Sunday, June 24, 2007

Week Five Check In: scene development

Howdy! How are you all doing? We're starting week five. Two weeks of prep writing and two weeks of actual screenwriting so far. A few of you started late, but that's all right. Keep going!

I would love if you could check in and let me know how you're doing. And be honest! I'm here to help. Let me know if there's anything I can do if you're stuck, unmotivated, frustrated, you name it.

My personal goal was to write 7 days a week for at least an hour. I missed two days in the past two weeks, but that's it (missing only 2 days in 4 weeks is a personal record for me).

I also wanted to write 20 pages a week on the screenplay and I'm on page 44. That's 22 pages per week and an average of 3.7 pages per day, so I'm on target. (44 pages / 12 days)

I was very pleased with how the warm-ups got me going each time this week. I hope you found them helpful as well. As I said in an earlier post, sometimes I just want to skip them, but they're always worth it. Many AHAs!

Scene building through character development:

Whenever I'm working on a scene, I try to keep three things in mind for each of the characters in that scene:
WHAT DO THEY WANT?
WHAT ARE THE STAKES?
WHAT ARE THEY HIDING?

And then, make each scene a balance of dodge and reveal.

For instance, I have a scene in which Howler is asking a very large favour from a boa constrictor named The Lamp (the mob boss of the animal world). Howler wants The Lamp to help him get to the World of Waiting Spirits. He comes right out and asks him. That's information I need him to reveal at this time. The stakes for him are that he might lose his brother forever if he doesn't go. He is hiding the fact that it's his fault his brother is there.

The Lamp wants to gain back power he has lost. The stakes for him are if he doesn't, he'll lose control of "The Vine." He is hiding how much is at stake for him as well as the fact that he plans on recruiting spirits in limbo as his agents. Not only is he hiding this fact from Howler, he's hiding it from the audience. The audience doesn't learn about his plan until Howler does much later.

All of this info feeds the character's motivations, directing their action and dialogue. The Lamp is a snake of few words, since he's got a lot to protect. He reveals very little.

If we know what our characters want, what the stakes are for them, and what they are hiding, we will build complex and consistent characters whose actions are driven by motivation (and not randomly because we need them to do something to make our plot work). We will also create conflict, because the characters' desires are at odds.



4 comments:

Gigi said...

Hi! I haven't been totally following the assignments but I have been writing. I mean I really like the assignments and I do use them but sometimes I just write.

And I'm not using any kind of format. Well kinda like play format. So I hope this doesn't mess me up at the end. Will it?

I'm happy with some parts and others are really bad, oh well! :-P

Anonymous said...

I like the picture- the girl with blue hair!
-Sarah

OpenChannel said...

Hi Gigi -

I just now saw your message. Very sorry! Play format is fine for now. What's important is getting the story down.

The only thing is that the page numbers will be off and you'll eventually have to transfer it to Final Draft (or the equivalent) to see where you actually are.

OpenChannel said...

Hi Sarah -

Believe it or not, that's actually some graffiti I took a picture of on a wall in Portugal. Amazing, isn't it?