It’s the end of course

September 28, 2014

I have just added the first 11 pages of my Major Project to the My Writing section of this blog. If you would like to read more then let me know. It is a very dark TV comedy drama entitled Equity. 

And so, with that submission, that’s it. 2 years in the company of fine people from all over the place but mainly Wales, has come to an end. During this time I have learned a great deal about story and about myself as a writer. Not least of which is that I really enjoy the process of scriptwriting writing, even though the treatment provides hair-pulling-out moments. There were times when I wasn’t pulling my hair out. During those times I was banging my head on the desk, hoping a good idea or solution would just fall out, perfectly formed, ready for me to copy and paste into the document: a magical little bit of text that would make everything work. It never happened, of course. A great deal of thought, a great many cigarettes and uncountable cups of tea were what was needed. Well, those things and a  deadline. A rapidly approaching deadline. It is said that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. Deadlines can. One moment they are miles away, so far in fact that you cannot see them. The next second they are right there and you’re nose to nose with it.  And it has a look on its smug face: a raised eyebrow and a condescending “Oh, but you’ve had plenty of time,” smirk. And then it’s gone.

To be fair to the deadline, I doubt if I would finish anything without it.  Even after numerous re-writes, I’d still be tinkering, polishing, always knowing that there was a bit I still needed to write. I feel like that now. There are things I wish I’d written. Things I wish I’d been brave enough to include. Scenes that I should have spent more time on, characters that needed cutting and dialogue that needed tightening up. But it’s too late. The PDF has been sent and the Royal Mail are delivering the hard copies. It’s too late.

So I’ll just enjoy the panic free moments while they last and look forward to my next writing challenge.

Fade to black.


Nailed down

August 15, 2014

So, I think my plot has finally been nailed down. I know where it’s going and can see the characters arc. It all looks very neat on my diagram and I’ve stopped myself from adding colour because I know in truth that would be just procrastinating. All I need do know is write it.

I’m most of the way through the first episode (of four) but it doesn’t seem very funny any more. Mind you, murder and greed aren’t very funny. Maybe I should just go back and add some jokes or maybe a stupid character who doesn’t understand and is always good for a laugh (not to mention exposition). Maybe someone should get killed with a custard pie or a copy of the Beano. Or maybe, hopefully, I know it too well and so just don’t laugh at the funny bits any more. Killing someone with a cricket bat is funny, isn’t it?

Gregynog

August 15, 2014

Sideways rain, alcohol and friendly people, this could have been Ireland. But it wasn’t. It was Wales. Welsh Wales. Not quite the middle of nowhere, but quite close to Shrewsbury which I’ve been told is the same thing.

It was the final week-end of my sriptwriting MA. It has been a joy to be on this course. 10 week-ends with great people, all of a like mind, all completely different, all lovers of writing.  All that is left now is for me to finish my major project and hopefully, this will reflect the knowledge and skills I have acquired since October 2012.

It all started so quietly, a circle: second years chatting on the far side, first years near to silence, nervous. I knew nothing. Structure was for buildings, dialogue was just people talking, and a treatment was for an illness or rising damp.

I know a little bit more now.

 

The Creative Process
1. This is great
2. This is difficult
3. This is shit
4. I am shit
5. This is great

I’ve seen this list many times whilst procrastinating on the internet. I imagine it is written by others also procrastinating on the internet when they run out of photographs of cats in boxes.  They’ve probably reached point 3. Personally, I save Russian car crash videos for when I’ve reached point 4.

