Are You Delightful?
“That was delightful!” I said to one of the writers at my workshop a few Sundays ago.
Honestly, I don’t know where that word came from. It just sort of slipped out.
But “delightful” was exactly the word to describe the final pitch she gave the class Sunday afternoon. She had worked hard on her story beats, and like others in the class, the gears in her mind were visibly stripping as the notion of the story she had collided with the new method she was learning that weekend.
And yet by the time she stood up and pitched out her story, she did so with enthusiasm. Beneath the surface of the plot points was a joy in telling it, and showing how the pieces all fit together. Isn’t this cool? I could almost see in her expression. And aren’t I good at doing this? And knowing that, isn’t this fun?
Delightful. That was the only word for it.
Are you delightful? Quite literally, are you filled with delight as you go about working out the beats of your story? You should be. This story you’re working on doesn’t have to be a comedy. It can be a deep drama, and it can feel like pulling teeth at times as you try hard to figure out what part fits where — and why you are even putting yourself through this!
But there must be a sly wink you give to yourself in the depths of this process that says: Yeah! I am mastering this! It’s slow, it’s tough, it’s getting better a millimeter a day, but by God, this is fun!
Conquering any story must be so. And no matter what story you write, I want to see the gleam in your eye when you pitch it, or sense the joy I can read between the lines of your script that says: That’s right! I’m baaaad! Because the delight you find is in our faces, too, as we listen to your pitch or read your story in awe.
Delight yourself. And you will delight us.
Blake, before I came to your books and your workshop, I hated outlining. I didn’t find it fun. I wanted to write the script. I wanted to write all that dialogue and get some “real” pages done. Of course then I realized that I hated re-writing even more, so the script was just be abandoned and I’d go onto the next one, and repeat this process ad infinitum.
But now I’ve taken a different approach. Doing the beats and working on the scenes has become fun. To me THIS is the real screenwriting part. The rest is just transferring the story into the blueprint a director and his cast and crew will use to bring it to life on film. But the STORYTELLING part of it, the beating it out, that’s where the real craft is. And I take great delight in adding and changing and even throwing away parts of the story in an attempt to make it the best it can be. Because why would I want it to be anything less?
So thanks! And Happy Easter!
- Bradford Richardson
Blake: You have this way of saying what I “need” to hear.
Thank you! Plus, it’s good to know that, by delighting myself,
I delight others.
- Mike Rinaldi
Interesting comment, Shane. Scriptwriting is similar to architecture, isn’t it. Save the Cat! is the physics class we need to discern if our designs are structurally sound so the story holds up.
Oh, gee, when I’m working on my script absolutely! When I tell someone about the story… Ahhrg! Can’t find the words, can’t make it glow at all. I’m a writer. I write. I can’t open my mounth without making a fool of myself. And if I become enthusiastic my mouth just wobble all over the place. Very charming. Very sellable… not.
You continue to delight me… with your words, knowledge and MOSTLY your enthusiasm!
Am I delighted? I don’t know if that’s a strong enough word. Since friends who had been to your workshops gave me a copy of your book and urged, quite strongly, for me to read it, I’ve been positively euphoric. I used to start a screenplay having four or five strong scenes in mind, then struggled to connect them. With your logline, beat sheet, six things that need fixing, and card approach, I’m finding myself waking up with dialog and fully formed scenes that tie it all together. And the characters, even minor ones, are rich. In other words, it’s as if I’m just transcribing what’s going on in the world of my story as it plays out in front of me. I already know that this first draft, a Monster in the House, is stronger and more precise than what I used to get after three drafts accomplished through frustrating agony. They didn’t teach me this in film school. Thanks a million for sharing your observations, and I can’t wait to attend your workshops.
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I had lunch with Julie Gray (from The Rouge Wave) at Canter’s once and pitched a script. If I recall correctly, she said I was “delightful” when we were leaving. It must have been because of the enthusiasm I have for the story!
I was also told by an accomplished actor who’s currently reading the script that he’s “captivated” by it. That’s a form of delighted, right? : )
Great post. It’s important to remember to have fun with all this.