Riding Through Dust Clouds

So back to The Last Alive for now then.

I am around 37 pages in just now and it’s a mess, a wobbling sci fi tower full of half baked ideas that don’t quite link in that well together at any point. It could fall down at any moment and take everybody else with it. I’m writing it knowing that there’s a vast amount of surgery to do afterwards, well aware that it’s all complete tosh right now and I’ve straddled two main ideas and am at risk of collapsing down the gap.

The alien idea is sound enough but every single scene I write with the Nightcrawlers makes me start to think it would be very, very expensive. They don’t have a physical shape instead appearing as clouds of smoke which would probably require CGI. This in turn will probably be beyond most budgets for a first time feature. From a story point of view they probably don’t have to even be there, especially as they only seem to exist to give the town folk something to battle against come the final reckoning. The threat to the town is surely Morag herself, a girl back from the dead without ageing a day in the meantime? I’m coming round to the fact that smoke monsters only detract from the idea of a town coming to terms with one of their own coming back after they had mourned for her death years previous. There would hang so many questions over that situation that it would hopefully drive it forward far more efficiently.

There’s already the battle between Darren who looked for this girl many years previously and didn’t find her and Isabelle, her Mother, who still blames him for not doing so. Add young Morag into this and the possibility of her not being the actual Morag from all those years ago. That at least cuts down all the chaff from something which seems to have become so overblown and schlocky it’s becoming a pain to write.

I don’t think I’m ever going to finish this draft of The Last Alive, instead I’m giving it up as a lost cause and starting over again. It might seem dramatic but I’d rather do this than simply plough to the end of this current version before taking that apart for surgery instead. As an amatuer screenwriter with nobody currently standing over me I have the power for now to kill off ideas that aren’t working to hopefully give rise to something far better.

A Long Distance

I’m finding it really hard to write.

Not shocking news, of that I am aware and if it were an easy process then we’d all be doing it. To put a further point on it though I’m finding it hard to write in the vacuum. Whilst I’m finding rewrites easy with feedback from the producers and directors I’ve spoken with thus far it’s the other ideas that are failing to gain a foothold. The rapid evolution of The Salesman’s Gamble from simple writing exercise to full blown developing script being read by those outside is testament to the former, the glacial pace of The Last Alive is the latter.

I am often overwhelmed with the thought that this is a waste of time and that I’m ploughing the effort in for very little return which, even then, will be years away yet. Opposite to this is that I often get a nagging voice in my head when I’m trying to sit and read or play video games saying that I haven’t done enough to get a script writing gig yet. Whilst I’m glad I’ve got a few different things at various stages of development I’m still concerned that this is a scattergun approach with absolutely no structure to it at all. As a result of this is often hard to concentrate on writing anything because it involves shutting real life out for a while.

There are ideas there, it’s just finding them between the static.

I am 33 years old and quite often I feel I’m spending my life waiting for other people to say ‘Yes’.

The Drill

The first burst of energy getting though the opening section of ‘The Last Alive’ has burnt out leaving me hanging onto the first half hour duration with nowhere to go.

Morag, the girl who has returned from the dead, has awoken fairly quickly. My internal debate about keeping her dead for a while was quickly sorted when I found having a corpse sitting around during the story meant she didn’t have much of a say in matters. It also meant that it risked falling very quickly into something like ‘Weekend at Bernies’ as I’d have two men try desperately to hide the body of a ten year old girl from her Mother.


I’ve also had her wander away from our main character and end up meeting her Mother anyway. Her Mother reacts with great shock but accepts her on face value and is now thinking her daughter has come back. I’m beginning to think this has come in far too easily and it would be better if she’s met with a little more resistance initially. Morag has been given the power to twist minds to her own desires though so it’s also got to be done by taking this into account as well.

I probably need to stop here and take the overall story into account before pressing ahead again. The adrenaline fuelled sessions have only got me so far. Back to the notebooks I go.

