single mom

Lighten Up.

Bad, bad Hanna. You’ve ditched your blog once again. Yes, you’ve been busy. You are trying to write a screenplay. You are job searching. Your thoughts have turned to testosterone and Christmas cookies. You have failed your single mom readers.

Here’s my attempt to make good.

I took my 32 pages to a women’s writers group. It’s free, I know half the old ladies who comprise the 7 person unit. They are all writing their own epic novels, and yes we all live in a podunk town, completely disconnected from the “real world.” This night however, a professional Screenwriter who has relocated to Durango (a perk of living here) agreed to be a guest speaker and give us all notes on our work.


As indicated in my previous posts, I have circulated my draft through my family members and peers. They gave me valuable feedback, but it was obvious that reading a screenplay was strange for them. I mean, it’s not a book. It’s not really meant to be READ, its meant to be translated into something you can appreciate visually. I think my loved ones have struggled with understanding the format, or maybe I’m not telling a strong enough story for people to visualize on-screen.

The Screenwriter asked all of us what our genres were. I said Drama, because I really didn’t know how to classify it. Bad start, I know. If you can’t sum up your story in one line and easily put it into the right section at Blockbuster, then you probably don’t have a strong piece of writing (according to the rules of Hollywood).

As I stumbled through my pitch, I had flashbacks to my awful screenwriting workshop. I suck. My story sucks. Why am I wasting my time? I’m going to get laughed out of here.  

Instead, the Screenwriter considered what I had said and told me “I think you should change your genre. No one wants to watch 2 hours of miserable characters. I think you should take what you have and turn it into a dark comedy. Something like Little Miss Sunshine.”

I was shocked. That was the last thing I expected to hear. I expected him to tell me that my characters were a joke, my story was unrealistic and Lifetime wouldn’t even buy the crap I was spewing out. Dark Comedy? I LOVE dark comedies. Sideways. Juno. Adaptation. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. In Bruges. All great movies.

But damn. Dark comedy has got to be one of the hardest things to write. A BAD dark comedy is a HORRIBLE movie. Hello, Death to Smoochy? A bad romantic comedy still pulls in 8 figures at the box office. Failure to Launch, The Proposal, Shallow Hal, Fools Gold..etc. All bad writing, but obviously people still enjoyed them.

So I’m scared and I’m excited about the idea. I’m scared I’m not funny & clever enough to pull it off.  I’m excited that someone saw this possibility in my writing. I haven’t touched my screenplay since the meeting.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I just need to get over it. Kick the fucking elephant out of the room and just write. Stop trying to take myself so damn seriously. You can’t control how people respond to you. In my screenwriting class I wanted SO BAD for people to be confronted with this horrible, painful story and DEAL WITH the serious issues that I was crushed when my peers refused to comply with my demands.

Stop trying so hard to make your point, Hanna! Lighten up! Who cares if you’re not funny? What have you got to lose? Just write! Just let it come to you. Quit FORCING it. Stop trying to figure out HOW to write a dark comedy and just DO IT!

So that’s my update. I’m writing a dark comedy. I’m scared. I’m excited. I’m attempting to let go. How’s your holiday season going?


13 thoughts on “Lighten Up.”

  1. Ah, a dark comedy sounds fantastic! As temporary custodian of emotional well-being, I say you trust in what you love and that it will show in your writing of this dark comedy.

    It’s hard not to let the insecurities speak louder than the room but clearly, he felt your screen play has real potential as a dark comedy.

    I say this to QTMama all the time: “Sometimes a feeling is just a feeling and not necessarily how things really are.”

    Kick it, Hanna! Can’t wait to hear how it goes!


  2. Take back your comment about Death to Smoochy or we’re not friends anymore.

    Just kidding. Good luck, let it come to you, and get lots of input. =) Sorry I haven’t reviewed your screenplay yet; I’ve been very busy meself these days.


  3. I was Googling ‘Dark Comedy Screenplay Format” and your blog came up, (albeit on Page 3!). I just wanted to say good for you. Write it. I read a few of your posts and your voice rings true.

    I’m also rewriting a DC now, fighting the pangs of critical doubt; this sucks, I can’t write etc.

    Anyway, just write it.



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