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…
Parallel currently sits at about twenty pages and I’ve looked at it a couple of times now. I would have loved to have just pressed on with it and I always tell others about the need to forget about how bad you might think your script is and just finish it. The current incarnation though has enabled me to see how the idea would play out and it isn’t that great. I’m tempted to rip it up and start again. Writing anymore right now in this current state would seem to be like building on dodgy foundations just to get a house finished. Pretty soon it’ll fall down completely, probably before you’ve moved in.
I had a substantial email exchange with Jsquared who had a look over what I had so far. She came up with a fantastic point by mentioning she wasn’t too hot on the setting being space. Most science fiction films she’d had seen had featured outer space and she was pretty tired of it. Perhaps she’s right.
So maybe I’ll change the setting to underwater. This group have been placed deep down in the ocean (for reasons I have yet to work out). The shuttle of this version is replaced by a mini submarine which doesn’t cause any great trouble in rewrites. Also, the visual of water slowly dripping in through cracks in the station as it slowly disintegrates is far better than it just losing air.
This also means I’m getting a Bioshock vibe off it and it’s fine by me.
My old laptop was rocking Windows Vista as I’d never bothered to upgrade it. It had reached a new level of clunky, often collapsing in on itself and giving me the blue screen of death. The barrage of ‘this software is no longer supported’ kept coming up like the cockroaches surviving the nuke. I backed up the stuff I needed (surprisingly little actually) before cleaning out the hardware and retiring the old girl to the hills. A short drive out to the retail park meant I could pick up a new laptop running something a little more up to date and quicker. My scripts made the jump across to the newer version of Celtx.
Whilst it’s good to have a new piece of tech to hand I’ve found myself trying to avoid staring at my screen wondering what to write next by returning to notebook for a while. You may recall a few weeks ago I mentioned a text adventure game that I’m trying to get working. After many attempts at trying to write it on software I gave up and bought a small notepad. After writing page numbers in the corners I now have a prototype, physical booklet which kind of works as a demo/introduction to the whole thing. It’s complete with small diagrams as well. Sometimes it’s really good to just get down to writing without formatting and having constant pop ups disturbing the process at hand.
Now to do the same thing working out the rest of Parallel.
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 writing during the daylight hours thing seems to be working as another good chunk of the script went down today. I’m actually belting through it only consulting my hand written notes afterwards. I had sketched up a really loose scene by scene but it seems to be falling to the wayside by just going with what seems natural to move onto once the previous one ends.
It’s a forced mess indeed and there’s massive gaping holes to plug once I’m done with the first run through. The first big concern is that there’s no clear reason as to why the hell they’re up there in the first place. There’s a station, it has some plants on it and that’s about it. It’s going to help a lot once I’ve worked that bit out. Secondly I’m still thinking through stuff for the main character to do. She’s stuck in a space station alone but what exactly can she physically do to help her situation? It’s a tough one at the start as, bar the radio conversations she’s secretly having with the one person back home who believes that her story is true, she really doesn’t get that much to interact with until it’s revealed that there’s a double of the other bloke on board as well. The important thing at the moment though is to plow on.
A question for you all, at what point does a story start?
I’m not looking for ‘When I start writing’ more thinking about what point do you tend to jump into the plot and start the actual story. Is it to do with the current sci fi script? Oh yeah, it’s everything to do with the sci fi script. The main reason being that I reckon I might have gone in too late.
The intro with the penultimate scientist getting off the station and arriving back home on Earth works well enough. There’s a moment of few of tension as the shuttle makes its way through the atmosphere. As an introduction it’s not bad, there’s hopefully a sense of wondering what the mission is and getting across the rather low budget nature of this space project. Our remaining scientist will be on her own for the few scenes until time lines start to split and the guy she thought was back on Earth is still on the ship (even though another time line version of him has made it to Earth). The film hinges on the fact they really didn’t like each other during the whole experience so she’s rather glad to be rid of him in the film’s opening.
The problem is though that we never see them argue in the opening, they’re completely separate. Is it worth, I wonder, showing a little bit beforehand to establish their relationship? Or does this just make for a really dull opening few scenes?
I think, perhaps, just maybe I’m nearly ready with Order For Burning. When I say ‘ready’ I don’t mean for filming, I just mean for getting anybody out there who wants to to read it. The scene order seems fine, the dialogue might need a small bit of polish but it’s not the utter mess it was even a month ago.
