Wednesday, February 5, 2014

GRAND PRIZE: I won another contest! A big one this time.

GRAND PRIZE: StoryPros International Screenplay Contest

My script was up against about 825 scripts, so it's kind of a big deal.

If I can't brag on my own blog, where can I?

I received notification at the end of a very long & ironic day on December 15, 2013. I had spent the entire day sending prizes for my services for the first cycle of a contest that I had just co-founded: Reel Writers Screenwriting Competition.

When I got the call, I didn't know what to expect since I found a phone call (from anyone) to be an odd method of contact for an online contest. It never once occurred to me that I could have won. In fact, when the very nice guy, Jeff, told me I was Grand Prize winner, I did not believe him. I thought someone was messing with me. When he convinced me it was legit, & that he had personally really loved the script, I had to stop him & ask...which one?

Two of my screenplays were entered in the contest. While I had done some tweaking to make both better, I had actually entered them into the contest for the feedback. It had mildly surprised me when both had moved on to the finals round, but I attribute that to good prose.

I know that I have an advantage over other writers with my good grammar skills (though I'm as susceptible to typos as anyone, & without someone else to edit me, mistakes do happen!). And I do know the "language of screenplay" better than most spec writers. After all, it's what I do for a living - correcting others' prose.

But as a fluid storyteller, I do struggle quite a bit. I fully understand the craft, but it's very difficult to execute.

So it never dawned on me once that I was a serious contender for any prizes! And it was anyone's guess which script had captured their judges' attention.

Shroud of Mystery is the realization of an idea I'd had back when the Shroud of Turin was in the news a lot when scientists had erroneously carbon dated it, pronouncing it a fake from the Middle Ages. It's probably the best original story idea I've ever had. However, turning it into a compelling thriller has been a very difficult process, & frankly, it still needs a lot of work, even if it did make it to the top 4% of the pile.

Evangelina was an idea that germinated a year or two ago after watching one of those dumb paranormal TV shows that try to convince people that there is "evidence" where in the end there always is none. This episode was no different, but there was a storyline that caught my attention. A teen claimed to be communicating with the spirit of a dead girl with whom she identified. It turns out that the dead girl's story is all over the internet, so there's no mystery how the teen got all the details about the dead girl, but what struck me in the story was how that poor girl was murdered 20 years ago, & not only has the crime never been solved, but mediums like these phonies on the TV show have been coming out of the woodwork to keep the tragedy active, dangling hope in front of the mourning family without ever providing any answers.

So I asked: What if a medium turns out to be schizophrenic, truly believing that she's communicating with the murder victim, but never really sure since it's possible she just read about it on the internet & forgot?

Thus, my grand-prize-winning script was born: Evangelina.

I can't end my story about the contest without mentioning the extraordinary way I was able to flesh out my story from idea to script, but I'll save that for next time...