Saturday, January 31, 2009

Merely boring

Huge improvement in Demons this week. No massive plot holes nobody acting out of character for the sake of the plot ... it just lacked any tension and was very boring. At least I wasn't shouting at the screen.

Again there was so much that could have been done with it but it just failed to use any of the massive character options. And the supposed main character, Luke, remains a whiny unsympathetic teenager.

What's on the turntable? "When the Night's on Fire" by Mike Oldfield from "Islands"

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Good Year

Laura memed me with this: If you could go back to live in any one year from your lifetime, which one would you choose?

I admit my original understanding was which year would I like to live again to make it better (almost every single one of them) but it's supposed to be which one is the best so you'd like to enjoy it again. Like a re-run of your favourite episode of "Only Fools and Horses".

This is a toughie for me, honestly. My child years ... well, let's just say I dislike what I was then, even if I did read a lot of good books. University wasn't too bad but nothing special.

Since then I've struggled. I suppose there's never been a year when I've been happy with myself - I could have done so much better.

This sounds depressing, doesn't it? I'm neither depressed or unhappy - it just could have been so much better if I weren't so lazy.

(Marvin: The first ten million years were the worst, the next ten million years, they were the worst too. After that I went into a bit of a decline.)

In 1982 I met my wife-to-be. In 1984 we were married. In 1991 my daughter was born and my son in 1997.

Can I choose 2009? We're a month in and it's been okay so far? Except it hasn't, because we've been on the border of bankruptcy (it's okay, it's fixed now - I have a new contract).

But this month is a perfect example of my entire life: Struggle. It's true that in all cases the goodness outweighed the badness, but sometimes it was damned close.

See what I mean? What year would I want re-live? None?

If you twisted my arm ... ow! ... I suppose 2008 was the best because I discovered I had some ability at screenwriting, and I had a good job for 6 months of it (and a couple of rubbish jobs but at least they paid). My son went to big school and is doing well. My daughter did well at college. My wife lost the appalling teacher she'd had as a subordinate and gained a couple of brilliant ones that's made her job far less stressful.

So, generally speaking, if I had to relive a year then 2008 would be okay. But really, I prefer to look ahead.

I do hereby tag Potdoll and Chip.

What's on the turntable? "Amarok" by Mike Oldfield.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Teeny weeny OMG

Can't say anything really but something nice happened today which may lead to something very nice indeed. In fact if it did happen, it would be so nice that "nice" really wouldn't cover it.

Though the probability is tiny, it is greater than zero. (Just not very much.) I'm not being self-deprecating here, the probability really is very very small. The happy person in my head keeps saying "but not zero".

But it is nice that this opportunity turned up. (Nice but scary too, if it did happen the responsibility would be frightening - but it isn't going to.)

I should also get a decision about Winter from the BBC on Monday. That would be a fairly awesome reponsibility too. But not quite as awesome as the other thing (which isn't going to happen). (It might.) (Shut up.)

Got some solid writing done for Unit X today but still way too little to finish by tomorrow. On the other hand, I would have three hours on the train on Sunday on my way to Reading. So I still might finish it before Monday.

(And Laura's memed me with something really difficult.)

What's on the turntable? "Amarok" by Mike Oldfield. The album has exactly 1 track so it's just "Amarok".

My Office and other stories

Okay there was a meme going around a while back about people's offices, where they write, being the new kid on the block I didn't get tagged (I've had my revenge).

This is my office:

That's it. Notebook, pens, phone and computer. Exciting, isn't it?

I finally remembered what the resource was that I'd thought of while walking the dog. I went off to the website to see if it is still there and it is, though, in retrospect, perhaps it's not that brilliant a resource.

Alright, alright. It's called the Degree Confluence Project, and it's better than it used to be.

You know the Earth is mapped using imaginary lines called Longitude (which run north-south numbered 0 to 359) and Latitude (which go round and round parallel, to the Equator, numbered +90 to -90). Both are measured in degrees of angle.

There are imaginary places where the imaginary longitudes cross with the imaginary latitudes - the confluences. Except the places themselves aren't imaginary, they are real. The project involves people going to these confluences, taking photos and uploading them.

So they are collecting photographic samples of the world at each one of these confluence points (there are rules, like ignoring any confluence point that's at sea and out of sight of land).

So if you want to know what a part of the world looks like, you might be able to find it using the Confluence Project.

Hm. I may miss my target on completing the first draft of Unit X by tomorrow. The problem is that my employer, on the last contract I did, has a day in hand - he paid me for an extra day. And now he wants to use it.

But I'll try.

What's on the turntable? "Blush Response" by Vangelis from "Bladerunner CD1"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Backwards into the future

You may (or may not) notice that, at the time of writing, the Unit X progress bar has not advanced. I wrote no pages yesterday, though I did fiddle a bit.

This is because I had come to a point in the story where I had an extremely complicated action sequence involving 5-6 viewpoints and that is not something it's easy to write off the top of one's head. I also had a number of key scenes to be included and the ending had to be quite specific.

So I spent much of yesterday afternoon planning, using a spreadsheet to create a kind of step outline, but just for the action. One column per main character and time as rows.

The obvious way to do it is to start at the beginning and work through placing each character's actions as you go along. In fact this is wrong, especially for complicated stuff, and I know better.

I am told there is a tribe in South America that believes we are travelling into the future backwards - because we can only see what has passed us, not what is to come. Luckily, as writers, we have the opportunity to know the future so don't have to write backwards (though I know some writers do).

Hm, that paragraph didn't quite come out right - but you know what I mean.

The best way to plan things it is to work backwards from the ending you want to see. This technique is covered in Jeff Kitchen's book "Writing a Great Movie" (as I've said before, it's a bad title, the book sounds cheesy, it really isn't). In the book this method is used for plotting everything from individual scenes up to the entire work. It's a method you can use to ensure that you have a logical cause/effect going on through the entire story.

I applied it to this long and complex sequence to ensure it: (a) makes sense; (b) says what I want it to say; and (c) stays focussed. Now I just have to write the damn thing.

Bill Martell writes action movies so he's another person you can learn a lot from, his take on revealing character in action sequences is very valuable - you might like to read his analysis of why Die Hard is the quintessential action movie. It's down to character.

