Whose Cliff?

Friday 14 September 2007, 23:23

Abi Abi

Did you notice how I ended my last blog entry? On a Cliff, that's how. As a continuing drama (CD) writer I have learned to embrace the Cliff. Once I get a commission and study the serial material for my episode, this first thing I do is - work out who has the Cliff.
When I sit down to watch EE or Holby, I can usually tell pretty early on whose Cliff it is this week. And the point of the Cliff-hanger? To get us hooked, interested and tuning in next week.
Previously: Abi had a meeting with her script editor for Casualty, was she to go straight to script or rework the Treatment? (Cue Eastenders drums).

I got to rework the treatment. A little.

Thankfully there wasn't that much to rework structurally, but things needed tweaking tonally. Adjusting tone usually means a few hours of pleasant writing and mulling and sipping coffee. Adjusting structure can mean fraught hours of blu tacking index cards all over the wall to make .. the .. damn .. thing .. fit. You can re-structure your episode for hours, thinking 'Aha!' it's all falling into place now, only to find you've inadvertently left out three important scenes because they blew under the table when someone opened the door to ask how it's going...

There is important alchemy and wizardry bestowed upon Academy writers in the form of the 5 act structure. It's a little like being in possession of a magical balm - once applied to your troublesome script, it can help iron out any nasty glitches or bumps or boils. I applied said balm to my Treatment, tweaked the tone and resubmitted. It worked, I am now writing the script and have notched up 5 scenes thus far. Aiming for 10 scenes a day, deadline beginning of October, determined not to work weekends.

Weekends is for crafting projects and R 'n' R and I'm looking forward to Casualty tomorrow night, (busman's holiday). Last weeks' was a real treat. I often watch Casualty with my 9 yr old, she likes the stories and we enjoy the ketchup factor. In a former life, pre Academy, I was a designer and prop/puppet maker - I like looking for the 'joins' deciphering how a prosthetic injury is constructed.
Ah - but not so last Saturday - too darn real! My 9yr old blanched as the guy's stomach erupted in loops and worms and the poor blokes' arm was sawn off with a cheese wire. She was totally 'with' the protagonist however, she desperately wanted Toby to have a good break - it was gripping viewing. And very funny.

Family who know I write for CD often beseech me - could I please kill off Ian Beale/Max/Stitch/Chrissie or whoever. Oh, if only I had so much power I tell them, the most I could probably do is make Ian fall up a paving stone in the background of my ep - possibly.
In fact I'm finding it incredibly hard to keep up with who's where and who's done what in these shows. This where my teenage daughter comes in handy - encyclopaedic soap knowledge. My head is so full of current the drama that I see on tv, future drama contained in the story documents I have to read in order to plan the episodes I'm currently writing, and proposed drama that is speculated about in script meetings and story conferences. It's like living in a permanent state of déjà vu. I have had to email my editor a few times this week just to clarify where a particular characters' story arc is at the point I meet them in my ep. And as for writing for the new medics who have yet to be cast - now that's a real challenge.
Just as well I enjoy a challenge.


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