Assignment: Money Scene

I’m taking an online screenwriting course to learn more about the craft directly from a professional who has actually written screenplays, Aaron Sorkin. While student participation isn’t required, it is encouraged. I’ve always had a tendency to be the shy one, never raise my hand, decline to post online, absorb but not put myself out there. This time I’m determined to participate somehow (at least a few times), thus I completed one of the assignments and posted it onto the board for all to see. Since I’m sharing my journey, I’ll post it for you to see as well.

The assignment was to write a scene where one character is asking another for money,  but the other character won’t give them the money. It’s about determining intention and obstacle, tactics to overcome the obstacle, and how the tactics reveal character. Now, I didn’t think too much on this one, to be honest. I didn’t want to spend hours trying to devise something complex. I kind of just wanted to see how quickly I could flesh out the scene. I want to see what I’m capable of when I force myself to let go. This is what came out in about ten minutes (not properly formatted, by the way, so it doesn’t read as smoothly as it should- no time for that with WP):

 

 

 

EXT. OUTSKIRTS OF CITY – NIGHT

BEN, 30ish business man digs into suit jacket, pulls out a lighter, lights his smoke. Takes a deep drag and squints as he inspects his nails.

Ben

No more money. It doesn’t work like that, Sam.

Sam

Don’t tell me how it fucking works, man. You haven’t been there.

Ben shrugs and takes another drag.

I don’t have to.

Sam stuffs his hands into his worn jean jacket.

No. No, you have Davie and Leon sorting your shit out now.

Sam’s gaze is steady but Ben avoids making eye contact.

Sam

Looking so smart in your fake glasses and fancy suit and- what the fuck are those?

Ben drops cigarette and slowly crushes the tip with his oxford shoe.

Alligator.

Ben stares into the distance at the lights of the city.

Sam

Alligator.

(beat)

What does Elizabeth think of your transformation?

Ben finally returns Sam’s gaze.

Sam

Of little Nicole? The mounds of dirt by the bay?

Ben takes a step toward Sam, but Sam stands his ground.

Ben

Listen—

Sam

I’m not going back there again, Ben. And if this is what I gotta do to make it…

Sam shrugs and brushes invisible dirt off of Ben’s lapel.

Sam

Think of it as an investment in your future. Preservation of truth.

Sam starts to walk down the street.

Sam

In my account tomorrow morning.

Ben watches Sam disappear around a corner and pulls his phone out of his pocket. Sighs. Punches in a number.

Hey. Yeah, I know. Do it tonight.

And that’s that. My ten minute money scene. Within those ten minutes, I wrote more than I had last year. Boom.

 

 

 

Creative Purpose

Drive your day with your vision and goals.

I can’t recall where I first read that sentence, but I came across it again recently, scribbled on the back of an old screenplay scene notecard, and it struck a chord with me.

I was on a jog the other morning and noticed an ant interstate cutting through the desert scrub in an empty lot a block from my house. Endless rows of large red ants scurried to and fro on a path they created, driven by their own ant needs, and they moved with such determination that I was mesmerized and watched them for about ten minutes before going on about my merry, sweaty way.

I realized that they possessed that which I had been missing in my life for a long time: Purpose.

I needed to create clear goals and meaningful purpose for my creative life again. Strike that. I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and created a solid plan for my creative endeavors. I’ve formulated plans and checklists for moving a thousand miles away, finding jobs, losing weight, and traveling, but I’ve been more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sort of person when it comes to creative projects. You can see how well that’s worked for me.

I’m not quite sure why I’ve had an aversion toward creative planning. I adore planning in general, so one would think I would be naturally inclined to sit down and create checklists for writing projects. Nope. Not even close. Perhaps somewhere deep down I connected creativity with spontaneity. Maybe in my younger years the creative process flowed effortlessly, thus I assumed planning would block the stream. I honestly don’t know.

However, I do now know this: creative life planning is fun. I am giddy all over the place as I sketch out mind maps for ideas. I can’t wipe the smile off my face as I sit down to create my outlines and checklists for creative projects. I don’t know exactly why and how it finally clicked for me. I’m taking an online screenwriting course, so perhaps it was a random suggestion by the brilliant Aaron Sorkin. I started writing in my Dreambook and Planner and I’ve been jotting stuff into my journal again, so I could be unearthing and releasing mental junk that’s been holding me back. I found (and subsequently read) pdf files of the books The 8-Minute Writing Habit and Write Better, Faster  by Monica Leonelle stored in a writing file on my laptop, free gifts for signing up at Goodriter quite some time ago. Excellent suggestions in both. I came across Rachel Aaron’s blog, which has a ton of great writing ideas as well. I have a writing desk and a new chair set up in my home and I love how it feels. It’s so comfortable and cozy, and I now enjoy sitting and writing.

I also decided to actually do something with my Beachbody coaching instead of just using it for my discount (which is awesome, I will admit) because health, fitness, and mental and emotional well-being are a vital part of my life. When I feel healthier, I feel happier. Stronger. I have greater drive and determination. I decided that I will start sharing my own health/fitness/well-being journey because everyone can relate to the ups and downs, especially writers who tend to isolate themselves and sit on their tushes for far too long every day.

I’m creating a vision of what I want for my creative life and I’m actively planning to make the vision my reality. Everything that could possibly help me on my journey is materializing before my eyes. Of course, most of the guides have been there all along; it’s only now I’m truly open and ready to work for the creative life, thus I see the direction. I see the paths I can take to make my dream come alive, and instead of permanently freezing due to the fear of taking the wrong path (thus doing nothing at all), I’m forging ahead. I’ll adjust my trajectory and create new plans as needed. There is always a way.

I don’t know why it’s taken half of my life for this to click for me, but the puzzle pieces are finally falling into place. I feel inspired, but most importantly I feel inspired to put a plan into place for the days when the muse fails to whisper in my ear. I’m excited to share this journey.

Let the creative life finally begin.

There is a truth and it’s on our side
Dawn is coming
Open your eyes
Look into the sun as the new days rise

WP_20160728_006
Not too shabby of a morning view in my backyard, eh? 

Do you “wing it” with your creative goals or are you a creative planner?

 

 

 

 

Adios, Party Train

I’ve confirmed what I suspected about myself long ago: the party train is no longer for me.

My friends had tickets to see Dashboard Confessional (well-known for Stolen, among other songs) and invited me along, and since I haven’t seen my friends in quite some time, I thought it would be fun to hang out again and catch up on life events. So, off we went via Lyft to the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. While the Chelsea was a great venue, the acoustics decent, and the view from just about anywhere pretty good (save for the 7ft tall dude who kept standing in front of my 5’2″ frame), the scene simply does not play into what I envision as an ideal evening out. People packed in everywhere, overpriced drinks, inability to carry on a normal conversation due to the noise level- you know, typical concert spectacle. Plus, the show wasn’t over until sometime around 12:30 am, after which the young folks line up to hit the clubs.

We did not hit the clubs.

By 12:30 am, I am toast. Unless I’m having lively conversations with close friends and listening to the jukebox at a dive bar, wrapping up a late movie and grown-up time at home, or checking out a celestial event in the skies above, the only thing I want to see at that hour is the back of my eyelids. I prefer to rise early and kick ass for the day rather than feel like I’ve been whacked upside the head with a cinder block.

No, I’d say the party train departed this station a long time ago and I have zero desire to board once again. I gladly leave the fun to the youngsters and party people of the world.

Adios.

Dashboard Confessional