Stirred, Not Shaken

One of my classes this term is a screenwriting class. “A screenwriting class?” you may ask. “Why, yes, I am learning how to write scripts.” I shall reply. Our first assignment is to write a one-act play. A play. A. Frickin. Play.

I am honestly not a fan of plays. Probably because my high school teachers, in which were the only classes I ever read plays in previously, chose the most boring and tedious plays they could find. No offense, Shakespeare, but Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet are getting kinda dusty.

And if I ever, and I mean this, if I ever have to read Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, I’m going to personally find  Mister Miller’s grave, and I’m going to dig it up. I don’t know what I’ll do after that, but you get the idea that I am willing to mess with a grave if I have to read that stupid play again.

So we’re working on a play. We did some stalking observing of the people around us and we took the ones that we liked best. I almost mowed over a little old lady as I was walking towards the bookstore on campus, and I just wanted to know what she was gonna go do and why she was motoring around so fast. Literally, the only resemblance of a little old lady in college in my play now is a little old lady. So that’s character one, Little Old Lady/Grandmother/Muriel.

Ever watched a man watching a football game by himself? My dad is great for that, seriously. He sits there quietly, with the occasional exclamation about what the heck is happening, staring intently at the television. I don’t usually know what he’s talking about, because I don’t keep up on football. This is Uninterested Father/Bruce, our second character.

And then our third character is Sylvia, who is the bitchy ex-wife type. Bruce and Sylvia have a child, Tommy, who Sylvia doesn’t allow Bruce and Muriel to see all that often. No, I did not actually see a bitchy ex-wife type, I just decided that hey, we have an excited grandmother and a football watching dad, why not add the pain in the ass ex-wife who has to have it her way or she’ll tear you limb from limb?

And tah-dah, we now have some semblance of characters for the play!

My professor asked us to write a minimum 20 lines of dialogue per character last week, just to get the action rolling. I wrote 124 lines in about 2 1/2, 3 hours. It’s so easy to write dialogue. I’m pretty sure I should’ve looked into script-writing earlier. Here’s a sample, taken from an argument between Muriel and Sylvia as they browbeat each other, with Bruce trying to calm both women:

Muriel: No, I do not see what you mean, I just see a filthy little floozy who won’t let me see my grandson!
Sylvia: I am not a floozy! I –
Muriel: I don’t care for your excuses, Sylvia, I just want my grandson to come over so I can spend some quality time with him! And if you don’t let me see him, I swear on my late husband’s grave, may he rest in peace, I will take you to court and declare you an unfit parent!
Sylvia: Me the unfit parent?! Your son is the unfit parent! My mother told me he was no good and I knew I shoulda listened to her!
Muriel: Your mother has got the brain size of a pea. She wouldn’t know a good thing if it came up and socked her in the face with a bunch of cinder blocks.
Sylvia: My mother does not have the brain size of a pea! And even if she did, she’d be a lot smarter than you!
Muriel: Only because she knew my son shouldn’t have married a witch like you!
Bruce: Ma, stop provoking her! I told you that already once!
Muriel: Don’t you try to stop me, I’m protecting your honor!
Bruce: Ma, I ain’t got any honor left. She took it when she took my house.

We’ll see if I’m willing to post more when I’m done! Till then, be content with that little excerpt.

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2 thoughts on “Stirred, Not Shaken

  1. Fun stuff! I mean I hated reading plays too (the only one I thought was decent was The Crucible but writing dialogue is always fun. And writing dialogue for two fighting characters? Even more fun. I’m starting to like Muriel. 😀

    • I don’t think we read the Crucible, we just watched it one year in my… history class?
      And it is fun. I always like writing dialogue. 😉 It’s fun and I like Muriel too. I feel that Sylvia thus far is flat and a character who’s there. But I’m working on it!

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