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Month: May 2012

What next?

Assignment done. Or rather I’m done with my assignment. There are the correct number of words, more or less (ok, more), a bibliography in alphabetical order, mostly (I have a morbid horror of mixing apples and Fiats) and there is a title, two titles actually, one for each part (but panic ye not oh pedants of the university administration, they are in one document with one properly printed cover sheet). So, just the handing in to do. Then what?

I’m handing in Act I of a screenplay for a TV crime drama – an urban, more contemporary  Midsomer Murders, set in a university city – Cambridge not Oxford – with a very un-Morse-like detective. I’ve drafted Acts II and III, but they need editing. The assignment is done but the completer-finisher in me insists I complete and finish. Then what?

I don’t know!

Do I go back to the novel I abandoned eight chapters in about modern, urban witches with life issues rather than broomsticks? I think the solution to the novel’s own issues could be a switch from third to first person. Or there’s the crime novel based on the story from the screenplay. Possibly more commercial. But will I get bored having done it. And I rather enjoyed writing a screenplay – I could make the witches into a screenplay. Or write another Inspector Gunn story. Or there’s Bev…

To be a writer, just write they say. But what? Screenplay or novel? Witches, Gunn or Bev?

7 things I learnt while writing a script

1. Writing in a new form can be liberating and fun.

2. The requirement to use a specific format is not a reason to panic. Nor is it a limit on your creativity. If it works and it’s what your audience want, just do it. Use your energy on the stuff that matters.

3. Writing dialogue is not as scary or difficult as I thought. There is no science to it or special tricks to master. Know your character, ideally have listened to people like your character, let your characters talk in your head, write it down. But insist they get to the point and block out any blather unnecessary to what you’re writing.

4. Writing a first draft fast and all the way to the end works. You get the satisfaction and comfort of knowing that you’ve done it, even if it’s a bit tatty, and you can judge and edit in context. And writing the whole thing is quicker to do with a script than with a novel!

5. It is possible to get points across about plot and character very quickly. Stuff can be interesting and well-written and still need to be cut for the sake of the whole. But knowing this doesn’t make it less painful.

6. Theory on structure and storytelling is not academic nonsense and not a straitjacket. It a focuses the mind on how to connect with and communicate with an audience.

7. Aristotle rocks!