After having been working, then having my son's second birthday party, then being ill, then going to a screenwriting festival, being ill again, sleeping for an entire weekend to recover from said festival, then working again... this weekend just gone was my first chance to get a power unit for my PC. But I didn't.
This means I can't yet load up photos to do Jason's meme (I'm not sure of the verb here, does one 'do' a meme?) but I will in due time.
The reason for not fixing the computer, aside from sheer laziness, is that it's forcing me to fill lots of notebooks with longhand about my Red Planet entry TV series idea - character biogs, back-story, episode ideas, and so on. Despite a strong urge to do so, I can't fire up Final Draft and start typing a script. And because I don't trust my sense of discipline, I am holding off from fixing the computer for a bit to keep it that way.
This, if you don't recognise it, is part of Robert McKee's method. Predictably, McKee took a few verbal beatings in different sessions at the Screenwriters' Festival, but I like his book 'Story' - it has some useful practical advice, and it's clear and well-argued with good examples. I also loved the lampooning of some of his excesses in 'Adaptation' too. As, I'm pretty sure, did McKee himself.
I don't agree with anyone who says 'Don't read any of the screenwriting manuals'. Read them all: Vogler, Field, Parker, etc., etc. All of them. And ignore them all if you want, or ignore bits of them, and use other bits.
None of them holds a secret or formula, but I think a lot of (probably old school and self-taught) writers worry that youngsters are going to be unduly influenced by these texts, and write too predictably. But let me tell you this: if you read anything and take it all at face value and never question it - you will never be a good writer anyway. That's our job, isn't it? To question everything, to pull at the seams of the visible and obvious and discover what's hidden. Why should it be any different just because we're reading a book about screenwriting?
And anyone who thinks McKee offers easy options has not read his book. It proposes research, thorough, thorough research on all aspects of the world of your story, trying out various options and discarding them to insure you are not slipping into cliches. For a feature, I think he advises a minimum of four months amassing material before typing so much as a 'FADE IN'.
Whether this is a good idea or not is entirely up to you. But I always find my work is better the more prep I do, and the more notebooks I fill up beforehand. Of course, I'm planning out an 8 x 60 minute series and I only have two months. But that's deadlines for you.
It is possible to do too much research as well, I suppose: a whole room filled with books about Napoleon - that's just crazy/genius.
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