Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Film and Media Studies | Playwriting | Television
The concept of my Capstone Project is a screenplay for an original, dramatic television series. The idea was conceived during the summer going into my senior year, as I examined the script I had just written for TRF 400: Dramatic Writing for Television, a class I took in spring 2009 with Tom Seeley. I had labored over the script for the second half of that semester, and Professor Seeley really liked the idea from the start, but ultimately I did not fare as well I wanted to in terms of the final grade. Thus, I decided that I would redraft the script and use further, more advanced copies of the script as my project.
The one-hour drama I have created is about a construction company that operates around the greater Boston area. I have knowledge of that industry because it is what my father does for a living, and having worked with him on occasion, I can personally attest to the drama (and occasional comedy) that takes place in the office, on the job site, and everywhere in between. The major context of the work was to develop interesting characters, set a few story lines that would compel audiences to tune in, and write the dialogue in a way that kept the show engrossing. The timetable of creating the show was about eight weeks. The first few weeks involved setting characters and exact story lines, with the final five weeks or so concerned with actually writing the script, in weekly increments of about 10-20 pages, depending on the week.
In terms of the processes used in creating the work, the bulk of the screenplay came from ideas I had about the construction business, what I thought would make a good story, and how I could translate those stories to the television medium. I spoke with my father about certain technicalities that needed to be addressed for my script, and I ran the stories by him to make sure they all made sense in terms of the business. I then talked to Professor Seeley about those stories, and he told me to go ahead with them. Once that was accomplished, I turned to a specialized software called Celtx, which is for writing screenplays and other dramatic works. I used Celtx to outline the story using an index card feature, and I also made character pages. I then used the software to write the script itself. As the script evolved over the course of the year with multiple rewrites, some characters had to be altered, dialogue changed drastically, and small parts of the story were either rearranged or cut out completely. It was a long process, but I am comfortable with the script I have at this juncture. I am proud of the work, and it has improved with each draft.
My teachers in Newhouse have always told me that “writing is rewriting.” It sounds simple, but was difficult to grasp at first. I was proud of my initial draft, but taking a step back and examining the flaws, it was clear that my professors had always been correct. Having completed the Capstone process with this script, I can safely conclude that, yes indeed, writing is rewriting.
Shalek, Jared, "Red Rock: An Original Dramatic TV Series" (2010). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 341.
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