Tag Archives: Script Frenzy

Tiptoeing outside the perimeter of my comfort zone

I have a narrow comfort zone. It has enough room for my couch with an annex for my office (preferably with the door closed). I like to spend a lot of time in this zone. But being comfortable is not inspiring. Every once in a while, when the well is dry and I have nothing to write about other than my high score on Mario Kart, I’ll get brave enough to try something uncomfortable.

For you, trying something uncomfortable might mean jumping out of an airplane or traveling to a foreign country by yourself. For me, uncomfortable is never that far away. I consider shopping at an unfamiliar Trader Joe’s to be uncomfortable.

My husband is less chicken when it comes to trying things or going places that he’s never been. He’s climbed two of the tallest peaks in Northern California with only a few pints of water and a peanut butter sandwich in his backpack. He once danced with our daughter on stage in front of the school during a class concert. He thinks nothing of going to a foreign Trader Joes.

Through him, I am sometimes encouraged to push the limits of comfort. I never intend to climb a mountain, but I have kayaked, skiied, hiked, and attended social events that took place way outside of the zone.

Obviously, the positive side effect of being uncomfortable is having something to write about. That’s why I am sort of, kind of doing Script Frenzy (so uncomfortable! it burns!). That’s why sometimes I volunteer to work at the food bank with a group of strangers or offer to host a dinner despite my hosting anxiety or agree to walk in a parade with a bunch of baton-twirling second graders (wow, that hurts just to think about). Trivial things, but any departure from the ho-hum revs up the creativity that has gone dormant during those weeks in the zone.

Maybe this weekend I’ll check out the Trader Joe’s in Mountan View. Dare me?


Not happening

The script thing, it’s so not happening.

Sometimes in the past, when I joined challenges like NaBloPoMo and NaNoWriMo, I experienced unbridled rage and irritation when idiots posted on day 2 or day 3 or even day 10 that they were giving up. How hard can it be? I cried. Now I’m one of those idiots.

I’d like to say, “I’ve been so busy at work. After writing all day, I just want to veg out, not spend my evening writing for ‘fun.’ I want to watch American Idol and drink 2 Buck Chuck from the bottle. What are you looking at!”

But the fact is, I don’t watch American Idol and I always drink wine from a glass. I’m just not into writing scripts, I think. Or maybe my brain is actually drained after 8 hours of sitting at my desk trying to figure out hard stuff that I’m paid to write about. Whatever the reason, as of April 2, I have written zero pages for Script Frenzy and I can’t see that number increasing in the next 12 hours.

Talk to me again Monday. Maybe this weekend I will have a burst of script-writing energy and the game will be back on.

To be a script writer in 1982

On the eve of Script Frenzy, I find myself wishing I could write an episode or two of Knight Rider — the original Knight Rider, that is. Let’s not speak of the remake.

In the days of Knight Rider, script writers needed to think very little. The episodes played out like this:

  1. A character is in some kind of trouble, maybe in a small-town jail for crime he didn’t commit, and is usually being held by corrupt officials.
  2. Michael Knight arrives in his talking car, KITT.
  3. The Knight/KITT rescue fails somehow. For several unbearable minutes, it seems like the corrupt officers will win.
  4. Michael uses his car to ultimately get around the bad guys by jumping over something or ejecting someone from his front passenger seat.
  5. They make it the county line, leaving a pile of corrupt officers in a wake of smoldering wreckage and the episode is over.

(At that point, my kids asked, “But why did the police stop chasing them?”

And my husband, Oscar, said, “Because in the 80s, there was a magic loophole called The County Line. The characters in the TV shows of this era believed that once the objects of their pursuit had crossed the county line, they were untouchable.”)

When we watched Knight Rider on Hulu Saturday, I was surprised by how simplistic the entire show was — not only the “story” and “plot” (terms I use loosely), but the scenery, dialog, and stunts. The characters were thoughtless cliches, even by 80s standards: the cigar-smoking Boss Hogg-type who thinks nothing of killing witnesses to his crimes; the ignorant, evil-for-the-sake-of-being-evil small-town cop who is a little overweight; the lushly-locked woman in tight denim who is helpless without Michael Knight. In 1982, my brother and I thought this was entertainment at its best.

Here is where I lecture that “television today is just too complicated.” But I won’t, because I love television today. I’m not talking about sitcoms on ABC or American Idol. I’m talking about the near-cinematic experience of watching Mad Men or Lost or Battlestar Galactica (which sadly ended last week). The set and costumes of Mad Men, the mind-bending mysteries of Lost, and the rich characters of BSG make such TV more than a mindless hour-long vacation, in my opinion. With all the options for viewing — Hulu, Netflix, On Demand, iTunes — we are free to skip the crap and spend time on shows that are worth our while.

Of course, these are the same viewing options that allow us to revisit Friday nights, circa 1982, and enjoy a bit of Knight Rider when the nosebleeds of Lost get to be too much. Best of both worlds.

Frenzy Trial Run

I gave script-writing a try last night. I used Zhura to write a scene taken from real life: sitting in a waiting room during my kids’ guitar lessons.

As an aside, the building where they have lessons seems to be a former doctor’s office, with a corresponding waiting room. Weird. So rather than explain this weirdness in my script, I just called it a doctor’s office. This meant I had to omit the soundtrack of the 4-year-old singing class in the room to my right: one hour of preschoolers wielding umbrellas, belting out “I’m SIIINNNNGGGGGGGIN’ IN THE RAIN!”

My script-writing experiment was almost as painful as that hour in the waiting room. The scene was so clear in my head, but the process of designating every paragraph as dialogue, parenthetical, or action wore thin. And since I am a rule-follower, I was distracted from my vision by wondering if I was doing something wrong: “Is it OK to put action here? Is that parenthetical too long? Do I need to be so specific about what WOMAN 1 is doing with her hands?”

I’ll try again. But I feel like I am in over my head.

Joining the Frenzy

The other day, I received an email from Chris Baty, the NaNoWriMo guy. Actually, he sent the email to all NaNoWriMo authors, not just to me. He suggested that we join Script Frenzy and write a 100-page script in April.

I had heard of Script Frenzy and it didn’t interest me. Theater people are a different breed of creatives. I wouldn’t fit in over there, despite the fact that I wear black most every day. However, Chris mentioned that many Script Frenzy participants are first-timers, and the website gives how-to information along with links to authoring tools (apparently, script-writing has a lot of formatting conventions; I cannot resist formatting conventions).

At least this will give me something to blog about — I can only come up with so many useless adjectives.