Mom, I Wanna Be A Scriptwriter

by Creation Museum on August 4, 2003

Actually, I never said this to my Mom. Did I want to be a novelist? Sure. A Jedi knight? Definitely. A scriptwriter—never heard of it!

In fact, if you’re like me, you probably haven’t heard much about “scriptwriters,” either. Or at least, when you heard the word “scriptwriter,” you thought of senseless sitcoms and Hollywood hokum.

The Mission

Well, I’m learning all about scriptwriting now. Four months ago, I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime: scriptwriter, AiG Creation Museum.

In my wildest dreams as a youngster, I would never have dreamed up such a job description:

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: (1) Create the most fantastic designs imaginable to exalt the Creator and to depict His most amazing deeds in history; (2) hunt down the most intriguing science available in the world today that will answer the most difficult questions of our times; (3) equip Christians to win the battle for the inerrancy of the Bible; and (4) challenge doubters to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

Life-size dinosaur tracks, a walk-through diorama of life on Noah’s Ark, a reconstruction of the Scopes Trial—the only limit is your imagination. In other words, think up the coolest, most exciting museum experience you could possibly conceive, one that will excite and challenge guests with life-changing truths that they’ll never forget. Then ask Patrick Marsh, AiG’s unparalleled designer, to find a way to make it happen!

Can you think of a more exciting job? Well, I can’t! I’ve spent over twenty years in Christian education, writing Christian materials to equip young people to grow in the knowledge and image of Jesus Christ. But I’m staggered by the privilege of joining in this monumental task: designing the “guts” of a new Creation Museum being built at the crossroads of the United States.

One day literally hundreds of thousands of people will pass through the museum doors, hearing and seeing the greatest message on Earth—that God’s Word is true from its very first verse, giving us the true worldview on which to base our understanding of the world and to find meaning and fulfillment in our lives.

The Nuts and Bolts

At present, three people are working directly on various scriptwriting projects for the Creation Museum: Stacia (theatre presentation), Perry (nature trails) and myself (the fun stuff).

A project of this magnitude must obviously be a team effort. Answers in Genesis has over 120 staff members, who have been producing apologetics materials for decades.

Outline of “teaching points”—done. Our privilege—and responsibility—has been to sift through everything AiG has produced over the years, and cull the very best of the best—choosing whatever ideas will be most effective in a highly visual “museum environment.” Not only must we put together a list of the best graphics and teaching topics available, but also we must organize these materials into the most exciting, easy-to-follow sequence imaginable.

It’s taken a lot of work, but I think we’ve just about completed this big step. (In reality, of course, our “Outline of Teaching Points” is only a first draft, which will pass through many hands and be reviewed by all sorts of committees and advisors. Then each new round of ideas will get the same careful attention.)

Display ideas—in progress. Currently, all our energy is focused on researching the most effective display ideas to get across the main points that the museum needs to make. For example, suppose we decide to discuss the argument over creation/evolution in the setting of the famous Wilberforce-Huxley debate (held in 1860, the year after Darwin published his Origin of Species.

Sounds like an exciting display. But where exactly did the debate take place? What were the props? What was everyone wearing? Do we know what was really said? What are the best quotes to include in the museum? A myriad of questions arises with every display! It’s truly an adventure to write scripts—snooping for arcane secrets, following untrammeled paths, with no assurance of success in the end!

Putting words on paper—are you kidding? If you’ve ever done a major research paper for school or your business, you know that 90 percent of the work is research. Once you’ve done your homework, the paper almost writes itself. (At least, that’s been my experience.) The more time we spend organizing the museum presentations, the easier it will be to write final, polished text in the end.

I know it sounds a little crazy—being a scriptwriter and not “writing” very much, but think about it. If we decide to say something in film, for example, will we use the same words that we’d put on a display board or in the mouth of a live-action figure?

The future—layered information. Another exciting facet of the scriptwriting process is that we’re not just writing text for the obvious things that people will see (signs, video clips, computer displays, etc.). We hope, like other modern museums, to offer sound sticks that people can carry with them through the museum, in case they want “the rest of the story.”

So while we put together the best possible presentations that we can think of, we also want to write extra information for those scientists/apologists who want to cram their heads full of the really detailed stuff.

In the industry, it’s known as layering information.

On the first level, you display a very simple message, in plain sight, for all young children and quick-moving adults who want the basics and that’s it. Then you supply a second layer of information—on plaques, computer screens, soundtracks, etc., which allow curious guests to explore further. Finally, you offer information-laden sound sticks and documents for guys in lab coats.

It’s fun to see how the Lord has put together representatives of all these types, right here on our very own museum team. I’m not going to tell you which team member belongs with the little kids, racing to see who’ll be first to “finish” the museum; but his initials are MZ.

Ah, the life of a scriptwriter. Please stay tuned for the next exciting installment from the Creation Museum adventure team: “Mission Impossible—or All Things Possible with God?