Wednesday, June 28, 2006

All are welcome

Don’t forget, if you’re in London tomorrow, and want to get together to talk toot in a bar, then be at the Dover Castle from 6:30pm.

Also, I seem to have forgotten my blog’s birthday. The poor, neglected, black-lunged child of mine was a year old yesterday. Pip pip. Wisest thing I ever did.

See you tomorrow.

Category: Meatspace

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

A right old knees-up

The Bournemouth screenwriting cabal are having a BBQ on the 29th for anyone too broke to attend the Screenwriters’ Jamboree in Cheltenham. Now, Bournemouth is a bit far for me, and I’d probably be turned away at the gate for not being trendy or beautiful enough, even if I were to show up with an ass-kicking fruit salad, but, it just so happens I’m having a drink with the estimable Piers Beckley that day anyway. As this will most likely be my one and only London visit for 2006, anyone who can is welcome to join us in the Dover Castle, near to Oxford Circus tube.

Piers will be there from 6:30; I hope you won’t let him get lonely, as I will be arriving from the sticks a little bit later.

Piers has kindly provided a map. See you there, with luck.

Category: Meatspace

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Won't anybody think of the children?

From Media Guardian:
ITV has confirmed it will close its inhouse children's programme-making department, saying it hopes to sell it as a going concern.

The moment OFCOM allowed ITV to prune the number of hours per week dedicated to children’s programming, the writing was on the wall. It can’t be long before ITV ditch children’s shows completely. As I wrote previously, this is a godawful shame. A good number of our current top-tier writers began their careers penning children’s programmes on ITV. Some of my earliest and fondest TV memories are of the often terrifying Dramarama (Paul Abbott, Kay Mellor). My imaginary and ultimately tragic love affair with Charlotte Coleman began with Marmalade Atkins (Andrew Davies), and it was while catching up on Press Gang via DVD that I finally found my purpose in life.

And Top of the Pops is going too. Well, frankly, good riddance to that. But the rest of the day’s news is terrible.

Category: Movies and TV

Saturday, June 17, 2006


I may be a frustrated perpetual masturbator, but at least I don’t have a paving slab for a girlfriend.

“We even have a lovelife.”

Get that twisted shit off my screen now!

Category: Movies and TV

Friday, June 16, 2006

Hwæt! Ic swefna cyst secgan wylle

Behold! I will tell you of a wondrous dream.

Anything’s possible. A screenplay in a fortnight. 90 pages, 14 days. They said it couldn’t be done. Well, it’s doable, alright. It ain’t pretty, it fact it’s rough rough rough, and ropier than an old sea-dog’s sceptic prick, but for your amusement and delight I now present:

Breach Birth:

When Chris’ girlfriend announces she’s pregnant, he panics and abandons her, but a clean break proves hard to make when his escape is prevented by psychotic demons invading sleepy Portcrick. Now the only way he can stop the apocalypse is by learning that looking after number one is no way to live a life.

Yes indeed. If only to prove I wasn’t stringing you along the whole time, here is the fucker. Mispellings, misplaced sub-plots and misnamed characters intact. Don’t read it, for god’s sake. I certainly won’t be for a couple of days. Confirm the page count, give me my rosette, and let me start rewriting.

Still, even with its plentiful faults, I couldn’t be more proud. SIx years of unproductive self-doubt washed away in two weeks. I am a motherfucking screenwriter.

Category: Writing

The big push

Nearly. There.

I thought about bunking off today, but too many people at work know I’ve embarked on this insane endeavour, including my boss, so I’d never have got away with it. However, I did manage to knock off an hour early, and so here I am, newly cycled home and ready to put in those last fifteen or so pages. A fag and a beer and I’m off.
Boy, these are going to be rough.
But be they as rough as a cowboy’s stubble, they will be finished. See you after midnight – an extension has been offered, but accepting the lifeline after all this would unman me. I pass no judgement on those who do, however. I am a lonely, lonely person with no other commitments or responsibilities beyond my own gratification. But you know, beyond never knowing love, I'm happy in my way.

Category: Writing

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Day twelve

Three pages last night, a paltry attempt.

This was for an action sequence which, currently, hinges on an illogical and stupid act committed by one of the characters. Where I should have just applied the elbow grease and run straight through and onto the next thing, I kept stopping to clarify things and make the action more believable.

I don't have time for that sort of thing now. With only two days left, it's got to be nonsense, inconsistency, exposition and deus ex machina, along with brutal suppression of self-criticism, from here to FADE OUT.

