It was a larger group than I expected, about thirty of us. Even though it's at PSU, most of the students are middle-aged or older. We were asked to tell our names, occupations, and what genre we were interested in writing. Now, I didn't think that assignment meant we also had to prove we were worthy to be in the class, but a number of students felt they needed to go on about how many novels they'd written or how interesting their screenplay idea was. (I was reminded of my sketch comedy days working with stand-up comedians. Talk about raging insecurities! They were constantly wanting to impress their peers, but were afraid if they did their act, they'd suffer the ego-crushing blow of having another comedian think that they're not funny. Just being around the Anxiety Shuffle was exhausting.) I took the moral high ground, and didn't go on about my other writing achievements.*
Now, it's not that the first session was disappointing, but I own CW's book The Writer's Guide to Writing Your Screenplay, which is the hardcopy version of the course. For those students who haven't read her book, or any other book on screenwriting, I suppose what we covered was new ground. We did do an exercise where, as a group, we came up with a script idea and wrote brief descriptions of the scenes that would be in that movie on 3x5" cards and arranged them into story order. That was helpful, and our assignment for the next two weeks is to do that for our own story. The problem I face is deciding what idea to develop. Should I take one of my partially-complete screenplays and rework it? I'd like to go from Concept to Finished Script in ten weeks, so I probably won't do that. I did go through my Ideas file and pulled out almost two dozen story ideas, but then, which one to write? We're told to take the one that we're most excited about, but there isn't one that leaps out as the hot ticket. Maybe I should do some brainstorming and come up with a whole new idea this week, and go from there.
I was also reminded of how rarely I spend almost six consecutive hours sitting on a hard plastic classroom chair. If I don't bring my own chair next time, I may at least bring some cushions. I have no problem suffering for my art, as long as I can be comfortable doing it....
*Okay, if I took the highest of the Moral High Ground, I wouldn't even have mentioned it. I'm only human.