What's on the turntable? "Fading Away" by Vangelis from "Bladerunner CD2"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Very taxing

Just spent the last hour fighting the Self-Assessment website - word to the wise, if the value you want to put in is "0.00" just don't put in anything. It refuses to accept "0.00". Also the "Contact" link goes to a "no such page" page. I have mentioned this in the feedback at the end.

Next time I'll get my accountant to do it because it's going to be harder.

Unit X
As you can see from my progress bar I have been making ... progress. It's getting easier since I spent a little time choosing some actors to fill the roles, gives me a bit of a hook. I didn't need to use the accents archive in the end. Mind you I'm still needing to write 7-8 pages per day for the next few days if I'm going to finish the first draft by Friday.

When I was walking the dog this morning I though of another resource I could let you know about, and now I can't remember what it was. Pooh.

What's on the turntable? "Pi" by Kate Bush from the "Sea of Honey" CD from "Aerial". Only Kate Bush could do a song where the majority of the lyrics are the value of PI to a large number of decimal places. Excellent track.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Accentuate the positive

Morning and welcome to the Year of the Ox.

The biggest problem I'm having with "Unit X", and it's a fairly serious one, is that I'm not an American. Regardless of how much research I do into the period it doesn't help me with character, I'm having trouble seeing my characters, therefore I'm having trouble hearing them - I don't know if the words I'm making them say sound right.

I haven't solved this problem yet but as I was walking the dog this morning I had a couple of ideas that might help, and I thought you might be interested in one of them.

The first one is easy and we all know about it: Choose an actor you'd like to have playing the part to help visualise and auralise. I shall do that.

The second involves the International Dialects of English Archive which has hundreds of examples of people from different parts the world speaking a fairly long passage of English. There is also background information on the speaker so that you can choose age and gender. This is a terrific resource for a whole range of applications. I'll let you know how I get on.

You'll notice that my progress bar has not moved in two days, I do find it difficult to work when the rest of the family are about but I have the next five days.

Being Human: brilliant.

Supernatural: superb.

That's the way to do it.

What's on the turntable? "Both sides, now" by Joni Mitchell from the "Hits" compilation

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Seeing red

Nothing to do with the Red Planet prize.

I had popped my script for Monsters over to Red Productions in Manchester, as mentioned here, since I discovered they will accept unsolicited scripts.

I got a reply this week though only discovered today, going through post I hadn't seen since being down south.

Standard rejection. But I'm not hugely surprised. When I'd finished my fantasy novel I'd sent out a lot of query letters and a lot of "first three chapters" - 100% rejection rate, except for one agent who did request the entire script to read, gave some hastily scribbled notes on the back of the synopsis and never replied again. (I got one rejection 15 months after I sent the letter.)

Rejection is part of the business and you get a lot more of that than you do of acceptance. As I discussed here, it's not personal and is no reflection on your work. (Well, it might be, but if you're basically competent and professional it isn't.)

Things to look forward to: "Being Human" in a few minutes and then "Supernatural" on ITV2+1, two hours of fantasy TV done right.

What's on the turntable? "River" by Joni Mitchell from "Blue". I read somewhere about a writer who envied songwriters because they created stories with so few words. I know what he means. 'River' breaks my heart every time I hear it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


What can I say? Episode 4 of ITV's Demons was, in fact, an improvement - though it's hard to see how it could possibly have been worse than last week's. But: Hurray!

I feel obliged to comment on it, since I have commented on each episode so far. This blog will definitely contain spoilers, so don't read it if you haven't seen it and want to watch it.

There was some real character opportunities that were used properly, Galvin's accent did not grate as much (could I be getting used to it?), Luke actually saved the day for a change, useful since the show is supposed to be about him.

But it still managed to have plot holes big enough to float the Titanic through, and still forced characters to behave as the plot dictates.

The only way to kill a vampire in Demons is to shoot it with its own live DNA (which you can make by regenerating its undead DNA). I have no problem with creating your own mythology, as long as it is self-consistent. And they still don't like daylight apparently (since they travel in their coffins) but since every other story about vampires isn't true, apparently, why do they need coffins?

So it's established the good guys need some DNA.

Let's get Ruby to follow this old, experienced, and highly dangerous vampire, just to make sure he doesn't return to base too early. Never mind how dangerous to her that is. And let's have him discover her, and just talk to her so she has the opportunity and the presence of mind to steal some of his hair. (This is the girl that froze with a gun in her hand when being attacked last week.)

Galvin and Luke head into the vampire's lair to take on the vampire girlfriend (I think that's why they were doing it, it wasn't entirely clear because we've already established they can't kill a vampire without the DNA). But they split up (yawn) and get beaten up and taken out by said vamp. Except not quite, in fact Luke manages to win - by doing something sort of clever but played for a cheap laugh.

I have to say, at this point, that the people who produce this show clearly have no concept of (a) how hard it is to knock anyone unconscious (b) how short a time it lasts unless you've managed to crack the skull (which is quite likely if you've rendered them unconscious). Instead, "getting knocked unconscious" is a frequently used plot device, and people stay unconscious for exactly the time the plot requires.

Anyway they get the DNA and make their super-bullets.

Now it has been determined that for some reason Mina knows this vampire and is close to him, and also wants him to leave rather than be killed. He doesn't agree. Oh, I should say, Mina is a vampire except she cleanses the half-life blood every couple of weeks so doesn't don the whole vampire thing. ("League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" anyone?)

As a result when they finally get the drop on the vampire, Mina nudges Luke so he misses.

Let's be fair, they set up some real character stuff here, and it's not what you expect, which is nice (I'm not even going to say what it is, so there).

Long story short: Vampire takes Galvin and Ruby hostage, Luke finds out why Mina is behaving strangely, Mina tells him where the Vampire is, except she's lying. She then goes off to give the vampire what he wants, apparently, in the hope he'll just leave.

What the vampire wants is Mina's blood. This will turn him into some sort of uber-vampire (no reason given). But at the crucial moment Mina drinks her own blood instead and she goes uber-vampire. But she still can't kill the guy because of their relationship, then Luke turns up (having been to the wrong place) and shoots the vampire dead.

Quite nice plot-wise (and fundamentally all the stories have had reasonable "potential" plots and reasonable "potential" characterisation just never fulfilled).

So, what's wrong with this episode?

Mina drinks her own blood, why would it have any effect on her? Not explained, and therefore illogical. In this mythology vampires move very very fast, almost teleporting. This means their reactions must be very very fast (otherwise they'd bump into things or fall over). Fast enough to dodge bullets. But for some reason, Mr Boss Vampire doesn't dodge the bullet.

