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.
No more money. It doesn’t work like that, 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.
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.
Ben stares into the distance at the lights of the city.
What does Elizabeth think of your transformation?
Ben finally returns Sam’s gaze.
Of little Nicole? The mounds of dirt by the bay?
Ben takes a step toward Sam, but Sam stands his ground.
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.
Think of it as an investment in your future. Preservation of truth.
Sam starts to walk down the street.
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.