I can't help it, it's my nature. I find something interesting (and it might only be interesting to me...i.e. my obsession with knitting, then my later (and current) obsession with crocheting) and then I go NUTS! I eat, sleep, drink, BREATHE the obsession.
After a while it starts to fade and then I'm on to my next zany thing. This month, my obsession is script frenzy. Its challenging in an I've-never-done-this-before kind of way, but easy in a seriously-how-is-this-a-challenge- kind of way.
I like to write so its easy, but taking away all the details is the hard part...but, on the other hand it gives you more creative freedom. You can write a scene in a novel one way, but taking it from the page to the screen forces you to perhaps look at another way of doing it.
This is what happened to me yesterday. I got to a point where Beth, the main character, was recalling what happened to her parents, and the way its written in the book is like this:
Nick sidestepped a couple making out in the middle of the hallway. “Where are you from?”
I tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. “Jacksonville, Florida,” I told him.
“Did you like it there?”
“Yes,” I said, nodding my head. “It was my favorite place to live.”
“How many places have you lived?”
“Well,” I said, “There was Chicago, Tennessee, and most recently, Florida. I lived in Florida for almost seven years. ”
Nick’s eyes widened. “Damn, are your parents criminals or something?”
“No,” I laughed. “My dad is, I mean was, a football player.”
“Anyone I might know?”
“Pete Dwyer,” I said softly. Nick stopped in the middle of the hallway and stared at me.
“You’re Pete Dwyer’s daughter?” he said incredulously.
“Dude, he’s a God. What the hell are you doing here?”
I stared into Nick’s sky blue eyes. “I-uh, um, you don’t know?” I whispered.
We were approaching the cafeteria. I saw Josh standing on his toes searching for me. He caught my gaze and waved. “Beth!” he called and proceeded to elbow his way through a group of seniors standing on the grass outside the cafeteria.
“Hey kid!” I called.
“I thought I missed you,” he said breathlessly.
“Nope, I’m a little late. Nick was showing me how to get here. Do you mind if he sits with us?”
“What’s up man,” he said to Nick. “No Beth, I don’t mind.”
“Alright, well c’mon then,” Nick said, leading the way into the cafeteria. After we’d gone though the line and sat down, he started asking about Pete.
“So what didn’t I hear about your dad?” he asked.
I glanced at Josh; he was deep in conversation with his girlfriend from next door.
“He died,” I said numbly.
“No freaking way,” Nick breathed, his eyes looked moist, like he was going to cry. “How? When?”
“A week ago. He killed himself. Got drunk, and wheeled himself into the pool.” I dropped a greasy fry back onto my tray.
“Why?” Nick asked.
“No one really knows for sure,” I shrugged. “I think it had to do with my mom’s death.”
He set his Pepsi can down, “I heard something about an attack on an NFL star, but I didn’t really pay much attention. What happened?”
“Three weeks ago, my mom and dad were car jacked after leaving the Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. My dad was taking a short cut, trying to avoid traffic, well he stopped at a four way stop sign, and some guy comes up and shoves a gun in my mom’s face, ordering her to get out of the car.” I stopped and took a deep breath.
You can do this, I reminded myself.
“She refused to get out of the car so he shot her, then drug her out of the car and shot her five more times. She died in the street before the paramedics even had the chance to get there. When my dad got out, the guy shot him four times in the back, paralyzing him from the waist down. He blamed himself for my mom’s death and was depressed because he was still alive, because he was paralyzed, because he would never play football again.” I twisted the lid off my bottle of water. “But what do I know? I’m just a kid,” I said sarcastically.
Nick sat there staring at me from across the cafeteria table. “Wow, Beth, I had no idea. I don’t know what to say.”
I smiled sadly. “There’s nothing you can say. It sucks, but life goes on. At least that’s what my grandmother says.”
Nick looked uncomfortable. “How are you managing to cope so well?”
“I’m not coping; I’m heavily medicated,” I snorted.
It could be better (this is just the first draft) becasuse its more like Beth is telling Nick what happened...no feeling, no emotion, just facts.
The script version goes like this (which I personally like better) (and in case you don't know V.O. stands for voice over, its where a scene is shown and you see it happening and you hear the person speaking...)
It’s not really that bad. Where are you from?
Beth tucks a strand of hair behind her ear and warily looks at Nick.
I’m from uh, Florida. Jacksonville.
Did you like it there?
Yeah, it was my favorite place to live.
Have you lived a lot of places?
Yeah. Chicago, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, and most recently Florida.
Damn, what are you parents, criminals or something?
No. at least I don’t think so. My dad, he um, he was a football player.
Like an NFL player?
Beth nods, uncomfortable with the direction the conversation has gone in.
