Thursday, 15 January 2009

Coffee Break

Crumbs, how can another week have gone by? Coffee time again. And biscuits of course, otherwise where would we find the crumbs I started this post with?

So. We're in the middle of January already. How many words have you written this year? Personally, not as many I would have wished. Like a few of the other Novel Racers, I'm currently busy learning about writing with the OU rather than *ahem* actually writing.

I confess. I've been moaning. Moaning about having to write plays and fill my weary brain with knowledge about film techniques. Learning how to shape a scene into an arc... building, building, reaching a peak of drama then pulling it back... tantalising the audience, flipping to something else, contrasting, juxtaposing, considering images when linked and how they show something without spelling it out, as it were. I've watched films in the name of research. Oh yes. Soaps too. They all use the same techniques but we don't notice, we're too busy being sucked along by the sneaky framework of it all.

Of course, no matter how brilliant a film, it can never probe the inner workings of a mind; never convey a powerful narrative voice in the way that a novel can.

But. I like the idea of shapely scenes. If we can think visually, our writing should become more sensual with supple, transitions between scenes and even sentences. I know this; I read it in The Coursebook. But actually, as I watch these films, I'm becoming more aware of how things should pull together in a novel.

I'm also enamoured with the concept of shapely writing. On my delightful tangent, I find myself considering that my next novel will be shaped like Diana Dors: it will be beautiful, desirable but not unobtainable. It will be real and thoroughly British; brash but charmingly so.

My dear Racers, the questions to which I wantonly crave your replies: which film/drama/series would you most like to have written? And if your WIP were shaped like a celebrity, which one would it resemble?


Leatherdykeuk said...

Although I haven't missed a day on Jasfoup's blog, I've just got back into the novel writing with 3K on Halcyon Days this week.

I'd love to do the OU course, but it'll have to wait until *after* the writing, when I can eventually afford it. To answer your question, though, I've just finished watching both seasons of 'Dead Like Me' and I would have loved to have written that. Also would have like to have written Jim Butcher's 'The Dresden Files' since both of those are 'my' genre. Or, as a complete departure, I would have liked to have written James Herriot's Vet books for popularity or Rowling's Potter books for the money.

wordtryst said...

No coffee for me please; it's still Thursday night in my neck of the woods and I'll need to get some sleep. But I'll have some of those biscuits, thank you!

Methinks you're on to something, SS. A number of authors have claimed that learning how to structure a screenplay has improved their novel crafting skills.

Now for the goodie-question. **rubs hands in glee** The film that comes to mind immediately is The English Patient. To me that is what film making is about - thrilling storyline, brilliant imagery, breathtaking scenery, inspired motifs and transitions, mesmerizing characters, magic...

My current WIP would probably be shaped like Salma Hayek.

L-Plate Author said...

Hi everyone. Great question Spiral.

I would have loved to have written something as popular as Only Fools and Horses. With all its working class ethics, wit, charm mixed with humour and sadness, it has the perfect appeal for me. I like it when the underdog comes out on top.

As for the WIP, in the last two posts on my blog, I’ve given a taster of what the series is about. I would have to liken it to ‘Patsy Palmer’ from Eastenders. She’s a strong woman with real issues. She is loud, brassy, mouthy, colourful and defiant. She has a likeability factor. She makes mistakes but also gets through whatever life throws at her. More importantly, she’s not afraid to speak out about things that supposedly don’t happen (in this instance, domestic violence).

Fiona said...

I wish I have written the screen drama, Wallander. It's based on the the Henning Mankell books. It could be, though, that I just love anything Kenneth Branagh says.

Great topic and I'm sure the pointy boobs look great close up too.

Lucy Diamond said...

Wow, your course sounds fab - really interesting. And I love the thought of a Diana Dors-shaped novel!
I would have love to have written the Cold Feet series - remember that? I so enjoyed watching that when it was on. I loved all the characters, friendship and humour, and the dialogue was so good, it seemed effortless (although I bet it wasn't).

I haven't done much on the latest novel so far, I've had lots of other deadlines to meet, and am slightly worried I've bitten off more than I can chew this year, writing-wise. But today, I'm back in my 'Novel 4 first draft' document so hope to make a bit of progress...

If my WIP were shaped like a celebrity... oh my God. I can't think. Might have to come back to you on that!

Caroline said...

I'm only at abour 4,000 on one and 1,000 on the other (a novella). I have to finish my edits for Bees by the end of Jan, so writing will not be the focus for the next couple of weeks.

Fab questions!

Which film/drama/series would you most like to have written?
- Tales of the Unexpected, without a doubt.