However, the problem I have with this list is that it doesn’t mention ferrets. You see, I liken trying to get all the elements of a story together to putting angry ferrets in a box. Getting the story to work involves those ferrets holding the tails of other ferret in their mouths. Getting all the ferrets in the box is tricky, getting them to hold tails is really tricky.
Then, I make the decision to move away from a chronological order and have to start swapping ferrets around, changing their order. To do this I have to open the box and, of course, some ferrets escape.
Later, I need a major rewrite, more ferrets escape but that’s OK because I’ve decided to add other ferrets. This, in part, is to do with plot but also because I can hear the voice of doubt shouting ”Don’t be such a George Lucas cock you George Lucas cock!”  
As a white, male heterosexual most of my characters are white, male and heterosexual. So, I add a gay ferret.
”Do you know anything about being gay?”
“No, not really. But I once considered visiting Brighton.”
“Is that a euphemism?”
“No.”  
I add female ferrets.
“What do you know about being a woman?”
“Nothing, I just thought I’d write the female characters as if they were people.”
 “I see you’ve got an Asian ferret.”
“Yes, another person, I thought.”
I realise that I’m going to need a bigger box. But it’s a different box, almost a completely different box and the protagonist ferret looks like it’s turned into the antagonist ferret and the one-passing-comment ferret has become the protagonist ferret and all the fuckin’ things have escaped and I’m chasing round my head trying to catch the bastards and put them back in the box, in the right order. To make matter worse, I think I have just trodden on the inciting incident ferret and it lies dead on the floor of my brain, mocking me, tongue lolling out, dead claw pointing in the direction the story should have gone. This is shit. I am shit. And now there’s a cat in my box. No, that’s not a euphemism either.

Major Project

January 26, 2014

I have finally settled on a major project for my scriptwriting MA. It is a black comedy about a real estate obsessed psychopath called George Winston Bevin.

Adaptation

April 16, 2013

As part of my scriptwriting course I have to adapt a well known work. For a long time I thought this was going to be Winnie the Pooh but I just couldn’t get it to come together in the way that I wanted.  Then it was going to be GB84, the David Peace novel about the miners strike.

I have changed my mind again. Still not sure if this will work but thought I’d give it a go. No prizes for guessing which masterpiece this is based upon.

Children are enjoying the sunshine and playing in the street. Larger children are taking toys from the smaller ones and running away, their laughter echoing off the tall Victorian townhouses. The smaller children look like they’ve had enough.
A silver 4×4 pulls up to the kerb. A man in an overly expensive suit gets out, talking on his mobile phone the entire time. A young couple approach from across the street. The suit signals to them which house it is they have come to see and carries on with his telephone conversation. Then, “Yes, sorry to have kept you.” He turns the key in the lock, “In we go.” As the suit opens the front door he launches into his well practiced sales pitch: old house, tastefully refurbished, excellent schools, blah. The couple smile, exchange looks and follow.  They nod, make positive noises, they point. The young woman runs her fingers along the old wood of the banister as they climb the stairs. The young man admires the cheap prints in the expensive frames that punctuate the walls.  “And this is my favourite room. ” the suit says. “The view of the park is truly stunning.” He opens the living room door. There is a large feature window framing a truly quite nice view of the park. In front of the window is an old brown chesterfield. Kneeling, unconscious, in front of the sofa, with his head resting on a glass table is a chubby little man. Empty drink bottles and tiny plastic bags litter the table.
The suit lets out a little yelp before regaining his composure. The chubby little man wakes. “What are you doing here? You were evicted last week.” says the suit. “Came back for my box.” The chubby man points to a tatty hatbox visible beneath the table. “Got carried away with the… comfort.  I presume this means that now is, in fact, tomorrow and that yesterday, last night, has all gone?” He looks at the three angry, annoyed, confused faces. He stands. “It’s a lovely house. I hope you’re very happy here.” He makes a strange noise as he bends to pick up the hatbox. He moves to leave but turns to the young couple and says, “Don’t fall behind with your rent. They’re not very… patient.”
“Keys!” says the suit. The chubby man tosses a single key on a bowler-hat-shaped key ring to the suit. “Come the glorious day, you estate agents…types, will be first against the wall. Well, maybe not first…”.
“Please leave. And here, take your tatty key ring.”
“ It’s alright. You can keep it as a reminder, a souvenir of your adventure here today .” His smile fading as the words leave his mouth. He leaves.
Outside the sun is still shining. He walks down the street and boards a bus for Putney.
He walks down Festive Rd and knocks at number 52. There is no answer. He walks on. He turns a corner expecting a familiar scene but is greeted by the tall wooden perimeter of a building site. The grey painted walls have little holes cut out to allow the public to monitor the progress.  He looks through a hole. The site has been almost completely cleared. Neat piles of rubble, a twisted bus-shelter and a discarded bicycle frame hint at the life that once filled this space. There is no sign of life or work or progress just the destruction of what was. In the middle of the site, defiant, stands a small shop, its windows and door boarded up. The chubby man smiles and with great effort, climbs over the makeshift metal gates. He tries to lever the corrugated metal away from the door. He pulls at the plywood over the windows. He sits down to sweat.  He notices that an upstairs window is broken. He climbs the drainpipe, pulls the board off the window and like a walrus reaching dry land flubbers into the building. As he stands there panting, the smell of neglect fills his head. Without warning, the floor gives way and he finds himself in the room below.  As the dust clears he can see old clothes and tailors dummies scattered around the room. He finds an upturned stool, rights it and sits down to regain his breath.  After a while he busies himself picking up the dummies and redressing them. Suddenly he shouts, “Oh holy Mother McKee! I left him there, I didn’t collect him!” He dashes out through a door only to return seconds later. He opens his hat-box and puts on a pair of round spectacles and a purple fez. He admires himself in the mirror, winks and runs through the door.

