Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Two down

I’m headed back to North Carolina for a few days, writing this on the plane. The countryside around Charlotte is rather nicely lit, as if it were featuring in a Wes Anderson movie. The glass of wine that was supposed to make me less aware of my sleep-deprived state has instead induced a sort of toddleresque fidgetiness, which is always so popular on planes.

Hence my decision to finally impart to you, dear reader, an update on the Awful Space Opera—I’m hoping a bit of frenetic productivity will stop my inner three-year-old from staring out the window and yelling ‘Down! Down!’

So, basically, I finished it. My draft I mean. Certainly not the final one. It needs an immense amount of work still. The last few chapters, in particular, are truly, utterly, definitively more Awful than all the rest of them combined. But that’s to be expected. You know, you go along, building your characters, juggling your plotlines, always tossing a few more balls in the air, and if you can finish without dropping every single one on the ground, you call it a win. 

Closing the show with a flourish and a bow is for the third draft.

I’m not entirely sure what to do now. Do I jump straight into yet another rewrite? Or do I take a break, work on something else for a while? I’ve an idea for a screenplay—not the one I was working on before, a new one—try to keep up—I’ve an idea for a screenplay about spies that I’d really like to get down on paper, before Vladimir Putin invades anything else and makes the whole concept hopelessly dated.

And changing gears again does have a certain appeal. Or I could take a shorter break, write something just for me, a TV episode or something. 

I just don’t know.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


It’s funny, how nothing ever matches your expectations. You go somewhere new, the things you expect to love are boring and the things you expect to hate are okay. You start a new job, and realize you like the humdrum bits better than the big exciting projects.

When I first started writing, I had this odd idea that dialogue would be easy. After all, I carry on conversations all the time. Descriptive prosenow that would be hard. How could you possibly really and truly convey the jagged, black latticework of bare wintery twigs against a sunset? (As ‘jagged, black latticework,’ apparently.) How could you explain that a character’s face was somehow ugly and beautiful at the same time? 

A picture is worth a thousand words, so do I need at least a thousand words to set every scene?

Well, as it turns out, dialogue, even to someone who babbles compulsively, is hard. It comes out wooden, dry, and not remotely like what any real person has ever actually said. Describing the scene is easy. Which is good, because when you decide to set your story on an imaginary world, you do really need to flesh out what it looks like. I can always slash it down to something concise in draft three.

Plus, if I keep rambling on about the color of the ducks (dark brown, with pink wings), I may eventually figure out what the people ought to be saying.


(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
  The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
  The frumious Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
  Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
  And stood awhile in thought.
And, as in uffish thought he stood,
  The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
  And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
  The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
  He went galumphing back.
"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
  Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
  He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
  Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
  And the mome raths outgrabe.

--Lewis Carroll