There's no business like Po business

So I was editing my screenplay yesterday and…

I just had to say that, isn’t it something we all want to say? And doesn’t it sound just horribly pretentious? Everybody wants to write a screenplay, right?

Well no, not me. It is not something I have ever wanted to do. I love to watch movies. But I do not have a visual imagination, I think in words. 

I am in fact writing a screenplay against my own better judgment. I have been attending writing courses, and the third in the set happens to be a screenwriting course. When I told my classmates that I would NOT be joining them because the thought of trying to write a screenplay terrifies the tokoloshes out of me, they ambushed me with PEER PRESSURE and so I signed up. Who would have thought I could experience peer pressure from a group of people mostly older than my parents? 
I thought it would be good for me to put myself completely out of my comfort zone and try something very difficult and challenging and scary. The only problem is, well, it’s scary.

I have come up with an idea for my screenplay. Apparently Alien was pitched as “Jaws in space.” I am pitching mine as “the curious incident of the dog in the night time in a Pietermartizburg township, with a little sprinkling of Forrest Gump.”

I have never been to a Pietermartizburg township. I have only been to Pietermaritzburg twice, both times to some boring museums. But this matters not right? I just have to convince my English classmates that my characters are realistic, not an actual person from a Pietermaritzburg township. I mean let’s be realistic, this thing is never going to see the light of day. Gosh, what if one of my classmates has been to a Pietermaritzburg township?

I am struggling to come up with ideas for conflict. Apparently the main character must have lots of it. All I have come up with so far are the usual AIDS, poverty, school bullies, space aliens from outer space that take him into outer space in their spaceship from outer space, and dead parents. I need something new and… sparky. 

I need help. Can anyone come up with some better ideas for conflict? Preferably not involving any more aliens (from outer space), zombies, vampires or daemons. Space monkeys I may be able to stretch to. Space seamonkeys, now there is a fine idea.

19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kitty Cat
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 15:45:00

    Sorry, I have no ideas for you, but out of curiosity, do you ever watch Oprah, when she interviews authors of her bookclub choice? Yesterday, here in SA there was what must have been an older show, with her interviewing the author of “Pillars of the Earth” and it was fascinating that his first ten books were “not good” – his words, and that only after publishing those did he write what he considers a good book. Just shows you – practice, practice, practice! Thought you might find that interesting, as a fellow writer-in-the-making.


  2. Ches
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 16:27:00

    How about…”Oribi Village, The Place Where PMB Students Get Cheap Booze!” ?


  3. Tamara
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 17:31:00

    How about inner conflict – maybe your character has multiple personality disorder ;-)Or maybe it’s conflict between him and the dog.Or maybe it’s a story about a robber who steals a baby and then it softens his heart… Wait… wasn’t that in a movie already? some Oscar-winning SA flick called Tsotsi or something?I’m lots of help, aren’t I ;-)


  4. po
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 18:35:00

    kitty cat: that is a cool story, but 10 books?! 10?! we had a talk from one of the past students of our course, and he tried to get about 6 published, and eventually mixed and matched some of them. Now he is published and they are making a movie of it and everything!ches: haha but my character is 8 years old!Tamara: was thinking of some kind of disorder! hadn’t thought of multiple personalities though. Hmm, i want an oscar too. Maybe I can rewrite Tsotsi in PMB and no one will notice?


  5. Being Brazen
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 19:42:00

    What if your character has a serious OCD and blog writing addiction…oh wait then you would be writing about me…nevermind….Maybe feauture some Alien sea monkeys that are poor and turn to crime


  6. po
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 19:52:00

    Ooh nice ideas being brazen, the space seamonkeys don’t know how to make it on earth so they pretend to be rather pointless children’s pets and steal all their toys in the night?


  7. Ches
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 20:10:00

    “Oribi Village, Where 8 year olds Get Cheap Booze!” ?


  8. po
    Oct 21, 2008 @ 20:22:00

    Naughty naughty ches, what makes you think my character wants “cheap” booze? He drinks only the best fine malt whisky.


  9. Dash
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 13:18:00

    what about the conflict of being between two parents unable to see eye to eye, but sticking it out because of the child and the emotional trauma he goes through as a result? You have heaps there, arguments he can’t understand, innocence, guilt, no to mention 8 year olds like to fry ants with magnifying glasses. That could be a whole chapter.OK, not much help – try writing from some experience YOU had when you were 8, start small and the idea will grow without you intending it to. That should do the trick….If it doesn’t, then maybe writing’s not for you. but from what i have seen on your blog, i would say that’s not true.


  10. ladyfi
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 13:18:00

    Your 8-year-old is bullied at school, then meets a wise old sea monkey who says: Be one with the wind. In a moment of Zen-like enlightenment, he karate chops the bullies so that they never bully again, and then he goes home to agonize about which malt whisky is best… After sampling too many fine single malts, he goes underground to his secret lab and discovers a cure for AIDS, thus becoming a superhero/star overnight… Then he wakes up and discovers it was all a dream…


  11. Dash
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 13:22:00

    your blog ate my comment!How about some kind of parental conflict that he is stuck in the middle of? Like they are trying to stay together because of the child, but that puts all sorts of emotional responsibilities on the 8 year old that he is far too young to understand. plus, being an 8 year old, you could dedicate a chapter to frying ants with a magnifying glass. or just start with one of your experiences as a child. Start there, and the idea should grow without you having to do much. :)if it doesn’t, then maybe you shouldn’t be writing. but from what i have seen on your blog i don’t think that will be an issue.


  12. Miss T
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 14:36:00

    Glory…totally stumped. Well you have to have some love interest though so maybe there can be some conflict there????


  13. po
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 17:51:00

    Wow, you guys, I am impressed. You all should be writing a screenplay rather than me!Ladyfi: your idea cracked me up! It is brilliant. Is it copyrighted?dash: I like the idea of parental conflict, it may have potential. Except I was going to make his parents dead!!! Maybe I can rethink that.Miss T, I never thought of the love interest, oh dear, I am not sure there is a movie without love interest…I didnt think of love interest!


  14. candy
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 20:07:00

    I’m loving the title… it’s so choice. Having personally never wanted to write a screenplay either, I have no suggestions to speak of. You could always make the lead character a disabled, poverty-stricken, mute. and then have that person abducted by space aliens that mistook him/her for a cow they were hoping to snatch from a nearby pasture…


  15. po
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 20:14:00

    Candy: love that idea, but what did they plan to do with the cow? A probe perhaps?Really the blogosphere is so full of excellent ideas . We should all pool our ideas and write the best movie ever!


  16. Dash
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 20:35:00

    visit – you might like it, you might not – all about sharing ideas. there’s a few to many “i’m writing poetry because i’m an emo, sad and alone wah wah wah” type – but there’s some gold in there too.


  17. po
    Oct 22, 2008 @ 20:41:00

    dash: cool will check it out, I like the idea of pooling ideas!


  18. sass
    Oct 23, 2008 @ 00:16:00

    ok, no story ideas for you (which is why i will likely never write a screenplay!), but i think it must be fascinating to be a fly on the wall of your mind!


  19. po
    Oct 23, 2008 @ 01:09:00

    sass: hehe not much going on in my mind, which is why this screenplay needs a serious kick in the ass!


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