Fitting in an unexpected scene; naming characters. #screenwriting #writing

Dare I add a scene in my screenplay that isn’t listed as one of the thirty plot points on my outline? Of course I do. As long as it advances the story without seeming needless or too long I don’t have a problem with it. Besides, I usually think of such scenes as part of existing plot points already.

For example, I just finished the second scene of my script. But as I finished it I realized that going into the next plot point would feel like the story was plodding. It would feel like something was missing. The story would lack momentum. So for variety’s sake I came up with a scene between those two which takes place in another setting, introducing some of the other characters that we haven’t seen yet. I think it will give some tension to the story as well, setting an ominous tone that really should be there.

In the first scene some co-workers at an office are talking about going on a ski trip. In the next scene, as it was in my original draft, they’re on their way to the ski trip. That doesn’t exactly have the feel of a thriller that involves the occult, does it? So why not have a glimpse of the mansion where the bulk of the movie takes place?

I’m not entirely pleased with the first scene (which is the second scene of the overall script) but it’s only the first draft. I didn’t want the scene to take too long as it’s only setup and not terribly interesting. But I didn’t want it to feel rushed, either. So I spent as much time in the office setting as I could. However, I ended the scene with a bed-wetting joke. It’s cute but it may ultimately not fit in with the tone of the rest of the movie. The protagonists are supposed to be somewhat humorous but it’s not supposed to be a comedy.

I noticed that I’m already resorting to the clumsy nerd character. He’s not over the top yet but I have cause for concern with this one. The other characters haven’t fully developed yet, but that’s okay. It’s still early.

I also still struggle with names. I often like to write prose that doesn’t even name the characters but for a screenplay it can be difficult. You have to have some sort of label for the character so who knows who is doing or saying what. So even though I have two characters in the first scene (taking place during the American Revolutionary War) called “Soldier One” and “Soldier Two,” those labels still act as a sort of name. So I might as well name people.

So far I named the nerd character Alistair, after Alistair Crowley. In any story that features The Order of the Shadows (yes, them again) I usually like to name characters after such figures. Then there’s the female lead who I named Sandy. I had no real reason to other than the name just got in my head and stuck there. I now realize that means I already have two names that were used for main characters in the British Sitcom As Time Goes By. It’s a good show but I didn’t mean to make any connection to it. I may stick some other such character names throughout the screenplay for minor characters.

Then the other male lead is named Simon. Again, it’s just a name that got in my head and wouldn’t get out. In the first action for the character I named him Peter, after Peter H. Gilmore. But I kept calling him Simon when it came to dialogue. So I figured, “Whatever, he’s Simon.” Finally, I have another female character who’s almost the other female lead named Evelyn. Her primary character trait so far is that she’s a goth. “Evelyn” just fit somehow, at least in my head. It evokes both “Eve” and “Elvira.” I think of her as a lead but she’s not really going to say much throughout the screenplay. For most of it she’s going to be in a sort of coma. I don’t want to give too much away, especially as it’s early in the process.

I’ll work on it a bit more tomorrow. On Monday I begin working on the RPM Challenge. I should take some time tomorrow to re-familiarize myself with the equipment I’ll be using. I may also need to change guitar strings at some point. Then again, I get the feeling this one is going to be more keyboard-heavy.


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