Publication Date

Summer 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts (MFA)


English and Comparative Literature


David Kahn


character structure, screenplay, screenwriting structure, teen film screenplay

Subject Areas

Fine arts


This Creative Project in Creative Writing consists of an original feature-length screenplay titled The Tempest, which follows the story of a boy, Jax, who the night before the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, watches a US Army General hand off secret intelligence to Japanese soldiers on US soil. Silenced by the death of his friend, Jax hides the evidence, which his granddaughter, Miranda, uncovers seventy years later.

Miranda is a 14-year-old wallflower struggling to come to terms with the death of her mother when dementia threatens to take away her O'Pa Jax. She grew up listening to his wild stories, but the journal she uncovers supports his story and may prove, once and for all, that Jax isn't losing his mind. As she pieces together the story of that night she begins to unravel a bigger cover-up that someone is willing to kill to keep buried, and Miranda becomes the target. Facing her painful past and To prove Jax's innocence and save her family's future, Miranda must break the constraints and gender limitations placed on her by her family.

While on the surface, The Tempest, is an plot driven adventure about a teen girl playing detective, at its core it is about the relationship between love and loss, and the crippling affect dementia has on family. Much like Shakespeare's The Tempest, the screenplay also explores how the lies and betrayals of one generation can destroy those of the next. The relationship between structure and character play an important part in The Tempest and its non-linear approach is utilized on several different levels. First, this idea of generational secrets influences the structure of the screenplay with regard to timeline and space. The non-linear approach is more conducive in following two separate protagonists in two different time periods, and affords the story an ample foundation on which to build. Secondly, it provides the room necessary to explore character and movement in different ways, contrasting Jax in the first decade of his life dealing with the loss of his friend, with him in his last decade mourning the loss of his memories. In addition, it showcases Miranda's struggle to maintain her two roles; a carious teenager wanting freedom is hampered by her position as Jax's caretaker. Finally, the screenplay's imbrication of structure and character highlights their symbiotic nature by maintaining the emotional integrity of the story.