Monday, August 31, 2009

The logic of emotions

”Anyone can write a drama” I explained to my husband, ”if it is for someone in the same mood as the writer, because then the correct emotions are already in place.”

“The art of writing drama” I continued, “is to be able so take any mood of the reader or viewer and transform it to what you want for the story.”

In general he is not very interested in my writing. And even less interested in my reflections from reading a book about writing.

But this time he paid attention.

We have had an argument about feelings and emotions. Then I had claimed that he must stop trying to find logic in my emotions, because emotions are not logical.

“But if you can write a text that gives me the emotion you indented” he said, “how can you then claim that emotions are not logical? If there was no logic there, it wouldn’t be possible.”

I stood dumbfounded.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A good bad example

Something I really like with Yves Lavandier's book Writing Drama (which I’m reading right now) is that he brings up less successful examples as well.

In all books I have read there have been examples, but they have all been about well preformed stories. None have brought up movies where they could have done it better.

This one does however. And it’s not only small unknown movies, but well known blockbusters like Rain Man (although in this example I disagree with him).

It is vital to know where to find flaws, since that is the situation I will be in as a writer. To analyze at a successful movie is not bad, but I feel it is important to learn how to make things better. And to do that I need to look at movies where the story could have been better.

Photo by Dezidor
Used under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License
Image edited by the writer

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Crew on Antarctica

The short script that I’m working on now is for a limited budget and a limited number of actors.

There is nothing strange in this. If you have a huge budget you would probably do a feature film instead.

But I have never had these restrains before. Sure, I knew that I ought to be writing with small money in mind, but it hasn’t become real until now, when I’m actually requested to write something for production (no papers signed yet, so keep your fingers crossed).

It is so easy to place the characters in several locations, include small children and crowds.

There are moments when I feel that I ought to be writing novels instead where I could place my characters on Antarctica or on the Moon if I feel like it.

But the thing is that restrains are not for evil.

They are good.

They force me to find other solutions, to search for other ways than the most obvious and frankly to be more creative. To work, to put it simply.

Of course I wish for things to be easy, but honestly it is not that hard to see that the fun is to have a challenge, no matter how frustrating it may be.

And if I succeed to write what I want the exhilaration will be greater and more satisfying than if I wrote it in five minutes with no problems at all.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My life's content is left on the floor back home

I entered the bus, payed and removed my backpack to take a seat. Backpack… My backpack! It wasn’t there!

My brain rushed. Where could it be? I quickly came to the conclusion that it must be at home, left behind on the floor. Kids, nappies and garbage bags had been too much at one time.

Should I return home to get it? The bus had started to move, so I could get off no earlier than the next stop. It would take at least half an hour before I would be back on a bus on my way to work. I was already late.

My lunch, my breakfast… In the backpack.

I sat down.

My book… My e-notebook… With my guest blogger’s entry, with the short script I’m working on, with every line of any importance that I’m processing!


A day without all that.

The next bus stop was passing outside the window. My one chance.

I’ll survive.


Gee, I feel so lost.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Drama is playing peek-a-boo

I find it pretty interesting how an idea comes to me.

In most cases it is an image. Like a snapshot of someone’s life. This scene contains many emotions. It is strong and it wants to be written down.

All fine so far.

But to become a story I need some more. Most of all I need the drama, the conflict.

And that is what I find so interesting: I really need to do some serious work to find exactly that.

I could write the story anyway, but good storytelling contains drama. If I just write it, it more becomes like a visual poem – but as a script with the “visual” part still missing. It will be a second act with no real beginning and a very fuzzy end.

Why do I have such a hard time to find the drama, the heart, of the story?

As great storytelling is quite rare I suppose this is a common problem among writers. Although it gives me some comfort, it would be great if I could just dive into writing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Quest for a Golden Fleece

I’m starting to get famous.

No honestly, that is not true. But from being completely unknown and untested, I’m getting requests and queries.

I’ve already told you about the publishing company that e-mailed me about reviewing a book. I’ve also been asked to guest write on a blog. And most interesting of all is a project a reader of this blog wants me to join.

I’m happy and very flattered.

I’m still so young (?) and green so I get flattered when someone likes my work.

Of course I don’t know what a famous star really feel, but they don’t look flattered when told that they are good. They look like they’ve heard it before and expect you to say it.

When do you stop become flattered?

Is it the same time you stop mingling around on other’s blogs writing a comment or two?

Is that about being priggish, or simply about time? Because fame means that everybody pull your sleeves for attention.

Let’s hope for a little bit of easy-to-handle-fame where I still can leave a little footprint or two around the blogs without getting bogged down.

