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screenwriting

Something different: A Question of Culture

So, in my college pursuits, one of my classes is Introduction to Screenwriting. As an exercise in this class, I was assigned the task of writing a short scene in which two people at a cafe have some kind of expositional dialog. At the same time, while preparing for Diversity Day, which was sponsored by the student government (I’m a member,) I learned that there was a need for some skits to be written highlighting the issue of racism. There were already a couple of skits written by other folks, of course, but there were two complaints discussed in one of our planning meetings: First, that the existing skits were a bit…provocative in their language, and second, that both entailed white students attacking minority students, which is, of course, not how things always roll.

Well, it occurred to me that perhaps i could combine these projects, and moreover, that I might be able to assemble something that would be a complete short story wherein not only is the perpetrator of the racist act not a caucasian student, but the racism involved isn’t even meant in a harsh or hurtful way; it’s simply a matter of culture and traditional values clashing with the modern world. The following story, written more or less in Screenplay format (I’ve made some modifications to make it easier to read in this medium) using CeltX, was probably a little too subdued to justify being performed live on a campus (indeed, it wasn’t,) but is nevertheless, I think, an interesting short story.

A Question of Culture

ACT I

SCENE 1

A WHITE MAN and an ASIAN WOMAN walk together,
laughing and chatting casually. They appear very
comfortable together and seem to be enjoying each
other’s company a great deal. They are coworkers
at a Computer Services consulting company.

 

MAN

Boy was that guy funny in the meeting today. What in the world made him think that server would work online without a network card?

WOMAN

I don’t know, sometimes people at this company are so silly! The look on his face when you explained it to him was so funny, though, you almost made me laugh out loud!

MAN

Was I rude, do you think?

WOMAN

No, not at all, I thought you were very polite. You’re always polite…and sweet!

MAN

Well, you make it easy to be sweet. You’re so smart and funny all the time!

The two sit down at a table, still smiling and
happy. A waiter approaches.

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Joss Whedon’s top 10 Writing tips

In my new life as College Student Extraordinaire (CSE for short), one of my courses is Intro to Screenwriting. I’ve been interested in taking such a course for many years, so I was very happy to get into the class without a problem. I was disappointed in the class until recently, for various reasons, but I’m now very pleased and suddenly quite motivated. Consequently, I’ve been perusing various sites and forums online looking for advice on how to write well for the screen. Suffice to say, I’ve found a lot of good advice, but none I’ve taken to heart so readily as this nugget of platinum from one of my favorite screenwriters, Joss Whedon (gold is too cheap and commonplace for Mr. Whedon’s level of talent, imho).

The article was orginally presented in 4Talent magazine but was reprinted with permission at the source linked above. Since I don’t have such permission, I’ll just post the summary here and let you visit the source article yourself for the meat. While his advice is somewhat specific to screenwriting, I believe his advice can, by and large, apply equally well to all forms of fiction writing. So, from the top, here we are:

Joss Whedon’s 10 Tips for Writers

1. Finish it!
2. Structure
3. Have something to say!
4. Everybody has a reason to live
5. Cut what you love
6. Listen
7. Track the audience mood
8. Write like a movie
9. Don’t listen
10. Don’t sell out!

Yeah, that’s a list alright. Head to the link for the meat!