Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ode to a Chicago Road at Dusk

Around a corner comes to sight a thing
   of beauty and might, a brilliant death.
The look of light baring down, engulfing,
   signaling shadeless sky left bereft.
On metal fence posts like fading bile stains
   the last long strained arms pulling fast through gaps
   of braided aluminum tilting bent.
Past their links, in the lanes
   slink cars strapped fast in the commuter sap
   so clogged, rushing to beat the glow's descent.

Now distant bodies cast long dark towers
   down fading walks of blue concrete and brick.
Now the day's falling past the waking hours,
   store signs blank before first electric flick.
At once the street lies steeped in murky hue,
   rolling to settle and relieve colors
   from the air between cement and up high.
Freely, night will pursue
   straight behind roaming denizens, trawlers
   of what below orange bulbs underlie.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Writing My First Screenplay

So today I found this waiting for me in the mail:

A perfectly innocent copy of the screenplay for Boogie Nights via Royal Air Mail
I had been expecting this book for quite some time as I was to read it for next week for a class.  

My writing class.  

My writing class in which I am scheduled to turn in a screenplay no shorter than 10 pages long by next week. 


I have a week to write a short screenplay, a thing I have never done before.

These were the thoughts that went through my head as I held this slim paperback volume in my increasingly sweaty hand. 

Now I have written a few plays before but from what I can tell, a screenplay is an entirely different sort of beast.  Whereas in a play you control only what your characters say and important movements and blocking (which is liberating a bit in its simplicity) and in a work of prose you have as much or as little control (true freedom essentially) over how the reader views the world you create, in a screenplay there are rules, lots of rules, rules that need be followed. 

It's about creating a visual without bogging the page down with details.  It's about creating characters through dialogue while moving the story along at a brisk enough pace.  It's new and unknown territory for me and frankly, I'm both scared and excited.

My number one problem is the formatting.  I have actually started plotting out the story in a more prose-like fashion just to get it out of my head but translating it into something that looks legit will prove most challenging.

This is an example of the film script form 

At times it can seem more like creating a blueprint than simply writing a story

So I will do what I can.  I'm just glad I have idea in my head at least.  Of course I'll share the finished product with those of you who still read me here.  However gruesome it may be.

Seriously though, if anyone has experience doing this sort of thing, words of advice or encouragement in the comments section would be much appreciated.  I'm starting to sweat a bit over this.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Through the Plaster Cracks

This is an assignment for my creative fiction writing class.  We were to write a short story heavily based around dialogue and strong character development.  After being put through the workshop and several revisions, this is the final result.  Those of you who read my aborted attempt at a novel should recognize the characters involved.

As usual, Noah's late. I guess it's not that big of a deal, though, since the twenty-four hour diner is closed anyway right now, again. That place changes owners so many times, there's a good chance that Kelly – that's the name sitting on top of the diner right now, Kelly's Place is what it says – might have skipped town like so many others have before her, not able to pay the rent or something. Hopefully it opens soon though, it's kinda cold outside and there isn't much else to do on a Sunday morning in Grant, not much else aside from church that is. 

I see a car pulling into the parking lot, not his car, maybe Kelly's? No, not her either, it's a large man with dark, greased back hair and shoulders forming a wide square with the rest of his body. He's got a key in his hand and with it he goes to unlock the diner door. I get out of my car and he gives me a look that's telling me to go away and never come back. What he actually says though, quick and gruff and none too polite, is: “Hold your horses ma'am, won't be open for half an hour.”

Alright, whatever, I slide down back into my car, I turn the heat up a bit, make myself comfortable, and just wait. I do my best not to think about the thing that's been keeping me up at night. Whatever it is, something living in my room, something making noise, watching me, I try not to let it all overwhelm me at that moment. Keep it together, Ella, I say to myself. Last thing I need is for someone I know from town to see me bawling inside my car. 

Told Noah last night that it was important he come meet me, he laughed at me like he usually does when I try to be serious with him even though I did my best to do my dead serious voice – it helped to think of dead puppies and that plastic container filled with black and green somethings in the back of the fridge that makes me want to scream sometimes. 

Here he comes now, driving that old station wagon his dad gave him over the summer, roaring then sputtering a little as it bounces over the uneven pavement. Over fifteen minutes late, I should be used to it by now, I guess. I said nine on the phone. I tell Noah he's an asshole for being late when he rolls down his window to say hi. Of course his face just breaks into a spontaneous grin, like some sort of uncontrollable rash. 

“You look terrible Ella, you getting sick?” Noah asks me, with his mouth corner all pulled up.
“You don't listen, do you?” I tell him, he really doesn't. “I said, like, five times on the phone last night that I haven't been sleeping. Hardly got any last night either.” I would've said none but I'm pretty sure I slept between one thirty-one in the morning to one thirty-eight because those times in between are the only ones I don't remember watching last night on the red-lettered alarm clock in my room.

“Hey, we came here to eat right? I think it might be better if we do whatever you want to do with some breakfast in my stomach.”

I inform him of the bad news regarding the current status of the diner. He pouts all the way from his to car to mine as he opens the passenger side door to get in next to me. What a baby, I'd slap him if I didn't love him like a brother.

“Now look, I have to tell you something, something that I really haven't told anyone else.” He looks like he's going to laugh in my face, “That means you keep your mouth shut, got it?” He just nods, I swear if he laughs I'm going to hit him right on the nose and make it bleed. 

“You're pregnant.” It's a statement, not even a fucking question, he just couldn't help himself. I hit him on the nose, more like just a love tap really.

“No, asshole. Lis-ten.” I pull the word, say it nice and slow, speaking both syllables real clear for him. 

“There’s something strange living in my room, I think,” I say after a deep breath. Noah stops his smiling, he's listening now. “Like I think it might be living inside the walls, I hear it running around when I'm in bed.”