Stress of Scripting

So if you don’t know there’s this annual event every November called NaNoWriMo which stands for National Novel Writing Month, and basically in thirty days you’re challenged to write a 50,000 word novel. This November will be my first time doing it.

But obviously it’s not November (at least I hope it isn’t where you live…), so why am I telling you about NaNo? Because the people who run NaNo also have a cool thing in April; it’s like NaNo, but instead of writing books, you write scripts. 30 days, 100 pages. It can be anything that involves a script–a stage play, a TV show, a movie or even a comic book. It’s called SCRIPT FRENZY, and yes, when you mention it in text it must be in all caps. Why? Because it’s awesome that way.

In all seriousness though, this competition is difficult. For one thing, it’s taken me the last 4 days to plan, outline and gather information just so I can begin writing my script. I’ve just spent four hours writing and have only come out with about ten pages (I’m a slow writer), and you need 100 to win the competition. My spring break ends on Tuesday of next week, so how I’m going to balance all my schoolwork and still output a decent movie script is still in question.

The thing about scripting that makes it fundamentally different from my usual fiction writing is that you lack the ability to hear the character’s thoughts. True, you can get around this by using voice-overs and whatnot, but I’m writing a dramatic movie, so voice-overs would kill the serious mood of it. In a screenplay you have to trust that your character’s actions and dialog will be enough, and the viewer can do without internal thoughts. This has proven difficult for me.

Another difficulty I’ve faced is the amount of formatting involved when writing screenplays. Sluglines, character names, actions, and all the other elements have to be perfectly formatted with the correct margins, spacing, etc. True, this is my first screenplay and I’m not planning on selling it to a director (if I was to shoot the movie, I’d want to direct it), so I probably won’t get flamed too much for not having proper formatting. Still, it’s much easier in a novel to just write a quotation mark or italicize a bit of text and then go on. In a screenplay, every bit of text has to be just right.

There’s a lot of stress involved in writing screenplays, yet in a weird way I almost like it more than fiction writing. If I’m confident enough in the finished product if/when it’s done, I may choose to post it up here for anyone to read. We’ll see.



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