Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Writing stuff to realise you don't need to write it

Well and truly cream crackered, but that's what comes of one night sharing a strange single bed, one night in my normal bed but having to get up at four in the morning to fly to That Fancy London, and a night on a inflatable mattress that was slowly deflating. Tired. I'm oh so tired. Sigh. Still, enough whining. Spent 36 hours in That Fancy London visiting friends, seeing a show [Little Shop of Horrors at the Ambassadors Theatre, great stuff] and taking a class in ideas creation at the V&A's Museum of Childhood. Got back last night, drooling in front of the TV for a while and tried to get some sleep. Now just done in, with waaaay too much to do.

Got a script from Miss Read to read and offer some Power of 3 feedback upon. Got a Phantom story to write for Egmont Sweden [but that's not due until August 15th]. Got to start writing the first draft of my final project for the MA Screenwriting course. That's due August 31st, but I've been prepping it for weeks and weeks and weeks. Some genius [William Goldman?] divides writing a screenplay into 60% preparation, 10% spent writing the first draft and 30% rewriting. I've certainly done my prep, though it's sometimes hard to distinguish valuable prep from procrastination.

Now I'm itching to plunge into the first draft and start writing. I've held back and held back and held back, giving myself every possible opportunities to identify issues and problems, such as recognising superfluous characters [ditched another from the pilot last weekend after realising he was only in one scene and added nothing to that scene]. Read my scene by scene breakdown on the Stansted Express yesterday and spotted several scenes that simply aren't necessary.

Strange, isn't it, how you have to write something to realise you didn't need to write something? In your own mind you need to see how characters get from A to B, how they choose certain places for secret meetings or what they said in the car en route. But once those scenes are written, you realise you've written long and need to cut. So the front of some scenes get clipped, to get into the action quicker. The ends of other scenes get snipped, to cut away at the most dramatic moment and propel the script into the next sequence at maximum velocity.

Best of all, you discover whole scenes that can be excised. For example, my scene by scene had two characters meet outside a church. Fearful of being seen by others, they sneak into the church where sexual hijinks [cripes, does anybody say sexual hijinks out loud? That's almost as bad as lothario] ensue. Reading back my scene by scene yesterday, I realised the rendezvous outside the church was unnecessary. Just show the twosome sneaking inside, one expressing anxiety while the other swears it'll be alright. Making out in a church, what could go wrong, right?

Anyway, found lots of useful nips and tucks in my scene by scene, so those will get incorporated into the first draft. I've got 77 scenes for a 60-page TV pilot i.e. too many, so anything that can go, will go. Suspect I've watched too much soaps and been guilty of gratuitously cutting scenes into too many smaller scenes for the sake of it. Let's face it, soaps are usually at their most compelling when a show stops furiously cutting and focuses on a single scene for more than a minute. That's when you see what the characters are made of. That's when you get the juice.

Now, time for coffee.


Barry said...

So, that was 2 and a half hours ago, have you finished yet?

Are you meeting with Peter as well? Do you know what you will be discussing?

I am meeting him next week and have been writing like a man possessed to have a 1st draft ready.

David Bishop said...

Already had my meeting with Peter, when we talked through my episode storylines and character breakdowns. He had several useful observations that I weaved into my scene by scenes, so it was well worth the trip to Edinburgh for me.

If possibly give him 48 hours to read your draft before meeting. Let me know if you want any Power of 3 action on it...

Lucy said...

You're just mad on those Po3s ain'tcha?!

You got to write loads of chaff to sort the wheat from it, I say. Better to have too much than too little. At first draft stage, it's quantity so you can whittle down to the quality stuff...

Can I fit in any more cliches I wonder???