# SCENE 5

INT. AUDITORIUM — EVENING

A packed crowd in a mid-size auditorium, perhaps a fringe event at SXSW, a good few hundred seats filled. The audience’s eyes are fixed on a highly produced “fireside chat”.

On stage, we find an older man (50s), balding, dressed to appear intellectual. Across from him a woman, younger (30s), dressed as anonymously as possible.

As we enter the scene, the audience are laughing as the man — CLEMENT OSBOURNE — finishes some anecdote about the New York publishing scene.

CLEMENT (Waiting for the laughter to die down): Well, we’re not here to talk about me. (Audience laughter) We’re here to meet one of the most exciting new talents to arrive in…I don’t know how many years. Her debut novel Crystalline leapt straight to the top of the New York Times bestseller list in March and well, it’s just refusing to budge!

Clement is now holding a hardback copy of Crystalline in his hand.

CLEMENT: Angela Stone, it’s a pleasure to have you here.

An enthusiastic round of applause as we see ANGELA shifting slightly awkwardly in her large seat. She’s not used to this attention.

CLEMENT: So tell me Angela, the dream…what’s it like to be living it?

ANGELA: I’m sorry?

CLEMENT: Your story is the most wonderful rags to riches tale, plucked from obscurity, and now…stardom! Every aspiring author dreams of having their FIRST novel picked up for a six figure advance — how does it feel?

Angela has lifted up a copy of her novel and is now staring intensely at the cover.

CLEMENT:…Angela?

FLASHBACK/MONTAGE

1. Close up a blank Word document, as the words “Chapter One” are typed in.

2. Wide shot. We see a younger Angela typing earnestly. She is in a tiny bedroom with just a table and a laptop. She is in a t-shirt, sweating as she types, a tiny fan blowing her hair.

3. Close up on the Word document, as the words “The end” are typed.

4. Wide, Angela prints out her manuscript at her desk. It is night, she is wrapped in a thick sweater, shivering as she watches the printer, a small Christmas tree in the background.

5. Close up on a large brown envelope as she writes “Little Brown Publishers, 114th Street, New York”.

6. Wide, the bedroom on a bright spring morning. Angela leaps onto her bed, a small envelope in her hand, which she rips open excitedly. A beat. She slowly sits down, eventually lying on her back, the letter hiding her face.

7. Close up the same letter being pinned onto her bedroom wall, we see the words “I’m sorry you’ve not been successful this time”.

8. Wide as Angela, in a thick sweater again, takes a deep breath and starts typing.

9. Close up of the screen as we see “Chapter One” typed on.

10. Wide. It is late at night as we see Angela type away, the flicker of New Years Eve fireworks appearing in the window to her side.

11. Close up on the screen as the words “The End” appear.

12. Angela holds her face close to the crappy fan as she watches her manuscript printing off.

13. Close up on a brown envelope as the address of Little Brown Publishers is written on.

14. Wide as Angela sullenly walks into the room and sits on the bed reading a letter.

15. Close up as a second rejection letter is pinned to the wall next to the first.

The montage speeds up as we see in fast succession a repetition of the shots of “Chapter One” and “The End”, shots of Angela typing, and shots of her bedroom wall as the number of rejection letters grows.

17. The camera pulls out to show Angela studying them. There are at least two dozen. Angela’s face has changed. She looks older, despondent. She sighs and turns to look at her laptop.

18. Close up on a blank screen as the words “Crystalline Chapter One” are typed on.

DISSOLVE TO:

INT. AUDITORIUM — EVENING

CLEMENT: …Angela? How does it feel to have your first novel snapped up?

ANGELA: My first novel? Yes, it feels wonderful.

Video artist working at The New York Times. I write a weekly newsletter about visual storytelling and creativity. https://adamwestbrook.substack.com/