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Screen & Stage
January, 2008


Scary Games And Spreading Blame
Can alter ego come out and play?
By  Ken Robinson

It takes a courageous soul to follow the whim of an alter ego bent for scary places.
Iím going to assume that most writers are like me.

Iím going to take that chance. Iím going to make twice an ďass-u-me.Ē I assume that screenwriters are pretty much the same breed as other types of writers and they all have the same fundamental problems.

I have an alter ego that sits patiently, doing who knows what, until itís time to come out and play. Every time I anxiously knock on his door with my pen, Iím not certain if heís going to come out and get in the game. Iím always amazed when the ink begins running around the page that heís Johnny-on-the-spot.

His personality is almost completely opposite to mine. He loves playing around in the scariest games he can find. I canít watch anything remotely scary. If I do I can guarantee that when I wake up in the middle of the night, my shirt, the one I hung on the end of the bed, will be floating, ghastly specter-like, ready to pounce and scare the pudding out of me.

Just the thought gives me chills. My alter egoís fondest dream is to scare the pants off a guy, not literally, unfortunately, and his date, so theyíre clinging to each other for dear life the rest of the night.

Although he will play other types of games, such as action or urban, he doesnít quite have them down yet. But he is always willing to try new games and doesnít mind messing up in the process. Next time he plays he understands the rules much better.

Heís also much more talkative and outgoing than me. He even volunteers to do seminars and workshops in front of live people. Not a bunch of dead people heís killed off in one of his games. If itís an audience of writers, he canít tell much of a difference.

You should see how he dresses. Itís embarrassing, for his daughter anyway. Every time heís at anything to do with the game heís wearing an outrageous Hawaiian shirt and white shoes, shades of dearly departed Dr. Thompson. I hear heís even looking for the right hat to top it off. His daughter can usually be found at the far end of the room denying sheís any relation.

He can be hard to deal with. When I knock on his door I always worry he wonít be there. To entice him out, sometimes I have to start playing the game by myself. Itís really nerve-wracking but it seems to work. It must look like Iím having a good time, which I may or may not be. Next thing I know he jumps in both feet.

When he plays I try to let him set the rules. The game is so much more interesting when he takes over the chase and sticks his nose in places I would never go.

I go, ďWow! We can go in there? Isnít it dangerous?Ē

He goes, ďOf course it is, thatís the whole point. If you donít live dangerously, you didnít really live.Ē

Each time we play he brings along a bunch of his friends that Iíve never seen nor talked to before. I never know what characters heíll be dragging around with him. Playing along is the only way to find out. The longer I play the more I discover about them.

Honestly, I have no idea where he finds these people. Some are nice as pie, others are total whackos. But he figures out how to cajole them into playing together, and not always nicely.

Iím always nervous around him because you never know what heís going to do. He even goes up and talks to pretty, and I mean beauty pageant cover-girl babe type, girls. Unbelievable.

Iím trying to be more like him, as my own life is boring. Iíll never watch scary movies -- well not very many -- and definitely not in the dark or by myself. Definitely not by myself.

It gives me goosebumps.

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Ken Robinson grew up and lives in Oklahoma. After five years in Ireland, he's been writing screenplays for two and a half years. Four of his scripts have been optioned by Woofenil Works, two low-budget projects now in preproduction, as well as West Law. His email address is:

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Screen & Stage
IN This Issue
Novel To Screenplay: Adaptation 101
Learning The Lingo
Elevator Exposure
Who Profits?
On The (Back) Lot
Lingua Scriptus
Part II: The Script's Key Plot Points
Part I: The Script's Key Plot Points
Origin Of The Screenplay
Scriptspeak: Writing Dialogue

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