The Diner: Post Nine (Scene One)

Now that I’m actually going to start the screenplay, the form of these posts are going to be a bit weird. I think I’m going to have each post start with my intended purposes for the next few pages of screenplay, followed by a first draft, and ending with my thoughts on what I succeeded/failed at in that draft.

This is going to be a first draft. Unpolished, full of plot holes and contrivances despite my best efforts. I’m likely to state what I plan on doing and then immediately fail. But hopefully this will give you some idea of what my process is like.

I don’t have time to do the hours of research I might need. So you’ll see some vague language and even some flat-out errors that I would correct in later drafts. For instance, just to start us off, I’m aping screenplay format as seen in some of my favorite dialogue-heavy scripts (The Dark Knight, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, anything by Tarantino), but I don’t actually know much about the format and will probably get an absurd amount wrong.

Things I need to accomplish in the first five or so pages: Introduce the main character. Establish his job. Try to hint at the past he hides. Establish the tone.

That just might be manageable, but I’ve spent my whole career getting good at communicating exposition through narrative. Only having prose is going to make things tricky. I guess we’ll find out how well I do!




TED, silver-haired and gnarled, struggles across parallel bars, favoring his brace-covered left leg. About two-thirds across, duct tape makes a mark on the floor. LIAM stands just beyond the tape. Liam is what you’d expect: fit, khakis, polo, tennis shoes, neat hair, shaved face. The wrinkles in his clothes, bags under his eyes, and grey sprinkled into his dark hair show at the first close-up.


If I have to do this one more time…


You know when you can quit.


Once I think of a good place to hide your body.


You’d have to catch me to kill me.


Are you making fun of the cripple? You suck at your job.


I’m offering motivation. Your leg’s dragging; let’s keep it up.


(Short of breath)



You’re almost to me. Get this far, and we’ll call it a day.


A SIDE-ON CAMERA ANGLE – Ted is barely halfway to the line and Liam.


You moved the line, didn’t you? Cheater.


Ted’s hand SLIPS and he stumbles forward a step, lands hard on his left leg. Liam rushes forward and catches him before he can fall.



How many times do I have to tell you not to come in drunk?


Didn’t even get to the “touch your nose” part. I might do better with the alphabet, though.


Liam helps Ted to the end of the bars, helps turn him, helps him sit in the wheelchair waiting for him. Liam sits in a nearby chair.



What’s going on, Ted? You’re doing the stretches at home, right?


All twenty of them, five times a day.


So you might have missed a few?


What’s the point?


Well, some of them are to keep the flexibility up, and others–


What’s the damn point? I’m never going to get out of this chair. I’m not even getting better anymore.


Ted indicates the tape on the floor.



You might not.



Why would you tell me that? Even if it’s true? Especially if it’s true? Aren’t you supposed to keep me hopeful–that I’ll be playing tennis in six months? The hell is wrong with you?


It’s not my job to lie to you. Maybe you’ll never recover. Maybe this is the farthest you’ll ever walk again.


Liam gestures to the parallel bars.



If you quit, you know EXACTLY what’s in your future. You don’t have to wonder. That makes it really easy to quit. That’s why I can’t give you hope. You have to decide if you’re willing to risk it.


If I quit I’d never have to see you again.


Like I said, quitting is easy. Are we done for the day?



No. Wheel me back around.


Liam smiles.



How did I do?

I feel I established most of what I needed to in the first scene. Who our main character is, what his job is, what the tone is. We see him convince someone to hang on to hope, touching on some of our themes. I establish that we’re going to touch on some serious matters, and that this story is going to be character-driven. But I put banter in as a way of lightening the mood, something I’m going to try to do to some degree throughout the piece.

On the other hand, I didn’t quite manage some things. I didn’t hint at his past other than some visual cues that he might not be as perfect as he seems. I’ll have to work in the first real clues in the next scene or two. In addition, Liam’s monologue is a bit heavy-handed. After a few passes, that’s the best I’ve got for now. Obvious, but it does what we need for the characters.

How do you think I did?

Next part will be a bit longer, unpacking the rest of the starting state for Liam. There’s a lot more we need to do before we get to the diner!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s