I know I’ve been absent for a while. Meena Rose has covered our pages with her marvelous poetry all month, doing her usual exceptional work, for which I applaud her. I thought I’d hop in today, just to feel like I was contributing something during the month, and to give a short update on things happening in Claudsy’s World.
For those who aren’t old enough to know what “the groove” really means, this is my definition of “the groove.”
“The groove” is when production is up and satisfying, the world looks bright and promising, and it’s all-systems-go. Surely you all know what that last expression means. After all, NASA still operates, even though we don’t see much about it on the tele anymore.
Most of us in the writing sphere, either pro or emerging, dip our toes in the challenge pool at least every other month or so. Some of us have a death wish and pick up as many challenges every month as our 24-hr. days can fit—like me. I know. I lost any semblance of sense regarding writing challenges a couple of years back.
And while I do my weekly poetry prompts, I’ve been concentrating on fiction this round. The screenwriting frenzy, to be exact. It’s a whole new mindset and writing type, which built-in challenges of its own.
What I’ve noticed in the past three weeks, though, is that how I look at the world around me is different, because of this challenge.
How? Writing a screenplay requires the writer to refer only to the present. Everything is in present tense. Every action, movement, consideration, expression lives only in that one instant of time. There has neither past nor future when setting up a scene. Time has references only through dialogue. One can’t hint at character motivations, can’t linger on speech patterns, etc. Those don’t exist for the writer when doing a script. Only the immediate instant of action is real.
When I set up scenes now for this tale I’m converting from short story to feature length script, I must dissect every intent, action, and minute detail. The intent must remain inside me to be drawn out in dialogue. Details must have immediate import or a greater import for later use in the story to get any mention at all.
Unless a color, size, shape, ethnic background, or whatever is critical to the visual story, it doesn’t make it onto paper. That bit of mindset is the most difficult change of all.
You might ask what difference this new writing process makes to my daily life. I can say this. The entire process clicked for me on Tuesday, along with those critical details that are driving my story—details I hadn’t known before.
Today, when friends stopped by for a visit, I took note of myself and how I was watching the friend I was talking with. I faced the dining room window. The squirrel outside kept scurrying up and down the tree, burying peanuts thrown over the balcony rail one floor up.
While I saw that activity, I followed my friend’s and my conversation, noted his expressions, how often he made particular gestures and when, and the shift of topics within our dialogue.
I was the viewer taking notes. For the first time in what seems like forever, I was living only in the moment. All details glowed with their own kind of energy. I’d finally made it back to that essence of being. It was glorious.
If April’s screenwriting challenge does nothing else for me, it accomplished what no other technique and mindset has–liberated my experience of the world in a new way. And that’s my take-away.
I hope all of you can have as gratifying take-away this month and every month. Have a terrific April.