Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Unleashing the torrent after months of prep

This week I have mostly been writing the first draft of my Lighthouse TV drama team-writing project. As a collective we've been developing our putative series since October - defining the show and its rules, choosing and honing our characters, finding and fine-tuning our individual plotlines. After months of talking and blizzards of emails, it's a relief to finally be writing some script pages, to crack open Final Draft and let rip.

My target is to get a rough-as-guts first draft down by next Monday, working around my part-time job at Edinburgh Napier University. [Used to be plain old Napier University, changed its name last week. These things happen.] I'm a third of the way through after two days, which is good progress - I always find opening pages the hardest part. It's like the first tentative chips of a carver, searching for the shape inside their chosen block of stone.

Our tutor Phil Palmer likes scripts for original series to have four things: brains, heart, legs and poetry. He wants it to be smart and clever, display some feelings and depth of emotion, to show the potential for a long-running series - and to have a little lyricism in its writing. It's the last of these that comes hardest to me. I once had an editor tell me I've no poetry in my soul, and that's kind of haunted my writing ever since.

The closest I get to poetic writing is the odd moment of magic realism and a tendency to create Gothic fairytale narratives. That's not really gonna fly in the series we're inventing on the Lighthouse project. So I suspect my writing on this will tend more towards the clipped and lean. Phil has a charming phrase for this: it should move like shit off a shovel. That's meant to be a positive thing, I think!

A quick thank you to all the Vicious Imagery readers who've sponsored my wife on her Race For Life run round Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh this June. She still needs another £100 or so to meet her target, so everybody else can still go here to chip in a few quid. Right, must dash. It snowed overnight and I need to defrost the car before I can drive to work. Onwards!

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