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  1. Apparently in Hollywood - the way a film goes from inception to creation is usually like this.

    Even before a script is written a writer or marketing exec will pitch to the studio. This is usually a 3 minute synopsis - like so

    "This is an adaption of frankenstein where Tom cruise is a tennis coach who has an accident and loses his wife. In order to resurrect her he has to steal body parts along with his inept but happening assistant, Jack Black etc..."

    If the studio like the pitch they'll get you to write a treatment which is just an extension of the pitch.

    They'll start the wheels in motion and they'll get an a-cast, a b-cast and a c-cast ready by talking to everyone's agents.

    If the studio like the treatment they may give the treatment to a writer who will make the first draft of the script. If they don't like your script they may ask you to rewrite, or get someone in to rewrite it either with you or without you.

    Now you may write the best, most interesting, most well written story in the world but if an exec gets involved chances are they'll want to make their mark on the process and that means they'll ask for some changes - it could be something like "i don't think you should call the character this, there's already a character with the same beginning letter and it might confuse the audience" or "you don't need this section here where Sala and Indy talk about the pit - just go straight from one action scene to another" or "can you get rid of that character and replace them with a talking monkey"... and so on.

    Now to me, whilst it has some practical benefits at the start - everyone on the production team has a clear vision of where things are going to go so they can get the ball rolling with set design and so on - it seems to rarely result in good films - and it only seems that the films which have a solid script written before production and pitching that retain some semblance of coherence.

    It seems a terrifically unpleasant and uncreative way of writing.

    First that a certain sector of hollywood only seem to want to give the public things they've seen before repackaged.

    And secondly stories (and maybe more importantly characters) become relegated to second place behind special effects.

    But the most frustrating thing about this - is that it seems to work. If you take something like the abomination that was Transformers 2 - likened to sitting in a washing machine for 2 hours by one critic - the public seem to lap them up.

  2. Beginning of something that may spiral out of control... gets a bit raggedy around the end where i was just trying to get it down, but i may continue this...


    Mr Clay's Escape - Part I

    The mournful dirge of the wind wailing through the tunnels filled him with a deep foreboding. If it were not for an even greater fear he would have dashed himself in front of the next train – but that thought made him tremble uncontrollably - some things are far worse than living.

    Mr Clay, as he thought of himself having somehow forgotten his real name, sat, hunched over, wearing the same tattered clothing he had been taken to the hospital in. The pain in his stomach still had not passed but it was subsiding the father away from that building he got. The bandages covering his hands, although they had not been on for long, were filthy and beginning to unravel. The skin underneath looked like flakes of grey ash so that the wounds themselves were like lava channels on some desolate icelandic landscape.

    The names of tube stations seemed unfamiliar, yet he knew them. It had been the same at the tube station entrance. Though he could not consciously recall ever having used a ticket machine, or a tube station turn style he was able to operate the machines as if it were routine. It was as if there were two distinct sets of identities within him – one rapidly fading, to be usurped by another entirely different.

    The earth roared announcing the arrival of another tube train. A handful of drunken, late night revellers disembarked. When they saw him they grew suddenly quiet and scuttled out hurriedly. Ah yes, they had seen his face – he had almost forgotten.

    He had caught a glimpse of his face in the mirrors at the hospital. What he saw, shocked him.

    It was as if someone had taken a waxen image of a human face and then ever so slightly melted it. He was half formed – that same grey, ashen skin covering seemed barely human. Had his face always been this way? Or had he been in some terrible accident?

    He could remember the hospital. From the minute he opened his eyes in that place and the deafening pain hit him, he knew he had to get out of there. Away – from The white on white walls, the sickly smell of disinfectant, the stern, overbearing wooden crucifix next to the window – all he could make out for his vision was blurred through pain.

    They had half heartedly tried to restrain him as he cried out – the orderlies bearing down on him had been strangely repulsed and some hung back. The medication did little to numb the agonising, pulsing sensation in his head.

    He screamed. He clutched his head. He writhed on the bed. In his morphine daze the television set that had been left blaring had spoken terrible things to him that he could not now recall. It were as if the whole room were screaming at him – ordering him to begone. Every minute in that room was an intense, unspeakable agony that could not be accounted for through physical nerve endings alone.

    And so he had made good his escape, rifling through the drawers next to his bed and collecting up the filthy ragged clothes, with their curious sulphuric odour, and placing them over his gown and bandages. He did not know where he was going but he knew that he could not stay here.

    No one had tried to stop him from leaving. The night staff had simply stood stock still and let him pass. He blindly stumbled through the night streets until at last he had found a tube station.

    Curiously, the further away from the hospital he was, the more the pain had receded until it was little more than the nausea that gripped him now.

    He reached into his pocket and pulled out a damaged wallet. Turning it over in his hands he could see the initials “CW” carved into the leather. He opened it and finding only three slightly torn ten pound notes and the change from the tube ticket he had bought earlier. There was no identification. No credit cards, no family pictures, no receipts, no driving license. Nothing but money.

    The wallet repulsed him so he tossed it aside and stuffed the loose notes into an inner pocket.

    A voice close to his ear caused him to look up. The tramp that had been merrily gibbering to himself at the end of the platform had made his way over and was now leaning in so close that he could smell the toxic mix of unwashed sweat, dirt and alchol. Fluid leaked from one cloudy grey eye and spittle was flecked on his thick beard. He motioned to his upturned palm and for a second a look of extreme lucidity flashed over the tramp's face as he growled:

    “You think the whole world revolves around you. But it doesn't.”

