Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Stream of conciousness panic...

Yesterday, I so had the Red Planet down. I was, perhaps, the most prepared I have ever been. I had two scripts to choose from - my half hour comedy drama, and my half hour dark kids drama, which was recently and charmingly described as a sci-fi Grange Hill.

So, just a brief check of the rules, and...

Oh.

Shit.

60 minutes? The script had to be 60 minutes? When did that happen? Wasn’t it just any old tosh last year? Fuck.

Since last year’s red planet, I’ve not written anything that long. In a spurt of rare productivity for me, I’ve got a 45 minute drama, a short film, and two half hourers.

What to do, what to do? The short script’s totally out. Can I stretch any of the others? Nightshift’s stretching at 45 minutes as is. Another thirty pages on either of the half hour pieces would feel very much like two episodes stuck together, because, duh, it would be. No go there.

Hmmmm. Perhaps I could stitch the two of them together? Surely Tony wouldn’t notice if the comic misadventures of two disabled friends trying to save their home from closure suddenly morphed into four kids having their memories wiped in a mysterious post apocalyptic world, would he?

Sidebar - that’s totally how Dusk Till Dawn happened. Trust me.

Okay, let’s see what I’m working on now - a movie outline, my first in a while. It’s going very nicely, thank you, ideas flying this way and that. It could spin off into a series. Shit, I’ll just cut the movie in half and call it the first part of a two part pilot, and...

Shit. Movies and telly aren’t the same thing, apparently. The minute I start trying to structure the movie idea like a TV show, it falls apart. Balls.

To the ideas file... oh, mythical Greek creatures in London comedy drama. Love that idea. Okay, that’s it then. It was always meant to be an hour long, so I’m in good stead.

Of course, it’s not written.

Okay. Ten pages by the end of September. I can totally write the rest whilst I’m waiting to get judged, and...

I have no idea what I’m doing.

Friday, 22 August 2008

No buts...

Well, the Broadcast HotShots list is out, bringing the youngest, freshest and lowest calorie writers, producers, and ... well, let's not pretend I care about anything other than the writers. It makes for depressing reading. Only two of them are older than me, and they're not in the photo - clearly too old and haggard to show in the press. God bless them all, with their full series commissions at 20 and their full heads of hair, and... no, I can't do it. I hate them. Bloody young people.

Anyway, I'm not here to bore you with my neurosis and petty jealously. Well, to be fair, that's pretty much all I do here. But I've got a point. And an unrelated one. No cunning segues here. Hoh, no.

Sorry, where was I?

Ah, yes. Receiving feedback. Troublesome business. Because, of course, you've written a thing of pure genius and then people have the effrontery to tell you that there are things wrong with it? The fuckers.

So here's my one rule of receiving feedback. Never, ever say "yeah, but". I did recently, and for that I apologise.

So, why shouldn't you do it?

Two reasons, with an option on a third.

Reason the first: They are probably right. You, of course, are far too close to the matter to see it, but they probably are. And even if they're not...

Reason the second: They will not care.

You will never, ever change anyone's mind by saying "yeah, but". Your marvelous explanation of why your first act is 60 pages long and then everyone dies at the end of act two, and why you brought in a whole set of new characters with only five pages left? They. Will. Not. Care. You will never, ever, change their mind. And neither should you.

What you will do is make yourself sound a bit of a whining prick. Which leads to...

Reason the third: That's one person who won't want to give you feedback in the future. But you can always give it to your mum. She likes what you write.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

The Three Old Gentlemen of Brighton...

Well, I've just spent about four hours correcting my blog layout after cocking it up royally. There are more fun ways to spend an evening.

H'okay, a few things...

The first draft of Memoria is finished. I'm too close to it at the minute to judge it fairly, so it'll have to go in a shoe box for a bit. I'm not sure if the tone is right, maybe too dark, and I'm not sure if it flows properly. Many of my early scripts revolved around people saying witty things until something bad happened to them. I've fallen back into that a bit with this one. Hey ho.