It’ll no doubt get feedback from those who read it and it will change in ways I cannot anticipate right now but that’s the game plan. I know plenty of people who will hold on to scripts or stories, endlessly polishing and tweaking. This usually means the project never sees the light rendering little more than entertaining an audience of one.
Robotics was pitched once it was in third draft stage, I’m doing a similar thing with Order For Burning.
The last two weeks or so have made me feel like a writer.
Let’s examine that a bit further.
There’s often a feeling I get that makes me think that writing is just a thing I do in the small hours. It’s the inbuilt reaction in me that putting words down on the page and forming them into some kind of story for the consumption of an audience is a sideline at best. There is nothing to see here, move on quickly. During a meeting with my friends of Mostly Ghostly a couple of weeks ago in Dumfries I started talking about Order For Burning and a couple of other bits I have lined up to move onto once the witches are done with. As I spoke I felt myself believing more in the stories, considering them something to work on and to craft. Essentially, they stopped being silly thoughts and turned into something more.
Coming back that evening I rewrote about five scenes of Burning, the next night another three and the night after that another two. Not long sessions by any means but small chips into the block of the project. Shaping the script up, to become the first feature film I’ll pitch to any great degree and keeping away from just sitting doing nothing constructive on it each night.
I spend a lot of time each day semi automated. My work has a set list of procedures that can apply to pretty much any situation. If Customer A has trouble with B then C may work if not try D. Writing isn’t automated though, at least it shouldn’t be. Over the last few years it’s been a case of trying to drop the automated bit when I get home.
I’m not athletic, I can’t really do anything practical, I’m probably too laid back to succeed in much, I suck at a lot of stuff but writing is the one thing I’m good at.
You want a story?
I’ll give you a story.
So I talked about writing and I discussed my ideas and this set me alight. I’ve done more in the last two weeks that the last three months combined. I’m aiming for Order For Burning to be in a readable state to the outside world by April 30th. Then I’ll pitch it and see what the response is whilst moving onward to the next thing on the list.
I am a writer.
I am a writer.
I opened the mess that is Order For Burning again today, a good couple of weeks since I finished it. I had my notes to one side, written in my moleskin notebook with gel glide pen.
For some reason the font looked terrible. Letters appeared on the screen as if my monitor was running out of ink (if it used ink, hang with me here). They were scratchy, incomplete. Then Celtx decided to throw an update message at me. I had to sign in to do this, it rejected my first email address and then my second.
I did not need this today.
Anxious to get on I downloaded another free piece of script writing software. This actually had some advantages over Celtx such as a full screen, no distraction mode. Sadly, the font problem remained here also so it’s obviously something up with Vista (I know, I’m running the worst operating system).
Not wanting to start the whole thing again I go back to Celtx and grin and bear it. Not before I’ve got in touch with them on Twitter to do the very British thing of passively moaning about it in the hope somebody notices. Thankfully they did but they’ve yet to offer a solution at time of writing.
I’ve ripped apart the opening scene and it’s now completely different. Even with this small amount of pages redone so far it feels much better.
The painful writing of the first draft is nearly done. My son was ill today and therefore off school. He awoke at his usual time in the morning, went to the bathroom but then went back to bed. I moved through to his room and asked what was up.
“I feel hot and dizzy” he said from under the duvet. My eventual coaxing got him downstairs for breakfast. Upon pouring his usual Choco Shreddies cereal he lay his head down on the table and uttered “I don’t think I can manage chocolate today Dad”.
Sound the alarm, Houston we have a problem.
He went back to bed. I still have many memories of my Mother doping my Sister and I up on Calpol in these situations and just waiting for the phone call saying we’d thrown up during maths (this makes her sound awful, it was not the case at all). I didn’t fancy dragging a lethargic 8 year old up the road for 9am only to inevitably return for him an hour later. He slept until 10am before taking up camp in our living room, on the couch, under a duvet, watching cartoons and eating peanut butter on toast before falling asleep again.
A planned shopping trip with my Mother was postponed until Monday which is probably for the best as Scotland is currently being battered by 100mph winds and belting rain. We’ll give the weather gods the weekend to calm it down.
The silver lining in all of this is it gave me an excuse to not leave the house and write like a demon. I’m approaching the end of this terrible, shaky, taped together draft with its odd combination of history and story flung against the wall to see which sticks. Nearly done for the initial process of taking it from up here to some pages.
Houston, I’m with you soon.