FOUR SCREENPLAYS SHOWS, DOESN'T TELL HOW TO WRITE

by shane patrick boyle

Daily Cougar Staff

Show, don't tell. That's the advice most writing books present.

<I>Four Screenplays<P>, by Syd Field, however, stands out because the author shows the reader how to show instead of telling how to show.

<I>Four Screenplays<P> presents instruction on developing believable characters, building conflict and other aspects of story construction.

Field demonstrates his minimalist approach to screenwriting by presenting examples from four screenplays (hence the title).

These screenplays include an original screenplay (<I>Thelma & Louise<P> by Callie Khouri), a sequel (<I>Terminator 2<P> by James Cameron), a screenplay adapted from a novel (<I>Silence of the Lambs<P> adapted by Ted Tally from Thomas Harris' novel) and a screenplay adapted from a novel by the novelist (<I>Dances with Wolves<P> by Michael Blake).

Field combines interviews with the screenwriters, summaries and short excerpts to show what works in each screenplay.

In the tradition of Joseph Campbell, Field paints each film as a journey. He strips each screenplay down to the bare essentials of the heroes' journey and demonstrates how each screenplay sticks to its path with only minimal detours.

Field continually emphasizes the need to use a minimum of explanation to communicate a maximum of information. Less is more as Field shows with the "enter late, leave early" approach to scene development.

Field also demonstrates the importance of the first 10 pages in giving the audiences (for Field's purposes, audiences include not only the viewers of the film, but also the readers of the screenplay) everything they need to know about the story.

The instruction presented in <I>Four Screenplays<P> can prove useful for both the beginning screenwriter who is only starting to dabble and the more experienced screenwriter who is ready to sell.

Writers in other mediums will also find this book useful (particularly those who want to see their work adapted to the silver screen). Most of Field's approaches for strengthening the screenplay can also be applied to plays and novels to make them shorter, sharper and stronger.

But writers are not the only ones who will benefit from this book. The interviews and behind-the-scenes information (including the unused endings of <I>Terminator 2<P> and <I>Silence of the Lambs<P>) make this book a must for film aficionados and trivia buffs.

<I>Four Screenplays<P> by Syd Field is printed by Dell Publishing and costs $12.95.

 

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UH, FIVE OTHER SCHOOLS TALK MERGER

by William German

Daily Cougar Staff

President James Pickering issued a statement Thursday in which he announced the university's intention to realign with five other institutions in a new athletic conference.

Pickering met with the presidents of the University of Louisville, Tulane University, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Memphis and Southern Mississippi University in Atlanta Thursday.

According to the statement, among the six schools' goals were maintaining Division I-A football programs, emphasizing men's basketball in the new conference and "attaining an active role in the governance of intercollegiate athletics."

The schools, which have been rumored to be involved in conference realignments of one kind or another since late July, will send representatives for another meeting next month.

All are football independents, but have conference homes in other sports.

Tulane, Louisville and Southern Mississippi belong to the Metro Conference in sports other than football. Cincinnati and Memphis are affiliated with the Great Midwest Conference.

UH has been a member of the Southwest Conference since 1971 in every sport, including football, but will have no conference affiliation after the SWC breaks up following the 1995 season.

Chuck Nienas, executive director of the College Football Association, met with the presidents to facilitate conference options.

Not present at the meeting were the presidents of East Carolina University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, two schools rumored to be involved in merger propositions between these schools.

At the moment, the question appears to be whether the schools will realign in one of the currently existing conferences or form a new conference.

Of UH's seven SWC brothers, four – the University of Texas, Texas A&M University, Baylor University and Texas Tech University – will be headed to the Big Eight Conference after ’95.

The remaining three – Rice University, Southern Methodist University and Texas Christian University – will go to the Western Athletic Conference.

 

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UH FORENSICS SQUAD HOSTS TOURNEY, GETS A BOOST

By Patricia Davis

News Reporter

The UH forensics squad hosted 600 students from 43 schools in three debate and 13 individual events at the Fall 1994 High School Forensics Tournament last week.

Tony Sullivan, director of the UH Forensics Research Center and a sophomore in the Honors College, said the event benefitted both the UH squad and the high schools.

"This is our major fund-raiser, and it exposes high school students to a university campus," he said.

Sullivan said the event raised money for the squad through entry fees, concessions and drop fees.

Martha Haun, director of forensics and a speech communications professor, said the program was a natural recruiting tool.

Sullivan said the idea was to leave the students with a positive feeling about UH and make them want to come back.

"We try to make sure everyone has a good time," he said.

"It's a chaotic process – 600 kids trying to compete, get there on time and do well, all at the same time -- we try to make sure it runs well," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the UH squad – all volunteer – has been working on the high school tournament since this summer and intensively for the last week.

"The work never stops, but no one's a slouch," Sullivan said.

The UH forensic staff, headed by Haun and Mike Fain, director of Individual Events, is also all volunteer.

The UH program, inactive in 1985 and activated as a club in 1989, was reborn in its present form last year. It performs under the umbrella of the School of Communication.

This year, it will receive $15,000 from the Student Fees Advisory Committee to operate. The squad relies on fund-raising tournaments and volunteer staff to remain viable.

Last year, UH placed 21st in the nation and won sweepstakes at the U.S. Air Force Academy at Colorado Springs.

Chris Aspdal, co-captain of the debate team, placed fourth in the nation with original poetry in individual events.

The squad is constantly growing and changing. Last year involved more debate, but this year, individual events are stronger. The program boasts 30 to 40 participants.

"We have drawn transfers from North Harris County College and Waco just for the program," Haun said. "We have drawn additional staff – we're growing vital."

"I am very excited and proud of the UH students for the quality of their performance and their dedication to the program," Haun said of the weekend tournament.

 

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THINKING THE WORST: BAD START WORRIES ALL

by William German

Daily Cougar Staff

Counting the Stitches

All right, I'm not going to put it off anymore. I have to say something about this.

It's started buzzing around a little bit since last Saturday, and I think it's time.

0-11.

Ugly, isn't it? It wasn't easy to type in, either. It's like describing some horrible crime or war atrocity or genital disease or something.

I've been putting it off. I don't want to talk about it because I don't want to see it happen, and talking about things always makes them more real.

All the same, it doesn't look good right now.

I don't know how many of you are following the football team this year, but the Cougars are coming off a 16-0 loss to Missouri in the Astrodome last week, a 32-7 loss to Louisiana Tech the week before and a 35-13 defeat at the hands of Kansas in the season opener.

None of those teams would be considered among the best in the nation. Missouri, in fact, hadn't shut a team out since 1986.

So where does that leave Houston?

Ohio State, that's where. Then Texas A&M. Then the SMUrfs of Southern Methodist and the toads of Texas Christian.

None of those teams should be considered jokes, by the way. SMU is 2-1 and lost to UCLA by only seven points. TCU has a back, Andre Davis, who ran for 325 yards a couple of weeks ago.

Bottom line: 0-11. Is it possible?

I think a team that loses every game of any athletic season always, <I>always<P> has at least one good chance to get a win.

I see the Cougars getting at least one of those chances. They'll play some teams close. Whether they'll win a game or not, or more than one, I don't really know.

I do know I'll be at that Rice (also 0-3) game – for better or for worse.

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