Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Busy, busy, busy, busy, busy

Went to Glasgow yesterday where I interviewed BBC Radio Scotland's Head of Drama about historical crime narratives for my MA screenwriting research project. Patrick Rayner was generous with his time and his answers to my questions were both thoughtful and thought-provoking. I've nearly completing all my practitioner interviews for the research dossier, though I'm still waiting on one more from a key figure in British crime fiction publishing. My job for the next two months is reading, analysing and absorbing the dozens of relevant texts I've gathered that will inform my project. I've been collecting research material for my chosen topic for the best part of a decade, but never had the time to delve deeply into them. The MA module is forcing me to make that time, so I'm grateful for that.

My TV screenwriting mentor Adrian Mead gave me feedback on the first draft of my pilot script. Seems I've been guilty of spoonfeeding the audience too much information, rather than trusting in the unfolding mystery style outlined in my treatment. One thing I did in the first draft proved decidedly useful. I deliberately wrote the script in five acts, as if I was crafting a story for an American series. This demonstrated strengths in the first 36 pages of my script, and highlighted problems in the final 24 pages. I knew I'd got a big, fat repeat beat [essentially, the same story point happens twice, albeit with one character swapped for another], but Adrian underlined the need for my protagonist to earn her discoveries, to fight for herself - rather than letting others volunteer information or fight battles for her. So, plenty of work to be done in my next draft.

But first I've got to write the premise, outline and detailed synopsis for my final screenwriting project. I had planned for the story to take place over a weekend, but am now contemplating shortening that time period to 48 hours, from Saturday morning to Monday morning. That way Saturday night becomes the end of Act One and the entirety of Sunday becomes Act Two, with a revelation late in the afternoon providing a mid-act twist that drives the story in a new direction. The plot would continue corkscrewing its way to a climax and Act Three's the bloody finale, with a slow curtain epilogue as dawns breaks on Monday morning. Now all I need is to finish outlining and backgrounding my core cast, along with their interrelationships.

Also on the agenda for the next week is some work for a new launch, thinking up ideas for a short story anthology, proofreading the galleys of another short story that's due for publication next month, creating some new plots for a regular client of mine and numerous other bits and bobs. Busy, busy, busy - that's me. And I like it.

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