Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Editing is fun!

My publisher's ethos is true!

Editing is fun!

Not only have I recently re-edited my manuscript for Swan's Song's short story collection (don't worry Gaynor, this was before I sent you the copy!) but I am also currently re-formatting my fourth screenplay, tightening dialogue and re-shaping scenes.

It's far more fun than actually writing!

With writing, there's all sorts of worries. Am I going too far? Am I not going too far enough? How am I going to give this a satisfactory resolution? Have I wandered too far from the beaten path? Do the character's motivations ring true? Have I lost sight of the original premise?

And so on and so forth......

With editing, with the story already in place, you have the blessed gift of hindsight. The writing is behind you, you know the story, all you have to do is take a craft knife and shape that puppy into a lean, mean emotion machine! That's not to say big changes aren't options (I once changed an entire third act and added a character purely on impulse) but there's no pressure to be creative. All you have to do is shape, tighten, sweeten, make better, make good, monkey see, monkey do...

Love it!

Scriptwriting is boring.

That's never been disputed. You have to rein yourself in, control your inner 'writer' from expounding on all sorts of shite! It's basic and simple, technical and methodical, but also very liberating. It's all very straightforward. A prose in a novel can get very convoluted, very easily, anyone who's ever wrote a book could agree with the sense of that. Am I flogging the dead pony? How many times do you have to question yourself; have I made this point succinctly enough?

And on that rather relevant note, have I made my point?

Editing is fun because there's no pressure.

Is there pressure when you're actually writing?

You better believe it sister!

Friday, 4 March 2011


This year, I find myself an agent.

It's a promise I made to myself.

At present, I've penned five screenplays to date, four complete originals and one 'on spec' tribute.

A thriller/family bonded drama, a vampire east end tale (naturally!), a David Lynchian mind trip of a slasher, a black magic Buffy style college flick and one Star Wars fan fiction script. (The last one was actually commissioned by the producer of late night boxing on ITV but funding fell through before filming could begin).

There's two more in the works. A heartwarming, nostalgic story of small town regrets (where no one will die this time!) and (finally!) a gangster picture that delves deep into the heart of the Mafia. (Yes, another gangster film! I love them!)

I haven't looked at my scripts in a very long time. I've been so inspired to focus on my story/novel writing that I had almost forgotten them entirely.

There's a purity to writing screenplays. They dispense with the bullshit. Ultimately, they are blueprints, nothing more, for the finished product that will end up on the screen, alive in colour and motion. You don't really need to be a brilliant writer in order to write a cohesive screenplay. In fact, I've read a few commissioned scripts that were downright dreadful, both in terms of spelling and language. (John Hughes' masterpiece The Breakfast Club being a direct case in point!)

Even Quentin Tarantino was quoted as saying :

'No offense to screenwriters, but if I was a REAL writer, I'd write books!'

Harsh words. True?

It depends.

Do you want to be a WRITER or a STORYTELLER?

Is there a difference?

The answer is a resounding YES! At least from where I am sitting.

Should we not listen or read a man's colourful, emotion invoking work if it is poorly presented or inaccurately laid out?

(The director that was to take the reins of the SW fan work said I was a brilliant writer but a bad storyteller! I wasn't sure how to take that or if I wanted it the other way round. 'Hey, you tell great stories but you're pretty fucking stupid!' Yeah, cheers for that....)

Does it really matter all that much? I bet Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo spellchecked EVERY SINGLE WORD of their first draft of The Godfather script. I doubt Puzo even spelt Clark Kent correctly on his fifth draft of Superman 2. By that point, he could write his own frigging ticket and spell it anyway he wanted.

I think my scripts need seeing.

It's strange. My third and least liked script was the one my wife preferred. That's ultimately my favourite too.

So I think an agent may be able to steer my course a little better than me at the helm.

It's worth finding out if I have a cinematic future as well as a literary one, right?