Write a Scene

(4 points)

There are three options you may choose from to do this assignment. The first, Option 1, is the standard option. The second, Option 2A and the third, Option 2B require you to download some free software and are for the more adventurous. Scroll down and consider all three options before making your decision.

Option 1 (Easiest)

Choose one of the three scenarios below and write a scene. It must be 3-4 pages not counting the cover page, have at least two characters, contain only dialogue--no narration, and limited description (stage directions). There is only one scene with no changes of time or location. It should be complete with a beginning, middle, and end. It should make sense to an audience without the aid of voiceover narration or other explanation. Study the sample scene page below carefully for proper professional formatting. You will be graded primarily on how well you follow these instructions, the format, and solving the problem of the scenario, not on your raw writing talent. Be sure to follow the format exactly. Your challenge is to get the job of the scenario done in a very short scene. Trust the skill of the actors to communicate emotions without having to say what they feel.

Submission: Because formatting is so important in writing scripts you will not submit this homework as an e-mail message, but as an attached Word (.doc) or AppleWorks (.cwk) document. Or, bring it with you as hard copy to the class session for Test #3.

Scene Writing Scenarios

1. Romantic Comedy: A married couple have a conversation during which one begins to suspect that the other is the person that he/she has been having a torrid online affair with. Resolve the situation humorously.

2. Melodrama: Two people discover a serious crime and debate whether they should inform the police. During the course of the conversation they go from one decision to the opposite.

3. Drama: A young couple has only recently started dating, but they are falling in love. She has just discovered that she is pregnant as the result of a brief meaningless encounter that happened after they met, but before they got serious. She must now tell her new boyfriend in a way that will keep him from ending their relationship. Abortion is not an option for her. The result must be failure or ambiguity (uncertain what will happen). Be real--avoid sentimental cliches.

Title Page Format

Title of the piece in ALL CAPS, centered on the page, just above halfway down page;
double-spaced below that: A Play by [your name], centered but not in all caps;
double-spaced below that: Copyright [current year].

Click on link to download a Word or Acrobat (.pdf) title page sample

Script Page Format & Example

1 1/4" margins left and right, 1" top and bottom

character names are indented 2 1/2 inches from left margin and in ALL CAPS

no space between character's name and his/her speech

double space between speeches

speeches are left-justified, not centered

stage directions are in parentheses and indented 2 1/2 inches from the left margin, same as speeches

old fashioned "typewriter" style font often called Courier (size 12) is still the preferred font, use Times (14) or New Times Roman (14) if you don't have that.

See example below and/or click on link to download a Word or Acrobat (.pdf) script page sample

Option 2

Here is an alternative to trying to properly format a script using your own word processor. You must have the ability to download and install applications on your computer. Go to www.finaldraft.com and download the free trial version of Final Draft 7, a professional script writing program. The trial version is fully functional--you can write and save scripts, but when you print them they will have a light gray watermark on all pages and are limited to 15 pages in length. This will not be a problem for this assignment.

Option 2A (Moderately Challenging)

Once you have downloaded the program, start it up. If a blank screenplay page comes up, close it. Go to the File menu and select New. From the list of Stationery Categories select Script, then scroll down and select Stageplay 1.fdt as the template for your script. Once the blank stageplay script document is open, when you hit the Enter key you will be shown a submenu with such preformatted elements as Character, Action, and Parenthetical. By selecting any of these elements (or typing their first letter: C, A, P, etc.) the program will format that element properly. It will even learn the character’s names and enter them for you once you type the first letter of the character’s name.

Try this:

Select Character from elements menu. Type in the name of your first speaking character--the program will automatically center it and put it in all capitals. Now hit the Enter or Return key and you can start typing the character’s dialogue in the correct format. Pretty slick, huh?

For what we call Stage Directions use the Parenthetical element. You can experiment with the other functions as you see fit. There is even a Title Page in the Document menu.

Now follow the directions for the Option 1 assignment--pick one of the three scenarios I listed and write your 3-4 pages of dialogue. Once you have finished your script (it will be an .fdt file) just attach it to your e-mail to me.

Option 2B (Most Challenging)

Start the same as above, but in the first step choose TV Templates instead of Scripts from Stationery Categories and choose a template from your favorite TV show. Write your 3-4 pages of dialogue as one scene from that show. Use your own ideas for plot instead of the scenarios I have given. You may add a new character to the cast if you need to.

If you love this program, are serious about being a writer, and want to be able to print out full length scripts in the future, you can own it by registering it online for the education price of $99.

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