Friday, October 17, 2008

Patience, Prevarication and Planning

I originally entitled this blog "impatience, prevarication and planning" but I thought having three "P"s sounded cleverer.

I just got very excited because, stuck in Reading again this weekend as the launch of the website is only days away, I have been working on my next work.

This is not my "One Night in Paris" because I got some very poor feedback (the feedback was good, the opinions expressed were unpleasantly accurate) so it needs more time to ferment. Plus the fact my wife made a suggestion last week that suddenly turned the whole idea upside down and would make it super-cheap to produce. It needs fermentation or possibly extended composting.

So I'm working on Air. (snigger)

"Air" is the working title for my kids fantasy TV series -- as I'm still waiting for responses from all the agents and TV Companies that are reading Monsters.

Air is inspired by a 70s TV show called Sky (see what I did there, with the name) and while it has some similar concepts it's a very different tale. Sky was seriously scary but totally amazing, and had a profound effect on me.

But to the point of this blog (finally) I'm very impatient when it comes to writing because I really do just want to get in there and get some words down, let's face it I'm not going to write all 12 episodes, this is just a spec, so 30 pages is something I could just throw together. Right? Wrong. That would be fatal.

I sat down last week and got some ideas into a concrete form, tried to do some planning following the suggestions in Adrian Mead's little tome How to Make it as a Scriptwriter as I like to try things out. I also used the excellent Writing a Great Movie by Jeff Kitchen - don't be fooled, this book is excellent for all types of dramatic writing, and it's the only book on screenwriting that I come back to time and again and actually use as a reference.

All this meant I had to think about the protagonist's dilemma in detail, and then attempt to derive the theme from that. All good stuff, because getting a handle on theme can really provide a depth to what you're doing.

I did all this, wasn't really happy with what I'd produced and then the day job intervened for a week.

I got back to it this evening. Walking back from the day job allowed me some thinking time and I realised how I could structure the whole 12 episodes with overlapping 3-episode plotlines that would result in a sequence that would demand continued watching because so much would happen and keep on happening.

I probably didn't explain that very well, so here's a picture to paint a thousand words...

It's like writing 8 features, 2 x 60min and 2 x 30 min, except that obviously the A plots get more time than the B plots which get more than the C plots.

This might seem very formal but as I began to fill in what the storylines would actually be it all came together very nicely with each plot idea contributing to and complementing the others.

It's all very well saying that I'm going to only write a 30 minute episode but unless I know what's happening in the rest of the series in reasonable detail that episode will be shallow.

As I worked on the plot ideas another thing happened. The real reason I am very pleased with myself: The theme suddenly hit me. Something simple, easy for children (and adults) to identify with and something that has real emotional impact.

Oh yes, I'm a real smarty-pants.

What's on the turntable? "Live Bed Show" by Pulp from "Different Class". Jarvis Cocker is another great writer, his songs evoke real characters and tell definite stories.

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