Writing | Making words on paper come to life

Part of what we have to do for the screenwriting course is read, a lot, including scripts. Of course, we have to understand all the elements that go into the writing of a script and yet, what fascinates me each time is the nuance that a writer brings to the table. In class, we talk about the sophistication of writing and the importance of words. It’s all in the choices! I logged on to imsdb and skimmed through the script of one of my favourite novels adapted for a movie: The Fault In Our Stars. Here’s an excerpt from the screenplay:

53.



                          GUS
           You do realize... trying to keep
           your distance from me will in no
           way lessen my affection for you.
          Hazel says nothing.

                          GUS
           All efforts to save me from you
           will fail.
          Hazel looks at him. He's sure not making this easy.

                          GUS
           Is this about Amsterdam? Cause we

                          DON'T --

                          HAZEL
           It's not about Amsterdam. It's
           about me. It's about...

                          GUS
           Grenades.
          Hazel nods.

                          GUS
           I get it. One day you're going to
           explode in a huge ball of fire and
           everyone close to you will die in
           your wake.

                          HAZEL
           Exactly.

                          GUS
           There's already two people in your
           life you're going to destroy. Why
           add a third to that list. Am I
           right?

                          HAZEL

                          (NODS)
           That's why I don't have a hamster.
          Gus is silent. He can't argue. They stand there quietly a few
          more beats, looking out at the swing set. Until:

                          GUS
           We have got to do something about
           this frigging swing set.



          INT HAZEL'S BEDROOM - MOMENTS LATER
          Hazel sits at the computer screen writing a Craigslist post.
          Gus stands next to her.

           54.



                          HAZEL

                          (TYPING)
           "Swing Set Needs Home."

                          GUS
           "Desperately Lonely Swing Set Needs
           Loving Home."

                          HAZEL
           "Lonely, Vaguely Pedophilic Swing
           Set Seeks Butts of Children."
          Gus laughs.

                          HAZEL
           No?
          Gus laughs harder. Hazel laughs with him.

                          GUS
           That's why.
          Hazel looks at him, not understanding.

                          GUS
           In case you were wondering...
           that's why I like you.
           (beat, off her look)
           You're so busy being you that you
           have no idea how utterly
           unprecedented you are.
          Hazel absorbs that. Her feelings for this boy in a tangle.

I chuckled while reading this sequence. Did you enjoy it too?

In our orientation, we were told ‘writing is a sickness’. But ‘it is also a craft’. Those words stayed with me. I use writing at several different levels. I use it as catharsis, to share my experiences, to weave stories. And now I’m learning and attempting to use writing to create visuals, to bring a story to screen.

It’s tough, I gotta tell you that. At this point, nothing is more intimidating than a blank page staring at you while you build a story from scratch, with nothing but words. Having said that, every page that is filled out with scene and dialogue creates a previously unprecedented satisfaction.

Cheers to those of us who thrive on this sickness. May we get better at the art as time passes.

#BackToSchool | Taking classes in Screenwriting

#BackToSchool
#BackToSchool

Of course, I came to LA with a purpose. I came here to study screenwriting, right in the heart of Hollywood. I’ve been attending lectures and workshops and it feels great to be back in school. Not only do I take detailed notes and observe and comment on my classmates’ ideas but I also think about my ideas in terms of a feature film screenplay. Every word I read of a chapter or listen to in class gives me clarity on how to go about my writing.

LA Sun
LA Sun

Even something as mundane as the sun hitting your face when you wait for the bus makes for a pretty picture. Events become scenes and verbal exchanges become dialogue. It’s like breathing, writing and living your own film. It’s one of the best decisions I made and I’m loving every minute of the experience. I know I’m changing and my mind is opening up.

I’d love to know if there was something you did, out of the ordinariness of your daily life and it changed something inside you. Or as screenwriters call it, the inciting incident. Do tell because I’d love to know. 🙂

When Some Of Your Dreams Are About To Come True…

Los Angeles
Los Angeles

The thing about me is I’ve grown up in one city, lived on the same street in the same home for almost all of my life. When I graduated from college, I had a sort of life plan. I was interested in film and film theory and wanted it to exist in whatever work I do. I fulfilled my dream of pursuing film criticism and being a published journalist. The next step was always to write a film script. And out of nowhere, somehow my wish of studying screenwriting is being granted. I’m going to a film academy for an intensive 8 week program in LA! It hasn’t sunk in yet because I’ve been so busy since the beginning of the month. But I sure as hell am very excited and a little nervous. I don’t want to pin any expectations on this trip and let it take its own course. Good plan?