Category: Writing

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Day eleven

I’ve had a blast up to now. But tonight has been hard. I’ve written half a page of crappy dialogue and it’s starting to feel like a real slog.

The problem, paradoxically, is that having written 56 pages, I can see the finish line and that doesn’t work for me because if I can see the line I can see what comes after, namely rewrites.

All of a sudden I find myself obsessing over my script’s weaknesses. I’ve become acutely aware of what’s wrong with it and have started questioning whether it’s worth going on at all. Dialogue is lifeless. Sub-plots haven’t played out. Characters are interchangeable. Sequences are jumbled. It’s all a load of shit.

And I find that my time is in demand this week. I don’t know if I have the resources to do everything else I have on my plate, along with another 30-40 pages.

How to get around this? One solution that comes to mind is to skip to the end. Write the climactic showdown in the lair of the beast so to neutralise any anxiety about reaching a denouement within the time-frame, and then fill in the gaps over what remains of the week.

As one of the things I’m most worried about is a propensity for meandering and woolgathering, this strikes me as a good plan. Writing without direction is a bad idea, so if I skip straight to the chase, having that climax done, ready for me, will stop me going from pillar to post to get there.

Anything to keep me going, basically.

Category: Writing

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Weekend update

Yesterday was an utter wash-out. Following a farcical shopping fiasco, I walked along to the pub to watch England’s exceedingly dull game. The plan was to watch the match, then go home and spend the evening writing 15-20 pages. Unwittingly, I became quite drunk, and when I got home and put on some music, I was surprised to discover the track listing had been altered and that the first track was followed immediately by the last. Eventually, my intoxicated mind was able to piece together that I had slept through the entire thing. I devoured the stored contents of my fridge, watched Doctor Who and passed out again.

I have written some truly terrible scenes today. And my chronology is completely shot. Time seems to be moving at different rates depending on location. The only choice is to place all but one thread in suspended animation until I can get everyone together again, in the same place.

What a fudge.

Never mind.


Category: Meatspace

Saturday, June 10, 2006

On day six, and a torturous metaphor

Only five pages last night. I played football after work, and could barely lift a match when I got home, let alone a laptop, or even a pencil. Still, soldiered on.
The disciplines of writing and exercise have many points of comparison. No one can go into a gym for the first time in years and complete a two hour workout or lift 100lbs without herniating. You have to work in short bursts, starting with the 15lb block.
Likewise, although any writers just starting out will be told they need to write for at least two hours a day, I wouldn't advise trying this unless you’ve already developed a modicum of writing stamina. Two hours is a long time to concentrate on something you're unfamiliar with. Concentration is a fragile thing, and before you know it, you'll be firing up Safari or Firefox, totally discouraged. Puny weaklings like us should not try and match pace with the Atlases of our acquaintance. We need a easier regimen to follow, to build our endurance.
Start slow, try to do a half hour a day. And don't try to lift the 250lb monster. Again, keep it small, and build up. On day one, you'll spend half an hour planning out the most unoriginal, cliched tripe, or putting down flat, tin-eared dialogue and still end up breaking out in a sweat, wheezing like your grandad's accordian, or your nan’s bowels.

Half the battle is keeping at it. Going back to the gym, or desk, even though you can still barely function from the last visit. You may be feeble now, but soon you’ll feel the muscles tighten and see the flab disappearing. It gets easier.
Eventually, you'll be taking part in iron-man tournaments, or writing non-stop for hours on end, layering in sub-text, throwing the most unpredictable reversals at your readers and generally feeling fitter than you've ever done. I'm not there yet, nowhere near in fact. I can just about cope with writing three pages at a time. Then I need to make a cup of tea, or roll up a smoke, before settling in to attack another three. But this way I can write, so far, around nine pages in an evening.
Just do a little bit, often, and it'll do you good.

Category: Writing

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Day five. On day six (cursed Blogger)

Twelve pages last night. Twelve pages that felt like four thousand. Hard work because it was only right at the end that something exciting happened, but the hours those twelve pages took to write translate to what, probably ten minutes on screen? So hopefully not as torturous to read as they were to write - anyway, things should really start to ramp up now.

Game on.

Category: Writing

Day five

Gah, probably shouldn’t have had so many large drinks last night.

