Tag Archives: creative writing

A Warrior’s Dreams

About 2000 words done in the last few days which is fairly good progress considering the complete standstill this book was at just before Christmas. It’s been a gradual process of getting back into it by doing a couple of hundred words here and there.

A thought occured to me that suddenly made this part of the process make sense. What I’m writing at the moment certainly needs a rewrite but that’s adding colour. This part is just the pencil outline. I should hopefully be able to see where the colour needs to go as I reach the end.

With 33000 words done now it has only just sprang up in my mind that this is more than halfway.

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It Is After All A Wonderful Place

As you might have noticed the book has slowed down to a pitiful grind in recent weeks. In fact I think it might well have been around a month since I last put a word towards the thing at all. This is for a multitude of reasons, some of which will actually go into the nuts and bolts of the story so have a spoiler warning for something that doesn’t even fully exist yet if that kind of thing really bothers you.

It’s mainly been down to a moment of truth between two characters. The story has turned into something of a time slip. Half of the book is set ten years previously when the young girl actually went missing in the first place and the other half concentrates on her return a decade later. It’s been a bit of an effort to separate these two time lines and sometimes certain characters can have completely different opinions of each other within a few pages because we go into a new chapter and events have taken hold in the years between. I’ve made certain lengths to not put the same characters in joining chapters for this reason but it sometimes feels like I should because it would be best for the story.

There’s also the issue of giving correct signifiers of which time frame the story is in. I have buildings that thrive in the town of 2007 then crumble in 2017. There’s a cinema in the main street that two of the characters walk past in the earlier time line, it’s an empty husk by the time the modern events occur. I’m not sure if it actually makes any kind of difference and I think I might well be running out of examples to use. With this story originally being intended as a ninety minute film with minimal locations it’s becoming quite regular that I find myself describing somewhere I’ve already given details of a few chapters before.

The chapter I’m currently writing has the male police officer receive the report of the missing girl from her Mother. The Mother is obviously panic stricken so she spends the first few pages almost babbling at him. He’s the calm one, insisting that it’s probably nothing and they’ll find her fairly quickly. It’s two obvious, opposing ideologies at play and it should work better that it currently is. Reading it back now she just comes across as hysterical and he sounds like he doesn’t care.

I was reading something about police investigations on missing people and something really stuck with me. Apparently there is always a reason why somebody goes missing. Nobody just vanishes without a reason. The first thing investigators do rather than go out physically looking for the person in question is search their home/room/office/car so try and find something that would lead them to run away. With this in mind I have the police officer insisting on searching this girl’s room rather than go down to the harbour where she was last seen. Her Mother cannot see the point in all of this and protests as such.

But then the issues come up of what exactly would he find there? This girl has gone down to the beach, found an alien life form, had an alien parasite placed on her and then given back after ten years underwater. There’s really nothing he could possibly turn up under her bed that would lead to this conclusion.  This begs the question of what the point of this part of the story is. I’ve written about 500-600 words on that chapter, looked at what I had so far and wanted to delete the whole thing. It’s the first time I’ve felt that way about anything I’ve written towards this story.

If I’m getting rid of this thread then I’ve found it really hard to think of what to replace it with. Do I just have them go down to the beach and scrap the more ‘realistic’ aspect of a police investigation? Would the mother refuse police help if she thought it wasn’t really going anywhere? Is it possible to make him come across as calm without making it sound like he doesn’t actually care about what happens to this girl?  There’s a certain level of inconsistency at the moment as to why these characters are doing what they are doing which is undermining the whole thing.

Wider ranging questions have been brought up regarding the story also. Why exactly has the Mother come back ten years later? Does she seek closure? Does she seriously expect to find her daughter in the town she left? Is she chasing a much happier time in her life? Is she driven by a wish to change what happened in the aftermath of this event? When reading back the text so far she seems like she herself doesn’t truly know and it makes her sound less of a fully rounded character and more of a floating emotion minus heft and weight.

The current word count is halfway towards what I consider the finish line to be (as far as a first draft goes, they’ll be a heck of a lot of editing to do once I get there). I’m spending a lot of time looking back at what I have so far and wondering if it’s actually a worthwhile investment of time. All kinds of doubts have crept in and are starting to take root. This fundamental disconnect between two main characters is not helping matters.

