Today is a rest day which is just as well as I was at a ritzy BBC party last night. It's a rest day because yesterday, in between ironing my party outfit and catching up on DVDs, I handed in my Treatment for my latest Holby ep.
My new editor is very thorough, I've been tweaking my guest story pitch for a few days now - this is the document pre-treatment where the editorial team make sure all the storylining and serial beats are being worked to their fullest. Hopefully any loop holes are stitched up and everybody understands what is needed from this particular ep. In a biblical sense this is how a script is created - one document begets another document, which begets another etc. Think microcosms and macrocosms, think fractals. If you are averse to 5 part structure or merely the idea of structure per se, then look away now...
My pitch is an outline for my episode loosely broken down into a 5 act structure, possibly 2 pages long.
My treatment is the pitch expanded, each Act broken down into outlines for individual scenes, 15 or so pages.
The script is the treatment expanded with each scene broken down into individual chunks of dialogue, 120 pages.
Each scene ideally has its own internal structure that mirrors the story as a 'whole'. IE: something happens, people react to it, crisis, climax, resolution. Beautiful isn't it?
Unnatural you say? A stifling imposed format that strangles all creativity/spontaneity? Structure may sound like that when it's deconstructed - but you'll find fractals in nature, nature loves order.
So, with my shirt ironed (what do you wear to a BBC party?) I emailed off my Treatment. I foolishly checked my emails before I left the house - my editor was wondering if it was worth me tweaking the Treatment slightly before he distributed it? Clutching my 'laminate see through fancy party invitation' - er no, I didn't think so.
It's been a bit of a social whirl lately. Last week I went to the Holby storylining conference for two days in a nice hotel in Watford (!). It's hard for us shy retiring writers to come blinking into the light and be expected to talk to people, let alone come up with story ideas in a large group format. Things eventually warm up though and story ideas, opinions, gripes, insults and fawning compliments soon flow, along with the coffee and Danishes. Not quite a bear pit, I've not actually witnessed any furniture being thrown or writers storming out but it must happen.
I'm going to the Casualty storylining equivalent next week and had to email them my lunch choice. A fellow writer and I agreed at the party last night that I'd made a bad choice. I'd opted for the veg pasta with pesto - she conjured up a vision of an over baked ramekin welded with pasta and cheese. She may well be right. I'll report back.
To add to the already jam packed social window in my writing life, I attended the opening of 'Peter and the Wolf' at Hackney Empire. This is a gorgeous family dance/music piece narrated by Brian Blessed.
I have written the new First Act for the piece - the original story is only about 25 mins long (yes we all remember sitting crossed legged in school listening to the duck getting swallowed and feeling sad). The company have expanded the piece into a full length show courtesy of a wonderful new score by Philip Feeney and my words. So you see - I'm also interested in writing other things, a question that is constantly asked of me.
I was at a party last night, did I tell you? It was great to hear what fellow Academy writers are getting up to now - plenty are still writing 'their own stuff' some for telly, some for theatre and radio. Some writers have moved onto other shows, some are contracted to Continuing Drama series still. Last years crop of Academy writers are currently writing on shows - I met two at the Holby conference.
One of the nicest things about getting out about recently is meeting other writers, putting faces to long established names I've seen on script credits. Academy writers are in the mix and sometimes coy of the 'Academy' label - it can be awkward being at the forefront of a new initiative. But Writers Academy won't be seen as so novel soon - it'll be just another 'way in' for people who want to write, like pitching stuff to Writersroom, like sending anything in on spec. And guess what - Academy '08 is looking for writers now.
Go for it.
It is my rest day and a new batch of raspberry pink knitting yarn has just arrived in the post - if you'll excuse me.