Screenwriting 101

"All right," said Willow. "Let's start with the basics. Int-Magic Box-Day."

"Magic Box?" said Tara. "Why are we…"

"It has to have people in it, Tara. The Magic Box is as good a place as any to…"

Tara smirked. "You just want to be around the magic stuff."

"Anything wrong with that?"

Tara shook her head, picking up the pen. "All right, we can film it at the Magic Box. Giles won't mind?"

"Does he ever?"

"Ok," said Tara. "Int-Magic Box-Day. So we have our locale. What's next?"

Willow consulted the list of required elements. "Well, if we use Professor Lansky's format---not that we shouldn't of course, but he did give several examples, and…"

"What's next…on Professor Lansky's script?" clarified Tara gently.

"Right. Well, a brief description. You know, who's there, what they're doing…like, oh, I don't know…WILLOW and TARA…you have to put their names in capitals, you know."

"Never mind that, love. What are we doing?"

Willow cleared her throat dramatically. "WILLOW and TARA are sitting at the table writing their screenplay for Professor Lansky's 'Elements of Drama' class…"

"Um, Will? It's supposed to be a dramatic scene. We have to DO something."

"You interrupted me," she pouted. "I was getting to that."

"Sorry. Go ahead."

"Right. So, let's see…we need to include a mysterious visitor, an unexpected revelation, a betrayal and a confrontation. And there have to be at least five people involved. So, let's see…WILLOW and TARA we have at the table. ANYA is behind the counter, helping a customer. Oh, I know. She can break in at a tense moment and provide the obligatory comic relief!"

Tara smiled. "Fair enough. So, that's three people. Who else? And Will, what are they doing?"

"Well, we'll need a mysterious visitor, won't we?" said Willow. She paused, raising her voice dramatically. "The bell above the door CHIMES…you're supposed to put action words in caps, aren't you, Tara?"

Tara nodded slightly, and Willow continued, encouraged. "The bell CHIMES to admit…a tall, dark and handsome man."

"That's a cliché, Will."

She shrugged. "Tara, have you met Angel? He really is tall, dark and handsome. And a bit scary too. Oh, maybe this isn't such a good…I mean, Angel…but Tara, we need people that aren't students. And he'll be in town this weekend with Cordelia for Dawn's birthday."

"All right. So, Angel comes in…"

"And he's carrying….Oh, Tara, this'll be so amazing, he's carrying…the limp, unconscious body of Cordelia!"

"You really didn't like her, did you?"

Willow sighed. "She's…she's Cordelia, Tara. She's…well, she's ok, I guess. Wesley says she's changed a lot, and we've…it's ok. But writing a movie…it's a chance to act a little crazy and how can I resist a chance to punish Cordelia?"

"All right," Tara laughed indulgently. "So why is Cordelia unconscious?"

"I don't know. We haven't gotten to dialogue yet, Tara. I'm still on the description."

Tara studied her notes critically. "Well, it looks like we have enough for that," she said. "We've got you and me at the table writing, and Anya in reserve to spoil the moment. We've brought in our mysterious visitor. Oh, I guess we should probably write Buffy in if Angel's going to be the big secret."

"Good point," said Willow. "I'll add a note that she's training in back with Giles."

"Ok," said Tara. "Now, let's see…Willow says…'Oh, Angel, what are you doing here? And is that Cordelia? What happened?'"

Willow frowned. "That sounds weird. I would never talk like that."

"All right. And Willow says 'Angel? I…um, what's…' and then Anya interrupts and says 'who are you and why are you dripping blood on the floor that I spent all morning mopping?'"

Willow giggled. "That does sound like something Anya would say. But…hey, why am I all…stuttery, and…well, I don't…Tara!"

Tara wisely ignored her. "And then BUFFY emerges from the back and calls out to Willow, not yet noticing the mysterious visitor. Buffy says: 'Hey Wills, how the homework…' She trails off as she notices Angel gently lower Cordelia into a chair as Anya follows him around with a towel, wiping up the bloodstains. Their eyes lock, and…"

"Hey, you're good at this," said Willow.

