Before we get to the challenge, I thought I’d share some super-helpful links for budding screenwriters. If you’ve always dreamed of writing a screenplay or teleplay but didn’t know where to start, these are the links for you. They will give you all the info you need, laid out in simple, easy-to-understand instructions. You’ll come away from these websites knowing all the terminology and formatting rules you need to get started writing your very own script.
This first website has numerous sections, based on what type of script you’d like to write (e.g. movie script, tv episode, etc). This is where you learn all the most basic elements and how to use them on the page:
Once you’ve mastered the bare bones, go to this website for slightly more advanced info about how each page of your script should look, and what to do in special situations, like when a character’s dialogue runs over onto the next page, or how a complicated action should be conveyed:
Both of these sites have great, detailed examples. Once you’ve gotten the hang of writing for the screen, another important thing to do is look at examples of actual scripts that are similar to the one you’re working on. These are plentiful on the Internet, and easy to find thanks to Google. If you’re writing an action film, try to track down scripts of other action movies. If you’re writing an episode of Supernatural, hunt down some bona fide Supernatural scripts and be sure to model your teleplay after the style and format used by the show’s writers. This is really important for spec scripts, because every show has its formatting quirks.
A few final notes about screenwriting:
1.) Re: Fonts: Courier and Courier New are NOT the same. Use Courier.
2.) Re: The Art of Screenwriting: If you’re a fiction writer, like me, the transition to writing scripts can be a little bit bumpy. It’s a very different artform, and to be honest I didn’t like it that much at first. I thought it was “clunky” and lacked the artistry of short stories and novels. Then someone mentioned to me that a script isn’t the final product. Short stories and novels, once sufficiently edited, are ready to go out and meet the world. The reader of a short story or novel experiences the words exactly as they are written on the page. With scripts, this is not true. Scripts are a blueprint – a guide that will help literally hundreds of other people, including actors, directors, make-up artists, special effects people, and cameramen, all collaborate to create the final version: the version the audience sees on screen. When I started looking at things this way, I fell in love with the idea of being a part of such an amazing group effort, and I fell in love with the art of script writing. I hope you will, too.
And now, on to Day Eight of the Writing Challenge, which is the last of these challenges I’ll be posting (unless I manage to dig up the old notebook where I wrote Day Four).
Author’s Note: This is a not-for-profit work of fiction. No offense or infringement is intended. Please don’t sue me.
Day 8: Rewrite a fairy tale from the bad guy’s point of view.
It’s been done before, and it’s been done better, but I still couldn’t help myself. I give you:
The Big Bad Wolf: A Barbara Walters Exclusive
by Gretchen Bassier
Announcer: It was the story that shocked the nation: A senior citizen, eaten alive. A beautiful young woman, viciously attacked. A very big, very bad wolf.
Since his 1998 conviction, Mr. Wolf has refused to speak publicly about his alleged crimes. But tonight, in an exclusive Barbara Walters interview, we take you inside Sing Sing for a live chat with the big baddie himself.
Barbara, what are your thoughts right now, as you wait for the guards to bring him in?
Barbara: It’s hard to say what my thoughts are, Steve, but my heart is racing. I’m sitting here in front of bulletproof glass – looking at what appears to be a large dog kennel – while holding a panic button in my hand.
Announcer: So, not a standard interview, then?
Barbara: Not by a long stretch, Steve.
Guard #1: Ms. Walters? They’re going to be bringing him in, now.
Barbara: All right.
Guard #2: Get in there, you! Go on! Crate. Crate! Okay, now sit and stay. STAY!
Barbara: Will he be able to talk, with that muzzle on?
Guard #1: We’ll take the muzzle off, as soon as he’s shackled. See? Now Mike’s going to secure the cage door…Those are titanium bars, by the way, so you should be perfectly safe. Theoretically.
Barbara: That’s reassuring…
Guard #2: Okay, we’re good. Just remember, if you feel threatened at any time, all you have to do is press the button. We’ll be right outside.
Barbara: Thank you.
Guard #1: We’ll also be listening for distress noises, in case you don’t get a chance to press the button.
Guard #2: Good luck!
Barbara (to camera): …All right, if you’re just joining us, we are sitting here live inside of Sing Sing prison, where Mr. Wolf is currently serving a life sentence for crimes almost too heinous to mention. Now, for the first time ever, Mr. Wolf is reaching out to the media, hoping to tell his side of the story.
