“Bing Crosby Gary Crosby 1951″ by CBS (eBay item photo front publicity release) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In the past two years, I’ve become more acquainted with scriptwriting. This is odd because I’ve never though of myself as a scriptwriter. Scriptwriting requires me to utilize crisp segues to get to the point, which I think I have a knack for. It also challenges me to write out my vision of what is happening. I don’t get to practice this type of descriptive writing enough—oh, I write action, but not action this mapped out. So, tackling the tricks of the script is a fun exercise for me.
But there is another aspect to writing a script that I can’t get used to: the actors. These are people who don’t want to do things the way the script is written. Ever. I go from scriptwriter to patcher-upper, working to bring the actor-revised script back around to its point, the punchline of the joke or the principle message.
I’d prefer to write the script, turn it in, and watch the result without having any part in the massacre that takes place in the middle. I’d rather view the aftermath, saying, “Wow, nothing I wrote was used except that joke in Scene Two. And it wasn’t funny because it was set up all wrong.” Then I might cringe while my name rolled through the credits and be done with it.
“Stumme Coronation of Mary jpg” by Creator:Absolon Stumme (imgc.artprintimages.com) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
You see, scripts are a temptation to the control-prone writer, which I happen to be. When a writer works out the specifics of every movement and word of an actor, it can have one waxing a tad dictatorial. I want complete control. There, I said it! I want everything to go exactly as I see it in my mind. Well, sometimes I let things go when I see it played out and realize it doesn’t work as smoothly as it did in my head. I’m okay with changing that. You know me, I’m generous that way.
When I was young, my cousins and I would put on skits at family gatherings. I was in charge of these skits. Every year my cousins would revolt against my direction. Oh, all right, my tyranny. I shouted. I threatened. I hovered. It’s true.
Every year I became more and more convinced that I was not going to do another skit the next year. I tried letting a cousin direct it one year, saying, “You do the skit. No, do it this way.”
Obviously, that didn’t work.
I tried, “Oh, you guys should definitely do a skit! I think I’ll watch this year.”
That came off like I was sulking or something. I wasn’t. I just knew I’d take over and be hated for the rest of that visit. I could never seem to help myself.
Then came the skit-less years. No one understood why I didn’t head up those fun skits anymore. One cousin in particular, who’d been captain of the skit mutiny every year, came to me and asked, “Why don’t you put together our skits anymore? I miss it.”
I laughed good-naturedly and said, “Because you were always mad at me for being so bossy.”
She crinkled her nose and smiled.
“And I am bossy,” I admitted. “I wish I weren’t, but it just comes over me.”
I don’t mean to be bossy. I really don’t. To be honest, becoming a mother confused me a great deal because, suddenly, I was completely within my rights to take charge. It was necessary. Someone needed to direct and instruct those crazy kids. Could that somebody actually be me? Yes! I was perfect for the part! And I have gotten, far and away, my fill of being in charge as a mom.
So, all that to say, I need to learn to loosen my choleric grip as a scriptwriter. And I can do it. I can let go. Just don’t overhaul the whole script on me, okay?