Finishing the book is the goal at the momento. The only goal. Revising, chopping, writing, editing, cluelessness… a mighty hoot! Although, I’ve realised I’m not really a fan of reading back over all my mistakes to be true, ha. Onwards and upwards. And at various points I’ve at least recognised a need to focus. Recognition. Now would be as good as any time to recognise that once more! However, New Year’s resolutions, not really a fan. Lucky if they make it out of January alive. Quickly dismissed. Fully disappear as the year goes on. Should’ve done that. Next year. Continued on for years and years. Learn Spanish? Learn a few songs on the old gee-tar? Still going strong since 1999! Wuu. Another way to fool myself. Perhaps it’s because I keep them to myself. And, as a result, less accountable for them. However, this time last year I had no blogaruu. Re de de, no little pink diary for myself. And now, I do. Duu! Continue Reading »
Pulitzer prize winners, Larry David, and I suppose all those who have a clue about the art of writing, this may not be the post for you. Anyone with a clue. However, if, like me, you were fairly clueless until recently about writing, you might get a few tips from this blogaduu. Finally, finally, after months of knocking on my door, looking for a chance, this post is getting the nod. Big day. Most of this might all seem pretty obvious, but when one chooses to, 99% of the time, ignore the obvious, it can seem revolutionary, once spelt out for you.
Around this time last year, I began to think about writing a sitcom pilot for a college style idea which I had. Not actually write it, just think about writing one. Eventually I wrote the pilot by November last year, roughly. I like to mull things over, think them through. Looking back, I was completely clueless, as to how to approach the sitcom writing. Two feet, head first, jumped in, going in blind, swinging like a drunk man, throwing jokes and structure around with absolutely little to no meaning. This time around, I am as clueless in one sense, but at least have more structure and advice to nudge me in the right direction. Hollywood has provided one source of help at least for free if nothing else. One might say that it is serving its purpose well.
First time around trying my hand at a sitcom pilot, I thought my knowledge of viewing every episode of my favourite sitcoms would put me in good stead to make my own. Surely. To accompany this cast iron theory, I even read a screenwriting book, for the movies I would write and star in after the sitcom, just so I had all bases covered. Started off by making a loose episode outline for myself, while half drunk on a plane. Logically, the next step was to fill it up with scenes of differing lengths, most of which did not really seamlessly gel together as they should, and off I went with it, delighted. Pilot in hand, line up the bids. Looking back at it, I may have mostly been happy with my great name for the show. Surely that alone would get it made!
Surprisingly, I got a bit of good feedback for the pilot. Thumbs up, pat on the head, ruffle of the nicely combed hair, and a bit of stage progression, as in it was passed up a level in a department. However, that was more or less as far as it got with the television stations I submitted it into. Should’ve really thrown the towel in then, pr***s. Shattering my dreams. Might as well give it another go, plus, this time around, I had my blog to work with, the sitcom would write itself! All I had to do was pick three stories out, A, B and hopefully a C, link them somehow, and write them down. My pilot! Happy days! Should take a few days max.
So, for the past week, I have been formulating and developing the pilot episode over in my head. Start off by introducing the characters to the audience, work in their back story, build it up nicely, few jokes along the way, and good to go. I had the blog to back it up, momentum was building, they could reference the blog if needed. Dumb as a mule, so I was.
Somewhere along the way, I made a call to my helpful guide in L.A, to tell him all about the great progress which I was making. “Stop, you need to listen to me, here’s what you must do” I was told. Started off by informing me mainly of the what not to do’s. My week of work was immediately crossed out and had to start afresh. Thank freddie funk it was, seeing I was going down the wrong path completely. And then what I should try to do. Firstly, and this is key, it is not a pilot episode which I am really looking to write. I do not want to bore any reader with character introductions, background stories, build-up or any of that. I simply want to impress the reader enough with my writing, so that from that one episode, or first 10 pages, the reader will ask to see more, meet me, or at least be offended enough to take notice. I do not want to be just another quaint script in front of someone, that they will forget about within 15 minutes hour. Key one was to stand out, don’t hold back.
