By Geoffrey Zimmerman
That concept struck me the other night while I was working on my new screenplay. I have adapted it from a novel that is about ½ to 1/3 done. I am currently on page 11 of that script, which totals 60 pages, so I know I need to add scenes. I had written into a fine scene where my protagonist is beginning to discover that she has powers; powers that she had wanted to have – and had practiced hard to gain – but now she is terrified. She realizes she can do it, and tells a friend. This is where I stopped writing, and decided to sit back and daydream. I said to myself, “You know what? This is just like flying – here’s how.
In this script, I know my direction. I know MOST OF what will happen along the way – and I know where I want the story to end. When I fly, I have a direction – I BELIEVE I know what will happen (and try to prepare for anything that does happen) along the way – and I know where I want to finish – my destination airport.
While writing a screenplay, I am performing several functions at once. In present time, I am writingdescriptions, dialogue, deciding on transitions, and looking ahead to where I want to be with regard to plot.
While flying, I am controlling my heading, altitude, airspeed, groundspeed, and looking ahead for weather and traffic.
While writing a screenplay, what I am doing now is going to (hopefully) create a smooth transition to where I next want to be – where I want to be further along on my flight. I have to plan ahead.
In my current scene, where the protagonist is talking to her friend about her powers, I want the scene to end in less than two pages, into which I will set up for the opening for another scene, where I will introduce another character who has ties to the protagonist.
Now, in this screenplay, I have planned a romance, so I must let the reader (audience) know ahead of time that this is one of the things desired by my protagonist. Planning ahead. Thinking it through. I have tools I can use (skillfully I hope) to create the effect I desire.
When flying, as I near the airfield, I must know beforehand the direction I will be landing. I must know the landing pattern altitude, so I must reduce the throttle so I can descend smoothly, and be where I want to be at the right time and point in space.
In an airplane, I have the dashboard instruments that show me what is currently happening with the airplane and where I am. I have tools like the throttle, ailerons, rudder and elevator to make the plane do what I want it to do.
In my screenplay, I have cuts, dissolves, fades, flashbacks, internal monologue, sound, dialogue, my imagination and memory to make the story do what I want it to do.
Happy writing, and I’ll see you in the air.
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