I dig superheroes, but I’m curious what it would be like to catch them in the day-to-day, just conversing with one another in a mundane setting. Hence this blog series.
TODAY: Supergirl and Batgirl!
INT. RUSTED WHEEL CAFE – NIGHT
A small eatery that looks like the lovechild of a truckstop diner and independent coffeeshop. Wheels with varying levels of rust line the walls, and a bar straight out of a fifties diner further confuses the aesthetic. A BORED WAITRESS wears the getup of a Quaker for no apparent reason.
SUPERGIRL sits at the bar, spinning around on the barstool. Next to her sits Batgirl. Both own half-completed milkshakes in mason jars. Why mason jars? Ask the owners.
Don’t you ever get dizzy?
You know, where the world keeps spinning even when you stop?
The world is always spinning. Duh.
Also, how have we been talking for the last half hour? I thought you didn’t know English.
Supergirl stops spinning to focus on Batgirl. She taps her own head playfully with her finger.
She laughs and starts spinning again. Batgirl exhales with strained patience and takes another swig of her milkshake.
Actually, I had some help from a friend. Well, a former friend. I broke her apartment with my eye lasers.
She stops spinning once more.
Is my spinning annoying you? I can stop if you’d like!
No, it’s fine.
She resumes her spinning, but slower this time. At each revolution she sticks her tongue out at Batgirl.
So how have you been enjoying your time on Earth? It hasn’t been all that long, has it?
I dunno. I haven’t been paying attention to Earth time all that much since I got here. Feels like awhile, though. And I like it well enough. A little stir crazy, though.
Wait. Didn’t you fight a giant monster yesterday? How are you a little stir crazy?
Because it was easy, and it was in the ocean so there were no casualties.
A giant monster.
A GIANT monster!
Supergirl stops spinning.
Her name was Gorlax.
Or at least I think it was Gorlax. She repeated it over and over again as we fought.
Supergirl mimes her fight with Gorlax.
Eventually I had the idea to drag her out into space to defeat her. Turns out that this “Gorlax” can breathe in space. And here I thought that was a Kryptonian thing. Weird. Oh well. Turns out everything burns when it comes into contact with the red sun. But yeah, even less exciting when I explain it.
Anyway, I need to be heading back to Metropolis. Thanks for the milkshake!
Supergirl hops off her stool and casually walks out of the cafe.
Batgirl watches her go. What just happened?
Before she can return to the disappointing remainder of her milkshake, Supergirl pops back in.
Want a lift to Gotham?
Oh, come on. Ovary up and let me fly you to Gotham. It will be FUN!
Her eyes light up on that last word.
Batgirl looks from Supergirl to the Waitress and back again. Boredom. Excitement. Boredom. Excitement. She looks down at her milkshake, now just warm liquid, and exhales.
What the heck.
She pays for the drinks and leaves with Supergirl.
The Waitress doesn’t hesitate to count the money once they’re gone. A frustrated grunt.
Superheroes In A Cafe is formatted using SCRIPPETS which utilizes FOUNTAIN, a plain text markup language for screenwriting. Batwoman would be amused.
I like this one a lot! For starters, it has Batgirl which I’m sure you knew would catch my eye. I like the playfulness of your Supergirl throughout. Her personality comes through very clearly, more than does Batgirl’s but that’s alright. My gal Babs can play the straight man. :)
More than that, though, I really like your setting. It’s concisely described yet vividly specific. Milkshakes in a mason jar? I LOVE IT! Seriously, where did you get that? I’m totally going to steal that for the next thing I write. I’ll find some way to credit you for it, though.
I have three minor quibbles/unsolicited editorial suggestions for this one:
1) Supergirl’s line, “She repeated it over and over again as we fought” doesn’t sound as playful to me as the rest of her dialog. “She just kept saying it over and over…” might have been more congruous for me. Every other line you wrote, for both characters and in direction, works nicely.
2) Supergirl giving Batgirl a lift back to Gotham works, but it begs the question how Batgirl got there in the first place. If she didn’t arrive with Supergirl, is she leaving behind her Batcycle or something else? If she did arrive with Supergirl, wouldn’t she expect to leave with her, too? (This is just me as a reader wondering, not me as a writer.)
