Take a Wack at Scriptwriting | Print |
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Recently one of my friends suggested we go see a movie, and both being in interactive multimedia together, what better way to spend a night. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie beginning to end, but he mentioned the lack of plot and interest in the story line. Ironically, I was recently covering myself in mounds of papers; papers that all resembled a draft version of a script. Now I know why the term “rough draft” has come about; these drafts are rough. The differences that lie between the writers of the movie and me are plenty: first, they are getting paid, they’ve taken countless hours of brainstorming and research, where as I get frustrated after thirty minutes of writing, and most importantly, the fact that they were chosen to write the script of a major motion film, while I was not. After trying scriptwriting, I tend to not be so critical of the amazing efforts of the majority of the scriptwriters in the top of their field.

In leaving school for summer break, Mr. Doran challenged us as students to try something new: scriptwriting. The last days of school we went over a few power point slides and examples, we were also expected to start devolving characters using our fellow peers as prime models. Many scriptwriters and authors use people they know because those characters are already so well developed and dripping with personality. The challenge of scriptwriting over the summer mainly looms over the heads of those planning on going into film, but practicing a different style of writing is helpful for all of us.

Scriptwriting is vastly different than just writing a short story. I like to call it “omni-perspective writing.” Omni meaning everywhere. In regular writing, the characters are developed by the text that surrounds them. An author can also choose one perspective to write in. In scriptwriting, the writer must think of how to show the character through physical actions, and show all parts of the storyline eventually. A scene can’t just be easily scribed down and left to the reader’s imagination, it has to be physically THERE. The scene is required to be believable. The major difference, is that authors have free reigns to use illusions and creatively paint pictures using words. In scriptwriting, the majority of the feat is dialogue, and the actors must convey the story line wisely. Writers have the challenge of weeding out each word, so only the important ones to the plot line are kept.

Currently, I’m developing some characters. When thinking on the lines of starting, characters is a great place. In class we took our own peers and dissected their traits, writing them down on paper and presenting it to the rest of the class. Each part of the character has to be well thought out, whether or not that part is immediately revealed in the script.

My advice to anyone wanting to write a script is to take it one step at a time; Hollywood writes often use the balance-imbalance-balance formula. Act 1- balance: focus on the start of your main character, weaving in the common questions (who, what, where, when, and why.) Get ready for the conflict with rising action, and then BAM! The conflict at the end of act one. Act 2- imbalance: the meat of the story, where the hero does something about the issue. Act 3- balance: restoration, resolution, and rethinking. The hero has learned from everything and the loose ends will either be tied together or left to the imagination.

The main reason for my past frustration has been trying to write it all at once, not taking into consideration the minor details which start to pile up if you don’t watch it. While writing, keep in mind that a finished script page equals roughly one minute of screen time, so if your goal is to write a feature film, aim for 90 to 120 pages.

When I go back to school in the fall, I’m hoping to have at least one script completed, but the reason it was a “challenge” is because it’s going to be anything but easy.

Melissa Prax is an active student and athlete. Her introduction to film and editing began when she took an Interactive Multimedia class at Grand Valley High School/ Ashtabula County Joint Vocational School. (See Grand Valley's Profile ) Her involvement in the class led to her election and win of SkillsUSA northeast Ohio regional president. Every few months she writes a student column for her local newspaper, The Star Beacon. After high school Melissa is looking forward to double major in broadcast journalism and nutrition.

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