Barbara Cartland is a unique novelist, or was, she died in the year 2000. She is unique because she wrote exactly 720 novels, which puts me to shame for two reasons. Firstly, I can’t even finish one screenplay and it has been 5 years since I started, secondly, she has written more books than I have even read. Not only that she has published several books posthumously, meaning a dead person is more efficient than me at writing. Cheers Barbara, making me look shit here.
To my (very weak) knowledge though, Barbara Cartland never wrote a screenplay, so in some ways, I am a more rounded writer, especially as I’ve published a non-fiction book and wrote part of a screenplay.
What I haven’t been able to do though is write with the unrelenting speed with which she must have done. Since last weeks major breakthrough, I have certainly done a lot more thinking, if not writing. I don’t think the Oscar for best screenplay is given out to people who think well, unfortunately. At some point, it needs to be committed to (digital) paper.
In the screenplay, there are 4 acts and it finishes suddenly entering a 5th, and these acts mirror the Küber-Gross Grief Cycle. Anyone who isn’t familiar with it, it is a model that shows the stages humans go through when in any kind of grief. Although my film isn’t about grief from a specific viewpoint, such as focusing on a break-up or a death. It is about the cycle of grief over a lifetime.
So the structure of the film is quite linear in that sense and it gives me great direction as to what I’m working towards each act. After the revelation last week, I now need to move dialogue from the first act to the second, as all the dialogue whilst not addressing the grief cycle directly will be a reflection of it. For instance, the second stage of the grief cycle is anger, so the characters will, you guessed it, be angry.
The structure and flow were easy to write – natural dialogue has been the issue though. I feel like all the moments of breakthrough on the dialogue come when I’m talking to myself in my car or in the shower, which are rather inconveniently terrible times to have my laptop out. And, later when I come to write it down, the dialogue evaporates from my mind.
I feel like I need to study Barbara Cartland to see how she so rapidly produced dialogue or anyone, to be honest. If you have tips on how you write dialogue I shall be eternally grateful. Although this week I watched a film called La Tortue Rouge, an animated film which has zero dialogue. Despite the lack of dialogue I seriously think it has a strong chance of winning an Oscar next year for best animated film. So maybe I will just create a silent movie – it would certainly be easier to write, that is for sure.
That actually isn’t a bad idea. I think the process of approaching your project from a different perspective could be an eye-opening experience. I think this thought is inspired by the Danish documentary called De Fem Benspænd, in which the director Lars Von Trier gets his friend to recreate one of his films 5 times, but with 5 different (and very specific) conditions, such as the film is only allowed 12 frames per second and have no set. So maybe writing a silent version will focus my attention on transmitting intentions of characters and their motives without any dialogue. This process could even improve the choreography of the film. OR, it will be boring, and rubbish.
Catch Up With Previous Weeks