But the biggest hole? How does Luke know where the rest of them are at the end? Mina didn't tell him the right place, she sent him to the wrong place.

"Nobody will notice."

I can just see them thinking this. Who's blog was it that mentioned this? Can't recall. But the point is your show will be watched by hundreds of thousands of people, it will be re-watched by sad bastards who will go through frame by frame.

Anyone who says "No one will notice" needs to be shot, because someone will.

I'm not a frame-by-frame sad bastard, but I admit I did spot something that I expect very few other people will see. You know how, when you have a pair of doors together, they are cut so that one of them needs to be shut first? And if you do it the wrong way, they don't shut properly?

This episode had a pair of doors. One of which was being held open and then slammed shut with finality. Except it wouldn't have shut because it was the wrong door of the pair. I know, that's a bit sad. No one else will have noticed. (I know why it was done: because using the other door would have given a lousy camera angle. But still...)

There was an "amusing" bowling scene. Of course, Mr Boss Vamp couldn't bowl for toffee while their "Renfield" character, Zippy, got lots of strikes. Until the boss unzipped his head (literally) and bowled it instead for a strike, and then a waitress was scared by the head coming back up the ball return.

Gosh, that was so clever and funny. I laughed so much my own head fell right off. (Please note blog warning in top left of page.)

This is just another indicator that the reason this series is so pants is that the people making it seem to think that, because it's fantasy, the whole thing is just a joke and doesn't really matter.

What else? Oh yes, more of the silly martial arts stuff because vampires are so incredibly dangerous and fast, which wasn't used in a fight - therefore pointless. Just an opportunity for an info-dump. At least when Russell T Davies does a major info-dump he makes sure it's in a scene with lots of real, dramatic action.

But at least it was better. Even my wife sat through it and she hadn't sat through one full episode till then.

What's on the turntable? "Song for Sharon" by Joni Mitchell from "Hejira"

Friday, January 23, 2009

Go Go Google Gadget Progress Bar

Look I made a progress bar. This is a proper Google Gadget one which needs some improvement but certainly works.

Trouble is I was getting an attack of the creeping features - I kept thinking how I could make it better. Anyway in its current form you put in the title, the target number and the number you've reached and it displays using a variety of styles and selectable colours.


I haven't made it publicly available as yet. But I may...

What's on the turntable? "Hejira" by Joni Mitchell from "Hejira"

Got me some learnin'

I mentioned back here that I'd sent off Air (my kids fantasy) to be given the once over by Philip Shelley. And that I was especially interested to know whether I'd learnt anything, since Monsters took me about 2 years to write and Air took me, say, three months (at the same rate).

And I shall also bring in Piers' blog (and Lucy's reply) about using commercial readers is a bad thing because they're just after your money so will never say it's ready.

Well, I'm happy to report that apparently I have learned something about writing from working with Lucy, Scott, Dave and Philip.

It's a bit shocking but I got exactly three notes about Air, none of which were earth-shattering, just clarifications. But, as far as Philip is concerned, it's good to go. In fact, he's sending already.

Well Piers, I'd say that was proof your viewpoint is flawed, sorry. (Of course there may be a reader or two that might be the way you describe, but I haven't met one.)

On a personal note, this is an amazing boost to my confidence as a writer as you may imagine. It means Monsters wasn't a one-hit wonder. Now I can continue Unit X with renewed vigour, knowing that I stand a reasonable chance of producing something decent.

What's on the turntable? "Money can't buy it" by Annie Lennox from "Diva", not sure I've had an Annie Lennox track on a blog before. However it goes along with my "I really like female singer-songwriters", I just remember a show where she and Dave Stewart were being interviewed and were invited to play something. So he gets out a guitar and they just sing. It was amazing - real talent.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Not about dogs

I've been at home all day and I haven't blogged ... oh.

Shall I bore you with the habits of dogs? Maybe not. Dogs are just disgusting animals. Cute but disgusting.

Watched Ep.2 of the latest series of Hustle on iPlayer. I don't know why I never bothered with earlier series because I love this sort of stuff. (Though I guessed the end in this episode.) It reminds me most of the "Mission: Impossible" TV series.

I added about 3 pages to "Unit X" and did more research because I realised I'd got my dates wrong - the first episode was happening too close to the end of the war. I sent off another query about US Army protocols to my contact. There are some bits I'm not happy with but must keep reminding myself this is the first draft, just finish it. I need to do more than 3 pages per day. But I did a fair amount of planning on the train yesterday, making notes on scenes I needed to put in.

Had a chat with someone at the BBC today, but not about me. About my son who's doing something for the TV show Bamzooki and the new CBBC micro-site that'll be launched in April. He'll be doing his thing this evening.

I hope we find out about Red Planet next week.

What's on the turntable? "Walk Straight Down the Middle" by Kate Bush from "The Sensual World"

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Spoiling for a fight

Now this is interesting.

I haven't seen Frost/Nixon and, to be honest, I probably won't, but I'm sure it's the great film that everybody says it is.

One of my favourite bloggers, Bill Martell, wrote about the film in this blog at the beginning of the year. This is one of his long ones and you need to scroll past all of the main blog (or read it) until you get to the "Important Update" bit, skip the Script Tip promotion and you arrive at the bit marked "Movies".

Bill then discusses the movie explaining how they made an interesting film about an essentially boring (filmicly) interview, essentially they turned it into a boxing movie.

Why is this interesting (apart from the fact it shows how to do this sort of thing)?

Well, I've been reading a book I got as a Christmas present: "Tragically I was an Only Twin" about the comedy of Peter Cook edited by William Cook.

There's a chapter about his column in the Daily Mail, which I must have missed because my father used to be a Daily Mail reader (the shame) and we used to get it every day back in 1977.

The Frost/Nixon interviews were broadcast in May 1977. Peter Cook wrote about them and I quote: "The pre-fight publicity had promised the sight of a beaten, stuttering, humiliated Nixon".

There you go.

Alright it wasn't that interesting, but I just felt I had to tell you. Peter Cook then goes on about Barbara Windsor's bottom.

There're also extracts from the better bits of Derek and Clive as well as lots of other earlier stuff, including the brilliant One Leg Too Few. I have to say this is not a fawning work, not only does it call the rubbish rubbish, but also highlights the best bits (see what I did there).

