Friday 26 October 2012

Eyes In Your Window: Blog #04...

Read the previous post in this series here.

Time for a progress update - put simply, the first draft of the script for "Mug" (the first-of-three episodes which make up Eyes In Your Window), was completed today. As this is a spec script, and a three-part post-watershed drama serial to boot, you don't have to write all three (or however many you've chosen) episodes. Instead you write the first episode, and then map out the other two (or however many you've chosen).

Click "READ MORE" below to continue reading the latest EIYW blog post...

The next task is to do just that - write the layouts (essentially scene-by-scene breakdowns) of the next two episodes (titled "Knife" and "Stump" respectively). In a way, this will be like creating the record cards for the first episode, and then not actually writing them up into a fully-realised script.

After that's done, it'll be back to page one of "Mug" - the first-of-three episodes - for redrafting duties.

But how has the writing process gone this time around? Well, it's gone rather well. I've fought off that old peril by the name of procrastination, which you can easily fall into when faced by a new project, and I have kept to a schedule of writing. Naturally, this is a spec script, and it's being done in my spare time, so it's spread out over a longer period of time than it would be if I was being paid. The important thing however, is to have a time period in each day that you set aside for the specific purpose of writing. During that time, seek to get as many pages done as possible (five is a good mean to go by), and then, well, just keep the momentum going. Even if you only get a couple of pages done, you're still two pages further on than you were before you sat down ... on the other hand you might crank out six or seven pages with ease, which is great.

Some pages might be dense with action, while others might be dense with dialogue (which eats up space on the page at a pleasing rate, it has to be said), but all progress forward is a good thing - as long as you're not standing still, you're doing fine.

I have to say though, I've really found the use of record cards - to organise the script, scene-by-scene by-hand, with the easy ability to slot a new card in where you require a new scene - to be a real help. It's brought order to the relative chaos that is a book full of ideas that were written in no order (just when the ideas popped into my head). You can see the entire script laid out before you on the floor and you can overview it like a hawk and spot any flaws or gaps in your plotting, and then simply fill them in. It's also a great way to plan your writing - get one, two, or even three cards done in each session - and your notes keep you directly on track so you never get lost.

Combined with the experience I've gained from previous screenplays I have written, I've found writing this draft to be a real joy. For one thing I've been able to plan and organise to the extent that I wasn't allowing scenes to get overlong (only to then have to hack them back in subsequent drafts) - indeed, on this very first draft I was hitting all my "this must happen by this page" targets first time through. If anything I was hitting them with a page or two of breathing room. Compare that to the very first draft of Allen Bridge, which I wrote last year - where Act I clocked in at 45 pages, a full 15 pages overlong (hacked back in subsequent drafts) - and it's plain to see there's been a real improvement there.

I've still not figured out a pithy little sign-off phrase yet, so until next time...

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