Death ‘n’ that.

April 8, 2013

Well, the euphoria has started to fade although I think Thatcher’s death will keep me smiling for a good few days yet.

Reading the chatter on Facebook and Twitter it’s odd to see, to realise that some people simply don’t get this. Comments asking for respect and to remember that someone has died  simply miss the point.

Thatcher made herself a symbol. She was the Iron Lady, not for turning, all that rhetorical bollox. Those of us, of a certain age, remember the suffering that was pretty much everywhere during Thatcher’s time in power. Entire communities were destroyed by pit closures on the strength of Chicago School economic doctrine, real lives ruined in the name of market corrections. Industries disappeared as Britain was moved from a manufacturing nation to one that served the needs of the financial and service sectors.

So when her death is celebrated, it isn’t the death of an 87 year old woman that people are celebrating, it’s the death of one of the architects of modern political and economic practice. The triumvirate of Thatcher, Reagan and Pinochet have now gone, together with Milton Friedman, their economic guru. Sadly their legacy is still with us in the shape of, well, almost everyone in power.

The rhetoric of these people has become the lingua franca of the designer-suited lizards in charge today.Many more happy days such as this are needed.

I thoroughly recommend reading The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein.

Good Day

 

SO, at long last, Thatcher is dead. Something that many of us have been waiting for.

It feels like a shame that it was old age and natural causes that did her in the end. I would have liked there to have been some balancing up of all the suffering she caused. A long illness wouldn’t have gone amiss, provided it involved great pain. Or something that reduced her to having to rely on state hand-outs to survive. Of course, she has been living off the state since she entered parliament, but you know what I mean.

As Pretty as an Airport

December 28, 2012

I’m sat at Birmingham airport waiting for my daughter to arrive with her boyfriend and that phrase keeps going around in my head. It might be from Dirk Gently or The Long Dark Tea-time of the Soul. Or is it from So Long and Thanks for all the Fish? Well he was right, no language has ever come up with the phrase,”as pretty as an airport.” What other phrases could be added? As cheap as Starbucks?

Examples of Writing

December 16, 2012

I’ve just added some examples of my writing. They are all about one character called Bevin. He started out as an Ealing Comedy style mass murderer, if such a thing could exist, but he soon became darker. Well, mass murder isn’t a funny subject, especially this week-end with the terrible news from Connecticut.