Monday, 30 June 2008


It's going to be a bit quite around here with so many off to the Screenwriting Festival. Couldn't make it this year but I hope to live it vicariously through their posts.

I said I'd report on the latest for my short play. It had its performance, after some modifications, just over a week ago. The audience was a bit smaller, not everyone wants to see a play twice, but there were new people too. This meant some feedback was on whether the reworks improved things and some was from fresh eyes. A useful combination.

This time the studio was laid out with a stage down the middle instead of at one end. I'm not sure if that worked because one of the actors moved about a lot and had to be sure he didn't obscure the movements of the other.

I felt there were fewer laughs this time (yes it was a comedy) but the audience still said they enjoyed it. Except for a lovely pair of pensioners who felt it was a bit too wordy for them.

This time there was a chance for people to ask questions and most of these were about whether I should expand the play and how. I'd always intended it as a short, complete piece. Half the feedback said it would be nice to expand it, they wanted to get to know more about the characters and I chatted for a while about the backstory for each. The other half felt this would dilute the piece. It is very fast paced and I'm worried I'll lose the momentum and end up padding it to make it longer. I still feel happiest with it staying as a short play but maybe I'll feel differently in a year.

Those that voted for expansion wanted me to make the two characters suffer more. The director, Dan, let me know that pain is funny. His stand-up mate says it has been proved scientifically. So I'm too nice to my characters and I've got to be more sadistic. Hmmm. I'm going to have to develop a nasty streak.

The piece was also selected for a workshop at a literary festival on the border. The aim was to introduce people to the scriptwriting group, show them what it was like to write for the stage and tout for members. The attendees were split into two groups and asked to write the next scene. An interesting challenge when the play's ending is the possible end of the world.

I heard today how it went and the two groups took very different routes. One kept the comedy style and that you are never sure if things are really happening or not. The other group decided it wasn't but made the characters suffer more. Both were great ways forward and I'm chuffed that it gave them very different ideas.

The attendees enjoyed the experience and the play so I think that counts as a success. Unless they all take up writing. Then I have more competition. Oh dear. This could all go horribly wrong.

I'll wind up now. Trying to decide whether to put my next play idea aside for a while or battle on. Currently going for the put it aside vote because it just isn't flowing well at the moment. Lots of other pieces to work on though.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Sharps and Flats

At 13.05 I logged on to my email area. Held my breathe. Lots of emails in. Scanned. Scanned again. Bashed the monitor and scanned once more. Nope. Nothing. Nada.

Ever the optomist I tried again at 13.30. Still nothing. I mean I even waited until 18.00. How could they keep a girl waiting that long. Guess I'll just have to accept I've been dumped. No shiny, golden email ticket to the BBC Chocolate Factory for me.

Oh well. I am happy with my script and will pop it into my portfolio. And I guess we are all waiting now to hear if we are one of the 100 who will get feedback.

By the way I'm applying to TAPS Continuing Drama. May get bounced but if you don't try you'll get no-where. If you are in the Nations category then it appears you have a little more time. The deadline has been extended to July 11th. For those in Regions the deadline is 27th June so get your skates on.

Monday, 16 June 2008

A bit of classic horror to cheer you up

Been keeping this in reserve. Had some good news and some bad news today.

Good: My short play has been picked as one of the four for a final performance. We modified them in light of comments from audience, actors and directors then resubmitted. I was one of the ones picked. I'm going to have to stand up and talk about the play then answer questions from the floor so my fingernails have suddenly disappeared.

Bad: Super Shorts semi-final list is now up. I didn't get through. I'm telling myself that there was a HUGE pile of submissions and I just missed so it was quite an achievement. I know I was nearly picked because the sheep are lying down so it must be true.

So here's the little horror present.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Music Meme

OK I got memed by Sheikspear.

I have to include the instructions below:

"List seven songs you are into right now. No matter what the genre, whether they have words, or even if they’re not any good, but they must be songs you’re really enjoying now, shaping your spring. Post these instructions in your blog along with your 7 songs. Then tag 7 other people to see what they’re listening to."

Right done. Then list my seven choices. So I dug out my MP3 player and made a list. The I halved it. Then I halved it again. Then I binned any that were already on Dave's list. I think it's leeching on his list but he's my husband so he has to lump it. Mwaaa haaa haaa.

So I got it down to seven.

1. Eurythmics - Missionary Man
2. Fleetwood Mac - Big Love (live version 1997)
3. Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Child
4. Pink - Who Knew
5. Living Colour - Sunshine of Your Love
6. Snow patrol - Open Your Eyes
7. Verve - The Rolling People

Not many people left to pass it on to cos Rob and Sheikspear did a blitz. I'll doing a modest few. So if you are in the mood folks I'm meming Potdoll so you can relax after casting, Colin and Oli so you can destress after Sharps and Lianne because you've been quiet recently and you're missed.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Writing for Film and Stage

Spotted this on Rouge Wave about the difference between writing for stage and film. I'm having a go at writing my first full length stage play so it was an interesting read.

