Back in March 2021, I enter the NYC Midnight Screenwriting Challenge. I had never written a screenplay before, so I thought it would be a good learning exercise. The challenge consists of three rounds of competition. In each round, we are given a prompt consisting of a genre, a subject, and a character. The genre rules definitions are pretty specific, while the subject and character have to be prominent in the story, but not necessarily the theme of protagonist.
Over seventeen hundred entrants were placed in seventy groups, each with twenty-five entrants. Each group was assigned a unique combination of the three prompts. My group's prompts were: Crime Caper, a Last Will and Testament, and a Journalist. We had five days to write a screenplay that was a maximum of twelve pages.
My story was called "The Afterlife List". After a couple months, I found out last week that I placed third in my group of twenty-five, and since I was in the top five in my group, I moved on to the second round! The feedback from the judges was quite comprehensive (over two pages from four different judges), and wasn't at all unexpected. They praised the plot--story structure, twist ending, etc. and suggested my characters could be a little more sympathetic and well-rounded.
It was tough to tell a complete story in twelve pages of script with its very strange formatting requirements (roughly twelve minutes of screen time). But that was nothing compared to this second round. In this round, we have three days to write a maximum eight pages! Only three days to tell a complete story in only eight pages. To make matters worse, my prompts were: Genre -- Romance, Subject -- Disorganized, and Character -- Prima Donna.
Oh, my God! I don't read or write Romance, but I just submitted my story with over a day to spare. I decided to try to subvert the genre's tropes, since I couldn't do them justice otherwise. Needless to say, I have not expectations for this round. It's really a shot in the dark.
I'm not sure when I can post my first round story, but whenever that is, I'll post it here.
Wish me luck, or not, in the comments.
May 29, 2021