And if your WIP were shaped like a celebrity, which one would it resemble?
- (the ghost of) Helena Bonham Carter ... or possibly it is more a 'I wish' it did :)


Debs said...

Great post, I'll definately have a couple of biscuits with my latte.

Your course does sound excellent. I've been wracking my brains to think what I'd like to have written and there are so many, but I suppose, even though I write romance novels, I'd love to have written Ashes to Ashes, or Life on Mars. (I love Wallander too, Fiona, and hope that they make more episodes).

If my WIP was shaped like a celebrity, I think it would be, um, er, Sophia Loren, well-rounded, sexy and with hidden depths. At least it would be encouraging to think my WIP has all those aspects.

Lane said...

What a great and very 'shapely' post.

There are so many things I wish I'd written. Northern Exposure is one. I used to love it because at the time it was a bit different, with an unusual setting and great characters.
More recently I wish I'd written something closely observed, like The Royle Family. Or downright funny like Father Ted.

My wip would like to shaped like Joanna Lumley but at the moment it's falling apart like Amy Winehouse.

Captain Black said...

Tea for me today; can't face coffee for some reason. I'll have a nice crumbly biscuit as well.

Yesterday I broke in the new writing year by producing 1,804 words. That's the lot so far for 2009.

I wish I'd written something like 24 or Prison Break. The plotting is so tight and compelling, and the characters are engaging.

At the moment, I think my WiP most resembles a cross between Stephen Fry and Douglas Bader: trying to be too clever for it's own good (sorry Stephen), and with bits missing!

Lucy: I liked Cold Feet too. I also like Spooks. Can you see the connection there?

JJ said...

Oh fab question ... I've spent the day wondering if I should stop writing and do some more learning... No, I think I did enough of that before. It does sound a great course.

I'm with Sue/Lucy and loved Cold Feet. I'd loved to have written that.

Uhm, in terms of who my novel resembles: definitely not voluptous. But a woman ... but more androgynous. Joely Richardson, maybe?

Calistro said...

OOoh - great question, I can't quite decide what I'd like to have written most.

Like Captain I'd go for 24 or Prison Break for the fantastic hooks, edge of your seat, what happens next-ness. I'd go for Friends for the comedy. Then I'd go for The End of the Affair for the intensity.

And my current WIP. I've written 7,000 words so far this year (bloody hell, just looked at the date and astonished myself on how the hell I've managed to get that many words down) and I'd say it probably looks a bit like Rowan Atkinson - could potentially be attractive and charming and witty but looks and acts more like Mr Bean at the moment. Some plastic surgery will be required during edit phase.

Calistro said...

p.s. Leather - I REALLY want to see Dead Like Me. Someone at my publishers told me my novel reminded her of that series and I've never seen it.

Rowan Coleman said...

Hello all - I love this post! It's one of my ambitions to write a screen play (hopefully based on one of my own books) but it would be a learning curve, I've never done it before except for excerpts to go in the Ruby Parker books and I don't think that really counts...If I could have written anything on TV it would be Madmen the brilliant BBC4 series about the advertising industry in NY in the early 60's, it really is perfectly written, brilliantly characterised and paced and every minute of it was a mixutre or delight and awe.My current WIP before I get on to the next full lenght novel is a ghost hunting adventure for teens - so I think it looks like Scooby Doo. My next novel - I would love it to look like Diana Dors (I would love to like her in that photo) But I imagine more as an incarnation of Jane Eyre just before she relents to her feeings for rochester. Tightly laced and seething with repressed passion. Or something. Cally I can't wait to read you book it sounds great!

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I would love to have written Six Feet Under, of course!

Currently, the celebrity that my wip most closely resembles is the Elephant Man. (sigh...)

I've written about 3000 words so far this year. I suspect I shall write more this weekend.

NoviceNovelist said...

Oh lovely quesion to wake up my tired, foggy brain. Words so far this year - NIL - work is manic and I know soemthing has to give or I will never get any writing done (I'm considering seeking the advice of a writing coach - Jacqui Lofthouse on this - anyone conferred with her?)

Back to the ques - I would loved to have written the movie script Heat - tight, sharp script with a cracking pace and story line - great thriller that also revolves around the frailities of life and the search for love and companionship. Beautiful layering!!!!

My WIP is probably a bit like Amy Winehouse at present - a bit thin but with bloated moments!

Flowerpot said...

