Keeping Track: Week 4

I’ve felt very tired and busy this week. One might have led to the other. So I missed last Monday’s post.

But really, in terms of writing and creative things, I’ve had one thing on this week. No Fun is only two scenes away from complete, but I’m still running a bit scared of them. So I did some procrastinediting.

I printed off the 95 page draft one of the No Fun screenplay and I’ve been doing an initial “shame edit”. This is trimming out all of the bits that I am ashamed of, but have left in for sheer bulk.

The trim added some stuff and took away other chunks, so I’m glad it’s come out at  95 pages again. Some slight restructuring, some making things clear. Some interlacing two scenes together, so you’re intercutting between the two. This is what we do when we’re worried it’s not moving fast enough.

At some point, some point soon, I’m also going to have to change the names. One of the initial sparks of the film was seeing two actors that I love that could easily play brothers, and writing with them in mind. They’ve still got those names. (The first names only, obviously. I’m not writing Star Stories.)

One of those names is also my name. Tom. The character is not me, it’s the other Tom, but it would cause confusion for readers, wouldn’t it?

So Tom needs to become something else. Maybe Pete. Something pretty blank.

And you know how screenwriters are supposed to use a ticking clock to make things go quickly? Here’s mine. Deadline 7th November.

Keeping Track: Week 2

Screenplays

I’m now at 91 pages of Project “No Fun”. Getting past 90 pages is always my “wall”. Once I’ve got past 90 pages, it’s then a proper length, and feels almost complete. Quite important for having the end in sight. Still about four or five scenes left to write, but getting closer to a full draft. Rewrites will be No Fun.

The one I’m planning with Coffee Break Screenwriter feels like it has moved forwards a little – I’m going through this book pretty methodically, so I’ve gone through Chapter 1, which basically gives me a bare-bones plot, a log-line and some basic character intentions. I’d already planned the fundamental structure before starting the book exercises, and I’m finding that original structure rubbing awkwardly against what I’m coming up with now. Mostly, I’ve discovered that my main character is super-passive. They literally hang around waiting for stuff to happen. Also, I’ve got no real idea why the antagonist(s) are doing what they’re doing. They’re just all maraudy and vague. So I might have to take a little break from book exercises and just sit down and try to come up with what these bastards are actually doing

The passive thing is a bit more tricky. You see, I quite like passive characters (being a bit of a passive character myself). I like people placed in extraordinary circumstances and kind of going with the flow, but the rigid structure imposed by screenwriting books (of which I cannot read enough) doesn’t really allow for that. So this is all good discipline. Discipline like a mouthful of bran.

The other issue that I’ve come up against – particularly with “No Fun” – is that I’m not particularly great at writing conflict, as I avoid it so much in real life. I’m English, that’s what we do*. So it is a bit of an effort to write conflict. Again, it’s a bit of a mouthful of bran. Write the horrible turgid conflict so it can be refined later.

Sitcoms

No new work on radio adaptation sitcom, but we have a meeting about the multi-writer sitcom tomorrow, so I’ve written two pages on that today, and we’re all doing some last-minute deadline work and posting it into the Google Doc.

The nice thing about writing a radio sitcom with three of you is you only have to write seven minutes each. Everyone can write seven minutes! For this one, we’ve split out the A, B and C plots, and each of us write one. We’ve tried to minimise crossover between the plots on this first draft so we don’t complicate each others’ plots  – and then we’ll spend a lot of time complicating each others’ plots. The first scene I’ve written, I’ve ignored this self-imposed rule, as I had the C plot, with only one major character to work with, so I’ve at least given her something of a cipher to spark against.

Other

That’s sort of been it this week. We were away at the weekend, blah blah blah. I did see Rob Delaney last week, and that did kick off a strange little Twitter story in my head, but too many people believed it. My brother asked if he could come and visit the Game of Thrones set, and his little face fell when I told him I was lying. Heartbreaking. No good at conflict, as I said before.

* Apart from colonialism, etc. etc.

Keeping track…

Hey. I’m trying to keep track of what I’m working on a bit more; to be a bit more up-front and accountable about what I’m working on. This is partly inspired by the word-count on Kat Sommers’ excellent novel-writing blog, and also to remind myself about the things I’ve actually produced.

Of course, the line that we walk is that this will sound a bit braggy, but fortunately years of misuse have seen the readership of this blog dwindle, so we’re pretty much on our own here. Good? Good.

So here goes. A regularish rundown of what I’m working on, and how it’s going. Maybe we can learn from this, or something.

Screenplays

I haven’t mentioned here that my last completed screenplay – God Save The Queen – got into the Top 500 of the Nicholls Fellowship, the screenwriting competition run by the people who run the Oscars.

My script didn’t get into the quarter-finals. At that point, the Nicholls people put up a list of the quarter-finalists on their site, and people contact them and read their scripts. That isn’t happening to mine. There are 368 quarterfinalists, and mine was in the next hundred. So – in the top 468 of 7,197 scripts. That’s not bad.

So I’m now rushing to get something ready for next year. I think that means it should be ready by January or February. So I have two on the go.

One is currently at 88 pages. It’s a domestic-ish drama. I’ll get to describing it better soon. I have a rough guideline for the remaining scenes. I’m putting off writing them because they’re hard. I should really stop putting them off. Maybe by next week.

One is very very new. On the guidance of the lovely Paul Birch, I’ve purchased a copy of Coffee Break Screenwriter by Pilar Alessandra, and I’m working through the ten-minute exercises in that book to get to a point of writing a bunch of scenes. I have a basic storyline already mapped out. The key word for this one is “fun”. The key word for the domestic-ish drama was “no fun”, which mainly meant listening to “Lodger” by David Bowie over and over again. Maybe that’s why I’m a bit grumpy at the moment.

Sitcoms

I’m writing another sitcom with Sarah Dean and Kate Chedgey, with whom I’ve written two before. Today I’ve written one page of A4 for the C plot. I reckon another page should be enough to get the very basic arc of that story completed. There’ll be a bit of wrangling later on, but that’s unavoidable.

I’ve also got a concept for a radio thing that I want to write on my own – a sort of semi-adaptation of a screenplay I was writing two years ago that turned out to have no antagonist. I’ve written a page and a half of A4 of the second scene of that – the first scene is a bit more tricky to write – and I’ll type that up tonight.

Reviews

I had a review of Channel Orange by Frank Ocean published in Third Way in the most-recent-but-one issue. Nothing else here for the moment.

Songs

I haven’t been writing songs. I used to write them all the time, and I want to get back into it. So I wrote one song this morning. It lasts about a minute. It’s not very good. But it’s at least off the starting blocks.