And still become flattered.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

A first draft is not a final draft

I must allow a first draft to be a first draft.

A first draft is not perfect. It is a draft, a first rough sketch.

If I get stuck in my writing due to problems in the story, I should not care. Not right now. It is a first draft. Write it down. It is no use to anyone in my head.

I must allow myself to write a story that does not hold and whose characters behave strange. Nobody needs to read it. Not yet.

Come on!

Stop care and write. You’ll make it hold later. You’ll make the character the most interesting creatures there is - later.

Don’t worry so much.

It is a first draft. A first draft, you hear me? It is the first time this is written. Nobody expects it to even be readable at this stage.

Yes, there might be too much violence. Yes, nobody might get the story. And YES, there is no setup for the A-bomb popping up out of nowhere.

Write it anyway!

Look at the first half. It’s pretty impressive. You said the same thing back then too.

A word: Mellifluous

"The voice is mellifluous. European. It comes from the shadows of a deep corner of the cell."

"Batman Begins" by David Goyer

Mellifluous – pleasing to the ear. Or as Wiktionary put it: Sweet and smooth; generally used of a person's voice, tone or writing style.

It comes from Latin “mellifluus” which means “flowing like honey” (“mel” means “honey” and “fluō” means “flow”).

I couldn’t help laughing when I read this. It is just a such fantastic adjective.

But will I ever learn to spell it?


Monday, August 17, 2009

There is hope in error

At first I didn’t find any flaws in “Kim”. And if I can’t find any flaws I can’t rewrite it to make it better.

It wasn’t good enough as it is, but still perfect in my eyes.

I had a problem. A huge problem.

I started to read the script again. Hey, that line isn’t needed. Now, wait a minute, this description sounds darn dull…

And slowly another image appeared. I did see flaws. I do understand why it was dumped.


There is hope!

Photo by Crystal
Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License
Image edited by the writer

A word: Abundant

"Conflict is a revealer of personality, which is why the great writers of drama have used it so abundantly."

Yves Lavandier in Writing Drama

Abundant – fully sufficient, in great quantity, richly supplied.

Followed by “in” rarely by “with”. Like "Abundant in goodness and truth.” — Exodus, 34:6

Origins from Latin abudans, from abundar – to abound, to be plentyful. Taking its way through French it found its place already in Old English.

Synonyms are ample, bountiful, copious, exuberant, liberal, overflowing, plenteous and several more.

Honestly, I would have written “used it so much”. That is the difficulty of using a secondary language. “Much” does not tell half as much as “abundantly”.

“Abundantly” is a positive word; there is a rich supply, but that is good; not too much of it. Maybe even can’t be too much.

“Much” could be either.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Conflict in drama

Conflict is the element that occurs in every drama. It is the heart of the drama.

Yves Lavandier explores what conflict is in his book Writing Drama.

Conflict does not have to be quarrels and argument. More often it is much more calm situations. It could be the inability to help, double loyalty or a dying man enjoying life.

He points out the importance that the audience experiences the conflict.

If we don’t know that the man enjoying life is dying, or don’t know the girl is secretly in love, then we don’t get the point with the story, we miss the drama.

So the audience actually knows more about the situation than the characters involved. We see a conflict before the characters in the story do.

He also has an example with two men sitting by table talking. They agree, they don’t argue, they just talk, chit-chat. No drama, very boring.

But, if we as an audience know that there is a bomb under the table, then we have a conflict.

So the conflict does not necessarily need to be between the characters in the story. It can also be towards the audience.

Yves Lavandier says:
“… the spectator is an essential partner in the dramatic process. In fact it can justifiably be said that it is above all the spectator who must experience conflict …”

I’ve never thought about it that way. I agree completely, but I can’t remember ever heard it expressed that way. Conflict in the story, of course, and ways to show the audience, yes, but not ever expressively said that it is the audience that must feel the conflict, and not necessarily the characters.

Please support

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Conflicts, emotions and how not to raise a child

I am reading Writing Drama, a comprehensive guide for playwrights and scriptwriters, by Yves Lavandier.

He begins with exploring what conflict means and I’ll get back to that tomorrow.

Today I’ll be more focused on – exactly – focus. Because the writer succeeded to throw me out of focus while reading.

He writes about emotions and says:
“Children, for example, are rarely allowed to express sadness or fear. Most parents require their children to master their emotions, to become insensitive.”

I jumped when I read this. What?! What kind of dumb-assed parent is he talking about?

My mind was no longer on storytelling. Slightly upset I tried to comprehend what kind of child raising he was referring to.

