Monday, April 18, 2011

Halfway to a Script

frogsSo far, who knows? Hard to believe all the things in my script already: Gambling schemes, train wrecks, spies, hostile insurgents, vicious soldiers, and religious overtones. And I’m only halfway. And since this is the 18th day of Script Frenzy…I’m actually behind.

One thing I’m struggling with is scenes. My whole script is supposed to have ~40 scenes. I think I have ~50 so far. Part of this is how I define scene vs shot. It’s one of those screenwriting things I’ll have to learn. I think the trick is to make each scene do more and have fewer of them. Each scene should be ~3 pages. Revision’s going to be a bitch.

Speaking of religion, I watched a show yesterday that tried to come up with rational, scientific explanations for the Ten Plagues and some aspects of the story of Moses. They provided explanations that derived from a sudden climate change that year, since most of the effects were biological (swarms, disease). Then at the end of a show, a rabbi came on and said (paraphrasing), “does it really matter that any of these things actually happened? The story is what’s important, and the lessons demonstrated therein. Scientific inquiry is all well and good, but it’s not what the story is about. It’s not going to teach you anything.” (For the record I disagree with that assessment because I think any line of legitimate scientific inquiry has merit…in this case it could be a lesson in the dangers of climate change.)

This is what I’m doing with my own story. Does it really matter that I create an accurate accounting of my cousin’s journey? Should I just stick to the facts? Or is the important thing the story, the reasons for the journey and why the outcome is important? If we can look at the Bible as metaphorical rather than literal, then why not any history? A history book tells us the X, Y, and Z’s of who did what to whom. A story tells us why all these things happened and how they impacted the people who lived through those times. (Personally I think the Bible is more a series of stories based on certain events and folklore, but not an actual accounting of real events).

The “story” of my cousin isn’t a list of events and travails. It’s the tale of a man trying to come to grips with his own sense of self, of remaining steadfast to a single goal, to persevere when it looks like all hope is lost (starting in approximately 20 pages from now). So I’m going to create events and characters that clearly demonstrate this commitment.


  1. I don't believe there is a right or wrong answer to any of those religious/historical questions.

    My opinion? Story is important. The report of the journey, the outcome, and what it means to the reader. Since your story is biographical in nature, then the importance is the meaning to you specifically. Some historical facts would need to be accurate: his dates of birth and death, relevant occupations and schooling, migration dates and motivations if known, marriages, births of children and where. Anything you have on him that is either known or reasonably conjectured you may want to report as accurately as possible.

    But without his specific input - or even with it, memory can be faulty - you really can't know about specific conversations with people, or exact motivations or circumstances. In these areas, telling a good story is more important than complete accuracy. You want this to be an interesting adventure, afterall. As an author, you have creative license to embellish . .

    I've read your earlier musings, and the story sounds intriguing. I'm sure you will write the journey in a way that is entertaining and relatively accurate at the same time.


  2. It seems like you're working on a character driven story so I think that maybe you don't have to be so paranoid about the accuracy. As long as its not so glaring that it throws the audience out of the story. Good luck with your scenes.
    Edge of Your Seat Romance


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