Thursday, June 29, 2006

I don’t time travel for the sake of it. Honest!

Ok, so my latest idea involves time travel.

It isn’t the first idea to involve it and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but my question is does it have to?

In short, a high powered ruthless business man is dumped back in Roman times. The reason for this is to put him in an alien environment where he is totally out of his depth and where his comfort zone is not just hundreds of miles away, but thousands of years. An environment where his decisions could cost the lives of himself and those around him, rather than a client’s money. If he survives and makes it back to the present-day (it would be a bit naff if he didn’t), he will have learned a life lesson and loose his ruthless and cold personality and become the all round humble good guy. Time travel isn’t the main character’s job and he doesn’t zip back and forth all the time. It will happen only twice in the story, back in time at the start and forward in time at the end.

Will time travel just be seen by others as an attempt to spice up the story? I could just drop him in a war zone half way round the world, but to me he has a direct way back home (plane, car, boat, on foot etc…) because the time is the same. If he walks home in Roman times he will have to sit on his arse for 2000 years while civilisation catches up and ‘home’ arrives. In short there is no home and he has to deal with it.

Any thoughts?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The silly sounding serious concept.

Right, so you have this idea, a serious story and get really excited about it. You write the outline and like it even more. The only problem is you describe it quickly in a blog post (I quote): “High flying business man time travels against his will and gets mixed up in things Roman”.

Now I could change the “gets mixed up in things Roman” to “has to fight for the survival of himself, his love, and those he comes to call brothers in arms”.

Now to me that sounds a little more exciting, but something in me says “A guy from the year 2006 travelling back to Roman times? Hmmm, a little out there”.

Then I see a trailer for a new film with that Bollocks, ahem I mean Bullock actress (sorry, but I don’t rate her). It seems that her and Keanu Reeves have a love affair through mail sent through time. How on earth did someone describe that one without sounding corny?

I guess it's all in the pitch.

Ok I'll change that to a lower case grrrrr

I'm half back online at home.

It seems my charger isn't sure if it wants to fail or not. It seems to only charge every now and then. At least I've got a fully charged battery, so if I start to use it and notice it is no longer getting power, I can shut it down knowing I have enough power to get all my files off there.

I've had a look and the cheapest laptop I can find is about £370. Not much for a laptop, but it is still money I don't have spare.

Oh yeah, I cycle to work a few days a week. 12 miles each way over some great big hills (anyone living in West Yorkshire will have sympathy for me). This morning about 20 minutes into my 1 hour and 10 minute journey through the wind and rain, my back tyre failed (two inch rip in the side). It sounded like a gun going off and scared the crap out of me. Luckily I was only doing about 6mph up hill at the time. If it happened when I was going fast down the other side of the hill I doubt I would be able to type this as I don't think they give you internet connections in intensive care. Anyway, that added a one hour walk back home (plus a shower), and a 20 minute car journey to the start of my day. Happens to the best of us I suppose :)


Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Aww crap!

My laptop's power supply has just crapped out :(

Until I can sort that out my writing must halt. As I write this I have 1.5 hours of power left in the battery, so I must now find some way of backing up my data. That isn't helped by the fact my CD-R drive is also bust (and that's about £200 to replace)!

I guess I'm going to find a way to pay for a new laptop to replace this one.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

I love it when it happens (and really hate it)!

So I’m sitting there watching Australia run rings round Brazil in the world cup (shame they lost 2 – 0), when my muse said hello. I tried to ignore him/her (does a Muse have a gender? I’ll make mine female), but she wouldn’t go away.

With one eye on the football and one eye on the laptop, I wrote an outline for a “high flying business man time travels against his will and gets mixed up in things Roman” script (not sure which genre to put that one in). Sounds corny I know, but the outline paints a pretty serious story.

I really love it when I come up with ideas.

What’s that? Why do I also hate it?

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I hate it because I’m in the middle of another project. The next draft of Good Guys is underway and I’m pretty sure I’ll get that through to the end without hitch. Now I have this idea flying round my head getting in the way. I really hate that.


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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Sometimes you live where you live

Warren over at The Screenwriting Life has a good post about the “to LA or not to LA” debate, so I thought I’d write about that from my point of view.

I live in the UK with a wife, kid, a big mortgage and not much money in the bank, so that rules out jumping on the next plane to LA to go house hunting. If I’m going to look for a market as a stepping stone to Hollywood (let’s assume that’s where I’m aiming), I guess it is in London. Hmm, well I live in West Yorkshire (for those who don’t know, that’s about in the middle. London is down near the bottom right hand corner), so am I in the same boat as someone who lives in Minnesota trying to network with people in LA?

Well, thankfully not. If I send out my current script and people show interest and want to meet, I have the advantage of living on a tiny little island. If I get the call, I can be on a train and in London somewhere between two and three hours later. I’ve done the trip on business many times before.

Now saying that I’ve got to ask the question "is there much of a market in London?" James Moran sold a spec in London, but that was a horror and I see that as something that will sell in the UK (not trying to make light of the achievement there, nice one James). The other genres? I have no idea. I guess I'll have to put some scripts out there and find out :)

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Friday, June 16, 2006

The Dreaded Deadline

So, as predicted the World Cup is stepping on my writing time. I'm not bothered as I know this isn't an excuse to avoid writing, it's just something I want to follow.

