I’ve just started work on a screenplay. (!) I’ve been planning to do this for some time and even acquired the Final Draft software that facilitates the weird formatting for screenplays. (I taught myself how to use it months ago when it came, but of course I had to relearn it all yesterday.) The impetus for beginning now, though, is that I have an opportunity to take a screenwriting workshop with Hal Ackerman next month at Tinker Mountain (where I studied fiction with Pinckney Benedict two years ago). And while I could go empty-handed to the workshop, I’d rather have a chunk of script to start with and go into it with a feeling for what it’s all about.
I’ve collected a couple of books about screenwriting, including Ackerman’s Write Screenplays That Sell, and I’ll be plowing through those, both before and after the workshop. If all goes well, I’ll report on my studies here.
The truth is, though, I’m more interested in playwriting. I don’t see a lot of movies. Of course most of the theater I see is Shakespeare (at the American Shakespeare Center, as regular visitors here will know), so that’s not all that useful either. But I do read dramatic works from time to time and I studied some in graduate school. Drama, to me, isn’t that far removed from fiction and one can sit and read a play like a novel. Cinema is another form altogether, despite the obvious family resemblance. Anyway, because I’m thinking I’d like to return next year to Sewanee in their playwriting workshop, I’ll also be using Final Draft to work on a script I can use there. And, to that end, I’ve picked up some playwriting craft books also. Again, I'll report here on my studies.
As for the script I’ve now started, it’s an adaptation of a story I published last year called "Hand-painted Angel." One editor who saw the story suggested it would make a good screenplay and that has stuck in my head, although whether that editor knew what he was talking about or not I have no idea. As an exercise in both screenwriting and the art of adaptation, though, I can see that this is going to be time well spent, whatever comes of the actual screenplay that results.