Thursday, 17 March 2011

Piggy in the Middle

The story so far…

Once upon a time there was a script.  Now this little script wasn’t a very happy script.  It was all broken up into pieces and - as was the world at the dawn of time - was without shape or form. Lo, there came an Electric Writer who tried to fix the script.  And the script began to develop and take shape.  But still it wasn’t a happy script.  It still lacked form.  But slowly and surely the pieces began to come together…

Now, for the purposes of creating a dramatically suspenseful moment I could include the phrase “To be continued” at this point.  But, dear electric reader, you do not deserve to be exposed to such well-trodden material.

It has now been some time since the extended period of writers block suddenly disappeared and went on holiday (or “vacation” if you happen to be American).  However, it looms like the shadow of an alien spacecraft from such films as Independence Day and, er, that other film which is sort of like Independence Day.

However, the electric script for a forthcoming electric feature film progresses, slowly but surely.  It has, however, reached what I call The Lethargy Point.  The Lethargy Point works like this:

A writer spends many months developing an idea for a script.  He takes showers, writes notes, thinks in bed during the night, and finally decides that, yes, this is the script he is going to write.  Aforementioned writer then engages the A2SF2K (Arse To Seat, Fingers To Keyboard) formula and soon realises that much of the idea development should be jettisoned due to the creative flow taking a new organic direction.  It is at this point that some writers would begin to panic; our example writer does not do this because he realises that many things can change in a script between the idea and rough draft.

(One hastens to add that ‘rough draft’ can be an extremely useful alternative when referring to a first draft in case it turns out to be really shit, then one can say ‘But it’s only a rough draft; it’s just sketching out ideas for a first draft.’)

So our writer jollies along with the rough draft, whistling while he works, drinking tea, and looking forward to the end.  But then something curious happens.  The ideas dry up.  And the rough draft is too short.  Our writer reads through his masterpiece - which has a beginning, middle and end (though not necessarily in that order) - and realises that the script is running at only an hour!  He is now faced with a dilemma.

Our writer recalls a time when he heard someone mention a ‘medium length film’.  Medium length film?  Do such things exist?  Like The Twilight Zone, it is that strange middle-ground between science and superstition, or, in this case, between a short film and a feature film.  Thus, theoretically, our writer has a completed script - for a ‘medium length film’.  It would be so much easier to settle for this than go through the trauma of having to rethink the whole idea and expand the script to full-length.  Or does he grow a set of creative balls, realise who the fall guy is likely to be in this arena, and press on to page 90, 100 or even 120?  Because, let’s be frank here, folks: who the hell cares about a ‘medium length’ film?  It’s just a long short film.

The more astute of you out there will, of course, realise that the principles of The Lethargy Point amounts to nothing more than a metaphorical disguise for blatant laziness and another one of those displacement activities for not writing.  It is the point in one’s writing where the script reaches a length recognised in the industry as ‘medium length’ and it would be easier to stop there and then and come up with some cock-and-bull creative excuse for why this is the ‘ideal duration for the execution of this idea;’ or words to that effect.
In an ideal world it’s a short film, a feature film, or episode of EastEnders.

And so one stops for a metaphorical cup of tea at the metaphorical café situated at The Lethargy Point, thanks the waitress, and then presses on, ever forward, leaving it further and further behind.  That’s the signpost up ahead.  It says: “Stop deluding yourself and write a full-length script, you lazy git!”

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