It’s been a wild week – pottery, writing, and a day of workshops and a poetry reading with Stories in the North. Kateri Akiewenzie-Damm and Shane Belcourt both led workshops. Kateri’s gave us some useful tools for breaking through writer’s block (and also some pithy advice – the only way to break through writer’s block is to keep writing. Yup.) Shane led a lively workshop on screenwriting, and therein lies my problem.
I already write memoir, humour, fiction, poetry, non-fiction and some corporate stuff. Do I really need another kind of writing? Well, maybe not, but maybe I do.
See, there have been lots of movies made of books I loved, movies that disappointed me because they strayed – gratuitously, it seemed to me – from the book. I know you can’t get everything in a book into a screenplay, but sometimes the changes make no sense to me. On the other hand, I am usually mollified if the author is involved in the screenplay. It may be naive of me, but I think that the author has some say. If anything of mine is ever optioned for film, I think I’d like to be involved in the screenwriting. That, too, may be naive of me.
Shane made the process of turning a text into a screenplay sound manageable, especially as he advised us to start with a short on rather than go for the full-length ninety-pager. I have a thousand-word story that I think I could turn into a twelve-to-fifteen-minute short screenplay, and I’m going to have a go.
I found a lot of his advice about screenplay scenes made sense in writing story, as well. If it repeats, cut it. If it doesn’t escalate, cut it. If there’s no turning point in the scene, cut it. I can see how this works. I can also see how the outer journey and the inner journey of a protagonist have to work against each other, pulling in opposite directions so that when the turning point comes and everything falls together at the end, there’s both a resolution to the story and a change in the protagonist. It was wonderful, sitting in that workshop and feeling a whole series of little “Oh! Got it!” lights going off in my head.
Here’s another little light that went off; many of my writerly friends are signing up for conferences and workshops, working with Names that I’ve never heard of, but who are obviously Very Important in the writing world. I don’t have the money to do that, to park the dog, take off for a week to somewhere exotic, or at least not here, and study the craft. But thanks to my involvement with Stories in the North, there are workshops coming to me. I guess I’ve just lost my whinging rights.
So after I’ve got this draft of The Swan Harp done (and I’m thinking of that as a screenplay now, too!) I’m going to get out The Mermaid’s Smile and see what I can do to break it down into acts, scenes and beats and make it something that could be filmed.
Where will I find the time? I guess I’ll just give up sleeping.