I’ve asked screenwriter Diana Amsterdam to provide a brief update for readers. That update is shown below.
“A well-written screenplay requires preparation. The idea of the screenplay comes first: the theme. Theme is not plot. For example, the theme of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” may be summed up like this: Under pressure, people turn on one another. This theme can be expressed in an infinite number of stories. The theme of the screenplay I’m writing for Ben Edwards may be summed up this way: One person with sufficient determination can set goals and change the world. Again, a million stories can express this. Once the theme is well in hand, the writer begins the process of plotting the story. This involves deciding on the place of the story, the people, and the time. Usually, there is one central character called the protagonist. The protagonist must have a strong desire: something that he needs desperately. His journey to get what he needs is called the through-line.
“In the story I’m writing for Ben, the protagonist is a girl. On her journey, she meets formidable obstacles, makes decisions, and changes. To prepare to write, I have visited the town that is the model for the fictional town in the story. I’ve let the story inhabit me, and envisioned how it happens. I’ve come up with the cast of characters and presented major events (things that happen in the story) to Ben, and he has approved them. Next, I must visit the town of Naugatuck again and spend time with high school students, learning about their hopes and fears, and hearing how they talk. This will take place in early December. I’ll then be fully primed and ready to write.”