When The Punch Hits And Your Lip Splits

Still moving forward with Parallel, slightly edging bit by bit after resetting the whole thing back to zero. It has more meat to the bones now. It still gets to the point fairly quickly and I’m hoping it doesn’t ignite too quickly and burn out before it needs to. I haven’t had a chance to work on it for a long stretch yet but just doing odd bits here and there means that I’m onto fifteen pages already. It’s a decent start even if I’m getting that nagging ‘this is probably going to be crap’ voice in the head. Initially they’ll be right but I cannot stress the importance of having something down on paper/hard drive that you can work on.

I’m also toying with the idea of pitching Order For Burning again to see if anybody wants to make a film about Scottish witch burnings this time around. It’s been about a year since I finished that script (possibly eighteen months now I think about it) so enough water has gone under that bridge for it to be viable again. It’ll go someway to satisfying the need to get work out there and read by others since Parallel isn’t anywhere near that condition yet.

Anyway, here’s Texture with a poem that’s very apt for this situation…

 

When The Fires Came Down

The script for ‘Parallel’ has stayed still for the last couple of days. Around the twenty five minute mark we’ve had the reveal that our main scientist’s hated work colleague is both back at base on Earth (as he arrives there within the first few moments of the film) but also up in the station as well due to the split through time. It’s hit something of a roadblock in that it’s hard to just have a movie about two people arguing in a space station. I admit this is far better that two people getting along inside a space station but you catch my drift. Everything seems to a little bit motionless right now

This was going to be the point where I wrote about what I was going to do about that problem, how I was going to raise up this script and drag it kicking and screaming into the light. All this seems irrelevant at the moment as it’s all just talk. I have ideas about it indeed but the pace is disturbing me right now. Not so much the pace of the story but more my progress in getting it down on paper. I’m frustrated that I’m writing in another vacuum, unsure as to if any of this effort will be worth it in the long run. In an ideal world I’d have somebody sat next to me reading every bit saying ‘Yeah, seems worthwhile to me’ at regular intervals but that’s not really going to happen.

There are two feature scripts in the drawer. I spent the bulk of a year writing ‘Order For Burning’ and about the same writing ‘Seven Lucky Stars’ but they didn’t go much further forward that pages right now. I get a buzz from people reading my stuff, any writer does, yet getting through the down times when that’s not happening is tough.

 

The Court Of The Jaguar

More progress, more pages. Working on the script on my days off and aiming to get at least four or five pages done seems to work well. It sure beats doing a full day at work, coming home, having dinner, getting cleaned up, getting my son to bed and then starting to write. This usually means it’s around 9:30pm and I’m starting to get tired. This usually means more blank staring and very little getting done. At least if I’ve done a few pages during the daylight hours I feel no guilt playing Grand Theft Auto in the evening.

The other piece of news today is an advert that dropped in via my email subscriptions. Somebody is looking for a writer to work on a feature script about witches with attention to historical detail. I’ve got in touch and told them about writing Order For Burning. We’ll see how this one goes.

Paradise Towers

So an e-mail comes through from Scottish Screenwriters a few days ago explaining this.

http://www.shorescripts.com/

It’s a competition for scripts, both a feature and short. The winner gets £2000 cash, gets their script sent out to over 100 production companies, passes to Pitchfest (whatever that is), IMDB Pro Membership and a few other bits. Even during the contest itself it would seem your script is read by a fair few people and sometimes even people who haven’t won in the past have still gone on to better things. It sounds like something I need to do especially when Order For Burning is ready to go and has now been pitched twice on Shooting People with no takers.

The one slight snag is the price tag for entry of £35.

It’s not that I cannot afford this, paying £35 will not mean I skip meals and miss a payment on the car this month. It’s more the fact that I’ve never paid to get any of my scripts read before. I assume it helps them cut down on time wasters and also allows them to make a profit for what they’re doing which is fair enough. Apparently this is the last entry window to the competition, if I’d entered a few weeks ago the fee would have been £25.

After days of pondering this issue I finally decided to bite the bullet tonight and just pay the damn money. It might lead absolutely nowhere in which case it’s money down the drain and I’m back to square one. Having watched the timer tick down on the site though I figured that if that went to zero and I’d not bothered entering due to having to pay something towards it then I’d regret it. I’d have a script that I’ve only pitched in one place and was going nowhere. At least this way it’ll be getting read somewhere.

The Dumfries Historical Society

I’ve ended up spending the evening rewriting my synopsis for Order For Burning, the theory being that I almost refuse to belief that I’ve spent a year of my life working on this thing without giving it a damn good shot. I had no returns the first time around so something needs to change. What did I come up with? Here’s what I got.

—————

Dumfries, South West Scotland, 1659. An air of tension hangs over this town, it is the height of the witch trials. In which rumour can quickly become accusation, accusation rapidly becoming trial.

Agnes Cairns lives with her husband David on farm land outside Dumfries. They are both devoted to God and are friends with the local minister Robert. Robert carries out the public burnings for all women found guilty of being witches yet he has grown weary of this, beginning to doubt exactly what good this practice does. A young man called Andrew also works on the farm, helping David in the fields. Agnes’ friend Helen does not share the town’s appetite for the burnings, she stays well away from the crowds that gather around the town during the events.

The story begins with a young girl found guilty of witchcraft and burned on the stake on the banks of the River Nith. After conducting this macabre showing Robert finds solace talking to David and Agnes. He reveals his concern that town rumour has suggested another local woman, Janet Miller, is concerned with the dark arts.

