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October 09, 2007

More writing...

It turns out that our instructor, Paul Castro, wants us to write our screenplay somehow based on our "most shameful event." I can see why he's doing this. This most shameful event is very emotional for all of us, and accessing emotion and writing emotionally is the most important skill a screenwriter can develop.

So he's targeting that immediately. And while I had another story I wanted to write, I can appreciate this. And actually, I'm thrilled that he's basically squeezing another story out of me which I wouldn't have otherwise written.

Our assignment in preparing for the story is to write a 2 page monologue in the voice of the main character. If you want to read it, click on, my friend.

I’m Laurent. Yes, Laurent. Not Lawrence, not Larry. Don’t try to give me a nickname. Mom doesn’t like them.. she says they’re demeaning. I think she’s right. I can’t think of the last time she’s been wrong about anything.

I’m named after one of Jean Piaget’s children. Mom’s really fond of Piaget. He was a psychoanalyst who studied children. How we thought, and how we learned. So Mom studies me. She studies how I process emotions. That’s how she says it. “Processes emotions.” Those are two words that I don’t hear other children my age say very often. And I mean, ever.

Mom’s pioneered something she calls “doling out affection.” She likes to say that, that she’s pioneered it. I looked it up, and I guess she’s saying she made it up, like she loaded up a wagon and discovered it. Good for her, I think.

It means that she doesn’t just hug me or whatever when she feels like it or when I feel like it, but when it is contextually appropriate. It’s all part of her plan to make me the well-adjusted child. Look it up on Amazon, that’s the name of her book. And it’s based on me. My picture is even on the cover.

I think I want to be a psychoanalyst, too. They seem to be pretty nice. When mom takes me to conferences, they all treat me really well, asking me all sorts of questions and clapping when I answer them. I even sign autographs for some of them, right on the cover – my cover – the one with me on it.

I may be well adjusted, but I’m not perfect. Mom helps me with that. I’m scared of school. Very scared. I wish the other kids could be more like the psychoanalysts at the conferences Mom goes to. They aren’t.

Mom says that too many friends can actually be emotionally overwhelming. I guess she’s right. So it’s good that I stay in the class and help Ms. Simpson prepare the lessons. Ms. Simpson is a good friend. Of course, I have good friends. Mom’s a really good friend, too. I shouldn’t really want too many. I need to stockpile my emotional resources, anyway.

Mom and I like to have fun together. When I get home from school, we play this fun game where she’s prepared flashcards about her latest theories, and if I learn them and get them right she’ll reward me. The rewards are great, like a nice hug, or going on a walk where we’ll hold hands.

One of the psychoanalysts at a conference in Seattle made the comment that I’m remarkably resilient considering the lack of a father figure. Mom said that was the result of her doling out the affection. So I think it’s a good thing she pioneered that, so I could overcome my risk factors.

Sometimes I wonder how much more well adjusted I would be if I had Dad around. I wouldn’t say that to Mom, though. I mean, I wouldn’t say that... again.

I think my name sounds kind of like a girl’s name. I do think that. The kids in my class do, too. They used to say that to me, but Mom got Ms. Simpson to make them stop. But it’s the name Mom picked, so I like it. It’s just that there is a girl in my class named Lauren, and when Ms. Simpson calls her I think she’s calling me. For awhile Ms. Simpson started calling me Larry to fix that, which I liked. But then Mom found out. Ms. Simpson calls me Laurent again.

I don’t really want to go to school tomorrow. I’m scared. I know what the kids say about me. Mom says the basic problem is that I’ve moved onto a Formal Operating stage of reasoning, while most of the kids in my class are still in the Concrete Operating stage, and I agree. I could even swear Justin’s stuck in the pre-operational stage, but I wouldn’t say that to him. I know that’s just mean.

And in case you're wondering how this relates to the shameful moment... below is the bare bones story idea for now...

We have a boy, son of a widowed single mom. The mom is an acclaimed child's psychologist, and uses him as her "test case" for most of her methods. She's even published a book, called "The Well-Adjusted Child" (this is what I'm using as a working title for the story as well), and she takes him to conferences where people can ask him questions. After school, she teaches him all the right catch phrases and theories using note cards, so he is very bright and knows what to say... "Depression is anger towards inwards, etc." He's quite impressive to her colleagues.

