Screenwriting with the King

Writing extract

It’s day 15 of the old Script Frenzy challenge and I have to be honest it’s not going to plan.  My writing schedule got shot after the first week and I’m not sure, through the choice I have made to script, I will get to 30,000 words.

However let me step back a moment and tell you where my inspiration for my script has come from.

Stephen King’s Biggest Fan

Anyone that has ever read one of Stephen Kings novels will know just what a brilliant and gifted writer he is.  I’ve been a huge fan of his since I discovered the horror section in the library about 21 years ago (ouch!).  It started with IT which run’s shivers down my spine just thinking about it, and grew from there.

The one thing that has always struck me about his writing was not so much his big fat, door stopper novels but rather his smaller collections of stories that hit into the action, or the horror really quickly and leave you wanting more.  Indeed three of his short stories have been turned into films – Shawshanks Redemption, Stand by Me and Mist.  All fantastic films.

Short Stories

In 2008 when heading to the Lake District for the first time ever I picked up the then recent published book by King called Just After Sunset which was his new collection of short stories.  I read 367 pages in less than 3 days it was that enthralling.  Each story different, each pitched on people’s fears or wants.

One story in particular always stood out for me, called Gingerbread Girl.  It was that of a woman, called Emily, having recently lost her baby to cot death she starts running.  She just runs, from the shops, up the street, to the Dr’s and back again. Nothing can satisfying the growing urge to just keep running, to get away from the tragic death of her baby.

Her husband doesn’t share her enthusiasm for running so they part company for a while.  She heads down to Florida to get some space at her Dad’s winter beach retreat to carry on running, along a beach which out of season is empty and quiet.

All goes well until she comes across one resident who appears to be more than just someone with a big flash car.  This resident spots Emily curiously looking into his boot one day and doesn’t want her to see anything he has in that boot.

A series of cat and mouse game begins as the man tries to kill Emily.  Emily manages to keep outwitting him, outrun him and finally…

Well, I won’t tell you the ending.

It’s not particularly horror, although what the man does is gruesome, it’s not continuous gore or full of nasty monsters.  What struck home with me about this story was Emily, her struggle to over come grief and find in herself the strength to do what she needs to do.

I have always thought that story would make a great feature film.  I can imagine the characters really well, and the ground work has been done by Mr King for me.  So you’d think it just a case of writing the scenes and getting down the dialogue wouldn’t you?

Challenging

I’ve written just under 13,000 words, and the story has run out.

I have scripted and written but clearly some serious bulking revising needs to take place.

Solutions

Obvious as it seems to me now I really should have spent more time looking at the previous short stories and how they were adapted into feature length movies.

Still, it’s only the 15th April.

As Syd Field wrote in his screenwriters books it really is all about the planning and most importantly the structure which is completely different to a structure found in a novel.  I’m now dealing with three acts, act 1 and 2 has to have plot points, and each act needs various set ups and resolutions to keep the story moving.

I must keep telling myself – the challenge is not to have a fully polished script.  The challenge is to get 30,000 words of script written in 30 days.

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8 responses to “Screenwriting with the King

  1. Pingback: Day 15 of April Blog Love Challenge | Linda's New Garden & Wildlife Journey·

  2. You can do it, Sophie! This project sounds amazing! I think it can be totally daunting at first, but it seems like staying connected to what drew you the project in the first place will make it so worthwhile. Have you read Stephen King’s “On Writing”? It is one of my favorite books, and I’m always recommending it to people. He’s one of my favorite writers. I have to check out “Gingerbread Girl”! Good luck!!!

  3. I completely agree with you regarding King’s short stories. The first thing I ever read that gave me nightmares was his story called ‘The Mangler’ (at least I think that was it). It was about a *machine*!! Yet it had me terrified. From that moment on, I was hooked. I’ll have to add ‘Just After Sunset’ to my reading list… which is continuously growing.

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