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Blog: First Drafting

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I've been working REALLY HARD for the past few weeks, doing THE WRITING!

It all started around the time of the screenwriters' festival, when I realised that I didn't have anything NEW and FINISHED to hawk around, so I decided to do something about it. I had two ideas, a film and a sitcom, which I'd been thinking about for AGES but had never got around to actually WRITING. I had to do one-pagers (i.e. a logline and synopsis) for them for the festival, based on a TONNE of prep I'd done for each previously, so once all that was finished I sat myself down and wrote proper TREATMENTS for each. This is a screenwriting thing where you write out the whole plot like it's a prose story, with bits of dialogue along the way. The idea is that if you're working on a TV show or something you can show it to the Producers who can then make suggestions/changes before you've gone to all the trouble of writing a full script, but it's also a GRATE thing to do when you're just writing at home. It's MUCH easier to see problems with the plot and FIX them at this point than when it's full length. When I did my big script for the course last year my mentor, Mr A Cartmel, was VERY keen on getting this fully sorted, and we spent about as long PLANNING as I did actual DIALOGUE writing.

So, I spent quite a while working on the treatments and, once that was done, did myself a PLAN, giving myself two weeks to do the first draft of the film script and one week for the sitcom. This was JUST to do the first drafts - I thought that the best idea would be just to DO it and worry about whether it was any good later. Re-writing stuff is the FUN bit, but you need to WRITE something before you can RE-write it so I made it a rule to NOT go back and read what I'd done. I did have to go back a couple of times to check/change things, but the joy of having the proper treatment is that I didn't really NEED to. I knew where I was in the story and what was happening next, so all I needed to concentrate on was typing it out. I thus sat myself down every day for a couple of hours and TYPED!

I know it seems like I was just hacking it out, but it flipping worked - last Thursday I got to the last page of my film script and did a VICTORY LAP around the flat! On Monday - after spending the weekend getting excited about it - I started writing the sitcom and by lunchtime today I'd FINISHED. The sitcom especially is going to need a LOT of work - for starters it's nearly twice as long as it should be and definitely needs some more GAGS, but that's all part of the plan. The important thing today was to a) get to the end b) do another VICTORY LAP around the flat!

The next stage of the plan is to print the film script out and take it with me on Saturday to read on the train to Derby (it's Validators Recording Weekend! ZANG!) then work on RE-WRITES all next week. This is ALSO quite exciting - as I say, I've not looked at it at ALL since I got to the final page of typing, so have no idea what it's like and will (hopefully) have forgotten some of it while my BRANE was concentrating on the sitcom. I've got myself scheduled to spend a week working on that then flip over and do the same for the FOLLOWING week on the sitcom, this time reading it on trains to and from Norwich and Northampton on tour with Gav. After that it'll be the same again for NEXT drafts, and then I'll try and get some people to READ them and see what they think.

It's not quite the POETIC IDYLL of me sitting with a QUILL gazing at CLOUDS but it DOES seem to work, and if it means I've got some NEW STUFF to send people/enter into competitions/show off about after Christmas then it'll all have been worth it. For now though I'm going to have a couple of days off of The Writing and a couple of days ON with THE ROCK in Derby - ROCK HISTORY awaits!

posted 20/11/2014 by MJ Hibbett

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Oh! Is that Mr A Cartmel who used to script-edit Doctor Who?? Incidentally, while I'm sure you're still waiting agog for the next draft of that thing you kindly read for me a while back - unfortunately flat-buying and stuff has kaiboshed it at least for now...
posted 20/11/2014 by John

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