A (screen)Writer’s Groundwork
The following essay is divided into three parts:
Part One: A Theoretical Approach
Part Two: A Practical Approach
Part Three: An Experimental Approach
Part One isolates the elements of a screenplay and discusses how to make your presentation of these elements approach the ideal presentation.
I can’t promise you that you’ll write dialogue like the Coen Brothers when you’re finished with this section, but I can promise that you will know how to write dialogue that has lots of subtext, is free of exposition, and collects each of your characters in the trappings of a unique voice.
Part Two seeks to devise a framework to help you plot your story so that it maintains reader momentum. I intend this as a tool to help you focus your ideas and keep your story goals in mind from the first germs of a concept all the way to the completion of a first draft.
Part Two concludes with a discussion of how to view your own work to take it from that completed first draft to a completed final draft.
The first two parts are full of excellent tips that will benefit every writer, no matter her current level of craftsmanship. [Toward this end, each segment in both parts will conclude with an “algorithm” that will give you simple steps to help sharpen your writing so that it is an effective advertisement of your skills.]
Part Three, on the other hand, attempts to draw out the principles that allow a script [or any work of art for that matter] to resonate with other people. It is because of this that I classify it under the experimental banner. I still believe this section will also encourage you to become the writer you want to be, but I can’t deny that there is less quantifiable information about screenwriting [specifically] in this part than there is in the first two.
In general, the discussion in Part Three will center on the physics behind the seeming alchemy that turns a solitary reader into a multitudinous audience. According to my premises, a contract develops between reader and writer in which a work of fiction undergoes a process I [self-referentially] call, refabrication.
In other words, Part Three gives the dynamics of this process and its terms.
The ideas that ended up collecting under this refabrication umbrella are new to me. Strangely, their arrival in my brain felt a lot like every time I’ve discovered the major twist in one of my completed scripts. They felt like an “of course that’s it” much more than an “eureka”. It was as if the ideas had been there all along, waiting patiently for me to focus on them.
I’ll see you on the beach…