One of my next projects is a short script entitled ‘The Flood’. It’s always amazing to see how people react in natural disasters. Sometimes it’s not the best reaction as their minds tell them things that put themselves and/or others in personal danger. At other times, logic is thrown out the window. That will be the basis for this script. I haven’t entirely worked out the plot, but it will be based on a once-in-a-lifetime flood in a major city. The script is inspired by two things: the short story ‘The Painted Door’ by Sinclair Ross (which I’m sure every Canadian school kid knows about); and the flood that hit Calgary in 2013.
I’m using the flood as the event that reveals the secret of a relationship (the element I’m using from ‘The Painted Door’. As I work out the details in my head, the more it sounds like a modern day, urban ‘The Painted Door’. In film making terms, this is a homage. As with anything I write, I still may do a 360 and write something completely different.
The origins of this story go back to 2009 when I wrote a short story (the first I had written in many years) for the CBC Literary Awards. The spine of the story I borrowed from one of the ideas that I had created for a screenplay a couple years earlier. In the end, I didn’t submit it because I wasn’t happy with it and missed the deadline.
In 2010, I tried to re-write it and again didn’t submit it because I didn’t think that it had a chance of winning because it wasn’t something that the “literary” judges would like. The “literary” side of the publishing business has always rubbed me the wrong way – it just seems so… snobby and elitist and I rail against that. I’m a ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ person and that’s how I write. I write for the everyday person and I can’t stand writers who ‘put on airs’ and write that way to satisfy their own ego. When it comes right down to it, the only things that matter when crafting a story are plot, character and clarity. When the clarity is muddled by the writer’s eagerness to show off to their fellow literary intelligentsia friends, sorry, but you’ve lost me and many others who don’t drink tea with their pinky fingers outstretched while quoting Chaucer and sitting under pear trees discussing Wittgenstein.
Now that that’s off my chest… earlier this year, I pulled that short story out and (in screenwriting mode) adapted it as a screenplay. It took two days. I couldn’t believe it…and because it only took two days, I knew I had something good to work with from the very beginning. Later, after I posted it on Inktip, I received two requests from production companies wanting to see the script, so I knew I was onto something. That is the reason why I’ve decided to come full circle and rewrite the original story – not from the short story, but from the screenplay. I adapted the screenplay from the story, now I’m adapting the story from the screenplay – weird.
The CBC Literary Awards are now called the CBC Short Story Prize – much more palatable to me than the stuffy title it once was. I (along with a few other people) like the results of my screenplay. Now, I can only hope that I finally write a short story that I can be proud of to enter – and win.
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