Now am I a sensitive person on the subject, easy to lose my focus?

Or has the writer lost focus in the text?

Is it the writer who should keep his readers, or is it the reader’s responsibility to stay with the writer?

Yves Lavandier has pointed out in the introduction of the book that we write for the audience.

If the writer then makes me think about how to raise children and not about storytelling as intended, then it is either a poorly executed text or I’m the wrong audience.

Since I consider myself interested in storytelling, then I ought to be the right audience for this book.

So, yes, I believe it’s the writer’s mistake that I lost my focus.

I think the mistake is stating something as a fact, when it isn’t true for the reader. If this was a book about raising children, the statement would have been surrounded by setups, proofs, questions, but in this case it is a statement to prove another point concerning emotions and storytelling.

And it misses its target.

Some things are more or less universal. How to raise a child is not.

A word: Atrocity

"In 'Warriors', the British UN troops posted in the former Yugoslavia are powerless witnesses to the atrocities carried out by the ethnic cleansers."

Yves Lavandier in Writing Drama

Atrocity - The quality of being shockingly cruel and inhumane or an act of inhumane cruelty.

It’s from Latin “atrox” meaning terrible, cruel, bloody, fierce, and dreadful. And basically any other synonyms with those words.

Atrocity feels like a pretty word to keep dreadful things hidden. To be able to write objectively about what really happened and be politically correct.

Like handle over a bag with horrors and cruelties but keeping your own hands clean since you are only touching the handles of the bag, like “hear you go, I’m just telling you what it is, but it’s your problem.”

It is a word that makes me sad. It is a word filled to the brim with so much tragedy.


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Feedback from the competition

When I received the results from Silver Screenwriting Competition there where two things that made me happy.

The first is that there was no fussing around if I had advanced to the next round or not. It was stated in plain text on the third line. “Advanced to the next round: No”. I like that. Not that I didn’t advance, that of course I wish had been different, but the lack of fuss and polite phrases.

The second was the feedback.

Although (very) short it told me where my basic problems are. I had not a single one of the “rethink”-boxes checked and that was pleasing, but what made me happy was that my concept was considered good and solid, and so was my professional appearance, like grammar and spelling (!).

That my English is considered that good is for me a huge success. That was something I didn’t think possible.

If I can manage that, then it ought to be possible to get the rest up to the same standard.

It is possible.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Now, take it easy. There is likely a long life ahead of you.

I’m back.

Back to work and back to regular days.

It’s not that bad. A bit of structure does not hurt. Then at least I can do a major part of the day on routine and spend my time thinking of something more interesting than how to handle all kinds of suddenly popped up situations.

I’ve not been writing a single line on Sunlight, but I’ve been thinking and planning and now I’m ready to start writing. I simply cannot concentrate when my brain is a big fuzzball of family doings.

Something I’ve defiantly succeeded with is ending up with too much reading to be done. I’ve got this grammar book that I’ve promised myself to read through before the end of the year. I’ve got a Stephen King novel that turned out to be far more difficult to read than expected (I love his books in general). And then the Writing Drama book I told you about earlier.

Then I need to catch up with all the blogs I follow.

And, I almost forgot, I have a day job to take care of.

Do I sense a slight headache?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Rebuilding the dream

You know, what hit me real hard about dropping out of the Nicholl Fellowship contest was the broken dream.

No, not about the splendor about my script. About having the opportunity to try to make a living in another way than now.

The fellowship is about making it financial possible for a number of writers to take a leave from their day jobs and focus on writing for about a year.

That was what I was dreaming about. To be able to see if I could make that work.

I have a family. I can’t just quit my job and live on hope and dreams. I need solid money, like most people. Anything else would be irresponsible.

I like the place where I work, I can’t complain about my job.

But I am a writer.

That is something nobody can take away from me.

My job is not who I am. It is what I do for a living.

I simply have to bite down hard and keep on getting better for yet another year.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A *thick* book about writing drama

I got an inquiry from Le Clown & l’enfant, a French publishing company, wondering if I was interested in reading and reviewing their (English) book about screenwriting on my blog.

Except for a Swedish book on the subject, every book I’ve read about screenwriting has been American. Sure, I would love to read a book with European point of view for a change.

I received my copy by the mail today.

It is definitely the thickest book I’ve owned so far on this theme. It is close to six hundred pages!

Hum, this will take some time. And good memory, to write a review worth its salt.

It’ll likely pop up a few reflections along the way with connection to this book. Writing Drama, a comprehensive guide for playwrights and scriptwriters, by Yves Lavandier, that is.

Stay tuned.