Oh and I got my confirmation email from Writersroom today. They've got my Sharps entry so the die is cast.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

It's like fellwalking

Ever climbed a fell and seen the top. Then you get to the top and find it was just a bump and the real top is still to climb. Then you get to the top and find it was just a bump and the real top is still to climb. Then you get to the ....

Well this first nearly half a year has felt a bit like that.

I've been working hard on my bad habit of overwriting. Having come in from a prose background it has been hard to cut the description and action down to the minimum. I love those vivid phrases and all the detail. But if I want to do that I should be tackling a short story or a novel.

Instead I've had to think of the script as a technical document. Something that will be read and used by both the creative and the technical sides of the industry. That isn't too bad because I write technical reports every day. I've found the toughest part has been mastering the balance. It is still a creative document too and so shouldn't be cold, clinical and formulaic. In other words don't be boring.

I think I've hit the balance now but time will tell.

I've also seemed to be chasing deadlines. Don't know if Spring is usually this hectic or whether I've just become more aware of it this year.

I started with loads of deadlines ahead and thought I'd just see how many I'd hit. I quickly realised I'd have to prioritise. What did I stand a chance on and what would expand my portfolio if I missed. That's kept me pretty busy.

I made about 25% of them which was still a lot more than if I'd ambled along writing specs as the mood took me. I need deadlines. I regret not managing to hit Bruntwood. Yes I know the deadline is still four days away but it has to be posted and I don't want to send off an early draft. The work isn't wasted though. The subject fits into Protect The Human too.

I haven't stopped my spec work though. Three features at different stages, an hour long TV drama and a radio play. Plus I need to get back to every1sacritic because the new deadline is on its way.

So does it ease up? All these deadlines? Or do you crumble into a mess.

Mmmmm. Crumble. Off to get pudding now.

Sharps and the half hour drama

Well my script for Sharps is ready. I've done the application form. I've got my email. I've bought new print cartridges. There's a stack of crisp, clean paper waiting. I've sacrificed the black cockerel. I've spun three times winnershins. I've raced up the nearest fell and back. OK not the last one. Me… running. I don't think so.

I'd like to thank the wonderful people who's feedback got me to the point. Bloggers Dave, Lucy, Elinor and Chip. Commenter Caroline and Non-bloggers Paul and John. Yes I know that's more than three but I'm really insecure and covering all demographics is my comfort blanket.

I used at least one point from everyone's feedback and they all said I was too subtle in showing the history of the characters relationships. I think I've sorted that now. Problem with subtlety. When all the background is in your head, how can you be certain you have put enough on the page?

I also got to read some of their submissions and I think they are brilliant so competition will be tough.

There seems to have been a lot of drop-outs on this one. And many people have scrapped ideas and started again, myself included. So what made it so tough?

Some felt it was the topic. The Nation's Health. The first thought was a hospital or health centre. Everyone's going to write that right? But health is a big topic and they were encouraging people to experiment so it shouldn't be hard to move well away from those areas while keeping with the theme.

However I think the problem was that they asked for a half-hour drama. You don't get to see many of those these days. Yes we have sitcoms. But BBC said they weren't looking for a sitcom. (I suspect they won't turn their noses up at one that ticks all the boxes though.)

So if you wanted a lighter route then that left comedy drama or dramedy or whatever you fancy calling it. There are some brilliant ones out there and it is my favourite viewing but they are about an hour long.

And for pure half hour drama you have soaps, sorry continuing drama. I hate it when the names change. I still buy Marathons, not Snickers! Anway hardly self-contained, excluding the odd one-on-one specials. All those threads from other episodes. I suppose the closest to a half hour drama in the past few years was the Bill in its short form.

Those of us of a more mature persuasion will remember Comedy Playhouse but that was…well…comedy. So there isn't a lot of half hour pure drama on TV as an example. Unless I'm just missing some brilliant stuff because it is on during the day or at sprog bedtime. Please let me know if I am. So easy to miss the gems in the gravel.

I've seen some lovely examples in short films by the way so I would recommend watching more of these. See Short Films on the sidebar of here for a list of sites.

I can understand why BBC chose half hour. You want it long enough to be sure the writer can sustain the quality but not so long that you double the reading time and costs. However with few examples of the form it seems to have proved an interesting challenge.

I haven't tried to second-guess the reader. It's pointless because they will all be different. Instead I've written something I'm proud of and would want to watch. Even if I get no-where on Sharps it is something I'm happy to add to my portfolio so no wasted time.

Good luck to everyone who's entered. Let me know how you do.