Barbara (to wolf): Good evening, Mr. Wolf.
Wolf: Good evening, Barbara.
Barbara: Can you hear me all right, behind all that glass?
Wolf: I can hear you very well. I can see you even better.
Barbara: That’s good. Now, Mr. Wolf—
Wolf: You can call me B.B.
Barbara: All right, B.B. Since you brought it up, do you feel that your parents giving you the name “Big Bad” predisposed you to a life of crime?
Wolf: That’s a common misconception, Barbara. I was actually named after B.B. King. My parents were huge blues fans. And, as to my “life of crime”…why don’t we leave it up to the audience to decide whether or not I’m actually a criminal, once they’ve heard my story?
Barbara: Then let’s cut right to the chase: B.B., you were convicted of cannibalizing an elderly woman.
Wolf: That charge is ridiculous.
Barbara: But human remains were found in your digestive system, shortly after your arrest…
Wolf: Yes. Exactly – human remains. I’m a wolf, she was a person. That’s not cannibalism. That’s one species eating a completely different species. If I ate another wolf, then it would be cannibalism.
Barbara: So…you’re not denying you ate Mrs. Hood?
Wolf: I’ve never denied that.
Barbara: Then what is it you wanted to tell our audience tonight?
Wolf: That it wasn’t my idea. It wasn’t something I set out to do. I mean, why would I want to eat an old lady?
Barbara: Well, you are a carnivore…
Wolf: I’m also an excellent hunter. When I want a snack, all I have to do is hop a fence, corner a nice juicy lamb, and tie on a bib. So, why eat an old person? They’re boney. Their skin is like leather. They smell like formaldehyde…Does that sound like five-star cuisine to you?
Barbara: Then why did you do it?
Wolf: For Red.
Barbara: Little Red Riding Hood?
Barbara: The victim’s granddaughter?
Wolf: Yes. Although to hear her tell it, she was the victim. At least that’s the story Red hooked me with, when she asked me to do the job.
Barbara: She asked you to kill her own grandmother?
Wolf: Absolutely. It happened the very first day we met. I was just lifting my leg, minding my own business while preparing to, well, do my business, when all of a sudden this hot little red-head number comes skipping through the trees.
I thought she would run the moment she caught sight of me, but she didn’t. Instead, she walked right up to me – smiling, batting her big doe eyes, swinging her hips in that four-inch mini-skirt.
“Oh, Mr. Wolf,” she said, “I have been looking all over for you…”
Naturally, I was taken aback. “Aren’t you afraid of me?” I asked.
She shook her head, making that red hair flicker like fire. “I want your help,” she said. “I need your help.” Then she walked a circle around me, running her fingers right through my fur.
Now, I could’ve killed her right then and there. But I was curious. And a little impressed. So I said, “What in your life is so bad, that you’re not afraid of a big wolf like me?”
And that’s when she started to cry – big, fat teardrops rolling out of her eyes, ruby lips all quivering. “It’s my Nana,” she whimpered. “She’s wicked.”
Wolf: That’s right. Red went on to give me a whole sob story about how her witch of a grandmother got mad because Red apparently ate some candy in the house that was just meant for decoration. Granny got so peeved, in fact, that she tried to shove Red in the oven and cook her for dinner. Now that would have been cannibalism. But somehow, Red escaped. She told me she ran away and had been hiding in the woods, cold and scared and too afraid to go home until someone did something about her grandma.
“Now, I’m just a little girl,” Red said. “I’m not strong enough to fight her off. But you, Mr. Wolf…you have such big teeth. And such strong paws. I just know you could help me.” Then she ran her fingers through my fur again, and pressed her cleavage right against my shoulder and yes, I admit it, I was affected. But I don’t do charity work.
So I said, “What’s in it for me?”
Red explained that she had an inheritance from when her parents died, but she couldn’t access the money while Grandma was still alive.
“If you help me, we can split it,” she promised. “One-point-three million each.”
From my point of view, it seemed like a win-win situation: Red would be safe, a mean old lady would be kibble. Not to mention, one-point-three million dollars buys a LOT of steak…
Barbara: So you agreed?