The following metaphor sunk in with me, so I will re-use it now. If my blog, full of stories, were to be the ingredients, and I was to bake a cake out of them (sitcom series) what I wanted to do was pass around the best slice of the cake to people, something that they will want more of. Not the first slice, or the last one, but the best one, so I should fill that up to the brim with the best I could deliver. No point in holding back, this was the one to get your foot in the door. Shove as much good stuff in. Just make it all work well. The best slice of the cake!
My original idea was kind of scrapped (first episode, the pilot of me arriving in L.A etc) and a whole new approach had to be taken. Being honest, initially my brain stopped churning for a while, annoyed that I had used it up and then discarded all the good work we did together. A few days I think I felt my brain was close to bursting, literally, and I was covered in frogs at the time. (Twitter reference about a dream, follow on!).
Instead, it is now time to push boundaries. It is far easier to tone down than it is to tone up, as the skinny girl said to the fat girl in the gym (don’t worry, that will not be used in the script, ha). Every scene needs to serve a purpose, what is the objective of the scene, does each scene have an element of high conflict (all straight out of a book, but good to be re-told at this time). This raised the bar even more – to be clever, make sense, push boundaries, obviously make people laugh, and all within the time schedule for a sitcom. Once again, like breaking L.A, it sounded almost too easy.
Thankfully, I have a good few stories that did not make the blog cut. They will now be highly useful for the new approach. Or at least give me food for thought to go along a certain line or angle for the story. I also spent far too much time last week thinking up of a clever name. Absolutely pointless if the rest does not deliver. However, I think I now have both for the show, the name, and also, the outline of the episode that I am writing is coming together. As in today I was able to write out the gist of 17 scenes, all of which linked and were what I was looking for, wuu duu! (I wrote this a few days ago, a new approach again has been developed!).
All I need now is to fully develop it, along with dialogue, and I will be flying. Again, almost too easy. Sure. I have miles to go, but getting there slowly. It is all about the threads coming together in the end, A, B and C. Highly funking frustrating to do, but now that I think I have one cleverly worked out, highly satisfying!
So, up to this point, I had more or less written a few days back. Since then, the writing has been frustrating in the main, pretty good in the minor. However, at least now, I have figured a way out to stop my brain from exploding. My problem has been transferring the brilliant scenes and story line, from my head, to paper. Dumbly, I was more or less, going from the scene in my head, straight to what the characters were saying. For some reason, only today, did I start writing scene snippet outlines, which makes the whole thing far more do-able.
After studying individual episodes of different sitcoms for guidelines, I now have a few structures in place. You would be amazed at how short some scenes actually last in a few sitcoms, but which are vital and brilliant to the story line, all of which is tough to get down. One last thing, and I’ll finish on this, is the tough part of narrowing down what to leave in. Like this post, initially there was no structure. Rambling on, with snippets of humour. Every line of this sitcom has to be funny or necessary. Otherwise it is chopped. Which is tough to do. Cutting frivolous dialogue has been a big challenge of late. All about discipline!
Thats it. I was going to give one last point about how useful it is to always have a notebook with you for ideas or dialogue, but I have already said above that would be my last thing, so I won’t.
Hopefully this songs will buck you back into life…
The Turning (Chew Fu Refix) by Oasis
And one from the latest Heineken ad…
Just A Friend by Biz Markie
Today was my day of being the music man. I had it set aside, get three music playlists finished today. Worst call ever. I am sick to death of music. I thought it would be mighty, music all day, wuu, wrong, especially seeing as they are three different types of playlists that I have to prepare. One is for the gym (I like to keep it fresh, different music every time, ha, ape), one is for the 4 hour gig in the bar tomorrow night (rock, indie, punk kind of thing) and the final one was a half hour demo for the new club that has yet to open, the one I have already been in, that one.