The Ship Of Death Has A New Captain

I’m spending a fair bit of time converting the first section of ‘The Last Alive’ into my new scriptwriting software (a thing which I’m beginning to wonder why I didn’t start to use before). I’ve just about reached the part where I was the last time therefore finally catching up. I have had a small spot of rewriting on the way though as this was a chance to second draft the first twenty pages or so.

Maybe it was the fact I was watching a programme on BBC4 about European horror movies presented by Mark Gattis but I found myself trying to write the scene in which Morag, the young girl who went missing ten years before, is revealed as alive and well. When I originally wrote it she just appeared in the room, having originally been in the centre of the large rock that has shot down from space. Darren, my police officer character, opened the door and was confronted with the sight of the girl who he couldn’t find a decade earlier. They then proceeded to have a conversation about where she’s come from and if she is indeed the same girl.

In the new version she starts out as a corpse. Darren returns to a now flooded room (the rock has pretty much melted like an ice cube) and finds the body of the girl he couldn’t find a decade beforehand. As a scene I found it far more effective. Whilst Morag went missing they never found the body but here it is, in the place Darren though safest of all, his own office. I seem to have accidentally ended up writing horror.

The question is, when do we wake her up? 

A Fight In The Heart

Whilst putting some bed covers in the washing machine today and just before putting it on a 40° cycle I had an idea cone to me. It related to something a character would do in The Last Alive. By changing this detail everything else just seems to click into place. The ending, before seeming quite strange and loose, now makes sense.

I’ll elaborate more soon dear reader, it is late now and I have work tomorrow. Suffice to say I am pleased with this development.

The Opener

The Last Alive has now hit the eleven page mark. This doesn’t sound like a great deal in a running time that will go over ninety in the end but it is a sizable chunk to lay down characters and events. I’ve left it on the line which has our first major upturn in events, basically what occurs that kicks everything off. This is only draft one territory so there some stuff even now that I know I’ll change but we’ve reached this far without any scene breakdowns or character planning. I’ve been winging it all this time but I don’t think I can go much further without putting something down on paper.

Unusually for me I have an idea for the ending and the seeds to be sown to get that result in the final moments but the supporting structure isn’t quite there yet. I’m going to leave the script itself alone for a couple of days and get back to it a little more prepared.

Archaeologists Should Be Buried

We all love our own characters right? Lovely people, walking and talking in our heads every day and making it all seems so right. Then we start to write scripts with them in and we give them little voices and quirks. We like them, we want to invest in them, we want the world to love them too.

Then something odd happens.

The story doesn’t work and we have to engage in a fiction mercy killing. No one character is bigger than the story and this has come shooting to the very front of my mind in the last few hours concerning ‘The Last Alive’. I had a whole idea set up that a woman running an archeological dig would find a perfectly preserved body of a young girl who was thought to be missing years before from a small village in Scotland. She would then team with a local police officer in order to find out what had happened. This police officer would also still have to deal with the fact the girl’s mother still lives in the village and blames him for not finding her years before. This is the version I started to write a good few weeks ago now but found it stalling before it had really taken off.

The more I’ve asked myself what’s going to happen the more I’ve thought about how events would pan out between the girl’s mother, the policeman and the girl herself (especially as she’s claiming to be from another world). Only this morning did I realise that I hadn’t thought about the archeologist that much at all. Then I started wondering if she actually needs to be there. What does she add? How does she drive events forward? Bar finding a body at the start she does nothing else and it was harder and harder to find a reason for her to be there. The far more interesting story here is a Mother who, on the surface of it, has been given back something she long thought lost before finding it might not be what she had hoped for.

So that’s it, she dies, she is deleted, she is wiped from memory. In a really strange way, the way forward is much clearer now she’s gone.

