Friday, March 10, 2006

Too many ideas in my tiny brain!

For the MA Screenwriting course, one of our modules is Writing for Interactive. Our tutor keeps stressing this is not just about writing for computer games and the rise of new technology is bringing massive change to the way film and television content will be delivered in future. How much difference that will make to storytelling is another matter. In the meantime, we have to come up with an idea for an interactive entertainment as part of our coursework. My problem is I've got half a dozen cool ideas I'd like to develop - all of them for computer games, natch. There's a racing game, a nihilistic detective drama game, a thing with monsters and gangsters in 1930s Chicago, and a bunch of others swirling about in the old noggin. Which to do first?

In the meantime, I've submitted the second draft of my radio play for Woman's Hour. It's for broadcast this summer and will be my first broadcast credit, a significant step forward in my quest to become a bona fide screenwriting, not just some wannabe with a blog, a big mouth and enough money to pay for a MA course at university.

I did a significant amount of rewriting on the second draft, taking into account the notes I got from my producer-director David Ian Neville, but also seeking to go beyond those notes, to see if I couldn't make it better still. Then I invited three women from the local theatre workshop round for a table reading on Wednesday. Mary is our resident choreographer, a larger than life personality from Liverpool - that made her perfect casting for Ronald, the gay Liverpudlian iconoclast in my script. Hazel could do any accent you can think of at the drop of a hat, so she became April, the slightly prim owner of a new age spiritual retreat where Ronald is staying. My first draft had six characters, but this got boiled down to four in rewriting, as I endeavoured to tighten the script's focus and drive. So Linda was playing two parts at the table reading, dodgy cook Shonagh and a glamorous young guest called Trace.

I got them to read the script aloud once, so everybody could get a sense of their characters and to resolve any mistakes or confusions. Two bizarre pieces of bad typings leapt off the page - Ronald protested he didn't need to get his charkas realigned (perhaps he'd been in touch with Charka the Otter?0, while Shonagh announced she was planning to serve fresh soap and bread for lunch. Wash your mouth out, young lady!

I recorded the second read-through on mini-disc and was horrified to discover my 15 mintue script was taking 20 minutes. I knew it was probably a touch long, but not 33% over! Fortunately, I'd been taken notes of little nips and tucks that could be made during the second reading. Hearing the script twice in quick succession made the dull, flat patches vividly obvious and my cast of three had several sharp-eyed observations about where the pace needed to be picked up.

Once everybody had gone, I did another cut and polish, removing a goodly chunk of the draft that had been used at the table reading. The new, much improved second draft is now lurking at BBC Radio Scotland, but it's already gotten some positive feedback from David Ian Neville, so hurrah for that. The ending still isn't quite right and scene 4 feels utterly superfluous at present, but I think the third draft should retain a fair chunk of what appeared in my second draft. Feels like I'm learning...

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