My Writing Process – Blog Tour

Posted: April 21, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

My former PhD buddy and York writer extraordinaire, Helen Cadbury, invited me to take part in this blog tour about writing process. [Click on her name above to see her answers to the questions below.] I find it fascinating to see how different writers work, there as many processes as there are writers really, and I must admit I might be trying out some of the other bloggers techniques to overcome my own moments of procrastination.

Apologies in advance, this blog is the end of this particular chain. I haven’t had the time to seek out other blogger writers to nominate. So my little branch will be filled with blossomy details of my process and you’ll have to backtrack and try Helen’s other nominee, who hopefully will keep the vine alive.

So to the questions…

1) What am I working on?

I’m what I think might be termed a magpie writer, or a writer with a severe case of creative ADHD.

Writers are magpies, stealing the shiny stories from everyday life - image from here

Writers are magpies, stealing the shiny stories from everyday life – image from here

I tend to have more than one project on the go and perform a complex juggling game with deadlines. At present I’m working on…

A feature film script for a sci-fi cop thriller with a genetic modification twist.

A very british horror radio play [think Wicker Man].

In the early stage of a play commission for Christmas…

Anything else..? Oh yeah my first screenplay for my PhD by creative practice, that’s a sci-fi noir with a posthuman twist too….

As you can see I have an issue with focusing on one project. [Side note: this does not include all the shorts, flash fiction pieces and the medieval web series I’m working on.]

Is all this healthy? Probably not, I was on verge of a creative mental meltdown around Christmas 2013 and vowed never to work on more than two projects at once… see how well that worked.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

We all bring our slightly different experiences to everything we write, so in a really simple answer to this question my work differs because it’s mine, it’s focused on my own skewed view point of the world.

As  for a more complex answer…I’m not sure. As I write scripts in genres like sci-fi and action adventure, which usually have female protagonists that in itself is a difference.

Fighting aliens and saving cats - image from here

Fighting aliens and saving cats – image from here

Think about the last time you saw a strong female lead in a sci-fi film, there’s Ripley from Alien franchise but in the last couple of years the tent pole films have all been about guys – Star Trek, Oblivion, Elysium, Iron Man 3…

One strong influence on my work in the last decade has been Japanese Anime, since seeing Spirited Away I’ve been hooked. There is a real freedom in the blend of genre tropes, characters and styles in anime that I love and that makes me think more freely about what can and can’t go into my writing in particular genres. I talk about this in detail in an interview for One&OtherTV here. Anime also makes up part of my PhD research so I can see it continuing to influence and inspire my work in the future.

 

3) Why do I write what I do?

Again there’s a simple answer: because I find these genres fun and exciting to create in.

And a more complex version… I used to think I had to write things that were worthy or overly complicated and, let’s face it, full of pseudo intellectual pretentiousness. Being a bright kid at school I was quickly encouraged to abandon children’s fiction for the ‘classics’ both modern and older. I got stuck somewhere in the Victorian period [not that I’m complaining, my stage plays have been adaptations of Victorian/Edwardian Literature which I still love].

Young Sherlock Homes poster - image from here

Young Sherlock Homes poster – image from here

Growing up I had loved action adventure films like Indiana Jones, Young Sherlock Holmes and sci -fi Blade Runner, surely if I wanted a career in writing I couldn’t do things like that, could I?

After studying for my MFA in California I realised that I was being an idiot. Of course I could write whatever I wanted – I have to say a big thanks to a professor out there who ran a ‘writing for the family audience’ screenplay class which knocked most of my pretentious attitude out of me.

4) How does your writing process work?

As I said in answer to the first question my process is one of juggling multiple projects. I think I like to have at least two on the go to flip between if my writing on one is getting stale or I reach an plot/character impasse. I’m a great believer in the power of the subconscious to solve any writing problems if it is given enough time/space/material. I’m a huge consumer of story in all forms, films/tv/anime/comics/fiction/plays/newspaper articles, I feel I have to understand what is out there if I’m going to add to or subvert a genre.

I’ve always been someone who is inspired by visuals so my process involves trawling photos and the internet for images that I can modify to become locations in stories or objects that can become macguffins [or mcguffin or maguffin]. In the same sense I like to travel, visit museums, walk in the countryside. I can’t over emphasize how important this is to my work for generating ideas to not be cooped up in only one space. Not being able to come up with an idea is an alien concept to me, I’m constantly inspired by the world around me, both the real physical world and the digital one. Having the time/brain capacity to get all these ideas down in correct format is more of an issue for me.

Research is also pretty key to my work, whether I’m creating in speculative futures of my own imagining or recreating the landscapes of the past I like to put in the time to research properly. Maybe this is because I’m one of those irritating people who will read/watch something and complain when the details aren’t right.

Image reference board for one of my previous projects

Image reference board for one of my previous projects

As for getting stories on paper, since I got into screenwriting about 5 years ago I’ve become an uber-planner. I like to have a detailed outline done before I start any script pages. This way I can work out a lot of the plot holes and iffy character motivation moments before I’m in love with the pages I’ve written.

Recently I’ve gotten into a habit of writing first drafts in 2-4 weeks. It’s really important to get to the end of the script, because until then you really can’t start to edit and turn the story into something that’s actually good. The first draft is never any good, I’ve pretty much gotten over the mental hurdle of realising this, so I vomit it out as quickly as possible [after research preparation] so that I can start cleaning up and feeling better about the story.

My final point on process is something that is occurring as I work further into my PhD by creative practice. I am becoming more aware of the reasons behind my creative decisions. Not in an overly analysing way, it isn’t detrimental or freezing to my process. I feel I have a pretty good gut instinct for the stories I tell, the locations I place scenes in, but now I am beginning to really understand why my gut tells me to do these things. Perhaps that has nothing to do with my PhD and is just my maturing as a writer, still it has occurred after I’ve started to really pick things apart for my academic research and so I feel they must be linked.

So I think that’s it… again I apologise that this is the end of this particular chain but I hope you’ve found this interesting or at least mildly amusing.

Advertisements
Comments
  1. […] been a week since I blogged as part of the My Writing Process – Blog Tour. In that post I admitted, sheepishly, that I hadn’t found anyone to nominate… but, after posting, one […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s