Category: Writing

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

14: the story so far

Certain people have shown some concern that they are barely at double figures in their screenplay page count. I’m surfacing to tell you guys not to worry. This hearty competitor is yet to reach double pages.

I haven’t posted on this development, not for shame, but only because I haven’t given myself the time to be reflexive or self-aware, or let doubt arise.

Here’s how it’s going:

  • Pre kick-off:

  • I resolve to get the four year idea of Lyonesse rising out of my system once and for all. As there is no time to research WW1 further I decide to update the setting to modern day. This proves harder than I imagined, and two weeks later, after innumerable false starts, and half hour before the starting pistol, I finalise my logline:

    When his girlfriend announces that she's pregnant, Chris prepares to do what he does best and bail, but the army of Hell invades his sleepy town and cuts off his escape, so he must take responsibility if he is to avert the apocalypse and save them all.

    It's all I have.

  • Day one:

  • A broad outline of the opening section. I write the first scene to meet my protagonist and to see if i have any writing chops at all. I'm quite pleased with the result.

  • Day two:

  • A broad outline of the closing section. It's the old collapsing lair routine. I catch The Mummy on BBC1 and there it is in all its big budget glory. So I realise the only way to get through this in a hurry is to leave no trope unturned, no cliche unlicked.

  • Day three:

  • A broad outline of the middle section. Christ, my balls ache. Doing what I want for once has really given me the horn. Or maybe I should reposition my laptop.

  • Day four:

  • I line up the beginning, middle and end in their correct order. Gaping plot holes became apparent. I pride myself that my hasty, expedient solutions are both narratively and thematically satisfying. All this done at work while being called a "fucking joker," by arsehole customers. Have a large drink when I get home.

    Feel I have enough to put together a beat sheet. And I do. Six 15 minute sequences of 8 beats each. Pleased as punch. Have a large drink.

    Write up progress. Still plenty of time to get a few pages done tonight. I feel like a large drink first, though.

    Ten more days. Ten pages a day, and a day for tidying things up.

    This day all doubt dies.

    Category: Writing

    In other news

    Shaun Ryan has gots the go-ahead for a seventh (sixth? Fifth and three quarters? Whatever, airing in 2008) season of The Shield, though there may not be much of the strike team left by then.

    Deadwood fans can shuck off their veils of mourning. David Milch and HBO have reached an agreement that will allow Milch to complete his tale of the lawless west in two two hour movies.

    I said it before, but maybe no-one else was excited as me, so I’ll report it again: Jane Espenson is writing for Battlestar Galactica. Jane Espenson! Battlestar Galactica! Isn’t that great?

    No word of a lie, but Saturday’s Doctor Who eclipsed even The Girl in the Fireplace in terms of scale and sheer awesomeness. “I’m right behind you. Don’t. Don’t look at me. One look and you will die.” Brrrr.

    Category: Movies and TV

    Saturday, June 03, 2006

    A few notes for Friday (or Saturday - where does the time go?)

    It has begun - the fourteen day screenplay is upon us, and although I’m nowhere near as ready as I could be, and strongly suspect that I’ll be spending the next two weeks furiously laying track as a train barrels towards me, I’m quite excited. I’ve put myself in a position where I no longer have a choice - I have to do this. Failure means erasing my blog from history and slinking away under a bar somewhere.

    Yes, the stakes are high, but this is the only way I’m going to find out if I can do this.

    But I am not alone. Several fellow scribeosphereans have taken the pledge, and just as I will try and blog my progress over the period, hopefully so will the following good people:

               Matt Courtney

               Stephen Repacholi (local boy!)

               Optimistic Reader

               Bonnie Gillespie


               One Slack Martian


               Twixter Scripter


               Robert Hogan

               Robin Kelly

               Dom Carver

               Femme Au Foyer (Zazie)


               Christy Bunner

    May God have mercy on us all, and to all of those blogless participants also.

    Guerilla screenwriters take note - version 0.9.7 of open-source scriptwriting app Celtx has just been released, and is looking very, very good. New in this release, well, tonnes of things. Take a look for yourself.

    My Joking Apart DVD arrived this week, and my Moffat crush shows no signs of abating. For what is essentially a one man band operation, Replay have produced a terrific package - the episodes look great, and the included documentary and commentaries are very entertaining. I hope this is enough of a success that season two will be released; the signs could be good - I’m getting a lot of hits from people searching for this.

    Best news of the week: Jane Espenson will be writing for season three of Battlestar Galactica.

    Category: Uncategorised