In better news, That's How I Roll, my sitcom, was rated in the top three scripts this month on Zoetrope, as was my last script, The Fixer Upper. Here's to being consistently quite good.

Finally, I've started something of an experiment. Well, I say experiment, I seem to recall Charles Dickens doing something similar a while back. It's a serialised novel, it's called The Three Old Gentlemen of Brighton, and I'm posting it here:

http://thethreeoldgentlemenofbrighton.blogspot.com

Feel free to wander over, have a gander, and tell me where I've gone horribly wrong in the comments thread.

The plan is to post a new chapter every month or so, but if it falls flat on its face I reserve the right to delete it and pretend it never happened. I trust you'll all play along.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Too stupid to even deserve a title...

I lost a little bit of faith in TV today, when I head that this programme might be making the journey across the channel...

Battleship.

This is a show where celebrities stand on platforms in a pool, and play Battleships against former Deal or No Deal contestants. Seriously.

When a Battleship is sunk, the appropriate platform gives way, and the celebrity, or Deal or No Deal contestant as it may be, is dunked in the pool.

Again, seriously.

That sound you can hear? That's a barrel being scraped.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Cassandra...

There are few things dumber that you can write in a blog post than a prediction of writer’s block, even if you’re joking. Especially if you’re joking.

I did it here. And what have I had since then? A few showers, several hot meals, and writers bloody block.

I’ve heard people say there’s no such thing as writer’s block. Terry Pratchett’s fond of saying that plumbers don’t get plumbers’ block.

To an extent, he’s right. I’ve not stopped writing. There have been blog posts. I’ve written, as I am wont to do in these situations, the first chapter of a novel. I have many first chapters of novels, they tend to come about whenever I’m blocked. The second chapters elude me. I’ve also run four sessions of Dungeons and Dragons, which requires some small amount of story telling skill.

But I have not been able to write Memoria, my darkly darkly kids drama. Mostly because I’ve been stuck on one scene, the scene where the gang assembles, identifies that there is indeed summit strange going on in the town and sets off to investigate. It’s a horrible balls ache of a scene to write, because nothing interesting happens in it, but it needs to be there.

Stephen Moffat, in conversation with the inestimable Jason Arnopp, said that you have to be careful in over plotting because it leads to scenes that are not worthwhile in their own right, that are just there to set up interesting stuff that will pay off later. He said it more eloquently than that, but then he’s Steven Moffat, innit?

This scene is one of those scenes.

Anyway, I still haven’t written it. Balls to it. I’ve skipped ahead and written some of the interesting stuff that happens later. It’s fun stuff, too. Running, hiding, investigation, strange gadgets, smart kids getting one over on sinister adults, all the things that you watch this kind of programme for.

We’ll just have to figure out how they got there later.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

A lack of work-space, and not falling at the first hurdle...

How do all. First things, first: slightly premature self congratulation time. If you look here, you will see that The Fixer Upper, a short script about a mad fairy largely inspired by Mr. Nibbles*, the rat that lived in the attic of our flat, has yet to be kicked out of the British Short Screenplay Competition. So, woot for me, and for Chip, and Elinor, and the other four hundred and seventy or so people who've made it this far.

To business proper. Michelle Lipton memed the hell out of me, and I didn't notice. Sorry about that, I've been away from the internet. I've been tasked with showing y'all my workspace.

Problem is, I don't really have any. I'm writing this from the slightly stained sofa in our front room. Which wouldn't make much of a picture. I have a laptop, so sometimes I write in the garden, or on the bed. I certainly don't have a shed like some people. Well, I do, but it's full of tools and half cans of paint and spiders, who as we all know are far from conducive to writing**.

But if you happen to visit Truro Starbucks, and you happen to see a serious young man with more than a little of Barton Fink about him*** sitting in the window seat and staring at a laptop in the hope that words will magically end up on the screen, that's probably me.

Say hi.

* Later to be renamed Baron Von Rattington after he cunningly escaped our attempts to assassinate him, and required a more fitting, more sinister presence.

** Spiders. Back seat bloody writers, I tell you.

*** I'm growing my hair. I'm not entirely sure why this is.