To prove the point that it is better to have low expectations and be pleasantly surprised, as a late entrant, I had to take the workshops that were left. My afternoon one was on Screenwriting – something I have no interest in. Let me qualify that; my only interest would be if someone wanted to adapt my books for film. Flags would fly then.
Julie Everton, a professional screenwriter, playwright and lecturer at Brighton University, gave us a masterclass which, both confirmed my view that I would never make a screenwriter but which will inform my writing for ever.
The fundamental differences –
1. All character thoughts have to be visualised – obvious when you think about it.
2. The screenplay has to be written in the present tense
3. Active verbs rather than adjectives or adverbs (yes, I know -authors should be doing that too).
4. Objects can be used to plant ideas or clues which can be paid off later
5. Paint a picture of the environment so that the director can visualise it
6. Camera angles should never be specified but implicit – when to use close-up or panning.
Julie used various exercises to help all this sink in. First, we had to write a premise which could be used to approach film makers. This must contain 4 things.
- The main character and their problem
- The location
- Obstacles the character faces
- The hook
Think blurb – could it be distilled down into these four elements? I think so.
Our second exercise was to think of an opening scene in two colours and write down the elements which could be described by those colours. – How simple, how useful. I am most certainly one who needs to be taught such tricks.
Finally, Julie gave us an example of screenplay writing – Misery by Stephen King, screenplay by William Goldman. We had to write our opening scene based on this and using what we had learnt so far. It made me think far more visually which I hope I can bring to my writing.
Ninety minutes of pure gold.