Janet provides natural cure alls for the townsfolk on a very secretive basis. She is essentially the closest thing most of the people have to a doctor. Robert is placed with a difficult task as he is actually one of Janet’s customers. The Church notice Robert’s inaction on the matter and employ Jack, a man who has a record in finding witches and bringing them to the stake. Jack is very much guided by God and has a firm believe he is simply acting on the Lord’s instruction despite his use of torture to gain confessions from the women accused.

Lacking anywhere to stay locally, Jack ends up lodging with Agnes and David on their farm. It us during this time that he meets Andrew and begins the process of taking this young man and making him his own apprentice in methods of torture. Andrew is taught the art of extracting a confession by inserting a metal rod through the skin and muscle of the shoulder and forcing it upwards. Convinced he is doing God’s work and glad of the prospect of the extra coin Andrew quickly adapts to his new role. Very soon Janet Miller is held in the local prison and, whilst undergoing this barbaric practice, confesses. This is before she gives Jack a list of names of women whom she shared her methods with. Two of these women are Agnes and Helen.

Jack proceeds to attempt to turn the town against all those accused, saying they’re in league with the Devil. David begins to leave his religious beliefs behind as he tries to defend his wife.

Before long Agnes and Helen are amongst the group of women held in prison by Jack and Andrew. Robert attempts to convince the town that they are innocent but it is too late as Jack’s words begin to take hold with the locals.

Agnes however holds her ground and refuses to bow to Jack’s methods to get a confession out of the women. She stands up to Jack’s tactics and works out he’s simply a mercenary hiding behind religion. In a frustrated rage Jack visits David in the hope he can convince him to confess on behalf of his wife. When David refuses and slams the door back in his face Jack sets fire to the farmhouse with David still inside.

Helen, not coping with the levels of pain and despair, reaches out to Jack asking if there is a way this can end. Jack arranges it so Helen can confess on the group’s behalf thus condemning them to the fires. In the following court hearing Helen is the only one excused as she is banished from Dumfries for the rest of her days.

Nine women are sent to be executed on the Whitesands in Dumfries, Agnes amongst them. Upon seeing this Andrew struggles with what he has done. Jack receives his payment whilst the embers glow and asks Robert to direct him back to his horse. As Jack mounts his steed he is stabbed in the back by David who gains vengeance against the man who killed his wife. Robert witnesses this attack but takes no action, instead motioning for David to leave as quickly as possible.

Order For Burning is a drama based on real life historical events.

—————

It’s detailed, possible too detailed but I feel much better about this than I did with the original a few weeks ago. I’ve actually gone back to relist it on Shooting People. Let’s see if we can get this kick started.

Last Days Of The Gun Fighters.

So I spend a few days out of writing after Order For Burning’s latest draft completion and during that time the itch returns. It was probably whilst watching another episode of Daredevil on Netflix that I decide I should resume writing another script, to carry on the momentum if nothing else.

I’ve met a few writers in the past who dedicate whole sections of their lives to writing one project. They will polish it, rewrite it, shine it up and then repeat the process. If they actually do get around to submitted the thing and it gets rejected they stop dead in their tracks as the script they’ve dreamed of and put so much effort into dies in the water. I do not want to be that guy.

So today, as is traditional now, I started the first five pages (which actually ended up being seven pages) of the new script. There are currently no notes, no diagrams, no character outlines, no scene by scene and certainly no deciding what each character’s favourite biscuit. It’s just the pure first fumbling love throws of a new project by getting in there and finding what floats its boat.

The thought remains in the back of my head that this could be another year in the making, the same duration it took to get Order For Burning up and running, but that’s the break you take.

We’re back to science fiction and we’re also messing about with parallel universes.

Here goes something.

The Buzz Killer

Order For Burning went up on Shooting People’s pitching emails last week and since then I have been bowled over by the sheer masses of emails coming my way.

No, not really.

Apart from it being read by a friend of mine from the college days there has been pretty much deathly silence from all around, so much so that I begin to run down all the reasons why it might not be clicking with anybody. Firstly, historical set movies are a tough sell but this one is even more so because it’s an event based in South West Scotland which not many people outside the area know about. It’s a great story to work a film around, I’m still very much in that belief. As far as recognition goes though, it’s not Braveheart.

Sorry Mel.
Sorry Mel.

There’s also the matter of appealing to producers who will probably not have the budget for a movie set in 1659. A modern setting is obviously easier to film, getting everything looking as it would over three hundred years ago would cost.

Also, my synopsis probably wouldn’t have been the best. Perhaps it seemed rushed? Did it fully explain the story? Was I getting my message across well? Probably not, if it did I wouldn’t be writing this.

It’s tempting to think it’s a year of my life down the pan and a few years ago I would have certainly spent a long time thinking this. The positives are that finishing any script is part of a learning experience, no matter what you’ve written you can always take something from it to improve the next one. The trick is to keep going.

Secondly, all is not lost by any stretch. I shall put the witches away for now and concentrate on the next thing. When given a few months to mull over, Order For Burning shall be brought back out and polished up before trying again. It exists now and that’s the main thing. If I was still, one year on, planning out a first draft and fretting over positions of scenes that don’t currently exist then I’d be far more worried.

So what to do now? Well, write the first five minutes of the next thing. It’s exactly the way I started Order For Burning and it works fine for me.

We keep on rolling.

Always.