Steady as She Goes…

Things have been steady at work the last few days… a lot of calls, and between calls, I’ve been trying to get myself ready to return to the classroom. I am actually a little nervous about going back. I will be taking two classes, due in part to a computer error that I was able to capitalize on, instead of my originally intended one class.

Here I am, 31 years old, going back to school for the third time. This time, though, I was able to stay in the “real world” for… wow, over four years before going back. And I am still, technically, going to be in the real world, since I am only going to be a part time student.

Besides my nerves, though, I am looking forward to the classes. One, in particular has held my attention for years since it was originally being brought into the curriculum – after I initially graduated, naturally. Script writing. I know virtually nothing about the format (other than the bits and pieces that I have read on structure, or while reading scripts for Theatre and English lit classes) – but nothing as far as writing within the form.

Fiction is (theoretically) easy. Start at a point, and can move freely between time and space within the confines of the story, painting pictures as thick and detailed as is desired during each scene. There can be pages of descriptions and details, various stages of activity, between lines of dialogue.

Poetry is also (theoretically) easy. Blank verse is unformated. With a little work, a book of forms/styles can be found at a book store, or sample formats can be found online. With those forms, words are arranged to form a certain meter and sound pattern, a certain amount of repetition or rhyming patterns, and a fixed length. Picking the right words may be difficult to present the desired thoughts or images, but there is a defined form to work with.

Scripts, to me, are more of a mystery. Maybe it is due to the specialized nature. They are unique. They are discussed in school, much like prose and poetry – disected in literature classes, or from the vantage point of a diector, determining how to stage a production – but there is no real disclosure of the process. Growing up, writing stories and poems used to be part of the curriculum – even if they were only written in response to the lesson at hand (using this authoras an example, write your own poem about the topic.)

Maybe it is because a script is a general term. The format changes, based on the plans for a project. A TV script will look different than a movie script, which is different than a stage script. Stage scripts are the most often seen and discussed script forms, but even then discussions revolve around the content (or the production aspects, in theatre classes), not about the composition.

How much direction should be provided? Character descriptions? Settings? What about the oft used “montage”? What about any specific “credit” plans (having a brief scene open the movie, then having the credits cut in as a pause)? All of these are things I am hoping to learn, and tweak, during the course of the semester.

From there, I am hoping to have enough insight that I might be able to develop some script ideas for graphic novels in the future, as well. But first, I must begin conquering the basic conventions of the form, so that I can truly appreciate the differences.

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