Written by Joe Janes
January 19, 2009
1 of 365 Sketches Project
BOB CRANSTON – mid-30’s
MR. WILLIAMS – mid-50’s
Well, I notice that I am using actor signals more than I normally would. A signal is where I write in parenthesis after a character's name about how they are saying something, "sans enthusiasm," for example. In a production situation, I hate these. It diminishes the actor's opportunity to discover how the line could best be delivered. And quite often, the writer doesn't have the best take on it. An actor will often find a better more interesting way. However, I'm very aware that you are reading this, probably alone, and to yourself. I think in this case, it acts as a way of painting the picture more for a lone reader. Many screenwriters do this in even more elaborate depth because they know their first hurdle is one person sitting alone in a room, reading.
I started out the day anxious about what I was going to write. I had it in my head that I was going to start with a comic monologue. I was looking for clues for something that would get the wheels turning in my brain. I read a short article about Alexander the Great. Nope. I played an on-line Scrabble game. Nope. Just ended up challenging my brother on using the word "majora" and I won. It is not in the dictionary, foo'. While reading the list of news headlines on The Drudge Report, I had stuck in my head the image of a man packing items up from his desk. Timely, of course. And my billionth contribution to the plethora of office sketches out there. But I couldn't shake it, so I wrote it. The first draft was only two pages, unformatted and I was finished by 10am. The rest of the day, I putzed around, wrote a draft of tomorrow's scene, an extended blackout, and came back from time to time to tweak this scene. A major change was going from "staples" to "binder clips." My sole reason for doing this is because "Bob" was beginning to remind me of "Milton" from Office Space. Staples put him too close to stapler obsession. They are still not-so-distant cousins, but making that one change helped me make other changes, such as the end when Bob asks for what he wants. Silly, but binder clips made the man stronger.
Feel free to leave me questions or feedback in the comments section.
Joss Whedon did an interview recently where he ran down his top ten writing tips. Worth checking out, regardless of what you think of the Whedonverse. The dude's a crackerjack writer. You can read the article HERE.
Sketchfest is over and I saw some very fine shows. Don Hall and I vow to have a show in there next year. While I saw good stuff, I do need to add an 11 to my post title 10 Things You Should Please Stop Doing In Your Sketch Revue - NOW!!! Number 11 - Stop using an audience member to demonstrate how to pick someone up. I saw it three out of five shows.