Sunday, August 17, 2008

Another week gone

I haven't blogged all week because I've been extraordinarily busy, mainly with Monsters. I got various bits of feedback from Philip Shelley (on his hols for two weeks) and David Bull (who's doing a special deal on "First 10 Pages" for all Red Planet competition peeps ... well actually anybody, but it might be especially useful to you). (Neither of these guys is cheap, they both have exceptional industry experience and you have to pay for it.) And then there was my read-through.

I'd been having issues with the storylines. I liked them, but my consultants sort of disagreed - not actually disliking them but pointing out certain aspects that were dire need of improvement like the fact that there was nothing to suggest that they would connect at any time in the future.

I dug my heels in. Damned if I was going to use a trick and/or device at the start to make it all work and play nicely together. Trouble is I had come to agree there was a problem, and I spent hours, days even, trying to see how I could fix it without using tricks and/or devices. Look at Heroes, I said to my wife, they don't use a trick and/or device to tie the plot lines together. She gently pointed out that the prescient comics and paintings did exactly that job.

I love my wife. And she was right. Again.

So I resorted to a trick and/or device. And it works beautifully, I really like the result. Damn it.

So last week I re-wrote and re-vamped the story, cut madly, re-wrote sections of dialogue, added more emotion and tension in 7 hours of intense work. Then zoomed the result back because Philip was off on holiday for two weeks and I needed more feedback fast.

Which I got: Fixed! I was told. Excellent. Loved the new dialogue, loads more emotion, felt the structure was (almost) fixed. Then proceeded to point out a whole bunch more stuff that needed doing.

But I've stopped arguing and started actually looking. He's right, of course. He (Philip, in this case) has been editing scripts for very popular TV shows for far longer than I've dreamed I could write screenplays. Not to say that I shouldn't disagree and argue, but actually looking at the script objectively is a skill we all have to learn, I think.

So now I'm looking at the new stuff to fix. I cut scenes mercilessly while on the train today, there's a whole aspect to this society that has grown in significance over time - yet it's not really significant to the plot, it's just an aspect of the society. So I've taken out all references to it, all the scenes that depended on it and I've left it open instead. Plus cut other scenes that weren't contributing to the plot and started rebuilding others to make them work better.

I think I'm finally on the last leg. (Either that or I'm on my last legs.)

Just remember all you Red Planet peeps: Last year's winner had one of the best script consultants in the world, oh yes. Personally I'd like to stand a chance of making at least the first cut this year. What makes you think you can do without one?

Unfortunately it means that "One Night in Paris" ended up on the backburner. I have some holidays of my own coming up and I'm not entirely sure I can knock it into shape in such a short time. Still, I love a good deadline.

What's on the turntable?

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