Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Fairly random thoughts on scripts that are a pile of shiny shit and 50th birthday parties

So I jumped and now I’ve been writing full-time for two months.

My script for the Red Planet prize made it to the top 25 but unfortunately no further which was good but not good enough. The script, after a thorough re-draft, also made it into the top twelve of the BBC Drama Wales Award but also no further and though it’s great to think my script put me in the top 12 in all writers in Wales (strictly speaking – all writers in Wales who submitted but if you’re a writing in Wales and you didn’t submit to such a huge competition then you’re a bit silly and frankly worth ignoring) it still didn’t put me in the top six which leaves me with two issues which I’m contemplating as I sit at a very large table in a very large house we’ve hired to celebrate my friend’s 50th birthday. So along with contemplating my two issues I’m wondering when I got so old that I have friends who are celebrating their 50th birthday.

It seems only yesterday I was dreading my 21st birthday party arranged by my mum in the hall above the local snooker and pool club hall and wondering if anyone was going to come because I was horrible and everyone hated me. But now look at me I’m 43, I have friends who invite me to spend a week with them celebrating their 50th birthday so I mustn’t be horrible and they mustn’t hate me. Must they?

Parties are on my mind– firstly because I’m at one and secondly because I’m writing a short play for the Sherman Cymru Scriptslam on the theme of After the Party which has to be sent by the end of today. So better get back to the point which is my two points or issues.

Firstly, writing a script which is better so that next time I make it to the final hurdle rather than falling over just before the finish line. I didn’t fall flat on my face at least which is my usual experience of competitions. Flat on my face in a pile of cow shit. The script being the cow shit though at the time I didn’t think it was a cow shit I thought it was a pile of perfect gold.

Secondly, what the hell to do with the script that is good but not good enough because I absolutely love the idea, the characters and the story and if it did so well, it’s clearly not a pile of cow shit though also it’s not a pile of gold.

So firstly making sure the next script is a pile of gold. Let’s start with not forgetting the things that have been learned through the process of writing the script – write scripts which are fun for me. That is certainly the case with the next script as it’s a subject that has been percolating in my head for about 10 years, almost as long if not longer than the last one.

The idea for the next script is well into development, characters, structure, narrative, plot have all been developed. I’ve already written the first twenty pages. I have started to redraft the first ten pages to ensure that the start of the script has that very special attention required to make it shine like gold amongst the spec scripts. After a brief break to complete the draft of a theatre play, I’ll be heading back to write the first draft through to the end. Then I’ll redraft it as many times as is needed to make it what it needs to be, to make it better than the last script to make it the best script it can possibly be. The fundamental part of all this is the fact that I making sure that the script of finished well ahead of the next Red Planet competition. I want to give myself months to think about it, write it, redraft it, think about it some more. Because the main thing I learned from my flirtation with success is that it’s better to give yourself twelve months to write a script than one month. Pretty obvious really I know but the simple fact is that though the script was made into what it needed to be and was better than my last script it wasn’t the best it could possibly be.

This slides me nicely into the second of my issues, almost like I’d planned it. What to do with the script now? It’s getting there but it still isn’t the best it could possibly be and that’s going to take some more work. But it is still a good script, clearly because it made it into the top 25 of the Red Planet competition and the top twelve of the Drama Wales Award. Sorry - but just thought that was worth repeating.

Once it is the best script it can possibly be then I plan to send it as a spec script to a few places that accept submissions, maybe a few agents, maybe a few TV companies, maybe it can open a few more doors.

But what’s more I’m going to think how I can tell the story in other mediums I genuinely believe that the story could work as a radio play, as a novel, as a film – telling the story differently or telling different aspects of the story but it’s possible and a challenge and I like the challenge of trying to write the story for different mediums. And I don’t like stepping in cow shit.