I'm glad I'm not in this 14 day screenwriting challenge, as (a) I would have started it late, and (b) I'm watching too much football. What I am curious to find out is how many starters actually finish. Not so I can point fingers and go "Ha, ha!", but to find out if deadlines do more harm than good. Often they can't be avoided and some people say they will thrive on them, but often they are something that just kick us in the ass to remind us that the writing process isn't going like it should, after all if it were you wouldn't be worried by them. If there is a deadline there with no pay cheque, do we just give up when we know the story isn't going well?

For me from a writing point of view the jury is out on deadlines. I'll probably never avoid them all, but I prefer to let things go at their own pace, and if I am serious enough to put the effort in I shouldn't be pushed for time. I said I would get my last script out in a month (I think). I didn't pay too much attention to that and let things go at their own pace. It turned out I was only two days over (okay, I know a month isn't 14 days).

All that said, I would love to have a deadline with a pay cheque at the end :)



Wednesday, June 14, 2006

World Cup and Free Writing Software

Even though I have just restarted this blog, I must now apologise in advance if posting is light over the next 4 weeks as the World Cup is in full swing (but I'll still do my best). It's kind of a big thing to anyone who even remotely follows football.

FYI: Football is the game where you play by using your 'foot' to kick a 'ball'; 'foot-ball', not the version of rugby you sometimes see where the players wear armour to protect themselves :)

Anyway, that said Piers Beckley left a comment on a previous post suggesting I give CeltX a try as a free scriptwriting tool. I've installed it and only had a very brief play with it (I'm at work at the moment, naughty me), however it looks very good and has lots of features like character development (you can enter motivation, background etc…). The writing process doesn't seem as smooth and effortless as Movie Magic Screenwriter, but don't forget it is free (a big plus point in my book).

One thing that I am never sure about and trusted Movie Magic to get right are margins. There are lots of places on the web stating what they should be, but they also say I should use Letter size paper. Over here in the UK we use A4 paper. Does this make the margins different? I have no idea. If there is a UK Pro Monkey reading this, perhaps you could clear this point up for me.

I'm going to use CeltX for my second draft of Good Guys and post a review here when I am done. If you can't wait for that then download it your self and give it a try (let me know if you do).

The CeltX web site
The CeltX wiki manual



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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Stupid, stupid, stupid me!


I need to get some screenwriting software. Before you say it, I know I can use Notepad or Word, and I have downloaded the templates, but it is a bit like going back to dialup after using broadband every day for a year. They just don’t compare, therefore I am sending a call out to anyone reading this:

“If you are selling your copy of MMS or Final Draft please let me know”.

I was going to buy Hollywood Screenwriter which is nice and cheap, but you have to have the CD in the drive every time you use it and my CD drive is temperamental at best.

You live and learn I suppose. The good news is I found the print out of Good Guys with my draft two notes on it (I thought it was lost for ever), so at least I’m not starting the second draft from scratch.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Let me have another go.



Moonlight shining through a window provides the only light. A padlocked door with the words "Tales of a screenwriter with no time to write" is only just visible. CHRIS, an average spec monkey, takes a key out of his pocket and unlocks the padlock. He opens the door a crack and hesitates, but with a shake of his head swings the door wide open. He steps into his office and stands there with a smile on his face.

               I'm back! I just wish I hadn't sold my software.


Crikey it's dusty in here! I'll have to call the maid.

Well here I am again, putting the jump leads back on my screenwriting battery. I think one of the reasons I put down my quill 4 months ago was the 'what next factor'. I had my first complete first draft under my belt with a clear idea of what draft two would look like. I was sitting there one night and had the following conversation with myself:

ME: Draft two should flow off the keyboard.
ANGEL ON MY RIGHT SHOULDER (AOMRS): Fantastic, keep it up.
ME & AOMRS: What?
DOMLS: I mean what are you going to do after you have finished?
AOMRS: He'll get an agent!
ME: Yeah, I'll get an agent!
DOMLS: Do you know how many people finish a screenplay every year and try to get an agent?
ME: I dunno... five or six.
DOMLS: HA! You wish. Try thousands.
ME: That can't be right, I'm great at this, I can't go wrong.
DOMLS: You don't know shit!
ME: I kno.....
DOMLS: I said you don't know shit.
ME (to AOMRS): Don't you have anything to say?
AOMRS: You'd think I would, but I'm drawing a blank.
ME: Fine help you are!
AOMRS: Hey, it's not my fault the guy in red makes a good point.
DOMLS: I thank you.
ME: Humph!

So I went into dejected spec monkey mode and after a while I sold my Movie Magic software to buy an XBox 360. After all what use is a Muse when he/she can't take you anywhere?

Well I was walking out of the supermarket about a week ago with the weekly shop looking at a lottery ticket I had just bought when someone threw a brick at the back of my head. After picking myself up I turned and:

ME: Hey! Who the hell threw that?
MY MUSE: It was me you dick!
ME: What the hell are you doing here?
MY MUSE: What's that in your hand?
ME: My lottery ticket.
MY MUSE: And what are the odds of winning the jackpot?
ME: I dunno.
MY MUSE: Probably less than your chance of selling a screenplay
ME: I thought you were supposed to make the ideas flow, not lecture me. Anyway where have you been lately?
MY MUSE: Listen dipshit, I've seen your list of screenplay ideas you have and they are good. I should know, I came up with them. If you are going to buy one of those tickets every week expecting to win, I'm not going to accept that "I'll never sell a screenplay" cry-baby shit any more. Now get back to your writing, and while you are at it, blow the cobwebs off that blog of yours!

Like a good spec monkey should, I've taken my Muse's advice :)