Monthly Archives: May 2014

There Can Be Only One…

….One assignment left to hand in, that is.

The last deadline is in September for the Major Project and instead of celebrating this my brain is screaming the word ‘No’ in that long, overdrawn and highly dramatic way it does when you dread something. I don’t want to leave school and go back out into the real world – it’s a battlefield out there!

In an effort to neutralise that feeling of terror of being flung back into society as an apparently more equipped individual I have been.. er.. well, equipping myself actually. I’m been prowling the web and the Writer’s and Artist’s yearbook for competitions, submission deadlines, festivals and anything else I can enter to get my name out there.

I’m obnoxiously chasing up ‘sort of, maybe’ opportunities.

I’ve even been watching lectures on youtube… (okay, well that’s already something I do to ‘relax’, I clearly have no life outside of learning). Which brings me to my point I guess, I really love the course. I’ve absolutely loved every second of it as it happens, I’ve learned so much in this last year, I wish I could do another.. and another.. and another…

If anyone is interested in listening to some free podcasts about/put together by writers, go ahead and check out The Writer’s Circle. I stumbled across them on Facebook of all places (another untapped resource for writer’s groups and competitions).

It’s time to start thinking about what happens after the course is finished because, and I don’t think I’m just speaking for myself, there’s no way in hell I’m going to continue working mundane jobs when I feel like could be writing instead. I’m really keen to get some active projects on the go and start doing some proper work, even if it’s just for me. If anyone wants to team up to do anything, especially anything horror or comedy related, please let me know! We’ll have a blast!

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Gregynog

I thought I’d post about this today while everything is still fresh in my mind.

Firstly, what an inspirational place! Admittedly, on arrival, my mind automatically jumped to the stories I could construct in this location. Stories of ghosts, phantoms, creepy people made of wallpaper, creatures living in the pipes, and of course, my old favourite, the undead.

When given a site-specific project to work on based on Gregynog, I had a million ideas of the above nature. Then Wyn placed some restrictions, which basically amounted to banning anything of the supernatural variety. Which is great.

Okay I admit it, that put my nose out of joint a little. I thought ‘Wyn! How could you!? This is the perfect place for ghosts!’

What I found with my group was, that actually, forcing us to take things in a more realistic direction turned out to be a lot more beneficial as a learning experience (and much more fun in the end!). We decided on a piece of promenade theatre and a drama, and this certainly took me out of my comfort zone. I’ve never actually attempted to write a drama, and I’ve never experienced promenade theatre either.

I learned that a piece doesn’t need a supernatural monster to create excitement, or an axe murderer to create tension. I also learned that drama isn’t ‘boring’. I’m kind of embarrassed to even write that that was part of my thinking about drama as a genre before as it’s pretty ignorant and a fairly uneducated opinion! It’s just that I’ve spent my whole life watching monsters, and anything without their inclusion just seemed dull to me. I’m delighted to have learned how unfounded that is as I feel I can now start branching out as a writer.

Tutorials:

I was pleased with my feedback from Wyn about my Short, mostly because there was little criticism. I had a lot of constructive feedback in my first tutorial with Wyn, so had a lot to work on when redrafting but this time, not so much. I’m a huge fan of criticism, in fact, I’ve gone from dreading it to looking forward to knowing what I’m doing wrong so I can get on and fix it hastily!

In this particular tutorial, I realised that as well as taking Wyn’s criticisms on board I had also self edited and criticised the initial draft myself. Things feel like they’re finally clicking into place.

I had a tutorial with Stapes about my Major Project, and as always he gave me a lot to work on and think about. The thing I love about feedback from Stapes is how specific he is when he’s noting the problems. I feel like I have a lot to get my teeth into with my next draft, and that I’m able, with this guidance, to improve my work considerably.

 

Before we left today, Wyn asked us to discuss a ‘breakthrough’ moment in our writing. I found it really hard to think of one at first.

What I remembered though was redrafting my Major Project a few weeks ago using the feedback from my previous tutorials. I went through the list of changes suggested by my lecturers, then went through it two more times looking for the problems I thought they might flag up next time. I came across a lot actually; dialogue that was too clunky; unnecessary dialogue where there could have been action; lack of/too much description and pointlessly listed actions.

