I want to share a fun assignment from last month with you.
The challenge was to write a visual scene in screenplay format where two characters are in an argument, and no dialogue is used.
I chose to write about something I know a little bit about.
INT. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL LIBRARY – DAY
Twenty-one fifth grade students mill around quietly. Some read, some are on the computers, others move among the stacks.
SAMANTHA, 40s, blond soccer mom turned stern librarian, stands at the checkout counter in front of a computer monitor. She raises an eyebrow at OLIVER, impish 12-year-old with cannot-be-controlled brown hair who punches a fellow student repeatedly. His SNICKER as each punch elicits a grimace is the only sound in the library.
Samantha drops a BOOK with a BANG on the counter. Oliver looks up at Samantha, sees the eyebrow, and GULPS.
Samantha points to a table with two chairs to the left of the checkout counter, Oliver drops his raised fist and shuffles dejectedly to the table. He drags his feet the entire way. He plops down in the chair facing the counter, puts both elbows on the table, and drops his head into his hands.
Samantha watches Oliver sit. She begins to scan the barcodes of books from huge pile located in a Returned Books bin. Heard throughout the library is a slow, steady series of BEEPS.
Oliver lifts his head from his hands and looks around. He spots a huge dictionary on a nearby pedestal. It is almost a foot thick and very old. He looks toward Samantha.
Samantha stops scanning, picks up a stack of books, turns, and moves into the office behind the counter.
Oliver jumps up and grabs the dictionary. He carefully balances it on the edge of the table opposite his chair, hanging halfway off. He returns to his seat.
Samantha enters from the office pushing a full book cart. She moves to a shelf ten feet to the left of Oliver. She kneels down and shelves books.
Oliver slides down in his chair and stretches out one leg. He gently raises his leg until his foot touches the overhanging dictionary. He bends his knee and slowly straightens it. He does this again. The third time he bends his knee he straightens it with as much force as he can muster. His foot WHACKS into the DICTIONARY and it topples sideways, knocking over a CHAIR with a CRASH.
All eyes in the library turn toward Oliver. Samantha jumps to her feet, turns fearfully toward the noise, and raises her hand to her heart. She looks at the overturned chair, at the dictionary, then at Oliver. The expression on her face changes to irritation.
Oliver looks at Samantha and immediately lays his head on his arms on the table. Samantha moves over and puts the chair and the book back in their proper places. She stands, arms crossed, looking down at Oliver.
Without moving his head Oliver cautiously opens an eye, sees Samantha standing over him, and tightly recloses it.
Samantha stands over Oliver a moment longer. She looks at the clock. She looks at the other students, all working quietly. She moves quickly around the counter into the office. When she reappears, she has in her hand a stack of plain paper and markers of assorted colors.
Samantha moves to Oliver’s table, pulls out a chair, and sits. She gently places the paper and markers near Oliver’s lowered head.
Oliver opens an eye and sees the paper and markers. He slowly raises his head and looks toward Samantha.
Samantha winks. Oliver sits up straight, grabs the blue marker and uncaps it. He moves the paper directly in front of him and looks again at Samantha.
Samantha smiles. Oliver returns the smile and begins to draw.
Samantha moves to the checkout counter. The slow, steady BEEP of the SCANNER is the only sound in the library.