experts say that a well-crafted scene is like a microcosm of the film itself, with a dramatic arc, conflict, and change for the characters involved. Have I accomplished that? You be the judge – I present the super-short one scene film, “Desserted”.
By Jon Stark
June 14, 2013
INT. CANYON STEAK HOUSE DINING ROOM - DAY
Linen table clothes, real knives, and waiters that bring you water without being asked. The business lunch herd heading back to work.
A thirty something couple lingers with coffee and smiles. We meet KEVIN, rolex and rumpled. LYDIA in black dress and careful make-up.
You know you want some, just get it.
She looks up from the dessert menu. Locks on his smile.
It's why we come here.
I don't think I do.
Then why do you keep looking at it?
Because right now I want it.
It's later I won't.
You're a nut.
She draws back.
I'm serious. Right now it looks delicious and if I get it I'll probably enjoy every moment, but I know that I don't really want it. When I'm done I'll...
He leans in, reaches for her hand. She pulls it away, but holds his gaze.
So now you're saying you don't like cheese cake?
You don't get it. When we came here it was all I could think about... but right now, even looking at it, even wanting it, I know that I'll regret it the next time I put my dress on.
He stifles a chuckle. Then, comprehension, arriving fashionably late.
Her eyes are full - of color, of tears, of him.
Every time I look in the mirror I ask myself why I keep coming back here.
He turns away, looking at anything but her. The waiter reengages, misreading his helpless face.
Are we interested in anything else this afternoon? Perhaps the chocolate cherry cheese cake?
Kevin stares at her hopefully. She looks down, following the path of her tears.
No. It looks like we're finished here.