Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Monkey Puzzle Tree... and a chocolate gobbling dog

I finally allowed myself to print out the script, running at 118 scenes and 87 pages. And yes, it's short which is great because I've realised the fun to be had out of re-writing comes when there is space to flesh scenes or characters out in tiny little ways as you polish. Though that only works when the script works as a whole... so I haven't started reading it yet!

Meanwhile my dog, Roxy trotted into the babysitter and my daughter with a large bar of dark chocolate - 70% proof - clamped proudly between her hairy jaws. Even when tempted away with chorizo, she managed to get the sausage and still guard the chocolate under her hot little belly but yes, it was finally rescued or she was rescued from it. Or so we thought...

Cue the back bedroom next morning. Very hungover friend called Jane. Snoring softly. Softly enough to make the blind flutter like an escaped convict.

What I hadn't known was that when we'd gone out was that Jane had left a handbag by the bed. Inside were various things of international importance... and four bars of same chocolate. Only now there was no chocolate in the bag and the floor was littered with infinitely small pieces of paper and foil. Absolutely NO trace of chocolate ever having been near either. It was as if the chocolate itself must have thought it dreamed it existed and now knew it was untrue.

Judging by the quantity of debris, my guess is that the bar Roxy brought downstairs was the fourth of these, and maybe she just got tired of binging on her own and wanted to continue her binge in company. BIG mistake. I'm sure there's a lesson for us all here... hoard your chocolate at a height? learn to enjoy your guilty pleasures away from babysitters and children?

But it's better than the time she managed to lock herself into the bathroom and ate most of the contents of the bin. And at least she doesn't eat poo like the last dog. (Yeah, it's amazing what you can become grateful for over the years!)

Why is it soooo much easier to write about a dog than to read a script or a novel you've just finished? Is it fear?

I think it's fear.

Monday, 6 December 2010

On Rewriting...

First proper full draft of the children's novel is now done, and waiting to be dusted - ie read through, tidied, threads of thought and story securely fastened in the right places. I've put it aside until New Year; my theory being that then I can come at it fresh, read it as I would a fresh novel and then I'll see if it works and test it out on a couple of readers.

Which is why rewriting sucks! It just expands to fit whatever time is available, not helped by four projects not getting funded - only one put in by myself, the others by a production company who are still burrowing out through the recession and sending stuff of mine out into potential markets for funding. I had hoped the rule of three would work and the third would get the money but that's the world we're in at the moment.

Two weeks ago, I dived back into a script called Monkey Puzzle Tree. (Yeah, it's one of the few titles I've come up with that I absolutely love; which makes me fear that it will have to be dumped at some point.)

The first draft made its producer laugh out loud all the way from here to LA; the second, well suffice to say she said she smiled for the first time on p 27. And she was right. It had become over earnest, solidly fed with stuff that made sense and set up the world but added nothing to the story or characters or the atmosphere. Scenes with purpose but with no real predicament. Dead weight. The very fault I warn my students about.

But I know I can make it work, hence the splicing open of its heart and all its characters and brainstorming the most erratic ideas and images and words just to see where they lead.

Which leaves the plot - my personal bete noir - looking almost healthy except for one or two absolutely crucial decisions that will affect just about everything and without which I can't pull all the pieces back into a fresh draft: my goal for this week!

Which is why I've spent the morning writing Christmas cards for Australia and the UK. Hmmm.