Script Slog

Tuesday, 14 April, 2009

Back on-topic for the blog and I’m at a cross-roads in the middle of Procrastination Hell during this my third Script Frenzy. In 2007 I was writing for cinema (‘Embassy’) but barely scraped 8,000 words; in 2008 I adapted a ‘failed’ Nanowrimo idea (‘Paragon’) for TV and got the 100 pages but didn’t get a complete draft; this year it’s back to the big screen again with ‘The Centre’ and although I’m at the halfway point and ahead of schedule… what’s a hyperbolic synonym for “slog”?

It’s not that I don’t like the idea or the characters, rather I like them too much, or at least I like the idea of the idea too much. I’m too wed to my ideas about the characters. Also, it’s not plot-driven. There are things that need to happen, sure, but there isn’t the unstoppable force there was behind last year’s action-sci-fi, nor the scope for writing speculative dialogue that directors/actors/viewers can then ascribe meaning to, leave things open for the rest of the season. It’s got to be self-contained. This thing I’m trying to do is about a people and a place and I’m having to be more economical than is my wont.

And finally, the 100 pages goal does exceedingly well at providing my shrieking inner editor with more ammunition. (“It’s only 100 pages, it should at least not suck!” Or: “Good god, woman, it took you two weeks to write fifty pages? They better be bloody Brecht!” And my personal favourite: “Just what is the point of even doing this if it isn’t going to be good enough for anything?” GAH.)

So here, now, at the halfway, on the hump, at the top of the hill, is my pep talk to myself.

1) What was your aim going into this Script Frenzy? It was to get a complete draft. Not a great draft, not a special draft, not even a decent draft, but a complete draft. You have never completed a screenplay. Never. This will be the first time ever that you come out of either Nanowrimo or Script Frenzy with a complete, self-contained piece of original work. Writing something from beginning to end, that’s what you’re proving. Put the inner editor back in the crypt of St Peter’s. She was happy there in November.

2) John is real. Being him isn’t difficult. The place he lives, it’s down the road. His family, friends, colleagues, enemies… they did all this stuff already. You’re only telling what’s already happened.

3) John is not real. You don’t owe him anything. If you need to twist him to get to the end, twist him. If you need someone to be someone else, damn it, just do it. The end is boss. We’re not going on some journey of character-discovery, not in the first draft. We’re only going to the end. (See, it’s only over there!)

4) Self-sabotage is not a good look for spring. You want to screw something up, wait for winter, at least you can wear blankets everywhere.

5) STOP BLOGGING, TWEETING, WATCHING, EATING… JUST BLOODY TYPE! TYPE, WOMAN!

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Nanowrimo Retrospective

Monday, 8 December, 2008

So I ‘won’. 50,542 words of codename/working title ‘Playtime’ written by the deadline of 23:59 on the 30th of November. I actually finished at about quarter past four on Friday morning, the 28th, egged on by various people in the chatroom, and I felt great, but yet again I don’t have a complete draft. That’s got to be my target for next year, to get a complete draft in the month, not just 50,000 ambling words. And fuck, do they amble. We’ve got a past that shouldn’t be dull given what it consists of but it is, a present that I quite like but am not sure where it’s going, a bunch of inserts from a conversation between two of the characters and a couple of ‘out there’ fantasy/dream-ish scenes that aren’t particularly relevant yet, but they will be.

– – –

I posted haphazardly to Viddler during Nano.

I also made a few journal-type notes in separate – uncounted! – sections of my Scrivener file as I went through the month. Most of my scribblings were to do with the mechanics of the thing itself or random personal musings but here’s some of the stuff I wrote about the ‘process’. (Ha.) Just a mini insight into the weirdness of Nano.

FRI 14 NOV 02:16 Read the rest of this entry »

Musings

Monday, 18 August, 2008

I talked to my brother tonight when I got home and suddenly I was a person again.

Typing is not natural to me – in writing, that is – but it’s faster, so less is lost, but there’s a barrier. And the backspace key. (Soon to be the ‘delete’ key, once I have my Mac.)

EMBASSY [screenplay]
Haven’t mentioned this yet, huh? Started life as my attempt at Script Frenzy 2007 and was then lost in the great computer crash of that same year. I still like the basic set-up, the protagonist, the themes etc., but the intricacies of the plot are nowhere. I know what I want to see but it doesn’t make sense yet. It’s high concept and dystopian future. In fact who am I kidding, I’m basically writing Children of Men, only not that subject matter. Hmm.

THE CENTRE [screen drama] Read the rest of this entry »

Summer of Action

Saturday, 2 August, 2008

ESTHER & JANE [novel]
Came back to an idea I’d had earlier in the year while musing on an unrelated character profile. It’ll be a tough one to get right but I’m finding the prospect of managing it really exciting.

FAM BIO [stories]
Lots of events and scenes from family history that lend themselves to fun short stories.

ASYLUM [screenplay]
Came up with some vague opening scene plans and started thinking about interconnecting plots etc.

NOTE TO SELF
Probably a good idea to concentrate on one idea at a time. Or two at the most. Damn my brain

Arthouse, Asylum and Everyword

Sunday, 27 July, 2008

Today my mum told me she would not be at all surprised if I ended up making my living from writing, that she kind of expected it to happen. I hadn’t realised quite how much I’d wanted to hear something like that from her until she said it.

ARTHOUSE [screenplay]
Started to rework one of the earlier scenes and panicked about characterisation, heightened dialogue etc. I’d been watching far too much ‘Gilmore Girls‘ and became too enamoured with my snappy, made-for-TV exchanges, instead of allowing my people to breathe and be true and serve The Story.

ASYLUM [poss. screenplay/TV drama]
An idea I’ve had since reading an article in G2 finally birthed onto the page Celtx and in thinking about it more I’ve realised I can merge it with some scenes and characters from some planning I did for something else earlier in the year. Especially excited about this one, though the idea itself… I’m sure someone else must be doing it.

Everyword New Writing at the Everyman Theatre in Liverpool
A quick word about the festival – although it’s technically not a writing progress report, which is what this blog is about – because I really enjoyed it and wish I’d taken part in more of it. Found the UK Film Council workshop especially useful, despite the professional Wannabe on the front row who couldn’t keep his condescension to himself, and there were some great performances. Fresh appreciation for theatre and ideas aplenty.

Working in the FACT cafe

Tuesday, 22 July, 2008

They’re playing Joni Mitchell.

Screenplay: Arthouse [working title]
Finally got all the scribbled notes re. scene ideas and plotting out of my current notebook – a complete mess of journal and writing ideas – and into my Celtx draft. Almost all of them, anyway. Think I might like the thing again. We’ll see how long that lasts. Some of the notes have notes to go with them, like “Remember: this isn’t fucking Richard Curtis” and “I really need to be working on this on my laptop”. Helpful.

Paragon [working title] Read the rest of this entry »