Thank God for February

Well, January happened. Lots of day job shenanigans going on, which meant I mainly spent January angry and writers-blocked and frustrated. I guess it wasn’t writers block as much as non-writing stuff becoming too prominent in my head.

But this, dear reader, is February. Sweet February. All change.

Screenplays

So on Monday, after a week off work, I started writing again.

The “skeletal action script” I mentioned back in November got slightly fleshed out over December, to the point where I had about 31 pages. Then came day-job upheaval – the only way to explain it, really, is to point you to some really apposite Dilbert cartoons.

When I sat on the bus on Monday, I started by writing a few scrappy bits and pieces… feeling my way back into the story, and adding a few ideas – single lines, recurring themes – that can sit in my draft until I have to flesh them out.

I also took the decision to scrap a scene that was in the 31 page draft, to reduce the scope of the climax a little. This is another large, silly action film like my first two screenplays, but I want to focus it a little – to bring the restraint of The Secret Society into the expansive set pieces of God Save The Queen.

Essentially it’s a base-under-siege story, and I had thought the climax might happen somewhere very far away from the base. Now I think it’s walking distance.

So after five mornings of writing, I’ve added twelve pages to the script, and it feels much better as a result.

I’ve also got into a funny pattern of writing the set-up expositional scene and the payoff scene in a pair, and then slotting them into place in the script. It’s quite an interesting way of doing it, as it works like a joke – setup and punchline – but you’re doing it across the expanse of time.

That was actually the first thing I wrote after my January break. A piece of dialogue by the antagonists, which is then brought back around the end of Act Two, and then at the climax of Act Three. It’s almost inconsequential – two lines of dialogue that demonstrate how two characters relate to each other, but the lines paired across the whole story makes it quite satisfying.

So, we’re at 43 pages. Good progress.

Other writing

I did a little script editing for a short film that my frequent writing partners Sarah Dean and Kate Chedgey were making, and found that fun to do. I hadn’t been involved in the conception at all, so it was easier to spot the ways it would hang together better from the perspective of an outside eye.

We’ve also got a first (might be second, actually) draft of the team-written sitcom that Sarah is showrunning. I’m a bit down on it, but we’re considering broadening the team for a 30 Rock-style joke pitching session. That might be interesting.

Other stuff

Given day-job frustrations, I’ve been feeling I need more creative opportunities, so I’ve signed up for a puppeteering course. It was on a whim. I’m looking forward to it, though. It’s an evening course, designed for adults, and is a good opportunity to meet some new people.

I’ll also recommend again the Comedian’s Comedian podcast. Full of insight on the writing process, masterminded by my lovely former landlord Stu Goldsmith, and home to some of the brightest and most open people on the comedy circuit. The Mike Gunn one is a great place to start.