Spotlight: Creative Writing and Screen Writing

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Today was an eventful day for students! This morning in their arts and Ideas class, faculty member Dr. Jan Guffin took students on a field trip to a local store in Spoleto. After learning about the history of the store, students had time to look around and purchase souvenirs such as custom-made journals, leather belts, and wax stamps.

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Then, students walked across the street to a local cafe for coffee and class. Yesterday students did several writing exercises where they focused on writing fluency. They discussed the difference between looking and existing. Today at the cafe, students each shared one of their pieces of writing from yesterday's class. Students loved the opportunity to explore and have class in a new location. 

 Students sharing their writing

Students sharing their writing

After dinner tonight, faculty and students gathered in the performance space for performance class. During this time students have an opportunity to share what they have been focusing on in class as well as their work in progress. All of the students are incredibly talented! It was clear how dedicated they are and how hard they have been working.

 

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Spotlight: Screen Writing 

FADE IN

INT. CLASSROOM - DAY

The room is average size, stocked with chalk, crayons, charts, the materials you would find in a third grade classroom. It seems like the kind of classroom that would have internet access, but maybe not.

WARREN, the teacher, looks somewhat capable.  But maybe not. 

The students - MIRANDA, KYLIE, BEA and GABE - appear wildly capable. We’ll see.

WARREN  

I have to do this blog-thingy.  You know, about stuff you’ve learned in class.

Students groan. 

WARREN

They want to know if you’ve learned anything.

Another groan, deeper and longer.

WARREN

What do you think? Have you learned anything?

BEA

Ah...

KYLIE

Sort of.

MEREDITH

Guess so.

GABE

Have you seen Arrested Development?

WARREN

No.

MIRANDA

Every film must have a protagonist, a hero, someone the audience follows.

GABE

It’s his, the protagonist’s, story.

KYLIE

Or her’s.

GABE

Right.  That’s what I meant.  His or hers.  Have you seen Whiplash?

WARREN

No.

BEA

Every protagonist must have an objective.  Really important, the objective.

MEREDITH

Something he or she wants.   That’s the objective.  Like in Up, Carl, the old man, wants to go to Paradise Falls.

KYLIE

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy wants to go home, Kansas.

GABE

Some films don’t have a protagonist with an objective.

WARREN

Name one.

Gabe gives Warren a dirty look.  Gabe’s thinking.

BEA

The protagonist must be passionate about the objective.  Going after it makes her active.

KYLIE

And the protagonist must be active, which is why the writer gives her an objective - something to chase.

GABE

An inactive protagonist is boring.  Have you seen Pulp Fiction?

WARREN

No.

MEREDITH

I like the Inciting Incident.  I didn’t know about that before.

GABE

(bored)

The inciting incident happens near the end of act one.  It sets the story in motion.

BEA

It changes the protagonist’s life forever, nothing will ever be the same. 

MEREDITH

Romeo sees and falls in love with Juliette.

KYLIE

Shark eats girl.  The sheriff’s life will never be the same. 

GABE

Have you seen Jaws?

WARREN

No. 

BEA

Legally Blond, her boyfriend breaks up with her. He’s going to Harvard Law School.  So, she goes after him.

MEREDITH

Girl wants boy.  Boy’s the objective.

KYLIE

Inciting incident and objective all wrapped up in one.  Cool.

WARREN

So, act one - meet protagonist, set up objective, nail down inciting incident.

KYLIE

Act two is just obstacles, a bunch of stuff that keeps the protagonist from reaching the objective.

GABE

Weird, the writer gives the protagonist an objective.  Then, makes it nearly impossible to get.

WARREN

All drama is conflict.

BEA

The antagonist tries to stop the protagonist from reaching the objective.  More conflict.

GABE

Also, the protagonist should have a flaw, which he or she corrects in the second act.

MEREDITH

Carl is, like, a mean old man at the end of the first act.

WARREN

And by the end of Up?

KYLIE

He’s like a father to Russell.

GABE

What’s the objective in Jaws?

WARREN

The shark.  What else could it be?

GABE

Thought you said you hadn’t seen it.

Warren glares at Gabe.

Meredith snickers.

Gabe looks like he just scored a goal.

WARREN

Want to watch Spider-Man?

MEREDITH, KYLIE, BEA

Yeah, cool.

GABE

Have you seen Spider-Man II?

WARREN 

No.  Hey, think the other classes wish they got to watch movies during class?

KYLIE

Are you kidding?

BEA

Of course.  They’re, like, dying.

GABE

Can we watch Spider-Man II next?

WARREN

No.

Warren puts DVD in.

WARREN

So, you did learn something?

KYLIE

Maybe.

MEREDITH

Guess so.

BEA

Sort of.

GABE

Can you go to wide screen?

FADE OUT

THE END

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Spotlight: Creative Writing 

Since last week, the creative writing students have dived deeper into the elements of fiction writing: namely characters, place, and the construction of scenes. The town proved to be a great resource as students pulled characters and settings directly from Spoletino daily life.

Equipped with this new perspective on the art of writing fiction, students turned a critical eye on their own previous work in Monday’s workshop. They’re now preparing to revise and re-imagine their own stories – starting from scratch, with the goal being to elevate and amplify the core tensions, characters and themes beating at the story’s heart.

Today in class we talked about layering, about the stories that appear within stories, and how those layers interact with and better one another. Finally we completed an exercise on beginnings, focusing specifically on the first two sentences.

Students shared their story beginnings at tonight’s Performance Class, and are preparing to share a longer work with the SSA community by the end of the week.

 

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