Wolf: I did. Red gave me directions to her grandmother’s house – “It’s just over the river and through the woods” – then she told me to wait until after dark. When I showed up at the cottage that night, Red was hiding in the bushes. She gave me the key and wished me luck…
Barbara: Then you went inside and…
Wolf: Ate Nana. Like I said, not exactly five-star cuisine. I was actually still trying to wash her down with some milk when Red came running in, yelling that she’d seen the Huntsman riding up the path to the cottage.
Barbara: The Huntsman?
Wolf: Yes. It’s a nickname Sheriff Smith gave himself. He makes everyone call him that. It’s pretty stupid, actually, but no one wants to tell him because he’s always carrying a gun. And sometimes an axe…
Barbara: You’ve had some experience with that axe yourself, haven’t you?
Wolf: Most unfortunately. But that’s skipping ahead. So first, Red ran in, yelling that the Huntsman was coming. Naturally, I freaked. I had just eaten a human being, not to mention I already had three warrants out for my arrest for destruction of property and home invasion – completely fabricated, but we’ll get to that later – so I asked Red to help me sneak out the back.
“There’s no time!” she hissed. “You’ll have to pretend to be Nana!” Then she threw her grandmother’s pink nightie at me and told me to put it on.
Barbara: Did you?
Wolf: I am sad to say, yes. I was desperate. Of course, as soon as I caught sight of myself in the bedroom mirror, I knew it wasn’t going to work – sure, Nana had a few whiskers, but she wasn’t Lon Chaney, Jr. And those glasses made my eyes look huge. But Red insisted that if I got in the bed and pulled up the covers, the Huntsman would never know. So I pulled the blanket right up to my chin, and Red ran out of the room.
For about five minutes, I lay there, terrified, trying to make old lady breathing noises.
Then all hell broke loose: the Huntsman burst through the door like a crazed axe murderer, and Red rushed in right behind him, all tearful and earnest.
She pointed right at me and said, “That’s him, Sheriff – that’s the wolf that ate Nana. And he tried to eat me, too!”
Barbara: Were you shocked?
Wolf: Speechless. I didn’t even have time to throw the covers off before the Huntsman was on top of me, chopping into me like some psychopath! Just LOOK at these scars! These are NOT from an appendectomy!
Barbara: According to his testimony, the Sheriff was trying to save Mrs. Hood’s life by removing her from your stomach.
Wolf: Does that even make sense? Think about it! I had to chew her before I swallowed her – how would she still be alive? Not to mention the fact that she was already partially digested…
Barbara: Yes, let’s not mention that…
Wolf: Anyway, I lost consciousness at some point while he was hacking into me. I woke up later in the hospital. They aren’t even sure how I survived. I guess once Huntsboy realized he wasn’t getting granny out in one piece, he came to his senses and called nine-one-one. After all, a Sheriff axing an unarmed suspect to death might lead to a few problems for the police department…
Barbara: You believe he called the ambulance to protect himself from a lawsuit?
Barbara: He couldn’t have done it out of the goodness of his heart?
Wolf: The Huntsman’s not the upstanding member of society most people think he is. He’s got darkness in him. Wanna know what really happened to Bambi’s Mom?
Barbara: Probably not.
Wolf: Good choice. That story gives me nightmares…
Barbara: Getting back to your story, B.B…
Wolf: Well, you know how it ends, Barbara – after the hospital, I went to jail, and then I went on trial. You should’ve seen Red in the courtroom: the cute little hooded sweater she wore, the basket of muffins she brought the judge, those big brown eyes…and of course, the waterworks. Always the waterworks. I knew I didn’t have a prayer. I was lucky to get life in prison…
Barbara: So she duped you, and the Sheriff, and the judge?
Wolf: She is something. From the moment she ran her fingers through my fur, I knew she was something…
Barbara: Do you still believe her Grandmother abused her?
Wolf: No, Red stole that story from an old newspaper article. Turns out it actually happened to some German kids back in the 1800s – Hans and Greta, or something like that…Anyway, that’s my story.
Wolf: It’s not exactly a fairytale, that’s for sure.
Barbara: Do you feel better, now that you’ve told your side?
Wolf: A little.
Barbara: Before we go, is there anything else you’d like to clear up? You did mention those destruction of property and home invasion charges…
Wolf: I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: I HAVE ALLERGIES!