Yet she is very clinical, and very closed off, and while she talks
about emotions and things like this, it's like a paleontologist
talking about dinosaurs – fascinating for sure, but studying evidence
and not experiencing the actual things.

So the boy is a little different in class, not very well liked, he
prefers the company of adults. Hangs out with the teacher during
recess, etc. Then a new girl joins the class... and they click. She
gets him, and likes him. And... this girl has a mom who is everything
the boy wants and needs from his own mom and doesn't get. She's
loving, she's voluptuous, she's warm. Around her, he actually gets to
act and feel like a kid.

Through spending time with his new friend and the mom, he discovers
parts of himself, that he loves physical activity, and is actually
pretty good at it... False epiphany... he's ratcheted up the
popularity ladder because of his new found football skills. People
start to like him. Conflict -- mom's not so happy with these developments.

Then the rug's pulled out from underneath him... the incident
(shaming incident, something like that) occurs, AND his friend isn't
there to support him. He feels totally alone. He goes to her house
after school and finds her not wanting to talk. Because her mom has
cancer (or some disease that will make her die).

His mom tries to get him to deal with these things in very clinical
terms, and he plays along, bottles things up again. But then he's
watching TV with her, and he sees some televangelist miracle worker –
a total scammer – promising healing and all that. He wants this to be
true so much, and in his childlike way, he's formulated a plan.

And that night he runs off with his new friend to find this
televangelist, to get something to heal the mother. Act II, they face
obvious obstacles in doing this, but they eventually get the "relic"
that will heal the mom. They are both SURE that this is the answer by
the point, and elated to have succeeded in their quest. This will be
the second false epiphany... because hopefully they will be so sure
of it and the audience will be taking their childlike perspective
enough that they may believe it too.

But – predictably enough – the cure doesn't work. The "good mom"
dies... but not without thanking the kids for what they did, and
believing they didn't go on a fools' quest. This is meant to be the
big gloom. Now back with his real mom, he cries – really cries – for
the first time. And he's adamant with believing the things he needs
to believe as a child – that there is a heaven, that his friend's mom
is there, that his dad is there. His raw emotion breaks through his
mother's closed off sections, and she acts like a mother to him...
thus an exchange of gifts – him getting her to open up, her giving
him the love he's needed...


Posted by elanyarts on October 9, 2007 02:57 PM


This is really cool, jase. But, i have a question:is this supposed to have happened to you? I thought it was supposed to be a screenplay derived from a personal shameful event, but maybe i misunderstood. Or maybe we just had completely different experiences within the same family...

Posted by: jessica on October 10, 2007 12:43 AM

It's not really autobiographical... the shameful event was a launching point for an idea for a story. It's made up.

Posted by: jason on October 10, 2007 02:02 AM

so he wishes his mother was more voluptuous? makes it sound almost incestous. or am i wrong?

Posted by: paul Odders on October 10, 2007 03:12 AM

It's a contrast... earthy and soft versus business like and buttoned up.

I know what you're saying, not the best choice of words, but I guess I'm just going for womanly.

Posted by: Anonymous on October 10, 2007 10:19 AM

This is the premise of Jason's next screenplay. It's his first big hit.

Posted by: The Future on October 10, 2007 04:15 PM

part of me wishes those sharks had eaten those men. just seems kind of stupid to just go up there and kill them.

Posted by: jason on October 11, 2007 02:38 AM

That is your right as a screen writer. You can advantage the sharks.

Posted by: The Future on October 11, 2007 11:23 AM

This is nice

Posted by: ian on October 12, 2007 11:12 AM

Wow, some great ideas in this post - a child damaged by psychology, catching sharks with kayaks. Have you submitted this to the WGA?

Seriously, the story idea sounds like a great film.

Posted by: Anonymous on October 14, 2007 07:59 PM

lets have a new post

Posted by: Anonymous on October 14, 2007 09:57 PM

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