Anyone I might know?
Beth wasn’t going to tell anyone about her father. But there’s something inviting about Nick’s demeanor, like he was the kind of guy you could tell anything to and he wouldn’t judge you.
Nick stops in the middle of the sidewalk and stares incredulously down at Beth.
You’re Pete Dwyer’s daughter.
Beth nods, tugging at a strand of hair before tucking it behind her ear.
Are you for real?
Again, Beth nods.
What the hell are you doing here then?
Beth stares at nick, unsure of what to say.
I-uh, um, he – you didn’t hear?
The pair approaches the cafeteria where Josh is still waiting. Josh is standing on his tip-toes waving at Beth. His appearance interrupts Nick and Beth’s conversation about her father.
Beth avoids Nick’s question and approaches Josh.
I thought I missed you.
Sorry, I was talking to Nick.
She points to Nick who joins them in front of the cafeteria.
Do you mind if he sits with us?
Nope I don’t care.
Alright well c’mon then.
Nick leads the way into the cafeteria and the three get into line, quickly getting their lunch, and sitting at a half full table.
He unwraps his burger, setting the aluminum foil aside and bites into it. Beth picks up a packet of ketchup, tears it open, and squirts it onto an empty spot on her tray next to her fries.
(To Beth, prodding)
So, you were telling me about your dad.
Beth glances over at Josh who is talking animated to Aubrey, waving a French fry around as he speaks. Beth realizes he isn’t paying attention to her or Nick, she turns back to Nick.
Beth picks up a French fry and dips it into the ketchup on her tray, stares at it but does not eat it.
(Eyes wide with disbelief)
No way! How? When?
He committed suicide a little over a week ago.
Beth drops the fry onto the top of the pile of the fries on her tray and wipes her hand on a napkin.
Beth shrugs and sips her soda.
I heard about the attempted carjacking. The news said his wife was killed. That was your mom?
Beth takes a deep breath. Nicks line of questioning upsets her, but she steels herself, squaring her shoulders and answers his question.
Yes, that was my mom. A month ago, my mom and dad were leaving the stadium and my dad decided to take a short cut through a not so kosher neighborhood.
The camera zooms in on Beth’s face as she begins to recount that fateful night.
He had just won a game against San Francisco – a playoff game, and they were on their way to dinner.
The scene begins to fade, Beth’s face fades away CUT TO-
EXT. FOUR WAY INTERSECTION – EVENING
A navy blue Navigator slowly rolls to a stop at the stop sign in a rundown neighborhood. Houses line the street, their paint peeling and porches sagging. Dilapidated vehicles are parked in driveways. The nicest car on the street, aside from the Navigator is a brassy colored, 1979 Cadillac Eldorado. We see Pete and Rae Dwyer seated inside, both are happy, smiling. Rae is talking to Pete as the navigator comes to a complete stop.
My dad decided to take a short cut, like I said. The neighborhood he went through was dangerous. Kids are shot, people are killed there all the time, it’s just…bad.
A man comes running up to the car. He’s dressed in baggy, dark colored jeans and a oversized black hooded sweatshirt, a baseball cap pulled down low over his eyes. He breaks the passenger window with the butt of the gun and shoves it in Rae’s face.
He ordered my mom and dad to get out of the car.
Beth pauses, taking a deep breath.
We see Rae refusing to get out of the car, she turns in her seat and yells something inaudible to Pete. The car jacker fires his gun, the black night lights up with gunfire.
He shot my mom then pulled her out of the car and shot her five more times.
The car jacker pulls open the car door and pulls a screaming Rae from the car. He throws her to the ground, she stumbles and falls onto the pavement, her arms shooting out to catch her fall. The car jacker stands over her, the gun aimed at Rae.
Zoom into the car jacker's face, he sneers and squeezes the trigger, flinching as each bullet is dispelled from the gun.
Pan wide to show Rae lying in the street, her body lifeless. Zoom around car to Pete quickly rushing toward Rae.
She died in the street before the paramedics had the chance to save her.
Pete is now at Rae’s side, he goes to kneel beside her to try to save her. The car jacker shoots at him as he runs toward the driver’s side of the car. Four bullets hit Pete, three in the upper back and shoulder, one in his lower back.
When my dad went to help her the guy shot him four times. Three of the four bullets passed major arteries, he would have survived, but the last bullet severed his spinal cord.
The scene on the street fades and-
INT. CAFETERIA – LATE MORNING
That was the end of life as I knew it. A month later Pete was dead, and here I am.
Nick fidgets uncomfortably in his seat across from Beth.
I uh, wow I don’t know what to say.
There’s nothing you can say.
How are you managing to cope so well?
I’m not coping; I’m heavily medicated.