Part I: Secret Origins Of A Screenwriter An acre of moon
By Ken Robinson
I've been asked to reveal my secret origin as a screenwriter. Some of you may have heard all or some of this tale before, so this is mainly for the new readers. Well, folks, I began screenwriting because I'm so talented I couldn't help myself. And if you believe that, I have some property on the moon to sell you. Cheap, real cheap.
Let me take you back in time to a place etched in history. Actually, every second is chocked full of history, we just don't know it until it's history. This historical epic began almost four years ago now. (Another side note: Time passes way too quickly and the older you are the faster it goes. And I'd like to know who set that up: the older you get the less time you have and the faster it goes. Jeez.) I figured out that it was going to take me another decade or so to finish my novel, which felt like it had turned itself into a trilogy in the previous decade as I wrote it.
So, I decided to write something totally different. Poetry was definitely out as I never understood it. I never really liked short stories that much either. And I definitely wasn't going to start another novel. I had never been exposed to plays except at school, and I didn't know anything about writing them. So you'd think that would strike screenplays from the list as well since I hadn't even seen one.
Naturally, I picked the one I had no experience with: screenplays. It's not like I picked it because people are making money at it. Very few do. I believe it was because I like movies so much.
With this new goal, I went to the library and checked out every book they had on screenwriting and read all ten of them. Besides books pertinent to screenwriting, I've also read inspirational books on general writing, and I suggest everyone should. In particular, I enjoyed Bird By Bird, by Anne Lamont.
Back to my story. At the time I was getting started, reality TV shows had newly flooded the airwaves. I was so fed up with them that I developed a strong hate for them. I combined my love of movies and my loathing of reality TV to start the new writing project.
I recruited my kids to help develop the story a bit. We had in mind a horror movie set on a survivor-type reality show. The kids and I sat around the table and tried to come up with outlandish but interesting characters. Next, we came up with just as many totally outlandish ways to kill them. And being teenagers, my kids really got into it.
After we'd come up with the characters and their demise, I wrote up the details following the guidance from the screenplay books and trying to put the story into some sort of proper screenplay format. I succeeded, poorly, but I didn't know it at the time.
Ouch! I just got a rap on my knuckles from the "editor from above" who deems that this article came in a bit too long. So I have to break it into a two-part series. So the message is: it's too long so make it longer. Crazy editor!
In general, it's best not to annoy the "editor from above" as she really is your friend. Editors may disguise it well, but they know what is good for you, so you should actually take their advice. You can channel your frustration into a character of your next story that beats the crap out of a publisher. Yeah, a publisher. Sometimes you have to be subtle that way.
I hope, plead, and implore you to return next month for Part II. I'm on my knees begging. No, I'm not prostrate on the floor, which the "editor from above" says isn't dignified – but as you know, writers will do just about anything to get our stories out there.
A small update on the writing front: A local production company had a studio deal for several low-budget pictures. How you can call seven to ten million dollars low-budget, I have no idea, but they also have some TV series they are bringing to the local area as well. One of the guys was on our film group website. I emailed and asked him – networking all the time – if they needed any writers. He emailed back and said they may in the future and asked me to send him a TV script. Woo hoo! Hopefully something will happen there.
So Write On! in case the opportunity comes up for you to send something to somebody who can do something with it.
Ken Robinson, IN's Write On! columnist, winner of Bare Bones Int'l Film Festival Best Screenplay Award, has written over 10 screenplays, 3 episodes of TV series West Law, is executive producer for the feature Sacred Bloods, board member of the Oklahoma Film Society, founding member of Oklahoma Movie Makers. His email address is: Krobinson104@hotmail.com