Having accepted the job I went for on Monday (which, having just been confirmed, I can tell you is with Paramount Comedy) I've decided to head home again for the next week and a bit.

It also gives me a deadline - I really need to finish the first draft of Unit X in that time. Shouldn't be too hard but I can see it coming up short in the same way as Air did. But that's okay, I can then go back and start filling it out with more of the emotional stuff. Seems to work for me.

What's on the turntable? "The Remembering High the Memory" by Yes from "Tales from Topographic Oceans" (I'm sure it means something.)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mini OMG

In some respects it's been a busy day or so. Had my interview with the "multinational TV broadcaster" yesterday, that was a day job thing, not a writing thing. Apparently they really liked me and would like to employ me ... in two weeks to a month (maybe more).


The job is excellent and I'd love to do it. So I suggested to the agency I'd be happy to be paid a retainer if they really want me that much. Money for nothing (and chicks for free?)

Another job has surfaced today but very few details as yet, we'll see. Since the TV company thought I was wonderful and perfect, I can only assume I completely messed up the interview on Friday. Must have said the wrong thing somewhere.

Anyway what about the Mini OMG? Can't say very much because there's not a lot to say but "Monsters" is going to be put in the hands of a couple of TV people who have important things to do with major TV series.

That's it. Just got excited again.

As I'm not working on a contract currently I've been doing more research for Unit X - and I hate my rubbish internet. The research should have taken about half an hour, it ended up taking at least 4 hours because my connection just freezes, 90% of the time.

But I got it done, I needed some appropriate 1940s German names, a location to put a headquarters in Germany, and some additional information about how to send in a raiding party then get them out.

That done I started writing again and have managed some nice scenes (well, they look okay at the moment). I think most of the research is done now so I won't dry up again.

I have been thinking about my personal writing process in respect to the flow of scene to scene, and scene sequences. Off the top of my head I think the rule about scenes (get in late, get out early) applies to sequences just as much, and also to the entire script.

One thing I do, since I see the scenes playing out in my head, is note the transitions. I think "is this the point to switch to the next sequence?", or "have I finished this bit?" If the answer is yes I flip to the next sequence, but hopefully at an interesting moment.

In theory the end result is that the viewer is kept pleasantly on the edge of their seats. I wonder if it works?

What's on the turntable? "Tourniquet" by Evanescence from "Fallen"

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dog ate my phone

Yes indeed, at the weekend our darling puppy chewed my phone to the point where the screen no longer works but everything else does. Makes it hard to read texts though I can make and receive calls. I have a new phone now but having trouble moving the SIM over.

I'm back in the Reading flat and have an interview with a big TV company in that London this afternoon to work on their website.

There were engineering works on the route that I usually take from Manchester to Reading, so I ended up on the Virgin train to London Euston (then across to Paddington and out to Reading). It has some advantages: it travels faster, stops less often, was virtually empty, I get first class service at the seat (unlike Cross Country trains on a Sunday). But... the speed makes it uncomfortable for working, and the table is too high for comfortable typing. And the journey time isn't compatible with really getting into some writing.

As it is I did do some work on Unit X. Back here I wrote the first character scene and it didn't work. Then I had my revelation about getting the characters wrong. Well, I edited the rubbish scene and it had much more punch and power, revealing character in a weird one-sided conflict (one character was trying to fight, the other wasn't). Nice.

Now I have to flip to Nazi Germany and need to do some more research just so I can get some sensible names in place. Names are so important.

And finally: Tony Hart has died. You know you're getting old when people who made your youth begin to disappear. I'm old enough to remember him in the BBC TV children's show Vision On which used sign language to make it accessible to the deaf, in the days when the BBC innovated and children's BBC innovated more than any other.

What's on the turntable? "The Last Time I Saw Richard" by Joni Mitchell from "Blue"

Sunday, January 18, 2009


As I said in my last blog about Demons - I hope it will get better.

I am still hoping. In fact this third episode, broadcast last night on ITV and available via their itvPlayer, was considerably worse. I shall explain.

This blog will completely spoil the episode for you if you haven't seen it because I will be going into detail about the plot. Of course I say "spoil" in the technical meaning of "give away important plot details" rather than spoil your enjoyment, which would be hard unless you have the artistic discernment of a flea.

The key sequence in this episode is the "time bomb". The good guys are tricked into allowing the bad girl, Grace, into the "Stacks", the repository of all knowledge about demons. Galvin and Luke are tricked into going somewhere else and being trapped in a sewer that's filling with unpleasantness. Grace knocks out Mina and opens the door for Mr Tibbs, he comes in, sets up a time bomb. Shoots Grace dead and leaves. (Why not shoot Mina while he's at it?)

Now, in principle, this is fine. There is one good guy still floating around, one that Mr Tibbs doesn't know about: Ruby.

I suspect you are not going to believe what happens next, but this is actually how it goes:

Mr Tibbs has set the bomb timer to 50 minutes. What? How long is it going to take him to get clear? Maximum 15 minutes more realistically 5, but 50? Insane.

Ruby has been taking her time, for various stupid plot reasons (I'll mention those later), and when she arrives 37 minutes have passed on the time bomb, 13 left.

Now, let's consider her options:

a. Run away by herself and get help.
b. Drag out Mina (conveniently still unconscious) and save them both.
c. Take the bomb and try to get rid of it.

She doesn't do any of these sane things. Instead she:

d. Looks for books on bomb-disposal. Eventually finds one. Reads it. Finds the bit about disarming a bomb. The book claims you always cut the red wire, but oh no! there is no red wire, just green and blue.

So she then wastes the next few minutes worrying about it. And then her final decision is to cut the green wire when there is 1 second to spare. Essentially she is committing suicide - unless it works. Which, of course, it does. (Oh she spends some of that time leaving Luke a message saying she loves him.)

Re-reading this it comes over as more dramatic than it actually was - that's because I encapsulated it in a couple of paragraphs whereas it took ages on screen. There were plenty of ways that this could have been made genuinely dramatic with real tension - we discussed at least three different ways after watching it. (Including one that wouldn't increase the production cost.)

As it was, it was garbage. This is an object lesson in how not to write tension, and how to utterly abuse the viewers' willing suspension of disbelief. It was offensive.

Speaking of offensive. Galvin and Luke are trapped in the sewer drowning in offensive substances. Now it would be totally obvious to absolutely anybody that this was a trap. I have no problem with heroes walking into traps in order to deliberately spring them and catch the bad guy. Unfortunately there wasn't the slightest hint that our two heroes were being even slightly cautious. Frankly it served them right.

