Manuscripts Burn


"Manuscripts don't burn"
- Mikhail Bulgakov

Hi, I'm horror and science fiction author Steve Kozeniewski (pronounced: "causin' ooze key.") Welcome to my blog! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon. You can e-mail me here, join my mailing list here, or request an e-autograph here. Free on this site you can listen to me recite one of my own short works, "The Thing Under the Bed."

Monday, March 29, 2010

We interrupt your regularly scheduled manuscript...

...For this important announcement.

I know, I know, you've just barely started to dip your toe into the shallow end of the baby pool with "The Neighbors Are Zombies," and you're sitting on pins and needles wondering what's going to happen next. I hate to drag you out of this eagerly anticipated manuscript update, but I want to make an announcement of sorts and give you all a few days to get onboard (if you're so inclined.)

April is Script Frenzy month. Apparently every April is, though I've just discovered it this year, just as I just discovered NaNoWriMo this year. The two are, apparently, siblings, although it seems as though Script Frenzy is more of thre red-headed bastard child. (Interesting side note: if you made an account for NaNo, you already have one for Script Frenzy. Go fig.) What it comes down to is this: 100 pages in 30 days, irregardless (yes, I know that isn't a word, unless, you know, you believe language is organic) of whether you want to write a play, a television pilot, or a movie treatment.

I had to wipe the goo out of my eyes when I first read that, because 100 pp is a very...shall we say...modest goal compared to the ridiculously out-of-proportion 50,000 words of NaNo. 50,000 words is about 100 pp of prose, single spaced. 100 pp of screenplay is somewhere between 1/3 and 1/6 of that, and that's probably a conservative estimate.

Don't believe me? Allow me to illustrate. You can already see this at play with any of the scripts I've previously burned, but let's just use a fresh example. Here's a brief excerpt in prose, which I just made up:

Slippy stood in the laboratory of Deathblow Castle, concocting an arcane and fanciful new alchemical solution. Suddenly, a massive cockroach, towering easily two heads over Slippy, burst into the room. The effect was so startling and frightening that Slippy dropped a beaker, and watched as it shattered on the floor into a billion glass shards.

"Fall into my mandibles, easy meat!" the ghastly beast cackled.

Frightened, but emboldened by his faith, Slippy held up a holy cross and recited the magical words his grandmother, the town's witch-doctor, had taught him, "Never! Get thee back to Hell, thou damned she-cockroach!"

Now here's the exact same thing in (relatively) correct script format. (I admit, I can't get this blasted Blogger to center some stuff and not other just imagine it's centered. Also, the dialogue would be significantly more indented.)




Fall into my mandibles, easy meat!

(holding up a cross)

Never! Get thee back to Hell, thou damned she-cockroach!

See the difference? The prose is ten lines (actually it would only be eight in a properly formatted manuscript, where we were tabbing instead of using line breaks, but I digress) it is much denser, and it took about three times as long to write. Three time as long as the 14 lines of script, which took about a minute to write.

For one thing, every dialogue tag is an extra three lines, instead of just, "he/she said." For another, description is as much or as little as you want, whereas in a novel you, the writer, must get us from every step A to step B, rather than relying on the potential future director and actors. And every scene change, instead of a line break or a "***" is an extra three lines, considering the location header. Admittedly, there are no chapter breaks, but when whole lines are taken up with just character's names and emotions, a script has a TON more white space than a novel. Honestly, I don't even really understand why they don't just say, "Do 50,000 words of scriptwriting instead of prose."

But, the upshot of it is, this is a much, much, much more modest starting point for any writer, and, if anyone wants to participate along with me, I wanted to give you at least a few days to be aware of it and set up your account. Any takers?

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