    Mr Clay put one of the ten pound notes into the tramps palm and as soon as it had come, the lucidity passed and the tramp returned to a slurred imaginary argument.

    Distant rumbles heralded the arrival of the last train and Clay knew he had to move. As the train approached and he caught glimpses of his reflection in the glass doors he suddenly realised that he had absolutely no knowledge of his own face.

    He scrambled onto the train, fell to his knees and the doors closed behind him with an ominous thud.

    As the train started, he attempted to stand but his legs were weak and shaking so he stumbled a few times before he was finally upright. His clumsy attempts to walk drew the attention of a gang of youths who had been talking loudly and throwing half filled cans of lager at each other. They turned on him:

    “Oy Elephant Man! What happened to your face?” said one and threw one of the cans at the unnamed man as hard as he could. The can missed, hit a separating window, ruptured and started spraying jets of foamy lager over him. The gang whooped derisively.

    “Answer him you ****ing Mong” jeered another.

    The train lights flickered for a moment as Clay suddenly cried out in pain. He was bent over clutching his stomach, his arms twisted in front of him.

    “Get back!” he said – his voice was a growl through ruined vocal chords.

    “Come on, let's Rush him!” shouted the first youth and the gang got out of their seats. One of the gang, a tall black boy called Kai held back and tried to persuade their leader to hold off. The leader dismissed him and bared his teeth menacingly. This triggered a second wave of jeering.

    Clay threw his arms back and yelped unnaturally. Beneath the fine layer of ash a sweat had broken out and he felt himself grow uncomfortably hot. He panted like a dog in quick bursts. The pain was back like before but it had a slightly different quality like it had been tempered with fire. His skin bristled and every nerve fibre screeched. It were as if his pain were trying to extend it's reach and spread to every occupant of the carriage.

    “Leave him alone,” pleaded Kai,”There's something wrong with him.”

    “**** off Kai, come on lads, do him!” Said the leader, pulling a blade from his back pocket.

    “Get the freak!” yelled another.

    The gang advanced, laughing almost hysterically to themselves. In truth they could not know why they felt such a hideous hatred. It was more than his grotesque appearance, more than the acrid stench that seemed to envelop him. They were being compelled by some base instinct to rid themselves of him. His very presence, half formed or not would have elicited the same reaction.

    Once more He cried out and this caused the gang to pause. There had entered into the mans voice an unearthly quality that made them stop. It had the intensity, the same depth of feeling as a child wailing for it's mother. A shiver ran through the train as if the very carriage were afraid of that demonic howl. There was a loud bang and then the roaring sound of metal buckling under intense pressure. A hot blast of flame scorched past the tube doors sucking the air out of the carriage.

    There followed a second firey blast, closer this time, and the windows shattered sending a torrent of glass flying through the air. A large sharp piece severed Kai's throat, sending a spurt of blood up the tube train window. His last memories were of the outline of the grotesque man silhouetted against a ring of flames.

    Had he lived he could have sworn that within that same shadow, sad eyes had appeared to flash red.

    Metal upon Metal, the whole train twisted and buckled like it had been a mere toy. With a loud groan, the train derailed and the carriage was sent crashing down an embankment, throwing it's occupants against it's belly walls and coming to rest at the bottom of a short hill.

    Mr Clay came to rest having been thrown out of the carriage through a large hole in what had been the tube's roof . He lay face down in the cold, wet grass, covered in smoking metal cinders.
  3. I hesitated long and hard over the title of this post, mainly because what i wanted to write seemed so ridiculously pretentious that it was unworthy of a first blog post.

    But the sentiment is true. Coming back to writing, after an absence of almost 20 years has made me dream again.

    I first tried to get back into writing about 4 years ago when i had one grand story idea - but i didn't have the mechanics to write it. I wrote one chapter which was very poor indeed. Then I got demotivated and got pulled back into music.

    2 years later i completely rewrote the first chapter. It's artless, but as the start to a story it has dramatic potential. But the characters and the actual plots have been nebulous. I realised i knew nothing of the culture, the people - i couldn't write from my experiences or imagine why the characters do the things they do. I am an inexperienced writer and i have so much to learn.

    Working with audiobooks has kick started my interest in writing - it's how i ended up here. Not because i want to make lots of money or go the publishing route (although i certainly wouldn't say no..) but because i want to learn to write the kinds of stories i would like to read.

    8 weeks ago. The word of Edgar Allen Poe are burning in me from working on an adaption of "Tell Tale Heart." I can feel the rhythms and cadences that Poe uses. How his sentence structure changes to contrast calm civility and madness.

    I've suddenly started to get story ideas. I started writing a short story which blossomed and became more of a novel - i've written into two chapters and parked it because another story came along which seemed to just pour out.

    For the last week i became obsessed with a story
    and have managed to complete the first draft - it's just over 7500 words long - the longest i've written. It seems consistent within itself - a PKDian science fiction tale - split into two halfs.

    But more importantly, even though it's only first draft - it's a complete story with a beginning, a middle and an end.

    I'm sure in time to come i'll look back with embarassment at it's clunky use of metaphor, spelling and grammar - it's 16 years since i last took an english class. I'm sure i'll wince at the terrible dialogue, the hackneyed plot.

    Wheras previously i was agonising over plot points before even touching a pen to the page this has flowed from start to completion naturally.

    I think it was a post that w176 wrote about exploration writing that set me off.

    I may well post it here one day. But only after i've sufficiently revised it to the point that i'm happy for anyone to read it. Then i hope it's subjected to a mauling. Savage me - that's the only way to become a better writer.

    And in that last week i've dreamt more than i have in the last 10 years.