Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Arc-y Breaky Heart

In the words of Charlie Brown, ug. I've given the script a bit of a rest, taken a break from writing, or thinking about writing, for a few days, which has been kind of fun. Taken a fresh look, and seen my script still has basic problems, especially character arc. I'm going to try and start my character off at a different point and see if that works. She's also not active enough. There's a whole sequence that just sort of happens to her. Got to sort that.

So, here we go again. Change the beginning a bit, to start her off a bit tougher. I've realised that's one thing I usually respond to, and a part of my developing voice: tough, hard "bad" characters with good hearts, who come good under pressure. So I need more of that going on, if I want to tug at the old heartstrings. And then, redo the passive/reactive sequence, and get my character driving things on.

It's hard, but this does represent progress. As I said before, not long ago, I'd have called it good and sent it out. No more. Writing script reports, especially, has forced me to be a much tougher, keener critic of my own work.


Sunday, 18 January 2009

Got it

Found an ending I like. I wrote a provisional scene; it turned into something good so I went with it. Need a new draft, a few chops and changes, but now have a coherent, hopefully moving story. One week to tighten it up, leave it a couple days, brush it up, then out for feedback.

I was thinking about the Adrian Mead power of three thing. It's quite exacting, as I heard him tell it a couple years ago in London. You write a script, polish it, make it as good as it can get. Then you send it to three people for feedback. You rewrite according to any common threads. Then you polish that draft. You let it rest a few days and give it another pass. Then out for the second round. Rewrite, polish, rest, another pass. Then, you send it to three more readers. Write the final draft. Polish it, send it out.

I'm on the first rewrite with this one. I think it has the potential to be good, so I'm going to go through the whole three rounds, if I have to.

Saturday, 17 January 2009


So painfully close to being finished with this one. I'm stuck for that one little twist at the end. I don't mean a plotty reversal, more of an emotional twist, just that little dash of whatever it needs to put it over the top, make it come totally alive. I've got a binful of rejected ideas, five, (count-em) rewrites, a clear outline and about five pages to work with. AAARRGGHHH!

Stuck. A year, or even a few months ago, I wouldn't have been stuck. I would have just finished the thing, called it good enough and started seeking advice. But now I've written, read, and done reports on more scripts, I know what I would say about this one - promising, but needs development. That's a good thing, in a way. I have awoken my inner critic, and he stands there, like a sweary chef, tipping my half-baked omelets into the bin. But on the other hand, I really want to be done with this one and move on to the next dish, a bit of a romantic thriller comedy with a great female lead.

Come on, brain!

Monday, 12 January 2009

Bits and bobs

Nearly finished with the next draft of the coming-of-age drama. Last night, I made a new copy and named it All the Kings Horses Draft. That's because this will be the one where I put it all back together again. We shall see. Funny thing is, I'll have my notes back from my tutor on Wednesday. I'll have rewritten it by then. It will be interesting to see if my own thinking ties in with her impressions.

I was feeling a bit stuck last night, not quite sure where I was going with a sequence. So I wrote a few notes in my spiral notebook instead of typing into Final Draft. These templates are great, but sometimes they kind of put on the pressure. You feel like your imagination is onstage. And sure, that's just where it wants to be, most of the time. But stepping back, and taking a more relaxed approach, just telling yourself to make a few notes, can get you going. After a few minutes, I found myself writing out action and dialogue by hand, which is silly, so I went back to ye olde lapetoppe and was soon merrily typing away. Thinking and imagining - it's all very complex, multifaceted brain-stuff. Sometimes you have to walk around, jotting notes, before you can full-on write.

Anyway, I'm pleased with how it's going. It's still going to need another draft, at least, before I send it out, but I might get some feedback on it first.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Looking back, looking forward

2008 was a year of almosts for me. My thirty minute script made the second round of BBC Sharps, and drew very positive feedback from the readers, as well as encouragement to send my next script to Writer’s Room. I had an informal meeting with a film producer, who liked the premise of a feature script of mine, but didn’t take it further. I was one of twenty writers, out of a couple hundred applicants, to come along and pitch my idea at Channel 4, for Stellar Network’s Pitch Up event. One of the panel, a development executive and executive producer, liked it well enough to contact me with a view to taking it on. It came to naught in the end, but only as a result of circumstances beyond my control. One other almost worth mentioning was last summer, when I was one of five writers, out of how many hopefuls I don’t know, who were considered for a small independent film set in Bulgaria.

Those almosts are not enough, in themselves, to keep me going. Nor is the positive feedback I’ve had on my screenwriting course in Bournemouth. It’s important, lets me know I’m not purely kidding myself about my talent and abilities. However, I have to be honest about the fact that ‘almost’ can also mean ‘not good enough.’

Still, I’m not about to give up yet. I have too much to do first. First, there’s the slate of projects I want to write this year. I’m excited about the ideas and outlines I’ve done on them. They’re what really keep me going: the stories. There’s something in me that drives me to make up characters and stories. Can’t imagine not writing them, polishing them, getting them out for people to read, and hopefully, make into films. Then, there’s the Bournemouth course, which has, without question, already improved my writing. I look forward to completing the upcoming units, writing script reports and doing a study of industry practice.

I’ve always said that I wouldn’t keep going without some kind of success. However, giving up now would just be silly. So 2009 will be a year of upping my game, making contacts, and learning all I can. If I haven’t moved on in the next twelve months, I’ll reconsider. But for now, it’s full-speed ahead.

Goals for 2009:
1. Finish rewrites on one hour coming of age drama and send it to BBC.
2. Write feature, now in rough outline form, and move on to complete two other projects I’m excited about.
3. Stage my 30-minute comedy.
4. Enter any schemes or contests that seem worthwhile.
5. Develop my understanding of the industry, by completing the coursework for Bournemouth, and possibly doing a summer internship with a production company, or media outlet.
6. Move another step up the ladder. This could mean optioning a script, or getting onto a development or training scheme.
7. Study up on radio plays, and have a go writing one.