Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Once more unto the breach

Once more unto the breach

It probably didn't escape your notice that back in November I attempted NaNoWriMo, in the end triumphing with an (as yet) unfinished novel named Ilyria which reached 50,531 words by the end of the November. Obviously writing it nearly killed me but it was something I'm (not so secretly) proud of. And though I have since discovered that nothing, other than character development (obviously), happens in the first 20,000 words it may well stand as one of the great breakthroughs of my writing life - just because it proved to myself that I could actually buckle down and (almost) write a novel.

In such a vein of inspiration insanity I have now committed to Script Frenzy in April. Brought to the world by the lovely people behind NaNo the idea of this is to write 100 pages of script in the thirty days of April. You can write anything that the word 'script' might cover, a brief glance at the hardy souls who attempted the feat in its original year quickly shows that writing a screenplay was the favoured option. One day, obviously, I will write a screenplay - if only because Dean and I have already cast the film of Films About Ghosts (Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman as the leads should you be interested) - but that one day is not now. Not at least until I have watched enough films and read enough screenplays so that I don't get stuck having to included Titanic in a list of my favourite films.

So I'm going to take the predictable option and write a play.

Obviously this choice means that I'm not so much walking into the unknown as walking to the shop at the top of my street and buying a copy of the Guardian and a bar of chocolate. I have, after all, written plays before. Even the timescale doesn't feel that terrible. My first draft of FAG (such a great acronym) was written between 19th of September and 23rd of October last year. And of that time there was a good fortnight when - because of the fact that sometimes you just need to walk through fields quoting poetry - I found it utterly impossible to write anything on the play. I vividly remember writing the entirety of the second act (a good 57 pages) in five days. Even when I had the idea of writing a play in a fortnight a couple of years ago I managed 97 pages in the allotted time. And bits of that play are actually quite good. Bits of it are terrible, but that comes with the territory (and possibly with the fact I wrote it concurrently with attending a writer's course where they gave you the rules that are given to the people who write on Eastenders).

So Script Frenzy certainly feels like it's within my comfort zone.

The challenge comes from the fact that my inner editor is going to be much more alert that she was allowed to be during NaNo. I not only have to write 100 pages of script, I have to write 100 pages of script that I think I might be able to re-write and re-write and then re-write again into something that I might fall in love with. Which is a bit different to simply putting one foot in front of the other.

Over the past few weeks the building blocks of the play have started to come together. I've wanted to write something with lots of interesting female characters for some time and this seems the perfect opportunity. There is a spot on your profile on Script Frenzy which allows you to categorise your script as being [blank] meets [blank] and, with a high degree of geek-ness I have labelled mine as My Mother Said I Never Should meets The Blue Room. For anyone who knows the latter play (sending the phrase "Pure theatrical Viagra" into folklore) I would emphasise that it is the structure rather than content that I am (partially) pillaging. I still need to do a bit of work before April 1st as whilst I've almost finished mapping out all the major interconnecting scenes none of the characters have names or full biographies. I've been enjoying myself, however, pottering around making notes and reading about the 'death of the sisterhood', hedge funds, diaries and Rosalind Franklin (as one article described her, "the Sylvia Plath of twentieth century science"). At the very least it has softened the rather more concrete (and scary) MA application and the packaging and sending off of Films About Ghosts which are currently in progress. Indeed letting go of Poppy and Charlie and the world of FAG is proving difficult - the urge to return and polish is one I do not think I will ever rid myself of - a distraction of a new play is something that I suspect I urgently need.

No comments: