Dear structure, please die

I’m taking my first screenwriting class ever this semester. When I say ever, I mean I’ve never read nor written a screenplay in my whole life. I’m taking this class as an elective… I know I have peculiar taste in that which I call “fun,” but I thought this was a good choice until I told my science-y friends about it. The looks of pity and pain they gave me were too potent for words.

Dudes, I like to write. Naturally, I want to find out what kind of writing I like best. I’ve tried essay writing, playwriting, fiction writing… screenwriting seems like the next logical step. It’s similar, right? What could go wrong?

And then I met my screenwriting professor. His name is Scott Gorden. You may know him from titles like Saved by the Bell and An Extremely Goofy Movie. Or you may be like me, and not know him at all.

He comes in and immediately starts to lecture us about how we have to get into an entirely different mindset from anything we’ve ever done, and he knows this because he’s studied each of our writing backgrounds and academic records.

Uh. What?

He asks if any of us know the proper format for a film script. Zero response. He announces that to write a good story, you have to know every part of your plot exactly. We’re like deer in his headlights. He describes the corporate/industrial world of film and how you’ll have to pitch your entire outline to producers perfectly, or else. He looked right at me and said, “This is not like writing a short story.”

Yeah. It happened.

But… when he assigned us our first assignment, and I felt that rush of excitement, and the ideas began to flood my mind, I remembered why I had even registered for his class. I mean, I know he’s trying to be helpful. He’s not going to baby us. I wouldn’t want him to; it would be crazy insulting.

But as much as I think I’ll still end up preferring theatre to cinema, not even Scott Gorden’s precious proper-structure-of-the-screenplay can scare me away from writing. We’ll just see how long it takes me to get used to the pace and pressure of the film industry. It’s so different from the theatre.

The fact that he might think of me as a cutesy short-story-writer or a sweet wannabe-playwright just makes me want to prove him wrong. And maybe I will.

Maybe I’ll be all,


Or maybe I won’t.

But it could totally happen.

Samantha Chaffin


3 thoughts on “Dear structure, please die

  1. thejaneite says:

    Hahaha oh goodness. He looked right at YOU!!!?? Gollly. Sounds…like a good class? Well, I am a fan of your attack plan, to prove him wrong. No one would read Privateer and be like, “what a cutesy short-story-writer / sweet wannabe-playwright!” Um, no. You are beast. Kind of a force to be reckoned with. I’m sure you’ll take the class by storm and make him sorry he ever thought condescendingly of you. 😀

    • samchaffin says:

      Haha thanks, Lydia. And YES he SO did, believe it or not. I was internally inserting his name into a Mean Girls sequence as he stared at me, like, “Scott Gorden knows everybody’s business, he knows everything about everyone. That’s why his hair is so big; it’s full of secrets!” o.O haha

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