A Muddled Post on Screenwriting

We at Wyoming have been talking about screenplays lately. Well, I’ve been talking about them. I’m asking all writers what they think. I’m asking because I don’t quite know what I think.

I finished a screenplay recently, one called I Love You, Emma Watson. It’s not really about Emma Watson, of course. The story is based more on obsession, and celebrity, and high school rivalry. There are some other ideas—about sexuality and football, particularly. Those things will have to go in the second draft. There’s only so much you can do in 90-120 pages. This is one thing I’ve learned.

This morning I watched Beauty and the Beast on the Teen Disney channel. Luckily, I’m house-sitting. For a few days, then, I have the luxury of cable. Last week, before I started the house-sitting, I watched Little Black Book, which is not as good as Beauty and the Beast.

I guess I’ve been watching some silly movies on Netflix. I mean, I’m watching conventional Romantic Comedies. One reason is that I tend to like them. Another reason is that it’s really useful when you’re writing a screenplay for the first time. They’re standard. You can track—by minute, by page—when conflicts come, when characters get introduced, when resolutions occur. Heroes should start on their journeys by page ten or eleven. This is another thing I’ve learned.

Movies are faster than books. Writing movies is faster than writing books. The pages go quick. They fly. A typical screenplay is less than 20,000 words. Before starting, I imagined I would take to films well enough, considering my fiction relied on dialogue more than anything else. I thought things might be easy.

They weren’t easy. I had to think about how people talk. I never really did that in my fiction. People talked how I wanted them to talk. In movies, people are going to see other people talking. That’s the thing. That’s how it works. You have to go more realistic. Or, you have to be more recognizable.

That’s a generalization. Three times in two weeks the film Welcome to the Dollhouse has come up in conversation. Not once was it me who brought it up, so you know. At any rate, Welcome to the Dollhouse is silly in itself. It’s good. But little girls don’t ask big teenagers to look at their little girl fingers. I couldn’t pull that off in my screenplay. This is a third thing I’ve learned.

I’m getting more conventional in my overall writing.

I’m feeling pretty good about it, everyone.

Did you know Emma Watson has a fine website?


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