Sunday, August 9, 2009

Polishing Exercise

Last post I discussed the art of polishing your writing. Now I thought I’d do an example. But for fun, I’m going to set it up like an exercise. Below is a short unpolished scene, intentionally bloated and overwritten. My challenge to you, should you choose to accept it: polish the scene yourself. On Thursday I’ll post how I would polish it and why. You can decide if your version is better than mine!

(By the way, I apologize if the format doesn't come out correctly. It's hard to mimic screenplay format in html.)


INT. APARTMENT – NIGHT

The apartment is spacious and well appointed. A couch, love seat and recliner are arranged in a conversation area by a gas fireplace, above which a plasma TV is mounted. Modern art hangs on the walls and a piece of abstract sculpture sits on a coffee table surrounded by architectural magazines. Big picture windows look out over the New Orleans skyline. A table surrounded by four chairs is set for a fancy dinner, complete with tablecloth and two candles. A bottle of champagne rests in an ice bucket.

The sound of food preparation comes from the kitchen. It stops when there’s a KNOCK at the door.

KEVIN enters, wiping his hands on a plain green apron. He is about 30 and dressed with casual style in khakis and an oxford shirt. His shoes and watch are expensive, signaling his good taste. Yet a certain ruggedness is apparent under the well scrubbed surface.

Kevin goes to the door and opens it. On the other side is MARIA. She is also about 30, pretty and dressed to impress in a black cocktail dress, high heels, and a demure gold necklace. Her make-up has been applied with care and her hair is swept up to show off her swan like neck.

KEVIN
Good Evening.

MARIA
Hello.

KEVIN
Come in.

MARIA
Thank you.

Maria enters and looks around.

MARIA
Mm, smells delicious.

KEVIN
I think you’ll like it. Have a seat. Would you like some champagne?

MARIA
Sure.

She goes to the table and sits. Kevin gets the champagne out of the ice bucket and pours each of them a glass.

MARIA
Champagne. Fancy.

KEVIN
Well, this is our third date after all. I’m glad Mona introduced us.

MARIA
Yeah. How did you know her again?

KEVIN
We met in college.

He puts the champagne back in the ice bucket.

MARIA
(nervously)
About that. It’s very nice of you to cook for me, and I know what people say.

KEVIN
About what?

She looks down, embarrassed.

MARIA
Third dates. But I’d like to take this slow.

KEVIN
Have I done something to give you a bad impression of me?

MARIA
(quickly)
No, no. Of course not.

KEVIN
Because I wouldn’t want you to think I was trying to take advantage of you.

MARIA
I don’t think that. I’m just trying to... (beat) manage expectations.

Kevin looks hurt.

KEVIN
Maria, I wanted to cook for you because, if I may be a bit immodest, I’m a very good cook and I’m trying to impress you. That’s my only agenda for this evening.

Maria smiles, relieved.

MARIA
You don’t have to try to impress me.

Kevin holds up his glass.

KEVIN
Okay. Let’s make a toast. To an evening of no pressure on either one of us.

They clink glasses and drink.

KEVIN
I better check on the chicken.

Kevin stands up and starts for the kitchen.

Maria looks sick.

MARIA
Oh…

Kevin turns back.

KEVIN
(concerned)
Is something wrong?

MARIA
Where’s your bathroom?

KEVIN
Down the hall.

He points the way. Maria stands up and starts to head for the bathroom. She stumbles and catches herself on the couch. Kevin rushes to her aid.

KEVIN
Whoa, maybe you better sit down.

He eases her down onto the couch. She mumbles something inaudible as her eyes close.

KEVIN
Maria?

She doesn’t respond. Kevin flips open his cell phone and dials a number.

KEVIN
(into phone)
She’s out. You have about five hours.

He closes the phone, stands up, smiles with satisfaction, and heads back into the kitchen.

1 comment:

સંકેત said...

Hello Dough,

You write good stuff about screenwriting. Please keep writing and educate us as there's very little source available to learn this craft.

Thanks.