Tara grinned sheepishly. "Well, now that you're so good at magic, I have to be better at something, don't I? Anyway, at that point, Anya demands an explanation, and…hmmm, I guess we can't use vampires or anything, can we? Does Buffy's job have some kind of confidentiality agreement?"

Willow shrugged. "I don't think it would work here anyway. Too much explaining."

"Right. Anyway, Angel says: Buffy, I need your help. It's Cordelia, she's been…"

"Attacked!" finished Willow gleefully. "Punched in the nose. That explains the blood, Tar. 'We were on our way to Buffy's for Dawn's big party and Xander saw us together…'"

"And he just couldn't handle seeing us like that," said Tara. She glanced up from the paper. "They did used to go out, didn't they? So, Xander, the ex-boyfriend is jealous of…Cordelia's new flame, Angel. There's a revelation for you, Wills."

"Angel and Cordelia? Ewww. But hey, that can count as betrayal too. Buffy says: Oh Angel, I can't believe this, you…you made me trust you. You made me believe…"

Tara rolled her eyes. "Please, this is 'contemporary' drama, not gothic. Buffy wouldn't go all weepy on him, she'd totally kick his ass."

"Given provocation, quite possibly. All right, so Buffy says: Angel, what are you saying? Are you…"

"And he embraces Cordelia tenderly and says: Yes, we were planning to tell you. We thought you'd be happy for us," concluded Tara.

Willow's voice rose as she got into the part. "But you…you and me…we were supposed to be together, forever. We're meant for each other!"

Tara shrugged. "Once, I thought so too. But Buffy, with you…I thought we had everything. Then, I met Cordelia, and…Will, help me out here. I don't really know Cordelia."

"It's ok Tar, we're using archetypes."

"Right. So, anyway, um…with you, it was like…opera. Crescendo, crash, bang, intense. But with her…it's softer. There's that moment, like fireworks…but it's gentler. Lighter. Like…bells ringing. A dulcet choir of pretty little birdies." She looked up. "Too much?" she asked Willow.

Willow shook her head. "Naw. I could totally see Angel talking that way. And there's our betrayal, Tara. But I think we can still do better with the confrontation aspect."

"You're right, he has to bait her some. Let's see…'with her, it's like the whole thing goes in slow motion. We come in out of the rain, and I brush a damp strand of hair out of her eyes. She gazes at me, the orange glow of the fire reflecting in her eyes…I touch her, a single burst of static brushing from my fingers, and it's like all of that passion is passed along with it. The air is thick and I'm swimming through it, towards her…through the hazy light I see her clothes come off, and…'"

"Tara! This is supposed to be drama, not pornography!"

"It's all in the lighting, Will," said Tara. "If we film it all in soft focus…"

"And that's another thing, we have to get them to actually say the lines with a straight face! You haven't met Angel, have you? He's not exactly the type to go swimming through the misty sepia air."

"You write it, then," pouted Tara.

"Let's see," said Willow. "Um…with her, it's like the whole thing goes in slow motion. That part's good, Tar. And…I don't need to go as far to feel it. A single touch…the brush of her hand against my wrist as she passes me my coffee in the morning…her hips touching my thigh as she angles past me at the fax machine…God, Tara, this IS getting sappy. We may as well just jump right to the sex part!"

Tara smiled. "And that's going to be our closing line, Will, you're brilliant. He's not the mushy hallmarky type, is he? So all he has to say is 'with her…a single look is enough to set me off. It's like I gaze into her eyes and we might as well jump right to the sex part!"

Willow put down the pen, smiling triumphantly. "Haven't I been saying that all along? You know, Tara, confrontation was the last required element for the assignment. We're finished now. With that out of the way…"

Tara grinned. "I know. We may as well jump right to the sex part."

the end