Meanwhile Mina miraculously wakes up the very moment that the bomb fails to go off. Seriously. She and Ruby realise what's going on and head off to rescue the other two.

Now there is some genuine tension, a little bit, where the girls are figuring out which switch to flick to save the boys from drowning but they manage it and everybody survives. Phew. Even that could have been done better: You only have to ask: what would Joss Whedon have done?

(If it had been me I would have had the girls arrive too late, and the boys have apparently drowned, but no: Luke realised you could use the bodies of their torches as makeshift snorkels.)

The dialogue in this episode was appalling, especially the "funny lines" that Ruby was parroting while in the library trying to find the bomb-disposal book. In fact these lines were so un-funny that I did not even understand them until someone explained.

Let's look at the stupid plot reasons why Ruby took her time going to the Stacks. She is in love with Luke (he doesn't know). But she has decided that she's going to stop being his friend because it's too dangerous.

Why does she think this? Because early on she is given a gun to shoot demons, but when it happens she freezes and can't do it. Thing is she is being physically attacked at the time by four of them, she has the gun in her hand. As my 11 year old son said "Wouldn't she just pull the trigger?" Of course she would, it would be hard not to, and there was little chance of missing.

But she doesn't. So she wants to quit. (Plot over character here.) She takes ages going to the Stacks because she's going over what she's going to say to Luke. Obviously there was the idea that there would be tension because she's taking her time, and we know there's a bomb. It doesn't work.

Part of this sub-plot is how Galvin insists that you can't mix a relationship with being a demon-killer (I refuse to call them "smiters"). This is because Galvin's wife was killed by Mr Tibbs. Both Luke and Ruby see that this is true.

Really? If that is so how come Luke even exists? Obviously his father couldn't have had a relationship, or his grandfather, and so on. The concept is so stupid that anyone could see through it. But they don't. Now it's fine for Galvin to believe it, he lost his wife, but that's a part of his character and could be used to effect. But that's not how it's played.

It is this kind of show that gives Sci-Fi/Fantasy a bad name. I really hope it can't get any worse, better would be nice.

In case anybody thinks this is just me: The show lost 1,000,000 viewers (17%) between Ep.1 and Ep.2, and initial surveys suggest it lost another 650,000 (13%) between Ep.2 and Ep.3. It started on 5,750,000.

What's on the turntable? "Android Warehouse" by Steely Dan from "Roaring of the Lamb"

Friday, January 16, 2009


Not Graham Linehan's poo but "Poo, I didn't get that job I interviewed for this morning" which spoils my record.

I have an interview in London on Monday with a multi-national TV company, another on Tuesday, and a possible interview in Warwick on Monday as well, but I don't think I can afford (financially) to go to it.

Feeling a bit down over it to be honest but have to put on my happy face for the rest of the family. (Just call me Marge.)

What's on the turntable? "Incantations, Part Two" by Mike Oldfield from "Incantations"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A free man

As a follow-up to my mention of the entire original series of the Prisoner being available. We learn the Patrick McGoohan died yesterday aged 80 (BBC).

He had a good innings and left some impressive characters and stories for us.

What's on the turntable? "Awakening" by Gordon Giltrap from "Visionary"

Research pays off


So, as mentioned, I've been worrying about who Unit X is actually about. There's all the background setting stuff which is tremendously important (otherwise it will just look silly) but ultimately a story is about character.

I'd started writing the script with the idea that the doctor is the "who" in this instance. Then after three pages ground to a halt.

Now I know why.

This evening I decided to some more research. Actually I decided to watch some TV, but this Guest House only has the basic 4 terrestrial channels (not even Ch.5). So I went to the BBC iPlayer and had a rummage.

And found the writer's episode of Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe (hope that link works) and I'm 21 minutes in and Russell T Davies has just been talking about how he creates characters - and it hit me.

I had picked the right character. You have a woman who is up against the institutional sexism of the US Army in 1945 talking to a general at the place she's been posted. And I put all the emotion on his side, he is the one protesting, he is the one "being a problem" and so on.


She is the one who is fighting, she expects every man to be against her - even when they aren't.

And that's why the scene I was writing stalled.

If you're stuck, take a listen to the professionals.

What's on the turntable? Well, Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe, obviously.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Emails away

Finally, a job interview for a longer contract coming up this Friday in Preston, which if I get it means I'll be able to live at home. And this Bristol contract has been extended by two days. It all helps. My record of getting contracts from interviews is 100% so far. I'm hopeful.

As mentioned two blogs ago the Unit X script is a bit bogged down because of my unfamiliarity with the US Army in 1945. Not a huge surprise.

I am pleased to say that the person I contacted off Yahoo!Answers has replied in the affirmative so I have just sent off an e-mail giving some background to the story and the kind of information I need.

It's a tricky thing, Unit X has, as one of its themes, prejudice. If you look at the US Army in 1945 the African-Americans had their own segregated divisions and most of them weren't even allowed to fight. (Not very bright "Only the white boys can die for their country".) But there were a couple of divisions, one being the 92nd that did, in Italy. They even had non-white officers. (It was a couple of years after WWII that Truman de-segregated the armed forces.)

Now a modern TV series has to have a spread of ethnic cast but that does present issues when you're dealing with history, and real history at that.

And then there are women. How do I get a woman into this script? Interestingly, in 1943 women were finally allowed to be Army doctors, because they were running out of male ones. All nurses have to be women. Up until 1905 (I think) nurses were male, then, at a stroke, the powers-that-were in the US Army declared that only women could be nurses. It's all the fault of that Nightingale woman.

It makes for interesting characters and character dynamics. And that's just the normal stuff.

But sitting down and explaining this to someone I don't know is a bit delicate, trying to phrase things so as not to offend his potential sensibilities. We'll see. In a day or two I should get a response and then I'll see what I have to change - or whether I have to find someone else to advise me.

Postscript: He replied almost instantaneously, in the affirmative and in such a way that I can stop pussyfooting around the prejudice. Hurray.

What's on the turntable? "Joga" by Bjork from "Homogenic"

Monday, January 12, 2009

Be seeing you

Got this via Chad: You can now watch all of The Prisoner online for free.

I haven't checked to see if it's limited to region or worldwide.

