“The Gifts”

Screenplay Adaptation from O. Henry’s The Gifts of the Magi

Adapting O. Henry’s “The Gift of The Magi” short story into a screenplay was a wonderful experience. The process taught me to step out of my head a little bit more and step into what I think the reader might enjoy. Although the weeks felt like days instead of weeks passing, I gained more knowledge than I had at month’s beginning. Workshopping the scripts with my peers was a helpful experience, as it provided more techniques towards strengthening my writing and hopefully strengthening others’ writings also.

My adaptation, entitled The Gifts, chronicles a father and daughter (Jim and Della), living in present-day New Orleans, Louisiana. The two reside in a one-bedroom apartment and are preparing for Christmas day, knowing one needs a gift for the other. Through the adaptation and with the help of a wonderful neighbor, Jim and Della realize the true meaning of Christmas and love for each other.

This adaptation differs from the original short story by way of a few areas. The original story casts Jim and Della as husband and wife, and I changed them to reflect a father-daughter duo. Quite often we see couples, whether young or seasoned who portray the true meaning of caring for each other regardless of the situation. Instead of creating the same environment multiple times over, I thought a different spin was necessary to tell the story. It is seldom that you see a father and daughter living on hard times adapt to their environment, struggle to maintain, and overcome the challenges of their environment.

Completing this adaptation not only helps me grow as a writer, but it also makes me want to explore writing through other genres. Although I am skilled in writing novels, short stories, poetry, and scripts, adapting a short story for the screen was exciting enough to want to continue the process. Adapting was different from previous projects because I was able to take something from something else and make it my own; whereas, previous projects began and ended with my thoughts. Learning how to carefully adapt someone else’s work and putting a different spin on it made the process worthwhile. While in undergrad, a teacher spoke of something her students had done as a stage play and I’ve always wanted to see it. With that, I have an idea to adapt Gloria Naylor’s The Men of Brewster Place. Having read The Women of Brewster Place and seen the film, I think there is more to the story that should be told. We have the essence of what happened to the women, but not what happened to the men.

My goals as a writer are not only meshed with this new facet of writing, but they are also heightened to a degree of striving to write more every day. One main goal for embarking upon this journey to completing the CWMFA Program is to grow stronger as a writer, and taking this course has provided me the knowledge and skill-sets to succeed.