Tag Archives: writing exercise

Casting…

Sometimes it seems as though roles taken on by actors were made especially for them. Marlon Brando in The Godfather, Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver, Geena Davis in Thelma and Louise, Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, etc. etc. etc.

When I’m writing, it helps to imagine who I would cast in the roles of my screenplay. I don’t have any knowledge of the above actors being thought of by the screenwriter when the ideas came forth (The Godfather was a book, so I doubt it there. I don’t have enough off-hand knowledge of the others at this point in time to know otherwise).

I’m currently working on an LGBTQ rom-com. A story that’s been in my mind for quite some time (I’m pretty sure if we go to the way-back machine on this blog of mine you could find somewhere else I’ve spoken about it). What’s been incredibly helpful is casting it in my mind. Not every single character, mind you. Just the ones that are driving the A story and the B story.

The funny thing is, my main character for the B story stands out more vivid in my mind and it is going to help me so much in developing this characters voice and style within the story. I can only hope that one day I could have this person star in the future movie that I’m writing! I know I’ll never utter a word about who I’d want in the roles if and when I ever get the chance to pitch this script.

I can share these choices with you.

The leads:

A Story – Samira Wiley and Ellen Page

B Story – Kristen Wiig and Shiloh Fernandez

I have pictures of them saved in a folder that’s titled after this script. This way I can reference them from time to time to really fully imagine them. Wiig’s character is the one giving me the most as I can easily picture the character and her mannerisms in Wiig’s skin.

I could also easily see Wiig’s character running away with the story. So much so, that I’ve thought of re-working the original premise slightly to fit that character’s story. I’m just not so sure it’s 100% a great idea to that.

So, I’m going to plug away with the version in my head that is aching to get out!

 

 

 

Character Sketches…

So my current assignment with ScreenCraft is essentially a character sketch. Just fleshing out some backstory in order to create characters that are multidimensional. Nobody likes a flat character. If we want a solid story, then we need solid characters.

I don’t mind doing very brief character sketches…the type that reads like an old school AOL chatroom: ASL (for you youths out there this means Age, Sex, Location). I might describe a bit of how they might look and how they dress. I’ve never really gone beyond the surface of my characters. It’s served me well in the past.

What would happen if I pushed deeper than that? I’ve never really tried. I’ve never thought about what my characters’ parents would be like, or what school was like when they were younger. I’ve never wrote out what their favorite meals would be. Or their favorite movie.

Why wouldn’t I want to do this? To really bring these characters to life I would need to know these things. Instead, I go flat and allow them to present themselves to me as I write. Again, it’s served me well in the past. Yet, I wonder how much richer their dialogue might be if I really knew them. I wonder how much deeper their reactions to things I throw at them would be if I knew how they would react if they were someone in real life.

I know why I react to things certain ways because I know my backstory. I know why my fiancee reacts to things certain ways because I know her backstory. We should love our characters as we love the people in our lives. We know everything possible about those we love and we should apply that same way of thinking to our characters.

So, here’s to creating real backgrounds for my characters. Even the small players in the story. Here’s to knowing the details about our characters from scars to first heartbreak to education to favorite scent to…everything.

 

ScreenCraft: Day 3

So, I signed up for ScreenCraft’s 60 Day Screenplay thing. After a bizarre snafu of not receiving emails and getting that cleared up by the wonderfully helpful staff at SC, I’m up and running and starting Day 3.

Days 1 and 2 were pretty simple as it just tasked us with coming up with films/tv shows that we love. Then we write a few short one sentence (loglines, essentially) ideas for what we might want to write.

The idea is to see what draws you to your favorite films. Is there a specific genre, style, idea that particularly speaks to you? If so, it’s probably a good idea to write stories within the parameters of those…write what you know, ya know?

I know, I know…it’s cliche! Venture out! Try something new and different. Which is all well and good BUT, sometimes it’s also good to stick to what you know and explore what you can do within that to make it new and different so that it stands out.

It’s hard for me to pick a top anything as my tastes change and expand as I get older. I did a short list anyway…I tried not to overthink it and just wrote the first 10 that came to mind and in no particular order of favorites (though I know exactly which order they would be if I really sat down and worked it out):

  1. Rebel Without a Cause
  2. Notes on a Scandal
  3. Leon: The Professional
  4. The New Girl
  5. American History X
  6. There Will Be Blood
  7. The Color Purple
  8. Just Friends
  9. Pulp Fiction
  10. Me, Myself, and Irene

A pretty all over the place type of list, right?! One TV show is tossed in there. I think I can see where my tastes are and what draws me to a story. Even in my own writing I can see where I’m influenced. I love a character driven drama. I love some action, some blood and grit. I also have an off-beat sense of humor. My heart though…belongs to strong character driven stories.

The Day 3 assignment calls for me to apply that knowledge to the 13 one sentence ideas I’ve come up with and dig a bit deeper into the premise.

Already killing off my little darlings, so-to-speak.