Whilst doing this, all of a sudden I realised that I was doing it – editing my work with a fresh view on it – all by myself. Up until this point I was dreading graduation because I couldn’t imagine ever writing something without the constant guidance of the lecturers. Moreover, the thought of actually submitting a script to anyone without Stapes, Ieuan, Wyn or Sian first critiquing it seemed like an impossibility!

I never thought I’d be able to go through my own work with the sort of objectivity that it so useful when the lecturers do it, and I’m a long way off being completely confident about it, but the fear that my work is total crap is starting to vanish now.

Hello Confidence, who would ever have thought I’d be friends with you one day?!

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Updates!

Just a quick one!

Significant updates to my ‘Current Project’ page have been made. I thought I may as well give a bit of detail about everything I’m working on at the moment (I think I’d better try and finish a few instead of working on all of them simultaneously though! ).  I have also updated my ‘Writing Examples’ with current and finished work.

I’m posting from Gregynog today, so no doubt I’ll have an essay of a post uploaded on Monday about my experience here!

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Success!!

KEITB Poster

Phew, the show is done and dusted! Firstly, thank you to those kind people who came to watch it and I hope you enjoyed it! Before I note what watching the show taught me, I would like to take a minute to recognise the hard work of those involved.

Elena Carys Thomas, thank you for being the best Kristy I could have imagined!

Scott Patrick, thank you for an unbelievably natural and hilarious performance as Gez.

Beth Quaife, thank you for turning Tasha into a sneaky plotter (and adding that streak of malice!). Oh, and for your poker face which was most impressive!

Ashley Cummings, thank you for your dedication and comic genius.

Michael Edwards, thank you for all the hours of recording you put in, and for not falling apart on the last night and fixing those pesky tech issues!

Josh Jones, thank you for providing light in your oh-so-godly fashion. And for the hugs, needed those!

Natalie King, thank you thank you thank you for stepping in so late and handling everything. Your involvement was a huge relief.

Ian Staples, thank you for being a part of the process when I was originally writing it, and for all the help you provided as I was going along. Your input, enthusiasm and encouragement made me feel like maybe I did have a good idea there!

Last but by no means least, thank you Rob Dean, director extraordinaire. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to see my first show in action and thanks for all the hours and hard work you put in. I may have provided the bare bones for this show but it wouldn’t have been half as funny without your input and changes. Thank you for ruthlessly editing the script (and for that hilarious, nervous look you gave me every time you announced you were cutting something), you made it something much more than it was.

We had a blast working on this show, and I’m sure we’ll continue to do so because I feel a tour is imminent…

 

Moving on from all my waffling gratitude, here’s what I learned through watching the audience:

1) No one can possibly predict what they’ll find funny – over the two show nights we had a lot more laughs than we expected, but each audience laughed at different elements. No single joke, line or visual gag was a guaranteed laugh (well, okay.. except for Gwyn ‘wetting’ himself….that turned out to be a hoot!). This reinforces what Ian Staples told me from the beginning – if you write comedy, write about what you find funny. You can’t write based on the response you hope to get from an audience as you can’t possibly know how anything will be perceived.

2) The ‘serious’ scenes were just a little too long. In future, I think some cuts would be useful just to tighten up the dialogue and allow the scenes to flow more fluidly. I think that during these moments, because of the change in tone, the audience disengaged a little but I’m pretty confident that this can be avoided in future shows.

3) It’s okay to let other people in on the writing. In fact, in my case for this show it made the script a hell of a lot better. I was really nervous in the beginning about letting anyone change/cut/add/alter anything at all. I was really afraid of losing control of my work. As it turns out, everyone else’s input provided huge improvements. There were moments of hilarity provided by Rob and the cast themselves that I wish I had thought of myself so I could take credit for them!

In future work, I know I’m going to feel very differently about how I view the creative process. I feel that my job as a writer is now to provide the skeleton rather than attempting to flesh out the whole thing completely alone.

Overall, this process has been amazing and so worthwhile. I was very fortunate to have such talented, hard working people to collaborate with. I still haven’t relaxed yet, for some reason those show nerves are still hanging around today, but they feel more like butterflies than bats in my tummy now. As far as writing goes, actually putting the words into action has been the best learning curve I could have experienced.

For anyone who didn’t get to see it this time around.. I’ll keep you updated about the tour!

 

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