Writing Screenplays: Initial Challenges
The semester hasn’t even officially started yet and I’m challenged. Before school starts, Spalding has their MFA students send in samples of their work. The samples are put into similar categories: screenplays with screenplays, Children’s books with Children’s books, Memoirs with Memoirs, etc. The categories are divided into groups of students. I think Fiction has the majority of the students so they need multiple groups, where as Children’s and Young Adult writing had so few in that category that everyone was put in the same group. Everyone then receives a copy of the samples the students in their group sent in. Once they receive it, they read and critique the pieces. The more notes you have on the individual piece the better off you’ll be when it comes to giving the face-to-face critique during residency.
So, what have I been doing? Preparing my sample for residency.
I could have chosen to try Fiction this semester instead of screenwriting. Fiction is closer to the YA genre I write and I read a ton of it. Their’d be some changes, some differences, but nothing compared to what I’m enduring trying to get this screenwriting script worked out. I knew Screenwriting would be a challenge because it is so different from what I’m use to writing, and I wanted to challenge myself, not have an easy semester. I’ve proven what I’ve always suspected: Screenwriting and Novels are very different animals.
Not only is the formatting different but so is the way you think of how you write. Screenwriting, so far, seems to allow for far more telling. I’m not needing to describe the emotions of the characters, add thoughts or numerous other things. I tell a lot instead of show. For example, in my screenplay, I have:
Regan: (Incredulous) You’re husband?
In a novel, I’d write it a different way. Adding more details so you saw and heard Regan’s emotions instead of being told them. In that way, screenwriting is easier for me. Because the emotional aspect of the story has always been a tad harder for me to write than other things. However, I feel like the story is naked without some of the more common elements I have in even my most basic drafts. It’s unsettling and goes against several instincts.
I think I did okay with my scripts. But I’ll find out for certain how I did when I get on campus and receive my critiques from my peers and mentors. No matter how I actually did on the screenplays, I know this will be a learning experience that will hopefully help me with my novels.