What's on the turntable? "The Big Sky [Meteorological Mix]" by Kate Bush from "Hounds of Love"

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Being human

I'm looking forward to it, though I have not actually seen the pilot. And its return more-or-less coincides with me being in Bristol. I recognise one of the locations from the trailer.

Came down on the train this afternoon (the journey is 20 minutes less than the time to Reading, though, today, much less as there was a bus replacement service on the Reading line - lucky I was going to Bristol instead). I'm also in a different Guest House, this one is much nicer though a little more expensive.

I actually committed some script for "Unit X" though I'm not 100% happy with it, it feels a bit awkward and contrived. In this instance I think it means that I'm starting in the wrong place. Which, in turn, is because I decided which character should be the one the story is "about".

In "Monsters" I had originally conceived it as having an ensemble cast and had not nailed the narrative to a single character. This was criticised by one and all, and I had a very hard time bringing it down to being about a single character. Though I did in the end.

Now in "Unit X" I have the same problem the overall issue is "Who is this about?" It's true that the other characters all get their arcs, but who is this really about?

So I chose a character (having done a negative "okay, who isn't this about?" then choosing between the remaining two. I may have got it wrong.

I suspect this problem is down to the way I develop stories: usually starting with the setting, then getting a story, then finding characters to fill it. If I started with a character (like I did for "Air" and "Winter") the question doesn't even arise.

I've also had to send out for specialist advice: My knowledge of US Army protocols in 1945 is severely limited so I am trying to find someone who knows. I've used Yahoo!Answers, by finding a question like the ones I need answered, and finding an answerer who knows what they're talking about and has their e-mail enabled.

We shall see.

I may find out this week whether the BBC want to commission me for the Winter project, then again I might not. Not sure how I can stand the strain of that plus the impending Red Planet decision. (Never mind having to finish the current contract in two days and find a more permanent contract by next week.)

Well, I never wanted a boring life.

What's on the turntable? "Oxygene (Part 3)" by Jean-Michel Jarre from "Oxygene"

Luke warm

It came as no surprise to discover that the production company for the BBC's Merlin and for ITV's Demons was the same. (What with actors playing the same parts in both as well...)

I wanted to like Merlin, it was certainly better than Robin Hood, but in the end I just got bored and wandered away. Demons second episode aired last night, it was agonising. There was nothing wrong with the plot but the fundamental of good story writing was missing: I didn't care about the characters.

Comparisons with Buffy are inevitable, but since Buffy was highly successful and (usually) a joy to watch, while Demons isn't (the latter and won't be the former at this rate) let's have a look at why (all my opinion, of course).

Where is the conflict? I'm not talking about the obvious good guys/bad guys conflict. I'm talking about the soul of drama: Dilemma. A character's damned if they do, damned if they don't. And there is a huge amount of opportunity for it in Demons, and it's all wasted.

Buffy was not happy about being the slayer, at the beginning she fought against it. But in Demons? This weird American guy turns up, tells Luke he's the chosen one (descended from the Van Helsings) and he goes "ok". There's a bit of teenage sulk but nothing else. Luke-warm. (See what I did there?)

There is a hint of conflict since Luke's mother doesn't know what's going on and Luke's going the same way as her long-disappeared husband. But the level of her emotion seems to be turned down to "luke warm" as well. If I were her I'd be screaming. I wouldn't let Galvin in the house, and I wouldn't let Luke out of the house unaccompanied. I would be terrified that Galvin would somehow engineer the disappearance of my son as well. On the other hand I would also not want to restrict him, which would cause resentment. Dilemma.

Luke's best friend, Ruby, takes all the weirdness in her stride. She, at least, shows some emotion which is stronger than the "luke-warm" levels of everybody else. And yet: She still has no qualms about being Luke's best friend on the one hand, and the fact that being around Luke is dangerous. Dilemma.

Galvin is almost completely one-dimensional: he's in it to kill the half-lives. But he could have dilemma as well. He has seen his best friend disappeared by the demons, and now he has to put his best friend's son in the same position. And he should be doing this because of a sense of duty to protect the world from demons. Or indeed anything, maybe something more complicated, but just something would be nice. Dilemma.

These characters do not behave in any realistic way, therefore I cannot identify with any of them, therefore I don't care about them.

Then there are the stupidities: Galvin's accent, using silly archaic language when confronting demons "I will smite you", not using the Internet to look up things. (In Buffy even when Willow became uber-powerful she still used the Web, she just didn't touch the keyboard.) Mina could apparently see Gilgamel in the church, but had to ask "has it gone" barely a minute later. And finally the supposed martial arts thing where Luke is somehow quicker than your average human: this is to justify the fact that he's actually completely unnecessary. Galvin is perfectly capable of taking out the demons. The supposed use of that martial art was also in this episode, but it was rubbish.

Interestingly, it was reported in The Stage this week that Sally Wainwright, writer of "At Home with the Braithwaites" and more recently "Unforgiven", is to take over creative control of Robin Hood to rework it. So perhaps there is hope for Demons.

I wish they'd get it right, surely it's not that hard?

As far as my own stuff goes I've done a rough outline of Unit X, which I will probably tighten up on the train this afternoon - it's coming out quite nice. Hopefully I'll be going to script in the next few days.

Happy Sunday everybody.

What's on the turntable? Nuffink.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Whenwill we know?

Being the pushy sort I asked Red Planet when they might be announcing the winner, in order to save wear and tear on carpets, what remains of my hair and so forth.

The answer is: hopefully by the end of the month.

So now you can relax.

What's on the turntable? Nowt.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Bristol - by the skin of my teeth

I had this problem, I hadn't been able to get hold of the Guest House that I had decided I wanted to use - it had a location relatively close to my new place of work. I tried using t'Interweb and that didn't work, I wanted to ring but my mobile was out of steam.

I had already booked the train (you can get cheap first class if you're careful - I got Reading to Bristol at £35.50) but had nowhere to stay.

I managed to top up my phone at Reading station but when I called the number I got voicemail that made me think I'd got the wrong number. "I'll wait till I get to Bristol," I thought," then find somewhere to check the number."

The train was nice with leather seats, so far the only first class I haven't liked has been Virgin.

I worked on Unit X, having done lots more research I've been fleshing out the main characters. Interesting when you think one of them is an American career soldier born in 1890 (who survived WWI) and another an Austrian scientist born in 1880 - how does that inform their attitudes in 1945?

