I meant to post every week about what I have learned and whatnot, but the course has kept me far too busy so far! So instead I thought I’d summarise my first term now, then try to post every other week after Christmas.
RESEARCH PARADIGMS… Okay, so this is the module I’ve struggled with the most in all honesty. It’s entirely different from any other in that it doesn’t really relate to script writing! Saying that though, I suppose some of the methods I’ve learned about, such as content analysis, textual analysis and ethnography will be quite useful if I need to research something for a script, especially when it comes to characters. I feel that I’ve got a lot out of the class, (thanks to the required academic reading my vocabulary has improved a lot!) but I’ve also had times where I’ve ended up in tears because I’ve become so frustrated at feeling so intellectually inferior to the others in my class (research MA and PhD). I’ve felt at times that I’m not smart enough to cope, but then was cheered up drastically by the first mark I got back, a Merit, YAAAAAAAY! This module, I’m sure, will come in quite handy when I move on to the next stage of academia after graduating from my MA, but for now the main thing I feel I’ve gained from it is confidence to assert myself in my work, even when I feel unsure about what I’m doing.
SCRIPT ANALYSIS… I have learned a lot about the writing process from this class, and I’ve really enjoyed making friends (through their books of course!) with the likes of Vogler and Booker. My Nan reacted with annoyance when I told her I wanted their books for Christmas, she seemed to have her heart set on buying me a coat. To hell with the coat, I thought. I’d rather keep my brain warm with formulas I can apply in my own writing. Think she’s still getting me the damn coat though….
I had always felt a little defiant when it came to writing structures created by other people. My attitude was always negative towards using a tried and tested formula because I firmly believed that trying to stick to some sort of pattern would hinder my own creativity. I thought ‘why should I follow someone else’s lead? Don’t all the best writers create their own patterns?’ I’ve realised now that it’s been the act of shutting out all this fantastic advice that’s been actually hindering my process and through this module I have learned to embrace the techniques of others. There was a moment when I realised that some of these patterns, like the mythic structures for example, were already embedded into my brain sub-consciously and I was already using them! Now that I’m aware of this, I think I can now improve upon what I was doing thanks to realising why I was structuring things in these ways.
MAJOR PROJECT TREATMENT… This has been the most beneficial module in terms of helping me shape my own ideas, and I’m very sad it’s come to end as I would happily attend this every day for the rest of the academic year. There’s a lot to be said for an educated opinion of your work, and I’ve been very lucky to have someone so knowledgeable about the craft guiding me as I’ve proceeded with my Major Project. At the start of the year I was adamant that my major project would be a comedy theatre script with a zombie plot. I love zombies, I love theatre, and that was going to be my project, and that was that. Needless to say I didn’t listen at first when I was advised that this was a bad idea. I wrote a zombie theatre script last year, which is now in pre-production. I had an entirely different idea for the next one, but was warned that it was in too similar a vein and that it would limit my progress as a writer. It was pointed out that if I were to meet with someone in the industry, they would want to know about the variety of things I had written and I can’t very well say ‘I’ve written only theatre zombie scripts, so I’m very employable as a writer!’
I struggled to construct the main plot of this idea, with characters feeling flimsy and I just generally had a lack of ideas in terms of narrative. I had some entirely different ideas in the back of mind, but I’ve only ever written for theatre and I felt uncomfortable about moving into another medium. I was encouraged to start developing the idea I had for a TV series, and as soon as I began I realised that my lecturer was right about the theatre project. I was only adamant about it because I love zombie culture, but it had no real substance so that’s why I was struggling with it. Thanks to the encouragement and great advice and feedback I’ve had in this class I feel that I’m now working on something far more substantial, with far more potential for actual production. Thank you Stapes!
TUTORIALS WITH SIAN… The thing I like most about my one-on-one tutorials with Sian is that she always tells me when something doesn’t make sense or add up. As with my Major Project Treatment, I’ve been updating her on my ideas, outlines, synopsis, etc. I’m really enjoying my project, but because I’m so wrapped up in trying to create the comedy aspect of the show, I sometimes miss quite obvious flaws and plot holes, even when I think it’s really tight. Sian catches them every time and she asks me a lot of questions, prompting me to think far more deeply about how I’m constructing my characters and story. She’s helping me to connect to my work on a personal level, as the idea for this project was sparked by something difficult from my real life, but I was trying to deny it. She’s helped me embrace it as the terms gone on, and I’m really grateful for it as I feel I’m producing a much higher standard of work than I would have before. I’m now working on the third draft of my treatment.
RESIDENCY WEEKEND… with James Robinson
This weekend was great, I learned so much and really can’t wait for the next one. The first day was incredibly informative and I was able to join Octopus Writers, which seems like a great opportunity, really can’t wait to start that in January! The adaptation class with Sian was fabulous as I cleared up the questions I had (have been thinking about my adaptation treatment all term), and can now start structuring my idea over Christmas… I love to get these things under way early! The afternoon of presentations was extremely informative and helpful, and generally I loved being with the part-timers, as I never get to see or work with them!
The second day with James Robinson from BBC Radio was great. It was wonderful to have an industry professional work with us on recording our own short radio plays and very insightful about the industry. I’m interested in radio, but after this weekend I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I might like to write, and have an idea I’d like to use for my Short Script module. It was also quite refreshing to meet such a friendly, helpful and open professional who actually works in the industry I’d like to work my way in to – it reminded me that my goal to work as a writer isn’t so far-fetched.
Overall, I’ve had a wonderful and constructive first term, and have loved every day of my studies so far! A huge thank you to my lecturers and I wish you all a very happy Christmas! See you in the new year x