I haven’t always been tied to writing novels and other types of similar prose. In fact, for a very long while I tried my hand at screenwriting to a certain measure of success.
It was largely through some of the short films that I wrote that I started to build my reputation as a writer who delves into the dark side of the human soul and was well known for my surprise twists during my screenplays…
Or, as someone who acted in several films produced from my screenplays once said, ‘your psychedelic, mind-f**k twists’.
Needless to say, my emphasis now is back on writing novels, but I do often think about those old screenplays that currently languish in box of obscurity that is my computer hard drive. In fact, over the last year or so, even as I was beavering away with The Bluebell Informant, I began to consider the possibility of returning to those stories and rewriting them as novels…
But that would be a way into the future – I’m not quite there yet. Maybe once Detective Sergeant Giles has finally got a couple of stories under her belt, I will return to them.
For the meantime though, I though I would share an extract for a screenplay that I wrote a couple of years ago. Only this time last year, Inches was read as part of a worldwide competition looking at various new screenplays and progressed fairly far in the competition (not bad for a second draft).
Of the many great comments it received, this one always sticks in my mind…
Inches has one of the best plots in the locked house thriller genre. It’s really hard to do this genre right because the outcome is so often dialed in, but this script hits it right out of the park by tweaking it just enough to keep it fresh.
So, here it is – a short extract from Inches. What do you make of it?
INT. LOUNGE, HOWLES’ HOUSE - DAY
A lounge is again very lightly decorated. A sofa occupies one wall with a coffee table in front of it. A large cardboard box sits on the sofa. A bookcase sits beside one wall with dozens of books inside it. Above the sofa, a projector sits on a stand, pointing towards a blank, white wall.
In the centre of the room, Criminal is tied to a wooden chair with black tape, slumped forward.
He slowly starts to come to, his eyes adjusting to his new surroundings.
He screws up his eyes as the pain in the back of his head courses through his body.
Suddenly - Panic!
Criminal’s eyes dart around and his hands struggle against the tape attaching him to the chair. He winces in pain as he pulls hard against the tape, trying to break free.
But the tape holds.
Criminal relaxes for a second, regaining his breath before trying again.
Finally he slumps back in his chair as he gives up hope. He stares at a point behind him where a large, curtained window floods light in to the room.
He tries to shuffle the chair around to get a better look out towards the sunlight before taking a deep breath.
CRIMINAL (screams) Help! (a beat) Please, somebody help me! (beat) Help me, please, help me!
Adam strolls into the lounge, carrying a cup in his hands. He heads over to the sofa.
ADAM I wouldn’t bother, if I were you.
Criminal stares up at him in horror.
Adam reaches the sofa and collapses on the sofa, his feet propping themselves up on the coffee table.
ADAM (CONT) On the right is Mrs. Coulson. A lovely old lady who just happens to be visiting her sister up in Sthrathclyde. She’ll be gone for a good week or two. The guy on the left, I never spoke to him before, but he leaves early in morning and is rarely back before eleven, if ever. Between you and me, I think he his having an affair but what with his wife working abroad all the time, its a wonder that he never brings her home. Maybe he thinks the neighbour’s tongues will wag, if you catch my drift?
Adam chuckles at his own joke.
ADAM (CONT) The rest of the neighbours keep themselves to themselves. Even if they could hear you from across the street, they won’t be back until early evening. By my reckoning, that gives us a good ten hours. Plus traffic.
Criminal stares blankly at him as Adam takes a sip from his mug. As though remembering something, he gulps down quickly and holds up the cup towards him.
ADAM (CONT) Oh. Sorry. I assumed you wouldn’t want a coffee. I’d normally offer a guest a cup of something when I invite them in but, you know, when a man let’s themself in it can hardly be seen as an invite.
His face becomes more serious.
ADAM (CONT) How’d you get in?
Criminal continues to stare at Adam, barely blinking but obviously shaken.
Adam takes another gulp and places the mug down on the coffee table.
ADAM (CONT) Look, one way or another you’re in a lot of trouble. I’ve got a good a lot of time, and anything I can’t get out of you I’m sure the police would love to know when I finally call them.
CRIMINAL Go ahead. Call them. I don’t know what you think you’re doing but I have done nothing wrong...
Adam appears to be bored as he reaches inside the cardboard box and pulls out the gun. He leans forward and places the gun on the coffee table before slumping back into the sofa.
He gives a raised eyebrow to Criminal. Criminal stares down at the gun, thinking hard.
CRIMINAL What is that?
ADAM That would be a very particular weapon with a silencer attached to it.
CRIMINAL Are you trying to threaten me?
Adam sighs; he is starting to lose his patience.
ADAM This particular weapon is the one you brought into my home; the weapon, I can only presume, you intended to kill me with.
Criminal’s eyes flash wide.
CRIMINAL I’m no killer.
Adam seems slightly taken aback by this. He stares at Criminal, as though assessing him.
Finally he nods.
ADAM I believe you.