Friday, 16 December 2011

Carpets and Christmas...

So here I am, guys, with only three days to go before I head back to the UK for Christmas.  A time of year that like many of you I, too, have always loved; after all, when else do we get to spend so much time with family and friends, enjoy lots of partying and pressies and probably over indulge a bit too much as well?  And with the Christmas CD constantly on the go, me and mine certainly make the most of it...  Not that I get the chance to join in with any of the sing alongs, I should point out; for some reason people don't tend to like it when their ears start to bleed.

Oh yes, the holiday season is a time of excitment and for me such anticipation is usually growing to almost fever pitch by now.  However, this year instead of feeling the thrill, I'm reluctant to say that, rather, I'm feeling a sense of trepidation... 

You see, not only is this is my first Christmas as a bone fide, wedding ring on the finger, Mother-in-law, it's the first Christmas where I'm not the one responsible for the whole of the organising.  Not that that's really a problem, of course, it will be nice to be able to relax a little and let someone else stuff the turkey; no, as we''re off to our son's, the issue lies more in the fact that my daughter-in-law has a dislike of soft furnishings; or to be more specific, she doesn't like woven wool floor coverings.

Not that that's particularly a reason to be nervous in itself, I realise - she is, after all, a lovely girl in every other sense of the word.  I just can't forget the time when she and my son were setting up home and I suggested a lovely rug would look nice in the lounge.  My sentiment that such things are what turn a house into a home obviously being something she didn't agree with.  Then again, I suppose this was quite understandable considering at that point they didn't even have their own bed to sleep in, but still, it's made me wonder if she'll think I'm talking rubbish on lots of other matters, too - a real concern when they've got to put up with me for eleven days.  And although I'm probably over analyising, the last thing I want is for her to get sick of me and my funny ideas (of which I'm told I have many) with my son caught up somewhere in the middle... but I don't want everyone to be on their polite guard all of the time either... 

Although to be fair, I do appreciate she's probably feeling as nervous as I am about the whole thing.  After all, as titles go 'Mother-in-law' doesn't always conjure up the best of images, now, does it?  I just have to hope that come the New Year we can all say we've had the absolute best of times together - even if the living room still doesn't, indeed, have a rug.

Merry Christmas, everyone x

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

From Script to Novel Writing...

Thanks to Rosalie Lario, I did my very first guest blog post this week.  And one of the discussions generated as a result centred around my transition from Scriptwriter to Novelist - two very different animals in many ways, but at the same time quite complimentary. 

Of course, as writers in whichever field we choose, we all have our own voices, styles and experiences of the writing industry and its expectations.  But I thought it might be interesting to expand upon the discussion started earlier this week and what follows is an outline of what I, as an individual, have found the key issues between scriptwriting and novel writing that I had to address.

For a start, a script works to a strict time line and there's usually a lot to pack into those 60 or 120 minutes.  So as a scriptwriter it's important to keep the writing punchy - action taking priority over description and dialogue saying a lot without saying much at all.  Saying that, there are exceptions - an episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot just wouldn't be the same without the long exposition at the end of each episode.  But on the whole I suppose the rule for me was 'less is more' - although I did have the added luxury of having the rest of the TV screen to play with.

After all, in a script, an actor can be doing one thing, whilst something else takes place behind his back; an action that we as an audience can see, but the protagonist can't.  Unlike in novel writing, where everything has to be seen from the protagonist's point of view - so if he or she can't see it, then neither can we. 

Following on from this, when it comes to scriptwriting there's never any mention of the word 'feel'.  After all, what is taking place in someone's head cannot physically be conveyed on our screens.  What can be conveyed, however, is how a character reacts to these feelings, so instead of writing something along the lines of 'Johnny feels sad', in a script it would read 'a tear springs into Johnny's eye'.  Although, once again, there are exceptions to the rule - the use of a narrating voice, for example.  However, in my experience, it's always better to find a cleverer way of imparting any necessary information - having had the question drummed into me: 'If it can't be shown on screen, should it really be there at all?

Then there are other considerations to take on board in a script, such as allowing both the director and actors their interpretation of what you write.  As well as the cost implications should you choose to include something along the lines of a helicopter crash or two...

I appreciate all this might imply that scriptwriting can be quite limiting.  Indeed, this is something I often found it to be.  But as I said earlier, this field is also complimentary when it comes to the penning of a novel.

Thanks to all of the above, it teaches you to write visually without being excessive on the word count, or  too obvious in what it is you want to say; it gives you a grounding in putting together real characters with believable dialogue; and when these are added to creative freedom offered through novel writing, an author can, thus, create a depth not just to his or her characters, but to the story as a whole.

Naturally, I hope I've managed to achieve this aim in my own book.  And as a debut novelist in the process of building up a readership (at the same time getting on with book number two), I suppose this is something only you as readers can judge...

I await your views as to whether I've been successful x