Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Been very quiet on this blog for the last few days.  Perhaps this is going to end up being a regular thing: blog starts up in January each year then tails off as work begins to arrive from strange and various angles.  Last week was taken up with the film,various radio projects and some potential work buffing lines on a computer game.  Will any of these come to anything?  We’ll have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, I wanted to blog about those moments when, through no fault of the writer’s own, they see their good work crash and burn.  Last night I think  I saw one of those moments.  Sam Bain, Jesse Armstrong and Simon Blackwell are a hugely talented team (just think of The Thick of It, Peep Show, Moving Wallpaper et al) and, in The Old Guys, they’ve put together what should be a great show.  Roger Lloyd Pack and Clive Swift work together brilliantly, the script (judging by the first ten minutes of last night’s programme) is excellent and there’s even a good theme tune.  So why did I only get to see the first ten minutes of the programme?  Because some idiot decided to balls up the laughter track to the extent I couldn’t watch without cringing.

Now you may have heard the phrase “canned laughter”.  It’s something they used to use (may still do on some shows) in US series: pre-recorded laughs dubbed in at the (jn)appropriate moment to punch up gags and tell the audience (whom the producers obviously believe to be Delta-Gamma Semi-Morons) that “this is funny, laugh you dogs, LAUGH I SAY!”.

British producers/directors will always tell you with pride that we don’t do that sort of thing over here.  The laughter in British sitcoms is the laughter of a real audience, who genuinely watched the show.  There’s a piece over at Graham Linehan’s site on exactly this point.  BUT what was omitted is that, thanks to the wonders of technology, it is easier than ever to play around with those audience laughs, to take a laugh from here (in some notorious cases “here” may mean the pre-show audience warm up) and drop it in there, or to whack up the volume of the laughter to ridiculous levels (you can tell the level is as artificially enhanced as a Coca-Cola Championship WAG because if it were real the actors WOULD HAVE TO SHOUT ALL THEIR DIALOGUE LIKE SOME PRODUCERS SHOUT AT THEIR RUNNERS TO HAVE ANY HOPE OF HAVING IT HEARD).  If audience laughs are treated with taste and discretion  they enhance the overall experience enormously.  When done badly (as on The Old Guys and far too many other recent BBC shows) you end up with bursts of uproarious laughter over what the writer intended as mildly-amusing lines of exposition, sudden HUGE LEAPS in laughter volume, laughs that die off suspiciously quickly and, above all, a ruined televisual experience.

So there you go: you can write something brilliant, get a fantastic cast acting beautifully, be given a nice prime slot on BBC1 and lots of trails … and still see your work of art cocked-up by someone who thinks audiences at home are too thick to get a joke unprompted.


Read Full Post »

… over at Larval Subjects.  It’s actually addressed to the question of writing productivity and the academic but much of it holds for any writer.

Check out the whole post but here are a couple of extracts …

… we create a sort of ideal audience in our minds that already possesses knowledge of everything we’re trying to say and then deny ourselves the possibility of writing because writing under these circumstances is impossible.

Oh yes, been there, done that.

And now, the best advice any writer can get …

… the more you write the more you will write. This sounds like an idiotic tautology, but the point isn’t that if you write more you’ll write more. Rather, the point is that thought and writing grow It is very difficult to write a lot if you don’t write at all. However, if writing becomes a part of your daily routine, this writing will generate further concepts and ideas, which will, in turn, become the ground of yet other ideas. The activity of inscription allows thought to come into being. As you write the more you write the less painful this experience will become, the more your plant will grow.

Anyone who’s ever tried to put pen to paper for a living knows this only too well but still the reminder is always useful: a writer writes.

Read Full Post »

So …

I’ve hit something of a brick wall.   Ideas are bubbling around for the internet project, which is nice, but the novel keeps running into blind alleys … where it proceeds to assault itself, steal all its own money and then make off into the dark.  The internet project is going to be a mix of vlogs and blogs, allowing readers/viewers to get the kind of sense of each characters’ inner state that can only usually be found in novels.  As the vlogs/blogs won’t be explicitly linked from the beginning, it will be possible for readers/viewers to find their own way through the story.  I suppose it’s a modern take on those Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks from the 80s, with their “Do you attack the troll?  Turn to page 10 for yes, Page 118 for no” … only without the page turning, or, indeed, trolls.

The book on the other hand is beginning to really annoy me.  As I explained before, it began life as a treatment for a  TV series (NB series not serial – although it had an overall story arc, most episodes would have been self-contained).  As such I could get away with a general indication of location, characters and some hint of a story arc without having to go into too much detail.  To pitch a novel (or, indeed, a series of novels) I’m going to need a much more detailed outline of the plot … and every time I think I’ve got things roughly in order I find a character popping up in the wrong place.  At present he keeps doing the equivalent of  Sidney Carton deciding to run off with Lucie Manette rather than sacrifice himself on the gallows at the end of A Tale of Two Cities.  As he’s my favourite character, as well as being the vector for the underlying thesis of the story (which is a potentially rather pretentious plea for rationality), this is causing me all sorts of trouble.

Read Full Post »

No Posts Today

Hmm … well I did have a post for today, all written out.  But then I looked at it and decided that I had no business sharing it with the rest of the world.  So I’ll let the blog lie fallow for another day, apart from saying that work continues on the novel and the internet drama – though not necessarily apace.

Read Full Post »