If you’ve been following along with me for the last year, you’ll know how much of a struggle finishing my last novel was. With that in mind, I decided to give myself a bit of a break and try my hand at screenwriting. After purchasing a book on how to do it right and realizing with much relief that Scrivener, a program I already own, can handle the formatting for me, I dove in.
I’ve been wanting to write an Oregon Trail story since I was a kid, but I didn’t think I could pull off the history to a satisfying, realistic degree. Cut to a brainstorming sesh with a friend where we came up with a modern Oregon Trail concept based on the game with all the classic trials and tribulations along the way. Think new Jumanji meets Road Trip.
Here’s an excerpt from when the gang of four begin their journey together.
Content warning: Rated PG-13.
INT. CAR – DAY
With the newly purchased goods rattling in the back of the car, the men are in the front while the women share a bag of chips in the back.
GREG grinds his hands around the steering wheel at ten and two.
OK, if we’re going to all survive this trip, we have to set some ground rules.
Lighten up, Greg.
GREG takes one hand off the wheel to hold up his index finger.
Rule one. Crumbs must be kept to a minimum and garbage disposed of at the first opportunity.
Don’t encourage him.
Dude, have you seen your bedroom?
That’s different. That’s my bedroom. This is my car. It’s a shrine.
Greg strokes the steering wheel affectionately.
Is this when I’m not supposed to mention the other shrine you have in your bedroom?
CUT AWAY to a shot of Greg’s closet door with pictures of Kate Upton and a half-full, sticky bottle of baby oil on a shelf next to it and a single sock hung over the clothing rack.
Hayden covers her mouth and sputters. Alexis quirks her eyebrow in confusion.
There’s nothing wrong with Kate Upton. Literally. Nothing.
Greg holds up two fingers, index and pinky instead of index and middle.
Rule two. This is my car, so I’m the only driver.
All at once.
Man, what? Come on. You gotta be kidding me.
Frickin’ fine with me. Chauffeur me.
That’s too far. I really don’t mind driving too.
My car! My rules!
Hayden, you’re hot and everything, but I’m not gonna lie. You’re annoying as hell right now. Put a lid on your girlfriend, Li.
Li covers his eyes, slumps in his seat, and stares out the window.
I’m not even going to dignify that with a witty retort.
A beat of silence.
Was there a rule three?
Another beat of silence.
The navigator is responsible for staying awake and picking tunes. Driver has veto power.
You know what this reminds me of?
When no one answers, she continues.
With all our camping stuff and provisions and the fact we’re traveling west?
ALEXIS rests her hands on the two front seats and leans forward.
The Oregon Trail? Anyone?
Oh yeah, kind of. If we’re lucky, maybe GREG will die of dysentery.
Greg mock-laughs at Hayden.
Hey, do you think we can stop at some of the sites? Like Chimney Rock and one or two of the forts? How cool would that be?
And that’s why I’m driving. So we don’t have to stop at any lame landmarks.
I loved that game growing up. Remember playing it nonstop in Mrs. Clevins’ class when we were supposed to be practicing math?
It does sound kind of fun. How often do you drive across half the country?
Fine! But only two landmarks, and they have to be on our route.
Alexis pats the seats and celebrates with Hayden.