07 May 2014

The August Script

A few years ago I took an advanced writing course -- focusing on prose writing -- in which I had to write a kind of excerpt of a larger project.  So it was something like a couple chapters of a novel, a few scenes from a play, a dozen or so poems... that kind of thing.  I chose to do a short story from what was supposed to be a collection of interconnected short stories, along the lines of A Visit From the Goon Squad.

Three covers.  One book.  No waiting.
For the class, I had to not only write the short story itself, but also provide an outline of the entire project.  So I had to figure out the characters and plots and themes and everything else that goes into writing a worthwhile story.  And because I won't insult anyone's intelligence, I won't make you guess what the general idea of the 12 in 12 script for August is.

The Cameo was cramped,
but you can't argue with $1 Tuesdays.
As I was scouring my notebooks and print-outs and bookmarked websites and newspaper/magazine clippings for ideas that inspired me enough to write a script.  For me, I tend to find true events and then use the core situation or person or setting and then create a fictional story around it.  My script What Happened to Christine was inspired by a true crime that happened while I was working at a TV station in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  The incident happened in 2005, but the story stuck with me and I finally wrote the script in 2011.  And then it got optioned last year -- so that whole set-up seems to be lucrative for me, so why change it up?

Every time I see that shed I think,
"Yeah, there's gotta be a body in there..."
And so the script I'm writing for August -- which I'm calling Skidmore Park, after what was a patch of open grass in my neighborhood that the city of Saint Paul decided would be better served as a community garden -- has elements of true stories with authorial twists added here and there in order to punch up the drama.  In my initial outline, I had about 10 different stories, each corresponding to an address on a block in the Skidmore Park neighborhood.  The thing I'm gonna have to think over and figure out is whether to write the script as I planned if I were writing it as the story collection -- that is, each part told through as a piece of the whole, similar to Pulp Fiction or Nine Lives where the inter connections are like little Easter eggs -- or jump back and forth and to and fro like Traffic or Babel.  Luckily, since I do have the general outline/plan for the segments, I can spend my few days of prep at the beginning of the month writing some test pages and seeing how each approach works out.

Title page:  The first step to actually writing the script.
By the way, for anyone interested, here's the short story I turned in for the class.  It's unfinished, but the point of the class was to plan and work toward a larger goal.  Also, it's very different from my usual prose, which tends to be more minimalist in style -- which is probably because writing that way is pretty much like writing a screenplay.  Anyhow, for those who venture into it, you can get a sneak peek of Skidmore Park and prepare yourself for the ensemble-mess I'll be getting into.

Christ, there's really only one character in that short story. 
Not exactly an "ensemble," you twit.


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