Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Plan 9 (from Inner Space)

If you've never seen the real Plan 9 from Outer Space it's an experience that you shouldn't deny yourself. It is, arguably, the very worst film ever made - which makes it a classic, of course. It's not just the awful script, the awful acting, the totally awful "special" effects; it's the appalling direction, the appalling editing and the fact that on some of the days that they were filming the night scenes they forgot the night filter for the camera. But they filmed it anyway and cut it all together so that sections of the film flip from day to night and back. Truly bad.

But this isn't about that. It's about the fact I can't write short stories or short films.

I have been planning Tec. This is supposed to be a detective TV series, you know, the sort that has a new story every week. And I have that, I have the setting arranged so I can have a different story every week. Honest.

But those damn characters make a bigger story. I've been making notes about the various lead and supporting regular cast, bits of background and so on, so that when I start I'll have enough to be able to hear their voices saying the words I give them.

Writers deal in consequences "if that happens then that other thing will happen and then..." We guide those consequences in the direction that we want them to go for the most part.

So I'm writing back story: The protagonist is the sort of person who really wouldn't end up in prison, but she did and now she's out. She committed a cyber-crime that, while it doesn't actually hurt people (and certainly not in this case) Governments are paranoid about it and you get banged up for a long time in a high security prison.

The implications of this, and how she got there, are enormous. The consequences are huge. She's an interesting character with a hell of a past, which she can't escape from.

The end result of that is a story arc across all six episodes, intermingled with the story of the week. I'm not planning to write the entire series, as with Monsters I'll just write the pilot, but everything will be connected so I have to know what it is before I start.

So I'm planning and it keeps getting bigger.

Beyond character backgrounds I'm also doing ideas for plot arcs. Lots of this won't ever appear, and might become cancelled out by something else in the story as I write it. And new things will very definitely appear as I write.

There's still lots more thinking to do before it's time to start writing - after all I'm still wavering on the opening scene. I need that crystallised before I start. On the other hand I already have the final scenes at the end of Episode 6 decided.

Writing's a funny game.

In other news: The Boy has been cast as Fat Sam in the school production of Bugsy Malone next (academic) year. He already knows most of it as the whole family loves that film, it can be watched as many times as you like and still be fresh. The Daughter failed to get into any drama college for next year (though she met people who had been trying for years). The Oxford one she didn't like - they barely listened to her audition; RADA were too serious and completely failed to appreciate the humour in her contemporary audition piece; The Bristol Old Vic liked her a lot, told her she had excellent comic timing but said she was too young and weren't entirely happy with her Shakespeare interpretation (they also said come back next year). So she'll be going to Borneo instead, to push baby orangutans around in a wheelbarrow.

What's on the turntable? "Coinleach Ghlas an Fhómhair" by Clannad from the compilation "Pastpresent"


Paul Campbell said...


Can't write the opener until you know where you're characters are heading?

Want to be certain you've got enough material to fill 6 hours of telly?

Need to get to know the characters before you start?

I am so there with you!

Adaddinsane said...

I wondered who it was...