Great post and sounds like a great course as well. As for the question - hell my mind's gone blank. I wish I'd written lots of things. having just watched Rebecca again (the Charles Dance and Emilia Fox version, not the 1940 one) I was struck by how clever that book/film is. Wow.... and as I cant watch anything upsetting at the moment or I can't sleep, I'm having to go for slushy type stuff. I also watched About a Boy again and realised how cleverly that was done. Very subtle tranistion from selfish bachelor to caring fellow. And so many more.... asnfor what my wip would look like - well there are 3 at the moment I'm working on! The one I'm working on features Mollie my dog so of course it would look like her - scruffy haired, intelligent, stroppy, funny, wilful but very loving.

Flowerpot said...

PS - Just realised iut's supposed to be a celebrity. Tricky that. It'd have to be Rick Stein's dog Chalky!!

Un Peu Loufoque said...

"shapely writing" what a wonderfully evocative phrase! I have written about 3k in all this year which is not enough especailly as I have not blogged at all.The real world and family commitments got in the way, I am sure Dickens never had this trouble. I would have loved to have written the French film "Un long dimanche de fian├žailles" Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet and, of course, staring Audrey Tautou , If you haven't seen it please do. There is something about French films, they have a wit and lyrical quality all their own. And who wouldnt want their writing to resemble Audrey Tautou , her enigmatic smile her charm and allure, alas I fear Nora Batty is closer to the truth with my writing but one can dream!

ChrisH said...

This is a fab post but I can't think straight at the moment because I've just got a stonking mark for TMA 02 in A217! Whoop, whoop!

ChrisH said...

Sorry, terrible tootling of own trumpet but I was sooooo doubtful about it!

Juliette M said...

(Congrats Chris) :)

Shapely writing, what a great idea! I'd like to say my work would be Johnny Depp shaped, but then I would never let it out of the house.

I would love to have written any of the following:
LIFE ON MARS! *love love love*
Northern Exposure
Blake's 7
Firefly *dies of squee*
Press Gang (I loved this show!)
Sex and the City

I like the idea of my writing being shaped like Jennifer Hudson - beautiful, full of life and a lot of it! Or perhaps shaped like the wonderful late Heath Ledger; complex, changeable, dark, adaptable to the audience, and rather pretty...

Sadly I have not written a single word this year except notes. I'd better get cracking or my writing will be shaped like a celebrity baby - little and all over the place.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Second attempt.

Great post. Great answers.

I wish I had written The Prisoner. Very much of its time. Full of the things that intrigue me. Not afraid to be strange, witty, complex, and tackle serious social and philosophical ideas.

As for what my w-i-p looks like... In reality, Griffin (The Invisible Man). In my mind's eye, Tilda Swinton (especially in Orlando. Mmmm. Cate Blanchett in armour... oh... srry, got sidetracked there.

Cathy said...

I would like to have written something like thr first series of Allie McBeal or Desperate Housewives, something which mixes relationships, humour and a touch of fantasy, with really tight dialogue.

Hmm, I have no idea who my WIP looks like. Cheryl Cole perhaps, very thin but with a softer interior than expected...

Lane said...

Well Chris on your 'stonking' mark. Woo!

Annieye said...

1. About 4,000, I think
2. The Singing Detective - I was mesmerised
3. Amy Winehouse - at bit rough around the edges and out of control

In the same way as I prefer reading a book to watching a film, I prefer listening to a play or series on the radio to watching the tv.

Great, thought provoking post.

SpiralSkies said...

Oddly, though I thought the second question a bit random, I've loved every single answer: maybe we need to think about things from a peculiar angle now and again.

I'm loving the writing in the new series of Hustle - it's tight, stylish and very clever. Not much of a wishlist in one's own writing then!

liz fenwick said...

Great post SS. The course sounds brilliant.

Feeling very brain dead as we have been out late two nights running.......will come back later!

Paige said...

I wish I could have written Friends. I think the humour in that series was fantastic. And I agree with SS, Hustle is so damn clever!

My current WIP would probably be the shape of Kate Moss or Calista Flockhart. It's in need of a good meal to fatten it up! lol!

Leigh said...

Sorry I'm so unforgivably late. No excuses. Sorry. Sorry.

I'd love to have written anything in which Ronnie Barker could have been cast. The man's skill must have presented endless opportunities for the scriptwriters.

Proper writerly words: 3306 (all shorties, or plans for shorties). Blogging posts and comments probably score slightly higher...

My wip is King Kong: huge, hairy and very very scary.

Clare Sudders said...

What a lovely coffee morning post. I'm so sad I missed it! I doubt anyone's reading now, but fwiw I would like to have written Shameless and Six Feet Under (SFU particularly) and Northern Exposure and... OK, I'll stop.

As for celebs, I would like my novel to be shaped like Kathy Burke! Sassy, witty, talented, down to earth, not at first sight beautiful but actually bloody gorgeous.