Script Sampler

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Fiddling with turning “First Time: The Legend of Garison Fitch – Book 1″ into a screenplay …

First Time by Samuel Ben White

script sample

Act I

Scene 1

[Setting: home laboratory. Heather is standing off to the side, looking excitedly anxious.]

[A blinding flash of light. The time machine appears, with Garison standing on a tarp that is tied to one leg of the time machine. His dark brown hair is in a pony tail. His clothes are from the 1700s. A popping noise comes from the "engine" of the time machine, then it begins to smoke. Garison jumps off the tarp, as if trying to get away from the machine, but his progress is blocked by an excited hug from Heather]

Heather: [excited] It worked Garison! It worked! You were gone and now you’re back! It’s so wonderful!

[Heather kisses Garison on the cheek. Garison looks confused-and doesn't returned the hug. When she starts to kiss him on the mouth, he breaks off the kiss and takes a step back. Looks confused at running into a work bench.]

Heather: Garison? Is something wrong?

[Garison looks around the room, as if seeing it for the first time. Some things are familiar, but some things are new or wildly out of place. Notices that the video cameras he had installed are in the right places. Looks over Heather. She's beautiful, but he has never seen her before.]

Garison: [suspiciously] Who are you?

Heather: [reaches for his head, as if checking for a bump] Are you OK, Garison? Did you hit your head?

Garison: [angrily swats her hand aside] No, I didn’t hit my head. I’m fine. Who are you?

Heather: [starts to reach out again, withdraws her hand. Recognition dawns in her eyes] Wait a minute, you’ve changed. How did your hair get so long in two seconds? How did you grow a mustache that quick? And those clothes? Except for that jacket, you look like you’re…from the revolutionary war or something. And you look older. [worried] Garison, what happened?

Garison: Who are you?

Heather: Heather [takes a step toward him again, but he backs away, down the workbench]

Garison: Heather? Heather who? I don’t know a Heather. What kind of name is that, anyway? A plant name?

Heather: You don’t remember me?

Garison: Why should I?

Heather: Heather Fitch. Heather Dawson Fitch.

Garison: Fitch? You’re not related to me. Just what are you trying to pretend here?

[She reaches out to touch him again and again he slaps her hand away, this time with more force. She brings the hand back, seemingly shocked that the slap had stung.]

Heather: I’m your wife.

Garison: My wife? [forced laugh, then patronizing] All right. What’s going on? Who put you up to this?

Heather: What happened to you, Garison?

[She touches his head. He doesn't slap her away, but it's obvious he doesn't like her touch. He's contemptuous.]

Heather: [touching the lines around his eyes] What are these?

Garison: [surprised] Huh?

Heather: These lines around your eyes. You never had these before. And you’ve got gray hair that wasn’t there before you left. How do you turn gray in a couple seconds?

Garison: I’ve been turning gray for-who are you? Tell me the truth!

Heather: I’m Heather Fitch. I’m your wife.

Scene 2

[Setting: colonial town. A shed is on fire. Sarah rides up as men are trying to put out the fire and keep it from spreading to other buildings. Sarah jumps off and rushes for the building. Finneas, who is one of the men fighting the fire, grabs her to keep her back.]

Sarah: Garison! [looks at Finneas] Was he inside?

Finneas: [nervous, Irish accent] I dunno. He told me he was going in there. But we have not found any evidence, except this. [holds up a padlock]

Sarah: [gasping] Where was it found?

FInneas: Out here, on the ground. We heard no sound or voice. And we’ve seen no sign of a body. Maybe he weren’t in there.

Sarah: [sinking to her knees in grief] He was inside, then. He would never leave the lock outside like that unless he were inside with the door bolted. Garison always did it exactly the same way every time.

[Finneas sinks to his knees and puts his arms around the sobbing widow of his best friend. He begins to cry.]

Check, Mate!

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I got a check in the mail last Tuesday because between August 1, 2009 and January 31, 2010 I sold 12 paperback copies of my novels. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but considering I still don’t know who is buying them, and the total of my marketing “effort” has been word-of-mouth and this blog and the web site (garisonfitch.com.com), I’m pretty excited!

It’s gratifying to know someone is reading my books and–presumably–liking them (as they’re buying the sequels). Would sure make me excited if I knew who these people were or if they were to drop me a letter (hint hint).

And I’m still averaging 15-20 copies of my books sold for Amazon’s Kindle platform each month, including my newest offering: All the Time in Our World (parts 1-3 are now available, the conclusion will be available at the end of February). Anyone with tips on how to “expand my scope” (as Barney Fife was known to say) will find in me a willing ear.

Garison Readers

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I still don”t know who”s reading about Garison Fitch.  I can check my account at Amazon and see that—this month—I have sold several copies of my books about Garison (and even a couple copies of the books about his grandson ["All the Time in Our World"]) but other than the one friend on Facebook who told me she bought a copy, I have no idea who these people are.

Yes, I realize that”s SOP for most authors.  John Grisham probably gets a lot of fan mail, but I doubt that he gets a letter from every one of the millions of readers each of his books have.

Still, I”d like to know.  Part of it is curiosity.  I”d like to know where they heard about my book and whether they would recommend it to a friend and if they prefer Kindle or actual paper.  I”d like to ask those questions.