So I had gym music, bar music, and club music, all mashed into one, all day long. Roughly 2 hours, 4 hours and a 1/2 hour. That is a fair amount of hours to be trying, fruitlessly, to do three different genres at once. By the way, do you know how long 4 hours is? As in music terms? 60 – 70 songs, I was told, which is a lot of songs. Particularly when I use my shrewd method of matching similar songs to improve my mixing, horrendous, I think I will have to formulate a new strategy. Plus the girl told me her bosses will be in, so it is my chance to shine and nail a regular slot. Happy days, although I did get stumped when she asked me for my DJ name, anyone have any good suggestions? Tricks, Trickaduu, Tsector, Two Secs There, and World’s Worst are what I’ve been mulling over.
The other two major activities I did today, were working on my sitcom, and buying groceries. Which provided me with material for the sitcom, as a walk in L.A almost always does. Firstly, while waiting to cross the road, I overheard two people talking. It went a bit like this… “I must tell you, I think you are so, so, so nice” – she was interrupted here by the other lady, who swooped in with – “Oh my gosh thank you! You are so nice too, I’m so glad we met” – first lady continues on… “but, as I was going to say, I think you and your dog are idiots. We shouldn’t go to the dog park anymore together”
Ha, it was hilarious. Unfortunately the light went green and they stayed on the same side of the road while I slowly forced myself to cross over, so I didn’t get how the rest of the conversation went. I presume, it went very well! If only the slightly less plastic looking ladies had waited for her friend to finish her sentence!
Second incident was with a girl in the vegetable isle, who wanted to know if I was excited to watch American Idol tonight “Only a few left now, oh my Gawd, I cannot wait”. If there is one thing I was not looking forward to, it was that horrendous show, particularly after a day of music, even if it was polar opposite (i.e good to Idol’s bad, my view at least). So, I duly told her, no, not at all, I only listen to traditional Irish music, and techno, at the same time, which she did not understand, in the slightest. She did get a bit offended though when she got the gist that I did not like American Idol “Oh, well you could at least keep me happy and pretend to be excited about it too” Again, I duly obliged, and gave her a fake wuu, wuu duu, wuu, and punched the air, Harvey Milk style. This also did not make her happy! What the funk?! “Oh my gawd, no need to be sarcastic about it, I never said you had to like it”. Ok, let me just pick out a few carrots then and I’ll be gone.
Finally, when at the till, paying for my carrots et al., the guy sitting there asks where I am from, I R land, I’ll take paper bags please boss. “Well I’ll be damned, an I R ish man, and a guy from a little farm in Arkansas, interacting in L.A, Hollywood no less, who would’ve thought that?!” Yeah, that is just amazing… how?! “Well, you know, who would’ve thought that? I certainly would not have, did you ever think it?” Again, what the funk?! No, I would not have thought of that, just like people a hundred years ago would not have thought of the internet, or the iPod, before they all happened, unless of course they went on to invent them, or whatever, you get the gist. It made no sense whatsoever to me! To keep him happy, I gave him a wuu and a Harvey Milk too, which at least seemed to please him more than the girl, as he gave me a wuu back, even if it was more reserved.
Thats about it, thats my day. This post has been a bit rushed. I was going to do a whole post made up entirely of song titles, I had it all planned today (I have a bit of free time here and there to mull these things over). However, I have been invited to go along to the Maxim Hot 100 party!!! Wuu huu, Harvey Milk all the way!!! Time to go bring the level of good looking people down a few notches. I wonder if they rate us as we enter the door or how it works? I’m just happy to be in the top 100 people. Who would’ve thought it, huh, a dope from Ireland with a disposable camera in amongst some hot women?
I actually have the post time delayed, so if I get back early for any of the following reasons: too ugly to be let in; my buddy hasn’t put me on the guest list; get kicked out for having a disposable camera, or numerous others which I don’t have the time to write, I’ll do my great song title paragraph or two! You must be so excited! Go Harvey Go!
Song of the day was going to be The Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson, but his version of Tainted Love might be more user friendly…