Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"Oh spare me, Clark, I know your brand of family fun. Tomorrow you'll probably kill the desk clerk, hold up a McDonalds, and drive us 1000 miles out of the way to see the world's largest pile of mud!"

Tales from the Script this week looks at a lesson learned from the script I gave notes on.  The descriptions - scene and action - really popped.  I mean seriously.  I noticed it, and my wife noticed it.  She then was supportive enough to draw a direct comparison to my writing.  That's no kidding around; her feedback is honest and extremely helpful - devoid of most sugar coating.

The point made was that my scripts still read like novels.  I am very descriptive, but in a wordy way.  This author accomplished in a line what I struggle to cram into four.  A script is like those sketches that are just a couple strokes and then your mind fills the rest in.  A novel is more like a mural - never ending splashes of color with [often] excruciating detail.  The key is to pick the most important element of the scene - the one with the most VISUAL impact, and use that to describe everything.  It's something I have to practice or my scripts will always be slow reading and tedious.  It makes me wonder if I should just stick to novel writing.  But then I look at the unfinished novels and think, "Probably not a good plan.  I've actually finished screenplays."

I made startling connection this morning between stories and life.  In my mind I specifically used the word

"scripted" as a metaphor for how we planned activities during our vacation and how certain people want certain other people to think, act, and feel a certain way.  Real life is full of things not working out quite right - it's why real life isn't usually good for stories - but the caveat is, and it was demonstrated in the script I was talking about earlier, but if you script it to be perfect, there is not enough drama.  The trick is making things hard for your characters, but then making the right things work out.

So what does the typical family vacation script look like?  Let's just say that I think each of us, deep down or close to surface, can admit that there's a bit of Clark Griswold inside that would take as many hostages as necessary to make everything perfect.

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