There”s another aspect to it all, though.  I wrote and re-wrote “First Time: The Legend of Garison Fitch” for over a decade.  And then, there was the publishing mishap, followed by another majore re-write and the adventure in self-publishing.  That was followed (many years later) by my foray into publishing with Kindle (which has worked out better than I ever imagined!).

Over that time, and through it all, Garison has become something more than an imaginary character to me.  My brain knows he”s a fictional person, but I”ve also gotten to know him so well that when writing “Lost Time” or other, unpublished, works wherein Garison appears I have occasionally run into walls.  Not that I don’t know how to write for Garison, but that I know too well!  I write a bit of dialogue, then think, “Garison wouldn’t say that.”  Or, “Garison wouldn’t say it that way.”  Or, I’ll put Garison into a situation that I know he wouldn’t get into.

Same with Heather.  I know these characters so well that writing about them is less like writing fiction and more like writing biography.  I think part of why I want to hear from people who have read my books is I want to know if they Garison and Heather (and Sarah, Edward, Marianne, Bat, Jody and Joe and Ellen) seem as real to them.’, ‘Garison”s Readers’, ‘Over that time, and through it all, Garison has become something more than an imaginary character to me.  My brain knows he”s a fictional person, but I”ve also gotten to know him so well that when writing “Lost Time” or other, unpublished, works wherein Garison appears I have occasionally run into walls.  Not that I don’t know how to write for Garison, but that I know too well!  I write a bit of dialogue, then think, “Garison wouldn’t say that.”  Or, “Garison wouldn’t say it that way.”  Or, I’ll put Garison into a situation that I know he wouldn’t get into.

Multiple Realities

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Most modern time travel fiction that I’ve read or seen is based on the idea of multiple realities. From a fictional standpoint, this resolves the old time travel connundrum of “Could I go back in time and kill my grandfather because wouldn’t that cause me to cease to exist?” If we say there are multiple realities, then the person who travels has not so much traveled in time as to another reality, one in which they are free to kill their grandfather, shoot their dog or whatever, but the outcome in that reality won’t in any way effect the outcome in their “starting” reality.

The “logical” conclusion of this idea is that there are an infinite number of realities out there, each spawned every time a decision is made. This morning, when you had to choose between strawberry jam or grape jelly for your toast, you spawned several realities. There’s the reality where you chose grape, the one where you chose strawberry, the one where you decided not to have jelly at all, the one where the toaster caught fire and burned down the house, leaving just a charred reminder of your sorry existance underneath the rubble of the kitchen table, etc.

People who support this theory of multiple realities will often say there is theoretical math that proves the possibility of multiple realities. The possibility. You see, it’s not really provable (as normal people define “provable”).

Therefore, the universe of Garison Fitch (which includes “All the Time in Our World” as well as anything else I’ve written) assumes that the possibility is not a possibility and works from the assumption that there’s only one reality and one timeline and Garison somehow altered it. This makes some people mad. They have so fully bought into the concept of multiple realities that they cannot conceive of a story based in and on a single reality.

What strikes me as funny about this is: “Dude! It’s fiction!” The nature of fiction is to tell a story that isn’t in such a way that the reader thinks it could be, or–at the very least–understands the premise. So if I, as the author, want to tell a story predicated on a single timeline (or on the concept that the sky is plaid or that politicians are innately altruistic) then a] that’s my right and 2] it behooves me to stay true to my premise within the story (unless it’s part of the story that the character is finding his assumptions challenged or changed).’, ‘Multiple Realities’, ‘What strikes me as funny about this is: “Dude! It’s fiction!” The nature of fiction is to tell a story that isn’t in such a way that the reader thinks it could be, or–at the very least–understands the premise

Why Time?

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Jerry Seinfeld said that when you walk into a bookstore you have the fiction section and the non-fiction section.  In other words, one group is telling the truth and one group is lying.

So, why lie about time travel?

I have always been fascinated with time travel.  Who doesn’t have something in their life they would like to go back and change?  I have made stupid mistakes I wish I could go undo.  I have also done things that I really enjoyed and wish I could enjoy them again.  Let alone “big” things like go back to Dallas in 1963 and prevent a presidential assassination—or just back to 1980 and somehow have the Astros win that one-game play-off they should have won anyway.

What if, though, I were to travel back in time and make things worse?  This is the dilemma of Garison Fitch.  He has traveled back in time and, when he returns to the future, the world has changed.  Should he go back and try to change things back to normal?

Of course, in Garison’s world, the strange new world is the one you and I are used to.  Garison grew up in the Soviet Americas, where the Republic of Texas existed just across the southern border and Japan ruled the western half of the continent.  His decision is whether to live in this whacked-out world of the United States, or see if he can undo what he’s done.

Why write about this?  Because I find it fascinating.  What if I went back to 1986 and treated the girl I was dating then better?  I’d like to not be known (at least to her) as a jerk, but what if in so doing I somehow messed up meeting my wife in ’88?  I think I’d hate that.  What if I could somehow prevent my wife from having a miscarriage in the summer of ’96?  Well, then I wouldn’t have my youngest son.  I know I’d hate that, even though I’m sure I’d love the other child.

And, of course, I wouldn’t know about any of these changes if the change were made.

It’s probably just as well that I can’t change the past.  But it’s still fun to think about.’, ‘Why Time?’, ‘What if, though, I were to travel back in time and make things worse?  This is the dilemma of Garison Fitch.  He has traveled back in time and, when he returns to the future, the world has changed.  Should he go back and try to change things back to normal?