Monthly Archives: July 2014

Editing….

This week, I thought I’d share some tips on editing your own work. Now I know what you’re thinking because, even as I type this, I’m thinking it too – who am I, an unknown newbie, to be dishing out any advice? I worried about that for a minute and then thought ‘Screw that, I learn loads from you guys’. I’ve had some great advice, been inspired by, and marvelled at the lessons I’ve learned from my fellow MA buddies, so here goes……

 

1) Leave it a week after drafting, and then go back.

I find it quite hard to be objective about my own work, especially when I’m sat there looking at 90 pages of hard drafting. The idea of taking a knife to it and start slashing away the words I’ve just written just doesn’t sit well with me.

I got to the end of my 90 pages and decided to put it in a drawer for a week, resisting the temptation to try and improve it until I had enough time to clear some head space. After even that short a time, when I picked it up and re-read it, I felt a bit removed from it, as though I wasn’t reading my own work. This freed my mind enough to be ruthless and helped me to accept the many things that are, frankly, totally crap. In fact, more of it is bad than good but that’s okay, because I can now see it well enough to change it.

2) Read it aloud to someone else.

This scared the bejeezus out of me (I think you all know that feeling… the fear of presenting what you’ve written to someone only for them to say it’s awful) but I did it any way. I selected my victim.. er, I mean, ‘listener’ (he had no choice really, it was my brother), and read through each 30 minute episode. I stopped between episodes for his feedback, and boy did he have some!

During episode 1, he was visibly bored. So much so, that when I was about to start episode 2, I could almost feel his dread.

During episode 2, he smiled a little in amusement (thank **** for that because it’s a comedy…).

During episode 3, he laughed a lot in some places, and was totally silent and bored in others.

He hit me with some criticism and it was bloody harsh. The words ‘boring’, ‘crap’, ‘pointless’, ‘confusing’ and ‘tedious’ were thrown around.. and more than once.

I needed to hear it. He was right. I slept on it, read it again, and agreed with every point he made. He also had some suggestions on what he would prefer to see rather than some of the scenes I’d written, and also questioned plot holes I hadn’t even noticed.

Be brave, pick someone you know will be brutally honest, and get that reading out of the way so you can really do justice to what you’re writing.  Your work deserves it!

3) Go back to the themes you wanted to explore in the first place

I totally lost sight of the reasons I wanted to tell the story, and even the story I want to tell to a degree. The former two points covered helped me to reconnect with the themes I want to explore, and the things I really care about. Instead of dreading the enormous task of redrafting (and I don’t mean tinkering, I mean re-writing the whole thing with the first draft as a guide), I’m now really hyped up and excited to start.

 

This might be totally useless rambling to you guys, I don’t know, but thought I’d throw it out there as these few points have done me and my project the world of good. Hope something in this is helpful to someone!

Hope you guys are all well and that you’re getting on nicely with your various projects, miss you! xxxx

 

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Updates!

Hey all, just a quick one to mention that I’ve updated my ‘Current Projects’, ‘CV’, ‘Links’, and ‘MA Notebook’ pages. The latter page is just a post basically (the last date entry on the page) about the Major Project. Also, I’ve added a new page ‘Kayleigh’s Slate’.

Also just wanted to talk about entering competitions. I’ve been sending work out left, right and centre, some with good responses and competition placings, and others with no replies at all. I think the rejection is an important part of the process, and in a bizarre way has been really good. The first couple stung a bit (okay, maybe more than a bit.. there was an incident in which I decided that my dream of writing was over, that I was total crap and that I would never take to my keyboard again…), but then I got over it.

I think there’s something to be said for getting some rejections out of the way while we still have the luxury of getting advice from our lecturers before we graduate. Suddenly, the sound advice of someone who knows what they’re talking about (they’ve had their own rejections), takes the sting out just a bit. Posting about it here helps as well I think, even though airing a failure really punches my pride in the face. I guess what I’m babbling about is this – our rejections are no big deal in the grand scheme of things, but our successes will be. So let’s get those doors slammed in our faces sooner rather than later, so we can knock on the ones that will swing wide open!

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Naivety

I didn’t know whether to share this with you as I don’t know if it’s in any way useful to anyone, but I had an little experience that I found encouraging so thought I may as well post about it.

I’ve been adapting Kill ’em in the Brain for television (I know adapting one’s own work might seem a bit pretentious but hear me out!). I had ideas for the theatre play that were more suited for TV so thought I’d use what I learned in the Adaptation module to transfer the story across mediums.

Someone close to me has been encouraging (nay, relentlessly hounding) me to submit a pitch for the screen version to TV networks. I kept trying to tell him that that isn’t how it works, you must first get a producer, and more than likely an agent before a network will take you seriously or even read your pitch. This dear person in my life told me I was full of excuses and that nothing bad could possibly happen if I just sent 1 page to a bunch of people. He pointed out that Orson Welles once said that naivety was his friend. Welles didn’t know how things were supposed to work, so he just proceeded in the way that it made sense to him, and we all know how that turned out! Simply so that I would no longer be pestered about sending in pitches, I mailed out my 1 page outline for the series to a bunch of people.

I got a reply from Channel 4 just three days after I posted my pitch, advising me on the correct steps to take.

Now, whilst I realise that their response wasn’t the news that they are commissioning my work, I find it really encouraging. Now I know that someone DOES read what you send in, unsolicited writer or not (despite what their website submission guidelines tell you). Not only that, but someone took the time to sit down with my piece of paper and contact me. This has resulted in me managing to at least worm my idea into someone’s office, and I now have a much more clear set of instructions on how to get a producer on board, and where to find one.

I just wanted to share this with you guys because I think that we can all do this (write for a living). I really think there’s something to be said for ignoring the rules and guidelines once in a while and going with your gut (or someone else’s actually….).

Happy typing!

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