Last week found me making the jaunt across the Bay to San Francisco twice. Once was for a filmmakers/financing meeting and the other was for a screenwriting class with screenwriter/teacher Lew Hunter. Lew is a very pleasant elderly gentleman who loves to rattle on about screenwriting. It’s quite obvious that he loves to teach.
The class was only three hours long and was geared more for absolute beginners. After taking the semester-long course in script development and story analysis last year, this felt like more of a review to me. One little tidbit that I did find useful dealt with character development. Lew suggested writing a half-page description of each of the main characters in our stories in the first person. He read us a sample characterization and I can see how this could be quite helpful in finding the voice of our characters, as well as fleshing them out. I’m going to have to give this a try.
The first part of the class was a lecture, then we had a short break. After the break was a question and answer session. So everyone was raising their hands to ask their questions and, one by one, Lew answered them. One of the attendees, who came in quite late, wanted to read a couple of paragraphs of something he had written. Lew was kind enough to indulge him. But shortly after he started reading, I wondered if this might be a mistake. The subject matter was…you guessed it…about his experience neutering a pig.
I would liken listening to this story as akin to driving past an auto accident. It’s horrible to look at but, somehow, you just can’t seem to take your eyes away from it. So I sat there listening to how this poor pig is forced onto its back with its legs forced apart and….well, I’ll spare you the gruesome details.
The story seemed to go on and on and on. What was supposed to be only a couple of paragraphs turned out to be a little over a page long and, thankfully, Lew called him on it. But the guy was just about to the end, so he was allowed to finish. So what was his question about what he had written? He didn’t have one. He just wanted to read what he had wrote. By that time I was figuratively pulling out my hair. I felt cheated. Some of our valuable time with Lew had been spent listening to a story that had nothing to do with writing screenplays. What in the class description gave this guy the idea that this was a writing circle?
After the class, I purchased Lew’s book entitled Lew Hunter’s Screenwriting 434 and since I had the author right there, I just couldn’t resist getting my copy autographed. I’m looking forward to getting started reading it.
There’s always one. I once went to a writing panel where one of the attendees had just gotten her book “accepted” by an online print-on-demand service; she sat down on the floor in front of the panelists and kept trying butting in answering people’s questions, too.
But, wait, you didn’t just ask to hear my story, either, did you?
Be my guest, Laura. I’m not sitting right now in a class that I paid good money to attend, so feel free to tell your story!
It was a dark and stormy night…
Ooooh, you have me on the edge of my seat. 😉
That sounds like a good idea for the character development thing. I might try that as well. I have trouble sometimes with my writing, and I especially get stuck on dialogue, and then it bugs me for days until I can get the voice of the person right so the line sounds like what they would say.
Glad I could pass something along that you find useful, Jen!