When I was at uni and I told a friend and fellow student that I wanted to be a writer, his eyes lit up.
‘I have the perfect book for you,’ he said. It wasn’t until a few months later when we were at his house shooting a short film, that he thrust it into my hands.
‘This is the bible of writing. Read it. You’ll thank me later.’
The book was written by Linda Aronson and titled ‘Screenwriting Updated: New and Conventional Ways of Writing for the Screen’. I’m going to be honest, I was not enthused by the thought of recreationally reading what was essentially a textbook. I was in my second year of uni and non-fiction wasn’t exactly the most exciting genre for me – especially when I had Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings instead. But I stuck with it. And I read it.
And I loved it.
It was the first book I’d read about writing and it was easy to read, very informative with great examples of films I’d actually seen. A lot of the things I read and learnt from Aronson’s book I still think about now. I met her last year at the London Screenwriters’ Festival and her presence was a huge factor in mejustifying the price of the ticket – although now having been to last year’s one, I can’t recommend it enough.
One of the notes that I have scribbled down in my notebook still is a nugget I found within the pages of that book.
Think ‘Romeo and Juliet’ from the point of view of Lady Capulet. ‘Cinderella’ from the point of view of an ugly stepsister.
I think this is a great point to think about when coming up with ideas for short films.
Is what it essentially means. I unintentionally stumbled across this last week when I sent out a Tweet as I was eating my lunch in the park, bookless and notebookless.
It was based on something I was actually watching. I couldn’t decide if Pigeon 1 was flirting or trying to intimidate Pigeon 2. I figured it was funnier if he was trying to flirt, so that’s what I Tweeted. As an impulse, I added the hashtag before I posted it as I thought it might be a nice punchline for the story.
Ten minutes later, I decided to send out another, following the style of the hashtag.
I was surprised to note that my first Tweet had gotten a few replies, people amused by the observation. I figured it would be fun to see where it could go and I had nothing else to do whilst I was enjoying the sun in the park, so I continued.
By reminding the audience that the story actually is about a pack of birds, the humour of the situation is slightly heightened – the drama heightens the comedy. And it gives me a natural end to the story.