3) My Babs would not stiff a waitress!
I’m glad you liked it! The specificity thing comes from that mini essay I wrote about the subject. One of the things I’ve been weakest on has been establishing the setting and making it a character with just as much agency as those doing all the conversing. The mason jar thing came from where I work, since we all got free ones when we were employed and that’s how I get my iced coffees throughout the day.
Early on in writing this it became apparent that Babs was going to be the straight (wo)man to Supergirl, which meant less of her than the other. A little bit of a bummer, but the zany Supergirl kind of took off quicker than I expected.
1) There is that. I messed around with all of the lines but that one. In the previous edition, I did a little better job of keeping the characters’ manners of speaking consistent throughout. It is way too easy to let my own way of typing bleed into the characters (another essay for another time, maybe)
2) Babs took a bus for the hell of it. The cafe is not too far from Gotham proper. Think a northern suburb of Chicago. It’s not far enough for Babs to REALLY want to take out her vehicles. But hey, I didn’t actually set that up. It was in my noggin, though. :P
3) One of the traits that makes Batgirl very much a Simone character is how good she is despite her demons. She’s always mindful of her effect on others. Lest it come across as a direct copy of her take, I want to give her some faults/traits that are different. It may or may not work, but the beauty of it is that I have more interactions with her in mind so maybe I can establish it properly.
Incidentally, not a single male presence to be found in this one, implied or actually in the setting.
2) If I had a Batcycle, I’d take it down to the corner market. ;)
And it passes the Bechdel test!
Babs being my favorite superhero, and having waited tables, I’m just having a hard time reconciling her as a non-tipper. Maybe you could revisit this in a future segment and have her feel guilty over it. Like, she didn’t realize she’d forgotten to tip until it was brought up later.
Also, I thought some about another thing later. In the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo that I’m almost finished revising, I once described a cashier as “obviously bored”. When I handed over the first draft to a friend of mine, he called out that description and insisted I needed to demonstrate in text what that meant and looked like. He was right. I think for the purpose of being a background, nonspeaking character in your short piece just calling her “bored” is sufficient but it was something that crossed my mind since you discussed the emphasis on specificity.
Specificity in screenwriting is a complicated beast, and I hope to write a blog post in the future about using too much of it (kind of the other end of the spectrum). In such a short piece I can get away with giving fringe characters descriptors as names and less blurbs than I would give the main characters. I might even be able to get away with it on a 90-120 page feature, if it read well enough. That said, I plan to play around with more of the fringe characters in this series, maybe even slip extra heroes in subtly if I can. Who knows?
I’ve read some screenplays (not a lot, though far more than the casual movie fan, obvs) and I’ve even written in that format myself a few times but it’s definitely not an area where I’m particularly versed. I do get your point about avoiding too much detail because, of course, that bogs down what’s on the page and stifles anyone who would try to do something with it.
This post series has kind of a dual purpose: 1) To showcase my writing, and 2) to develop a command of detail, which has been a bit of a weak point in my screenwriting so far. Deciding how much or how little detail to put into something takes perhaps the most time, and even when the thing is complete it’s never quite certain that the correct choice was made. In the example above, the Waitress wasn’t a particularly stand-out character so I tried to keep her description as basic as possible while still giving some picture in the reader’s mind. I play around with this a bit more in a future Superheroes post, actually. We’ll see how that turns out.
To a previous point about Babs stiffing the Waitress. Yeah, it does seem a bit against the nature of her character to do so, and is kind of an odd choice. When she pops back around, I imagine she will deal with her shortcoming.
I certainly hope I haven’t come off as some kind of know-it-all with my remarks! I get that this is as much a publicly shown exercise for you as it is a series meant to be read and enjoyed at face value, and it was in that context alone that I’ve commented on the actual writing process. I know firsthand what it’s like to write in a vacuum and the value of the currency of feedback – even when it’s not necessarily helpful directly. Though, of course, I hope to offer some helpful comments as you go and more than that, I hope to learn some things from you myself!
You haven’t come off as a know-it-all at all, and the discussion has been enlightening and helpful. With stuff like this, it is fun to pick things apart and discuss. One thing I’ve noticed between doing this series and the Dave and Killer series is that with this one discussion is much easier since the source characters are steeped in such backstory.