Friday, February 29, 2008

Running out of time

I'm fast running out of time to get much work done before heading off on holiday. I'll be away from my desk for 24 days visiting family and sightseeing in New Zealand. That's easily the longest break I've had since, well, the last time I went back to NZ in 2003. Five years since I've seen anyone from my family. I'm guessing they'll be much as same, but with a few more wrinkles.

It's a strange phenomenon, seeing your family grow older in five year bursts. I tend to remember them best as they were when I saw them most every day - but that's 18 years ago. I've seen them four times since then; this will be my fifth trip back to New Zealand after emigrating to the UK. My sister was 12 when I left, more than half her lifetime ago. Takes some getting your head round.

In the meantime I'm scrambling to do all the things I need to achieve before heading south. Thanks to an unexpected windfall [the best kind] has helped calm the nerves. Taking three and a half weeks off when you're self-employed is financial suicide. But a nice addition to my bank account means I can concentrate on largely speculative work between now and flying. First things first, I need some index cards.

Plotting any multi-layered, multi-viewpoint story, I've adopted the popular method of using index cards to scrawl story beats. I'll plot out the key moments for one story strand, before moving on to another strand. Once I've gotten those sorted, I can mix and match to my heart's content, finding the strongest sequence. So I spend time shuffling my cards on a bright blue pin-board.

Some clever writer once said the most important part of any story were the transitions, that moments that link one scene to the next, that transport the audience from one sequence to the next. I think there's a lot of truth in that. Just check out the work of graphic novel scribe Alan Moore [Watchmen, Halo Jones, etc]. He writes some of the best transitions in comics, utterly compelling shifts that propel you through the narrative, drive you to the finish. Great stuff.

So that's what I'm trying to do today - juggle several plot threads for two projects. I also need to collect the car from the garage, remember to eat breakfast [and lunch, come to that], learn three more pages of the script I'll be appearing in on stage come May, not out the rehearsal schedule for the same show, and a thousand other things all more urgent than the last. Time to get moving. Onwards.

1 comment:

Jason Arnopp said...

Have a great break, sir! It was great to meet you for the first time on Tuesday - even if was for a fraction of the time I would've liked.