Sunday, February 27, 2011

You deserve an update

It's been a fairly pressured few weeks - the day job, my contract at that time, was in a very bad location for travel, had an appalling work schedule in relation to my travel, and was improperly specced which meant I ended up working all hours to finish it. Even though I wasn't getting paid for those additional hours.


Just as well it was a short contract. My new contract is in a better location for travel, has a better work schedule and while my time will be filled getting the job done I will only have to work during work time.

Which is much better.

Ooh, while I'm here let me just say the commentary track on J.J.Abrams "Star Trek" is excellent, we watched it again last night and I loved it again. So I thought I'd listen to the commentary while ironing (I do 99% of the ironing) and it was definitely worth it.

On the writing front

Once I finished that contract, I got back into my rewrite of Running which is going pretty well. Had a few sticky moments but I realised that with all the changes I'd been making - as a result of this - there was one further technique I needed to apply in order to smooth out the story and ensure the whole thing flowed logically.

I needed to plan it backwards, this is another Jeff Kitchen technique and it goes like this:

Your story needs to have a logical flow. Each element of the story must be a logical progression from the previous element. You can achieve that by writing the story backwards: Goldilocks jumps out the window and runs away; Because she is scared by the Three Bears; Because she's woken up suddenly by the Three Bears; Because she ate all of Little Bear's porridge; Because she broke into their house while they were away.

Like that. You start with your ending and work back to the beginning. If you can't, you have a problem with your story: it's not logical.

So I did that with Running and smoothed out the plot and now, as I write it, I'm marking off each because.

Good news ... or not?

Back here I was a naughty tease, but I will now reveal that a good scriptwriting agency (as opposed to a web developer agency, which I also use) has read several of my scripts and concluded that they would like to have a meeting. I have tried not to get too excited as there is many a slip 'twixt cup and lip.

Hopefully I'll be able to arrange this in the next few weeks. It is quite stressful being so close, and it being so likely that nothing will come of it.

Importantly they put in writing that they consider that I can write.

Which is nice.*

What's on the turntable? "Aristillus" by Camel from "Moonmadness"

*No irony intended - we need all the affirmation we can get.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Undeserving

No one deserves success.

I'm not saying that because I'm upset, or received a rejection, or been pipped at the post by some other writer. (I love it when others gain success - I used to watch Blind Date, not for the angry break-ups or hate-filled diatribes, but for those precious and rare times when people liked each other.)

"I deserve it" is for those X-Idol-Got-No-Talent no-hopers.

The harder you work the luckier you get.

So why are you wasting time reading this?

What's on the turntable? "Bouncing Metal" by Laurent Garnier from "Shot in the Dark"

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Visual Medium

I have finally managed to watch Metropolis.

And all I can say is "Wow!".

Alright, it's true, I can say a lot more. But it's just classic storytelling, and it's visual because that's pretty much all they had. (My 13 year old son wasn't particularly taken with the story - but he thought the music was fantastic, which it was.)

Metropolis is an epic, cast of thousands (really) and the scale is something you just wouldn't get nowadays. It's easy to laugh at the special effects, but they are actually pretty good, given this was created 80 years ago. And there are some very exciting and daring camera moves - Fritz Lang was an innovator.

The acting is interesting and bears comparison with today. Because the two leads (well, three leads except two of them are the same actress) are forced into the highly stylised silent movie big dramatic moves approach: the style they are expected to display. And yet all the other actors just act, and it's good. The reason I say it's comparable to today is because today the big stars are cast by type, just expected to play the part they always play - and it's the supporting cast who have the opportunity to really act. (Johnny Depp is excluded from the previous comment.)

It's interesting to note how many reviewers on IMDb say  they were shocked by how impressive this film is.

I have to agree. It is astonishing.

What's on the turntable? "Layla" by Derek & the Dominoes from "Layla and Other Assorted Love Stories"

Thursday, February 03, 2011

So ... Bolivia?

What? Bolivia? No. I mean, in a minute.

First things first. Writing. Oh yes.

The talented Bill Martell has a great screen tip, which was recently re-aired, about the Antagonist. He makes the point that there's loads written on the journey of your Protagonist, but very little about the Antagonist.

Which is odd because the Antagonist is the most important character in the story. Without the Antagonist there is no story. It's obvious, so obvious it's not regarded as important. But it is.

Case in point, as you know I've been re-writing Running and it's been going a bit slowly. So I've been yanking tools out of the writers toolbox and trying them for size. They've been handy, given me some ideas and so on, but nothing's really solved the problem.

Until this script tip of Bill's popped up again and I realised that this tool had lying buried at the bottom of the toolkit  under a layer of old sandpaper and blunt blades.

The story's Antagonist wasn't clearly delineated: Why was she doing what she was doing? What is her ultimate goal? I had got some of it but there was no real plan. So I sat down and had a good think - train journeys are good for sitting down and thinking - and I got it. I know what she's doing and why she's doing it. And as soon as I did that the whole story fell into my lap. (Yes, the Antagonist is female, so is the Protagonist, I might make Detective Sergeant female too, that would balance it out.)

I should probably mention that one of Jeff Kitchen's tools implies the importance of the Antagonist's actions but doesn't emphasise it as much as Bill does.

So that was good. It meant I had to change the beginning of the story, which was a shame because I liked the opening, but that's the way it goes. Sometimes you have to kill your babies.

Bolivia? Not yet.

I've started another blog but I'm guessing most people who read this one won't be interested in that one, it's a technical blog about Drupal 7 for people who know what they're doing.


My daughter is going to Bolivia as a volunteer to work with the animals, to help with her own Zoo Biology degree. She needs donations so it would be really good if you (yes you! Noo not the person beside you, well that person too, but YOU) make it easier for her to get there.

She's got herself a part-time job, while studying at University. She's taken up running so she's fit enough when she gets there. And the person who contributes the most will get a Jaguar cub as a prize. (What? No jaguar cub?) Alright, well everybody who contributes can pat themselves on the back.

How do you do that? You go here or here.

She's got a way to go to collect everything she needs - and everything helps. Do something else good today.

What's on the turntable? "Flowers never bend with the rainfall" by Simon & Garfunkel (I've lost my harmonica, Albert.)