I got to Bristol and called 118 118 - they hadn't even heard of the Guest House. So I tried the number again and got a real person, and it was the right number.

Only one small problem: they were fully booked. Now I'm not blaming them, after all it was very last minute. But then it turns out that one of their bookings was from a person who had left a name and phone number weeks ago and couldn't be contacted.

After some deliberation they said: "You can have the room." Apparently this person did ring slightly later and was told they had to go somewhere else. Do I feel bad? Well, not really, it wasn't me making the decision.

Then there was the taxi. Is it just me or is it a bad thing to tell your passenger you had an accident recently and you're still suffering from it? And he had a cold. And he was very tired. And this was his last fare. And he had no idea where he was going.

As the meter clicked past £5 I indicated I wasn't entirely happy about paying for trip time and distance when he had no idea where he was going. He switched the meter off and I phoned the Guest House. We had been going the wrong way.

So here I am. It's a reasonable place though I'm on the ground floor next to the kitchen, I hope people are considerate.

So I start work in the morning.

Other job news ... I might be working at the British Film Institute. That would be cool.

What's on the turntable? "Radio Ga Ga" by Queen from "Greatest Hits II"

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Another pass through Air

Have I got anything interesting to write? Probably not. I was talking to a chap at a job agency today who agreed that living away from home is essentially boring. So I'm bored.

I'm travelling to Bristol tomorrow afternoon as my one week contract starts on Thursday. After that I'm no longer sure except that I won't be working in Lancaster - I'm too expensive for the company concerned (in fact I am exactly what they want, and that's why I'm too expensive).

However I've had loads of other jobs coming through, and there's a potential one in Manchester (yeah!) which would be ideal. So fingers crossed on that one.

Made a final pass through Air again this morning (hm, sounds like I'm flying) picked up a couple of typos, and cleaned up the climax to make it a bit more climactic, and have zoomed it over to Philip Shelley for his considered criticism.

I'm quite interested to see what he says, not just because I want to improve it, which I obviously do, but to see whether I'm a better writer than I used to be.

Look at it this way: When I sent him Monsters it had been re-written more times than I know. It had received the Bang2write treatment from our Lucy, and many other readers. I'd been working on it for a long time.

But Air is in second draft. I've spent a fraction of the time on it compared to Monsters (even taking into account the fact it's half the length). So, will it be sent back as absolutely appalling? Or have I got a better grasp of the craft? Or am I making the same mistakes?

Or will it be like a band's fatal "second album"? The first album usually consists of songs a band has been playing for a long time, they are confident and refined, the second album is usually rushed out.

Anyway you can be sure that I will let you know.

So for most of the rest of the day I have been working on "Unit X" (it needs a better title, something with one word, it'll come to me). Not working on the script as yet but planning the structure of the first episode. Working out the story. I know how it opens (with the end), I know I'm going to be running two time periods side by side, I know what happens in general terms but I need to work my way down to a few more details.

Of course I never make it easy for myself: Monsters, Air and Unit X all open in unusual settings that need explaining. Monsters is the future (2060), Air is a different dimension (though ends up in present day UK) and Unit X is historical (1945) - a costume drama no less :-)

But, as I think I mentioned before, Unit X has some really juicy conflicts: institutional racism and sexism for starters, some post-war economic depression and then add Cold War paranoia with a liberal dash of aliens. Yummy.

Until I write again, au revoir.

What's on the turntable? "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell from the "Hits" compilation

Monday, January 05, 2009

A Feather for Bill

Bad things about Reading (continued from last post): Rubbish Internet.

Anyway what I'm really writing about is my kid fantasy series Air: I have finished the first episode. Yay!

I had written the first draft of the first episode after lots of detailed planning but it came up very short at only 17 minutes. I then printed it out and went through it making small changes and marking where I could add some stuff. That was back before Christmas.

Yesterday I finally got around to putting in those edits and adding the extra stuff, by the end of that I had got it up to 21 pages, well, 20 plus a few lines really. And it needed to be 25 pages to be at a usable length.

As mentioned in this morning's entry I decided the best thing to do was to go back to basics, my original planning and see what could be added without being mere padding. Another issue was that my structure for this series is quite rigid, with three separate but linked plot lines going on in each episode I couldn't add extra elements outside those plot lines without corrupting the whole concept.

My next pass through the script added one extra scene and some additional scene material. But it was getting dialogue heavy - particularly bad for fast-moving kids TV.

I did another pass mid-afternoon which extended another couple of scenes, breaking one of them into two (which made more sense). The length was then 22 pages.

This evening I did yet another pass, extended and broke up another scene, adding a new location and more action, and the feather, near the beginning. And much more useful scene action and dialogue in the second split scene - where a policeman thinks that Air is an abused girl who has gone into her own fantasy world.

25 pages! Let us dance.

But what's this about a feather? I was reading Bill Martell's scriptwriting tips yesterday (or the day before, or something) and he discussed throwing things into the script that expanded character and provided things that could be paid off later in the script. Even if you don't know what it might be for when you write it. One of his examples was a soldier that is killed in a particular location, later the protagonist is in the same place again and needs a gun ... of course the dead soldier had one.

Essentially in Air I did this: The main character, Air, is in her world but must escape, she's being chased by the Witchbrood and finds the only rune-weaver is an apprentice called Brendan. Brendan manages to make the rune-cast just as one of the Witchbrood fires an arrow at Air. The arrow clips Brendan as it passes but he's turned himself into a raven. Air is carried to our world, and a black feather floats down on to her where she lays. That feather will be important at the end, not sure how yet, but it will.

In my penultimate pass I was also looking at the actions of the protagonist, to ensure that she was the active, driving, leading character in all the scenes she was in at the start (she can be disorientated after arriving in our world but she needs to be established as strong). In the earlier version it had been Brendan that led the way to the roof of the tower, in the newer version I changed it round to being Air making the decisions.

In other news...

I'll be working Bristol from this Thursday for 1 week (I may well commute from Reading, the journey is only 1 hour), and then probably in Lancaster for at least 3 months. And I can probably commute from home for that one. Yay! (I kept telling my wife there wasn't a problem with me getting a new contract, but someone has to do the worrying in the relationship.)

What's on the turntable? "Man of Our Times" by Genesis from "Duke".

I loved this weekend, BBC4 were doing prog rock. I'm aprog rock geek: Yes, Genesis, Camel, Gryphon, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Pink Floyd, Mike Oldfield, Gordon Giltrap, I love 'em all.

