Tag Archives: The 5th Element

3 Things I’ve learned about Screenwriting…So Far

They're doing their best imitation of Mommy.

They’re doing their best imitation of Mommy.

At the time of writing this post, I’ve got about 32 pages of my screenplay written. The goal, so I’m told, is to keep it around 120. While I’m having fun with this project, I’m also learning why books always seem better than their film counterparts.

I love details. I love the ins and outs of knowing why things happen. I love knowing exactly what motivated  a character to say or do what they said or did. I’ve always kind of known why movies can’t portray this as well as books, but I’m “getting” it better.

On the other hand, I also love the “Behind the Scenes” features. So this experience (whether or not it gets produced) is a real treat. 🙂 I feel like I’m getting a blast of “Behind the Scenes” for all the movies I’ve ever watched, by learning how they were originally created. So for all you “Behind the Scenes” junkies like me, here are some things I’ve learned:

1. Writing “meanwhile” scenes is tricky.

Okay, so maybe there’s a technical term here that I haven’t learned yet. You know when important things happen at the same time? That’s what I’m calling “meanwhile” scenes. Like, in The 5th Element, when Leeloo fights the Mangalores during Diva Plavalaguna’s concert. The way those scenes are presented would be very confusing to read if a novel presented them that way, and it wouldn’t have the energy.

So I’ve got two scenes where Thomas and Ardan discover Bresal’s book of faerie spells while Bresal is out with Turlough in the garden having a secret chat with a faerie chief. The scenes are written separately, but that doesn’t work visually. Figuring out how to chop them together so that they both end when the boys vanish in a flash of light was an interesting task.

2. Killing darlings is tough. 

If you’re not familiar with the phrase, I believe it was coined by Stephen King. He uses it anyway in his book, On Writing. Your darlings are the passages of text that, in the words of Ralphie from A Christmas Story, rarely have the words pour from your penny pencil with such feverish fluidity. But rather than having readers go over your work with the Romeo and Juliet theme playing in the background, their likely to give your beloved words a 2 star review (translated in my mind as C+). 

I killed many darlings already in the The Stone of Kings, but the slaughter continues, not only for the sake of time, but also for losing visual interest. In my book, I have Turlough play two songs that help to encompass who he is. But describing the performance is much shorter than presenting it. So he only plays the song which helps to set the tone of the story. I’ve read how the inciting incident (in this case, when the boys find the magic book and promptly send themselves 300 years in the future), is supposed to happen around page 30 of a screenplay. Killing more darlings helped me to be on track. 🙂

3. Research starts anew.

I thought I’d put my biography of Turlough O’Carolan away when I got the major edits done on the novel. But then there were things that I didn’t bother mentioning in the novel, that I had to mention in the screenplay.

After Turlough wakens from his fever with smallpox and realizes he’s blind, the scene in the book is written from his point of view, so I didn’t bother to talk about Mrs. MacDermottRoe’s appearance. She’s the lady who eventually has him trained as a traveling harper. But I didn’t think that having an entire scene from Turlough’s blind perspective would work for the movie, so I had to give some description so that if this gets produced, they could cast an appropriate female for this minor role. Mrs. MacDermottRoe was, in fact, only about 5 years older than Turlough.

Do you like “behind the scenes?” Are you frustrated when movies don’t quite capture the book? Are you understanding of filmmakers when they leave out your favorite scene from a book?

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On Screenplay Writing

Image attributed to Coyau / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Most of the editing for The Stone of Kings is now finished and we’re in the proofing stages. I’m not quite ready yet to pick up where I left off writing my NaNo book.

*twiddles thumbs*

Okay, yeah, I’ve been reading. I’m thoroughly enjoying a novel called 6:59 by Nonye and Kelechi Acholonu, but I find myself feeling slightly guilty because it’s recreational reading.

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned in the last few years as a writer it’s that I’ve gotta DO if I’m gonna GROW.

Right now, I’m not doing much.

But I keep going over scenes of The Stone of Kings in my head and I keep seeing it as a movie. My high school writing class touched briefly on screenplays and I’ve realized that I never tried really writing one (I think I wrote a sketch at one point, but all I ever wrote at the time was short stuff).

So I’m trying it.

Hubby thinks I’m crazy. “Wait and see how well the book sells first.”

*puts on pensive face*

But what if I’m better at writing screenplays and I just don’t know it yet? I won’t ever find out till I try, right?

Right?

So I’m chomping at the bit patiently waiting for whoever has checked out Syd Field’s book at my library to return it. Till then, I’ve been reading screenplays for research. It’s actually pretty fascinating. In the last few days, I’ve read The 5th Element, the Back to the Future trilogy – did you know that there was no DeLorean in the original script o_O -, Thelma and Louise, and I’m in the middle of reading Titanic. It’s really neat seeing how things in the script played out (or didn’t) as compared to what’s on the screen.

Yes, I said “neat.” It just is. So there.

I’m having fun so far. And what’s the point if it’s not fun? 😀

It doesn’t matter if I write a screenplay and it never gets made into a movie. What matters is that I’m exploring a new medium. I’m looking to this experience to teach me other ways to make my writing more visual.

Show, don’t tell. 😉

Anyway, thinking of The Stone of Kings being made into a movie but never writing the screenplay seems silly. It’s like saying, “I’m hungry. I’ll wait and see if someone will make me dinner.”

I might burn the dinner, but at least I tried.

Have you had an idea and thought, “Hey, that would make a great movie!”? Have you looked into writing a screenplay? What was your experience? Share your story!

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