So, I’ve been working through the second of the handful of books on screenwriting I picked up once I decided this creative endeavor was something I wanted to pursue.
This one is, quite appropriately, Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting and it’s amazing. It’s approachable and informative. It’s repetitive enough to ensure the concepts stick (Remember, all drama is conflict. Without conflict there is no story. Without story there is no screenplay.) I’m not even done with the book, but I already feel like I know more about the craft of screenwriting – its nuances and specificities – than I ever learned in college. Obviously I’ve got a long way to go (like, you know, writing an actual screenplay). But isn’t it easier to paint the room when you’ve got the edging tape and extra rollers and the drop cloths you need to get the job done right?
It hasn’t been going as quickly as I like, getting through the studying part of this whole thing, but it’s been beneficial. As ideas tumble around in my head and eventually onto scratch paper, I feel like I’m getting closer to the work of shaping them into actual stories. I feel like I’ve got the guidebooks (quite literally!) to help me get started, whereas before I don’t think I even knew where to start, let alone how to get to a finished product.
I’m enjoying Screenplay a bit more than Save the Cat!, though I think both are essential reading for me at this stage. Where Save the Cat! does a quick and dirty, here’s-how-to-get-it-done kind of intensive course, Screenplay takes the time to offer a more academic, if just as useful, approach to the whole thing. It diagrams and explains where StC! orders and insists on its methods. It also uses feminine pronouns now and then and a variety of genres in its examples, making it leagues more relatable in that regard.
There’s a three day weekend coming up in October, and I’m doing everything possible to psych myself up for 72 hours of screenplay work. I have no expectation of coming out of the weekend with a finished draft, but for all the reading and note-taking and idea-jotting I’ve been doing, I haven’t yet selected a single priority treatment and really hashed it out according to the tools and processes I’m learning about. So, if I can convince myself to focus on one of the many I’m floating around, I’d like to take that weekend to have a stab at starting to edge in the corners of this room that needs painting. Gotta start somewhere, after all.