Doctors and Demons

So, the new Dr Who actor.

I feel it's on a par with the casting of Daryl Hannah as Roxanne in Steve Martin's film of the same name, she's supposedly a student studying astrophysics. I like Daryl Hannah and there are parts to which she is perfectly suited like the mermaid Madison in Splash, or Pris in Bladerunner (and the re-make of Attack of the 50 foot Woman, which she co-produced, was good satire - a point missed by most). But she couldn't play a convincing astrophysics student.

I hope I'm wrong. (I do have a fairly "out-there" theory but I'm not going to expound it here.)

Then there was Demons. Well, my 11 year old son liked it. But giving Philip Glenister an American accent? Oh dear. I even read a quote from the producer that this was, somehow, supposed to give the impression that the demon world (the "half-life") was a global thing.

How disingenuous can you get? They did it to try to make it more saleable to the US market. However I suspect it will simply make it a joke. They could have got a real American to play the part. Or made the kid American instead.

I hope it improves.

I finished putting my changes into Air last night, and am now up to 20 pages. The overall structure feels right but there's still another 5 minutes to add. So I need to go back to my planning and see what can be sensibly added without it looking like padding.

What's on the turntable? "One Vision" by Queen from "A Kind of Magic" - the Highlander soundtrack album

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Brass monkeys

Here I am back in my flat in Reading having taken leave of my lovely family (and the dog) earlier today. I've been at home 5-6 weeks and the flat is cold. Really cold.

I've had the heaters on for the last hour and they're barely making an impression. The hot water tank is beginning to groan finally as it breaks the ice. I still have my hat on.

The train trip was reasonable, I got some writing work done, finally editing and adding to my kids fantasy "Air". Then, three-quarters of an hour out from Reading, someone said I was in their seat. Entirely possible since the electronic reservation system wasn't working. So I packed my stuff away and began to read one of my Christmas presents: Bill Bryson on Shakespeare. He goes to great pains to explain that, to be honest, virtually nothing is known about Shakespeare the man. Which is why his book is so slim. On the other hand it is a very interesting social survey of Shakespearian England.

I think the cost of taxis has gone up a bit. A £4.50 journey is now a £5 journey.

Good things about Reading? I've got my nice chair for writing. I have virtually no interruptions.

Bad things: I have virtually no interruptions. All the people I love and care about (apart from me) are 200 miles away. No job.

The no job thing is a pain. But that's why I am in Reading, I can hit a big chunk of the country and especially London from here. And most of the jobs are in London.

I have to get a job in the next three weeks or the family is up a certain financial creek without a paddle (no joke). Luckily I am quite employable. And tomorrow, when people finally get back to work it should all get very interesting.

Until then I have all the time in the world in which to write. So I better do it while I still have that time.

I wonder when the Red Planet Prize 2009 winner will be announced...

What's on the turntable? "Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy" by Queen from "A Day At The Races"

The Sauce of Memes

Memes have to start somewhere, someone has to think "oh, what about..." and I had an idea for a meme a while back, so here it is:

When it comes to writing, what do you know you're good at, and what aspect of writing are you worst at? (Procrastination is not permitted as either part of the answer.)

So, me:

I am hugely surprised to discover that I write good dialogue. I didn't believe it to start with but lots of people have said so, including actors, so now I know it to be true. At least, good dialogue after a few drafts :-)

What puts me in complete terror are scenes without lots of physical action, I can do them but they scare the life out of me. I have action-dependency :-) and feel the non-action scenes I write are rubbish. Then I'll watch something like the BBC's Pride and Prejudice and wish I could write wonderful scenes like that.


I tag Lara, the Arnopp and Potdoll as a gentle opener. Over to you.

What's on the turntable? "Don't interrupt the sorrow" by Joni Mitchell from "The Hissing of Summer Lawns"

For the avoidance of doubt among the humour-impaired, I spelt the title that way deliberately.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Answer this question...

Lara has asked an interesting question, if you write go here to answer it.

What's on the turntable? "Sweet Talkin' Woman" by ELO from some album or other

Friday, January 02, 2009


The older members of the family have spent the evening in quiet contemplation, just reading books. The daughter is on "White Gold Wielder", she'd read the previous five Thomas Covenant books written by Stephen Donaldson but somehow we'd mislaid the sixth, so she's been stuck for over a year. I managed to get a copy. Then she can read the seventh.

The wife was on "Court of the Air" by Stephen Hunt, a new writer, I haven't read him.

And I was on "Watchmen" by Alan Moore.

If you want a lesson in character creation, read Watchmen. It really is an incredibly powerful piece of work with real characters in a nightmare world. No spoilers here, it's a must-read. It's in Time's 100 best books for a very good reason, it's very very good.

It's the kind of book that leaves you wondering where right and wrong really are.

What's on the turntable? "Samba Pa Ti" by Santana from "Greatest Hits"

The day after yesterday

I did say I'd do my "What's coming next year" yesterday, but life intervened, as it does. The family went for a major New Year's day walk, climbing through the moors, up icy ravines and across the heather. We made our own path. Then went to visit some friends and played board games.

So, 2009:

I don't like resolutions as such as they usually put the emphasis in the wrong place, "to diet" is a bad resolution; while "lose 2 stone" is a good target. I prefer to call them goals, but most people call them targets.

So I do goals and not resolutions.
  1. Get a writing commission.
  2. Complete my current works in progress
I don't have a goal to get an agent, at least I do, but not a "2009" goal. Because it's not essential, writers mostly find their own work anyway and you can use a solicitor to check your contract if you need to - or the WGGB if you are a member, which I am.

So works in progress are:

Air - my kids fantasy TV series, this needs the first episode filling out to full length and then working up to a high quality.

Unit X - can't say much about this, the chap who wants to get Monsters made, thinks Unit X is a fantastically commercial idea. So I better write it.

Une Nuit a Paris - needs a complete re-write but it turns out the French govt is now providing tax breaks for films made in France.

Winter - well, this may turn out to be the commission, it's not something I'm going to work on unless I get paid, it's far too complex. (I'll actually have to create a piece of software to help me write it!)

Last night I had another idea which I think will work best as a stage play, but it'll have to wait.

In other areas I really have to get a paying job fast. Annoying.

What's on the turntable? "Urge for Going" by Joni Mitchell from the compilation "Hits"