What I’ve Learned from the Frenzy

So: I just finished my screenplay.

It was actually easier than I thought it would be, to be honest. Once I got over the mentality of relying on the word count and meeting a certain deadline, I had the whole thing under control.

Sure, I had it easy because I was adapting a previously-written work, but even I had to admit that there were still a few challenges along the way. For one thing, I found myself toggling back and forth between meeting the quota and adhering to the industry standard (more dialogue and action, less talky-talky descriptions) – a dangerous proposition, as it turned out, because I was writing this with no guarantee that I will see this movie filmed in my lifetime. Then there was the pesky outline, which I tried my best to adhere to but found myself deviating wildly; not even the basic rules of Save The Cat! could contain the quirky internal logic that my characters were working on throughout this whole time.

Who would’ve thought that, halfway through the story, ex-teacher Vicky and ex-stoner Sandy would somehow bond, Absolutely Fabulous-style, over Chardonnay and pigs in a blanket while watching the Oscars? Who would  have thought that Claire’s character arc as an investigative reporter would involve more showing than telling? (Like, really, how did she get there? I never got around to telling that back story about the connections she made from Brown to CNN, and the reason why she chose to move to the West Coast. Maybe her parents should have been mentioned earlier.) And who would have thought, out of the whole convoluted fanfic mess that used to be Nominated, I would actually produce a decently funny coming-of-age story disguised as a romantic comedy?

To be honest with you, though, I could never be more happier about the way Claire and Mike turned out.  Claire was already a neurotic character to begin with, but turning her into a bitter ex-journalist gave me a lot of ideas on how to proceed by giving her an inordinate amount of intensity. (At one point I actually thought of Claire as the end result of me procreating with the twitchy guy from The Town, which is a hilarious mental image in and of itself.) This, in turn, stood in contrast to Mike, whose most fatal flaw is his lack of self-reflection; he knows that he’s headed for a breakdown, but he has no idea how to stop it because he doesn’t know how he got there. From my standpoint, there’s no real demarcation line between Claire and Mike on who gets to “redeem” who in the end, except for the fact that they know each other too well and that another separation between the two of them would only do more harm than good across the board.

The real test, however, comes in a matter of days, when I have to get the current version of the script verified on the Screnzy site.  Once I’m done with that, I can rest easy.

Love, Stella

2 Responses

  1. Yay. So glad that you finished. Just from the tidbits that you've said here, it sounds like quite an interesting journey. Both in self-discovery and character discovery. They have a tendency to do what they want don't they?

  2. @Indigo: Thanks. 🙂 Characters do have a tendency to "speak" to you; just when you thought you know them, they'll end up in a scene where they go in a different direction than where you wanted them to be. That's what makes them tough to edit, too – there's always that fear of losing nuances by cutting scenes down, but you'll never know when the editing will make them better "people" in the end.

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Stella Torres

is the author of the adult contemporary romances Save the Cake, Crushingly Close, and Nine Years Away, as well as the short story “Be Creative” in the anthology Kids These Days: Stories from Luna East Vol. 1.

In her previous life, she has worked in public relations, taught English as a second language, and even attended graduate school (twice!). She has lived in Indonesia, Honolulu, and Quezon City before moving back to her hometown of Los Banos, a few hours’ drive (with traffic) from the heart of Manila.

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