Welcome to this rainy Tuesday in the Hinterlands!
I cannot tell you how much time I have spent on the new opening of the Untitled Cleveland Drama, once known as Cleveland’s Burning. As is customary for me, I seriously belabor the first few images of everything I write, whether it’s fiction or a screenplay. As I have pounded into the heads of my writing students over the years: DON’T give your reader a chance to put it down!!
By this I mean, keep your opening seamless, keep it flowing, don’t allow for a single question in your reader’s mind about what is visually happening. Be exceedingly crafty about your punctuation, as well. Anything that could cause a reader to pause, or to question, or to consider his or her own mind, thus causing a break in the flow, is that dreaded gap wherein the book or script can be set aside for something else, indefinitely.
Because of that, I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent on the first 60 seconds of my script (also known as page 1). Then, when I felt I finally could sign off on those first 60 seconds, I labored over the next 20 seconds, because now I can’t decide between: the cold open, or jumping into Act One? And since I cannot make up my mind about this, I go back and forth between how I want to craft those next 20 seconds…
In order to still utilize my time efficiently, I set aside my quandary and did some more background research for my character, Caleb Robinson: I watched Stanley Nelson Jr’s documentary, The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution. I really liked the film and it gave me some critical dates to work with, historically. [However, it does seem that some ex-Black Panthers weren’t happy with the tone of the film, in particular, how it portrayed the dismantling of the Panthers and Huey Newton’s demise. But there was still a lot of amazing stuff in the film for me to draw on.]
Today, I need to process that from my brain into the script, even though Caleb Robinson won’t become a Black Panther until 1967, and that’s 4 seasons away from the pilot episode. Still, you gotta craft a character from his first scene in order to keep it believable, right?
Well, on that lofty note, I have got to decide, once and for all, if I have a cold open here or am I already into Act One??? I think I will go watch a re-run of Perry Mason and see what hits the page when I’m done doing that!
Thanks for visiting, gang. Have a terrific Tuesday, wherever you are! See ya!
Best TV theme song, EVER!!