Sunday, 30 November 2008

Stock Taken

Well, I have to keep being a scriptwriter to a bit longer. Firstly, because otherwise Jason Arnopp will burn me and Phill Barron will kick me in the nuts; but also, I'll have to keep going until at least October now, 'cos they've changed the dates on next year's Screenwriting Festival. See Martin's blog for a summary. A festival? In a ladies' college? I can't miss that.

Some of my regular correspondents have taken slight exception to my last post. Yes - it was a bit of a vent; for that, everyone has my apologies. But I stand by the thrust of it: there's no point in immediately believing that the work just wasn't right for the reader or the competition. You've got to review the script entered, pull it apart and see if it's as good as it can be, even if this autopsy can be pretty depressing and make you feel like you should give up. And the honest-to-goodness reaction to not getting through in a competition is that it hurts like hell, and I wouldn't be a truthful writer if I pretended otherwise.

In this case, I know the sensibilities of a good few of the authors, and was privileged enough to see a few of the entries at points in their development before being submitted: I know that the subject matter and overall tone of what got through was very varied, and not a million miles away from the stuff I'm doing. So, what more can I have done? It may be nothing. Perhaps I was trying to do too much. Or too little. It may well be that the style I'm going for (white collar versions of Raymond Carver short stories but with more jokes, and on telly) isn't really suited to the schedules of today. Or it could be the kind of thing that's being done too much already. Or maybe it was just a rubbish idea.

Anyway, I'm not giving up, so I've been doing a few things over the last couple of days to make me feel more like a writer, to whit:

  • Analysing new dramas: just caught up with the first two episodes of Survivors. Quick capsule review (warning: very light spoilers): I'm liking it, after a questionable first half an hour where the build up to the apocalypse was a bit slow, and the logic of the contagion/poison was undermined - if it takes a different length of time for different people to die, why did everyone on the final day die overnight, no matter what their symptoms were like before? This is a dramatic virus, methinks. I shall catch up with Wallander tomorrow, and The Devil's Whore soon-ish.
  • Reading 'How to Guides' on writing: the Guardian gave lots of pamphlets away a month ago, on writing lots of different things: comedy, journalism, etc. and someone kept them for me. They make interesting reading. I'm saving 'Plays and Screenplays' until last. Yes - that's right: they're both covered together in one pamphlet. Like they're the same. Twelve pages to cover comedy was ambitious, but six to cover screenplays is just insulting. I'm looking forward to violently disagreeing with it, already.
  • Writing: I'm doing a big rewrite on the Life Support pilot. This isn't a kneejerk reaction to its not being selected. I think the idea has merit, but I've made a few mistakes which I want to rectify. I'll try to share some of that process over the next few posts, as - who knows - it might be useful.


Jason Arnopp said...

Phew. I'm putting my flame-thrower back in the shed. Where it belongs.

Phill Barron said...

Funny thing is, I'm still in a 'plum-kicking' mood - so I'll be wearing my special pointy shoes to the pub and be looking out for any flicker of self-doubt.

Jason Arnopp said...

I'm bringing a fag-lighter. Just. In. Case.

Phill Barron said...

I don't thing Stuart's a fag ... he's married, isn't he? Besides, I don't think you should be using those kind of words.

Stuart Perry said...

I'm looking forward to tonight, as you can imagine.

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