Remain Tactical

My tactic of blasting through the first five pages of a script to see if it works has been done with this latest project, currently saved on my hard drive as ‘Sci Fi project’. It fairly ticks over well and I’m chucking in three characters without even really working out who the hell they are. The thing is, it kind of works and I’m interested in it enough to go further. This is far more progress than I was having with ‘The Last Alive’. It’s leading me to believe I should probably shorten down The Last Alive and run with it in a shorter form. Maybe all I had was a glorified X-Files episodes anyway.

If you want a photo that sums up the basis of the idea for ‘Sci Fi Project’ (the title will change obviously) then just examine this.


I know, it’s Weird Science. It makes sense to me honest.

Snug Like A Gun

After all that good news it’s probably time to consider what’s up next.

My listing of The Telephone Call has stopped dead, there were two people asking about it, one had a copy of the script e-mailed to him and said it sounded like an idea that ‘could go anywhere’. This probably means he hates the ending and wants to change it but I would be fine with that. The main problem is that he last emailed me around two months ago now and I’ve heard nothing from him since.

The second guy, upon reading the synopsis, sent me a simple message that basically said ‘is that it?’. I wanted to send something back saying ‘No of course not, there’s an ending involving s space station suddenly crashing down from the sky which kicks off an entire alien invasion with lasers and tank and Santa but I didn’t want to put that in the synopsis’. What I sent instead was something about how it’s ‘a simple story’ and ‘kept to it’s core elements’. I’m not sure it quite got through that this was a short movie, almost a comedy sketch, with a emphasis of brevity being the soul of wit. Once again I heard nothing.

This seems to be a regular part of the game, producers who might have spent years studying a vast amount of movies and know the names of a vast list of camera equipment from memory yet basic human consideration alludes them. So many of these people think that asking for a script, reading it and then never getting back to the writer is somehow acceptable. The message should be that it’s not, it makes you look like a complete tool and it shouldn’t be an effort to quickly write off a couple of lines saying ‘Sorry but not for me’. That way everybody knows where they stand. Being left hanging on ain’t exactly great for the confidence.

So we can probably assume that’s going nowhere very quickly right now. It’s no big deal, it was purely a quick off the cuff idea anyway.

In other news the new episode of Brake For Frogger went up last week, if you’re into video games then you might be interested in us waffling on about them. It’s had a fairly positive response so we’ll probably be back again soon. About halfway through the record I’d settled back into it again and it didn’t feel like the chore it had become last year.

There was also the small matter of the Kickstarter fund I linked to last week for Spring Fling Arts Festival here in Dumfries and Galloway. They were trying to raise money to take some of the works around the country before the 2014 event. I’m happy to say they did it with a few hours remaining which is pretty incredible. A big thank you if you followed the link and put the money down.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I’ll probably spend a couple of days sharpening up the synopsis for ‘Seven Lucky Stars’ to see if I can relist that then it might well be either back to the much neglected ‘The Last Alive’ or maybe something new. The Last Alive is still proving troublesome, there’s no foothold in it currently and I can’t get it working. I have an advantage at the moment of being an amauter writer so I can turf out scripts that I’m struggling with and move on.

Script Jam

You’re probably wondering what’s going on with ‘The Last Alive’. Maybe you’re not, maybe you truly couldn’t care less about the on off nature of the feature script that is currently in the works on my laptop. It’s still struggling on and not really going anywhere in the process. I’m now thinking I’ve came to this far too early and it needs further planning in order to proceed. The characters just seem a bit samey, the location is far too much of backwater Scotland and the intro sees nothing happen for ages and then everything happens in a few pages.  Going forward now would be utterly stupid, it’ll have to wait.

In the meantime I’m thinking about writing another couple of shorts and also rewrite the synopsis for Seven Lucky Stars in a effort to get that relisted and possibly picked up. I’m going to fling some idea into the notebook for the shorts, maybe just a sentence for each and then take it from there. It’s probably going to be a way of breaking up the task of writing the feature and enables something to be going on in the background at the same time.