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.
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.
Ploughing forth with Order For Burning now, the aim of having draft one done by Christmas is alive even though I may have to be writing on Christmas Eve to get there.
I’ve ventured very much off track for the middle section only now really returning to the plan for the ending. Even now I’m adding bits to the story based on what I reckon each character would do. The part I finished tonight will either stay as a fantastic set piece or be dumped quickly.
I have Agnes, the ‘leader’ of the women imprisoned currently, volunteering herself as the one Jack (our witch hunter) tortures in order for a confession. She actually swaps places with another woman to save her further pain. This is on the condition Jack does the procedure himself, Agnes has noticed he doesn’t like getting his hands dirty and calls him on it. She still does not confess.
This makes Jack incredibly angry, a woman has never matched him before. He leaves Agnes in prison and goes to her family home to find her husband David there. Jack tries to convince David to confess to his wife being a witch but he refuses. Upon getting out of the house and, with David inside, Jack sets the building alight. He’s going to go on and suggest this was the Devil’s attempt at covering his tracks.
It’s a huge liberty to take with history, it’s a stab at putting a parallel of the house fire and the flames which will engulf the unfortunate women in the end and it would cost a lot to film. It stays for now however, until something better comes along.
I don’t like picking at scripts, taking a few hours here and there. It means that whenever you return you have to find where you left off each time and attempt to get into the swing of the whole thing. I prefer to have long blasts at writing, spending a few long hours on it and knocking chunks off the total. It feels much more like progress that way.
I have three days off work now and Order For Burning’s first draft has sat alone for the last couple of weeks. I’ve done a rewrite of The Salesman’s Gamble in the meantime as the producer who was interested in it wanted one and I thought it prudent to get it done and away.
But we need progress, no point standing still , nobody gets rewards for standing still.
Apart from the human statue.
But that’s performance art.
After dropping off my son at school this morning I had breakfast by 9am (I usually wait to get back before I eat). Around 9:30am I’m launching back into the script, tackling the awkward middle portion. It reads like a complete mess and I’m cursing it as I type but it needs done. I’m pretty much at the halfway point . Once over the hump of setting up the ending it should be downhill from there, hurtling into our finale.