Screenplays

by Adam Huddleston

 

This week I wanted to share with you my new interest. Sometimes when you’re stuck in your current work, not sure where the plot should go or if your dialogue is stale or not, it helps to branch out and try something different.

Although I love reading, my current schedule makes it easier for me to watch movies.  I honestly can’t remember the last time I began and finished a novel without putting it down for several months or starting another book in between.  Since I love films, I thought I might try my hand at writing a screenplay.  The first step is learning proper formatting and some of the terminology.  After that, it’s just a matter of letting the words flow on the page.

Here is an extremely short screenplay I recently finished based on an extremely short story I wrote a year or so ago.

 

FADE IN:

INT. MASTER BEDROOM – NIGHT

ADAM is in bed, fast asleep next to his wife, JENNIFER.  A thin line of saliva runs down his cheek onto his pillow.  A muffled THUMP comes from the direction of his son JASON’s bedroom.

ADAM

What was that?

JENNIFER twitches a little in her sleep but does not respond.  ADAM slides out of bed and glares at his wife. He shuffles down the hallway to JASON’s room.

ADAM

Everything ok–

ADAM sees a giant shadow in the corner of his son’s bedroom.  He opens his mouth but is interrupted when something brown streaks in front of his eyes.  JASON’s teddy bear, ROBOT, performs a flying side-kick into the nose of a massive creature in the corner.  Bones SNAP. ROBOT drives his fist into the beast’s chest and pulls out a pulsing, black heart. ROBOT screams in triumph and holds the heart aloft.  ADAM’s and ROBOT’s eyes meet. ROBOT grins and trots across the floor to ADAM.

ADAM

Robot?

 

ROBOT

Yes, Adam?

 

ADAM

Is this really happening?

ROBOT’s brow furrows.

ROBOT

Tonight it is, Adam.  Tomorrow may be peaceful.  The days and weeks following may be as well.  But some day…some day…

ADAM looks over at the dead creature then back at his son’s sleeping buddy.

ADAM

Oh.  Okay.  Uh, thanks…Robot.

ROBOT

You’re quite welcome, Adam; you and Jason both.  I swore to protect his precious life the day you brought me home and I plan on keeping that promise for as long as I am able.

ADAM nods at the dead beast.

ADAM

What are you gonna do with that?

ROBOT

Don’t worry about the Gorthok.  It’ll be disposed of before your son wakes.  Oh, and Jason whispered to me tonight that he wants toaster pastries in the morning.

ADAM

Uh…toaster pastries.  Got it.

ADAM turns toward the hallway for a moment then turns back again.  The room is back to normal. All four corners of the bedroom are empty.  Jason is tucked away under his comforter, a small arm clutching ROBOT close.  ADAM heads back to his bedroom rubbing his eyes.

ADAM

 (mumbling)

No more Italian food after eleven.

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PAIN TO PEACE


Pain to Peace

I was in the sixth grade when my father received orders for Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, Maine. My memories of Maine are vivid. I can still visualize the old four-level house on Blackstone, the forty inches of snow that fell from one storm, our snow forts and snowball fights. I loved the woods that surrounded our military home on Langley Drive.  I spent hours roaming the birch and pine forest, picking wild blueberries and raspberries. Then I’d return to our duplex red-eyed and sneezing as I was allergic to evergreen sap. (To this day, I cannot have a real Christmas tree.) I treasured our Saturday visits to Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor. For some reason the ocean waves assaulting the rock coast called to me. Perhaps it was the untamed wildness of the currents and tides, or the raw beauty of the colors of rock, water and sky that fascinated me. Or maybe the reason was in my astrological sign – Cancer, the crab, a water sign. Whatever the reason, I never forgot the three and a half years we lived in Maine.

I always planned to go back, but as with so many things, life interfered. Work, family, marriage intervened. I finally returned in June of 1995. I lost my husband to cancer in June of 1994. In the months that followed, the losses mounted. It seemed every phone call contained a death notice. After singing at a friend’s funeral service in November, I fell apart and my mother declared, “No more.” Even though there were more losses, I did not sing, nor did I attend the services. Instead, I looked for a getaway, a place where I could find peace and revive my spirit. The answer came in an ad in YANKEE Magazine for the Maine Windjammer Association. There was something about the picture of the majestic schooner at full canvas that attracted me. I called the 800 number to request more information. Within two weeks, a packet arrived in the mail and the planning began. My family wasn’t too keen on my going alone, but I stood my ground. This trip had to be for me. Seven months later, on a gray, wet Sunday afternoon, I stood at the edge of the wharf and requested permission to board the MARY DAY.

In 1994, the Maine Windjammer Association listed fourteen ships in its fleet. A number of the wooden ships were rescued from the old fishing and trading vessels built in the late 1800’s and in the early part of the 1900’s. These tall-mast beauties weathered storms and the ravages of time, and earned the honor of National Historic Landmark. In the early 1960’s, new schooners designed and built specifically for windjammer cruises, were added to the fleet. the MARY DAY was the first of the new ships. The newer vessels were built in the tradition of the wooden vessels of earlier days with an attention to the craftsmanship of a bygone era.

My windjammer cruise differed from a luxury cruise in that it had no frills. Think of it as camping on the water.  A passenger could choose to lounge on the deck or to augment the crew.  By working with the crew, one experienced sailing in the old tradition. Meals were prepared in a small galley on a wood-burning stove.  The anchor was raised using a two-man pump wench. Sails were hoisted by two teams pulling the rigging lines in tandem. Ropes had to be coiled, decks swabbed, the wheel manned. I worked, but I still reserved time to sit on deck and commune with nature. I watched eagles glide across the sky; saw harbor seals play along the islands in the bay; laughed when the dolphins would leap and splash in the gray-green water. I felt the breeze kiss my cheeks and the sun burn my neck.

Windjamming is an experience I will never forget or regret. I relive the thrill of taking the polished oak wheel and navigating our course while our captain stood at my side guiding and encouraging. Nothing compares to the sight of the tall ships skimming the water. They are beauty and majesty, a tribute to our forefathers’ seafaring skills. I would love to sail again.

This longer-than-normal Outtake does have a purpose. I followed my gut in a quest to find peace. Not only did I regain my center, I discovered the setting for my second novel GRACE ISLAND.  I continue to feature this beautiful state in novels and screenplays. I encourage every writer to follow his instincts in writing his story. Others may make suggestions, but you are the captain of the work. Do not allow other voices to force you to make changes you are not comfortable making. No sea captain would leave port without plotting his course. By the same token, a writer should plan before starting the story. I’m not suggesting a forty page outline with twenty pages of character sketches. However, a character list and brief notes on story and plot are essential. Just I required guidance and encouragement when taking the ship’s wheel, a writer needs critique and suggestions to solidify his work. Know when to say enough. I’ve seen authors write, rewrite and edit a piece until it no longer resembles the original premise. Do your best and let it go. Use every experience, every emotion, even the most painful ones, to color and build on the plot. Writing a novel or story is not an event, it is a journey. There are obstacles and disappointments along the way. With this in mind, I wish you, my fellow writers, fair winds and calm seas as you travel your writer’s journey.

Cait Collins