There’s a way back in there somewhere and I’m glad in a way to have had some time away from it so I can view it from a much wider angle but time is ticking onwards. I started the book in March 2017 just before the clocks went forwards. Now I’m here, in October, with the clocks about to go back again and at the stage when I really thought I’d have a full draft by now. There’s a long winter ahead.

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Like A Dragon

Well, I didn’t get anything done last night as far as the book went because I was in town during the day trading in some old video games. It gave me £55 to spend on new stuff so I bought Yakuza 0. Essentially I spent last night slugging it out with muggers on Japanese streets. It was fantastic but didn’t get me anywhere with this story.

So tonight I thought I’d blast it through between 8-9pm and see what happened. As it turned out I got 500 words done. We’re deep into Chapter 2 now (that should have been Chapter 3, keep up) and it’s the first point during this book that I’m writing something thinking I’m certainly going back to change it later. It’s the introduction of my local police officer who headed up the original investigation into the girl’s disappearance ten years ago. He comes across as a complete tool right now, far too removed from everything like he doesn’t care. His opening action is to go to the local shop and buy cigarettes which is probably a really boring thing for a character to be doing.

It’s probably a good thing that I’ve already identified something about the book that’ll change later on. As with the scripts in the past I’d be more worried if I was getting to this point thinking it was all brilliant.

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850g

No words today.

I have an excuse though, today was my 36th birthday and my evening after work was spent watching a movie with my wife and son. We went out for a meal last night too.

The book stands at the end of Chapter 1 and needs an opening line for the second. I was thinking about that all day today. Once I get home from work tomorrow I’ll have worked something out.

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The Hooligan With A Golden Heart

There are  sometimes those moments when you realise progress has been made but it wasn’t obvious until now. Today I was asked about the book’s plot. A workmate wanted to know what he might be letting himself in for.

I kept it fairly brief,  giving him the first few beats. As I was speaking it dawned on me that I was talking about this story in a confident manner. There were no ‘and then something happens but I’m not sure what yet’. It felt fantastic, especially as before I’d have said it wasn’t ready. An unofficial, relaxed pitch session has told me it bloody well is.

This story is tired of waiting for me.

So let’s get to it.

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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…

 

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And Nothing Much Happens

When I’m planning scripts one of the main things I get paranoid about is making sure something is happening in each scene. It might be my lack of confidence in just having conversations between each character but there’s always the nagging need to have some kind of threat. I’m currently looking at the complete scene by scene of Parallel and getting worried that some parts are just conversation. Act one is establish paradigm, act two is breaking it and act three is resolving it but making it different to the start. That’s the classic Hollywood way.

totoro

I was watching the Studio Ghibli classic ‘My Neighbour Totoro’ for the first time last week and I loved it (as did my nine year old son). What struck me was that not a great deal actually happens in the hour and a half long film. There’s also a lot of plot points that aren’t explained fully in any way.

Two girls move into a new family home alongside their father. Their mother is absent as she’s sick in hospital. What disease has struck her down remains a mystery for the entire film. The house they now live in looks haunted and they discover soot sprites almost as soon as they arrive.

Whilst the older girl is at school the younger discovers two small creatures in the garden. One is like a small rodent and the other is a smaller, ghostly version of the same thing. Why one of them is a spirit is not explained. She follows these creatures into woodland when she discovers Totoro, a much bigger version of the creature who doesn’t talk and seems to like sleeping.

Usually, if this were a Western film, there would be some form of danger straight away. Totoro would be under threat somehow, the local village would see him as some kind of ghostly monster. The family would stand in front of the tree defending their friend. Instead, not much really happens until they receive a telegram from the hospital and the family all try to make it there in time. Totoro conjures an imaginary bus which is shaped like a cat to get the girls there in time to they can deliver corn on the cob (no, really). You never find out of the Mother recovers or if she manages to join the rest of her family in the new home.

cat bus

Totoro seems like a wistful dream in which events move along at a steady pace only really to pick up for the last fifteen minutes. I imagine a scenario if them doing a Western remake and a producer tearing his hair out asking where the danger is and how all this resolves. As stated before, this doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy the film but it does make me think about how I lay out my scripts. Do I, as a writer, back away from the power of human relationships?

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Scorpions

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.

bioshock.jpg

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Hand Crafted

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.

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Now to do the same thing working out the rest of Parallel.

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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.

 

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