Look, Ma! I’m makin’ a movie!
Well, I’m writing a screenplay, anyway. Close enough?
For those who don’t know what a screenplay is (one of the guys at my writer’s group asked me this morning); a screenplay is the bones of a movie or tv series, or sometimes even a game. It’s a script plus a few extra bits, like scene settings or actor instructions, or camera shots/angles. It’s the beginning of a movie.
I wrote a short story a while ago that I just couldn’t get out of my head. There were things I knew about the setting and characters that didn’t make it into the short story for the very simple reason that if I’d included them, it wouldn’t have stayed a ‘short’ story. It was an unusually visual story for me, and it didn’t cease to prod at the corners of my mind when I finished it, unlike every other story/book I’ve written. I always still love my characters when the story is done, and I’m always fully immersed in the re-writes and editing, but this particular story just seemed to keep growing with scenes and dialog that were increasingly visual. Then someone from my writer’s group read the story and said: “This should be a movie.”
At first it was just ridiculous thoughts of: “Oooh, this is a great song for the soundtrack!” and “This actor is perfect for George. Oh, and this one is going to play Ruth.” Then I started wondering about the form of screenplays: how they’re structured, what they contain, etc. It didn’t really occur to me that I could write a screenplay, of course; because I’m a writer and don’t you have to be a playwright/screenwriter to do that? Am I allowed to write a movie?
Well, apparantly I am. I did my research (ahem. Well, a full day of furious typing on the google and madly following links, and reading the screenplay for True Grit); found out the correct format (oh boy, are they a pain!); and started writing.
And I can do it. It’s a different form with different rules, and entirely refreshing. It’s almost easy, because I know where it’s going and what I have to show to make it work. It’s just a matter of plugging away until it all done, and then making it as beautiful as I can. I don’t know that I’ll try and send it out to anyone when it’s done. Heck, I don’t even really know if I’m doing it properly. But now that I’ve started, other books have begun with the same siren song . . .
Well, the world really does need a four-hour miniseries of The Count of Monte Cristo, after all.