Craft Work and Magic Pennies

Craft Work and Magic Pennies

Phew. This summer had roller skates. Creatively, it was wonderful, and then whoosh! There I stood, messy making everywhere I looked, enough mucky creative output to dance in for months!

And so. Back to school, while devouring new drama on t’telly, in the wicked playhouses and yet more in those moving picture theatre halls.  And here, in the imaginarium?

  1. Draft Two (caps intentional) of the spec TV pilot I’m obsessed with (an elite public school in the Scottish wilderness is the battle ground for parental titans, demolishing the society around them as they war over their dead son’s legacy.)
  2. Tour planning for Glitter Knickers in 2017 – a wee show I might have mentioned once or twice.
  3. Sleeve-rolling collaborations with writers, makers, and creative entrepreneurs.

There’s two tunes playing in my mind that I want to inject into yours: the beautiful clockwork of dramatic structure, and the joyous Play-Doh Barber’s Shop game that happens from generous collaboration.

First of all, I’m just loving learning how my craft makes my writing so infinitely better.  PEGGY’s first draft grew from a well-critiqued treatment, and then ten pages (thanks to script editors Philip Shelley & Yvonne Grace respectively). I left it well alone (very tough) for 6 weeks and have gone back to edit like a mad editing monster.  I could now see the problems, the (very) weak spots, the frankly cringe-making things that needed sorting.  And then I set myself the kind of challenge I could never have done without (a) a lot of learning from cleverer people than I, and (b) that 6-week break.  Eh? What? Or, yes, sorry – to solve the problems!

  • THAT’s no good as an excuse for his behaviour – WHY?
  • Oh, come on – his character is weak! What’s he up to? Make him work!
  • Ah. Great antagonist motivation. But now your heroine is nothing by comparison! Even out the score – fight that fight!

The first draft’s OK…BUT, nowhere near good enough. But I’m confident enough to know it’s still like a wobbly clockwork thing. It needs several wheels taking out, binning, replacing, moving…. Heck, I might have to lay the whole thing out on the kitchen table and put it all back together again. But that’s OK! Because if this story is worth telling – and it is! – then getting it right is going to make it absolutely marvellous!

Now, the other thing. The magic pennies of the title. I;m going to save that for my next posy (a) because you’ve read enough and (b) there’s more stuff to do before school pick-up and this is the luxury!

Glittering Audiences: day 2

Glittering Audiences: day 2

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Lucinda Holloway, star of Glitter Knickers at the Rondo Theatre

Glitter Knickers is proving (on the evidence of two nights) to be something people like! We had another smashing audience, with a very large “on the door” queue. I hope you’ll indulge my sharing some feedback – and if it inspires you to come, that would be wonderful – just tonight & Saturday (4/5 March) left! Book here.

“Bloody amazing”

“Hilarious, beautifully observed, artfully written. Go.”

“Go and see Glitter Knickers: it’s brilliant!!”

“Great night out. Very, very funny show.”

“Blown away! Funny real clever moving.”

“A tour de force in writing & performance -catch it.”

“Hugely enjoyed Glitter Knickers:  great script, perfect casting and laugh out loud funny.”

“It really is fantastic and will resonate with women everywhere. Made me laugh continuously.”

“You are a consummate storyteller Gill and this play is a romp through the imagination and Lucinda created such visual imagery. It was a joy! Huge congratulations to all involved. Thank you for a great night at the theatre.”

Good, better, best

Good, better, best

V chuffed to report that “Hard Men’, my pilot show script, developed through last year’s Channel 4’s 4Screenwriting programme, has got through the quarter-finals of the Screenwriting Goldmine Awards 2013.

It made for a lovely afternoon, with writers galore getting in touch to check that I knew! Just goes to show what a community we are.

I’ve also been reading for Theatre Royal Bath’s Nova playwriting summer school, supported by their Engage programme for artists in the community. This has been a great experience, following not too far on the heels of reading for Butterfly Psyche / Rondo Theatre’s “Making Trouble” competition.

Reading other people’s scripts is a great learning experience. I recognise my own habits, particularly in writers who are just starting out. It’s like an experienced seamstress spotting the tell-tale stitching of someone starting out (and knowing her own stitching habits are glaringly obvious to her own teachers).

This isn’t always the case; and it doesn’t mean that we all have the same “beginner traits” by any means. Just that it made me smile to read/hear echoes of things I now realise I used to do. Things that are so subtle they might not even have a name; things that, if carelessly addressed in the reader’s report, could really put someone off moving to the next draft.

I remembered and tried to emulate the most helpful feedback my scripts had been given, stuffed with lines like, “the X raises intriguing questions that the writer could have more fun in answering…”, or , “the writer doesn’t do themselves justice by rushing the last few scenes – it would be worth really exploring their dramatic potential without worrying at this stage about running times.” IE, although these are made up, you feel the gentle support and encouragement of someone who wants your script to succeed and can see some ways in which it might.

Needless to say, I’ve had my share of feedback that is less helpful than this: “I only kept reading as a favour,” being one of my favourites. Thankfully, a few years into this writing lark, I’ve realised that every reader is different and that their judgement and taste is wholly subjective. The script that was only completed “as a favour” reached the top of one national theatre’s reject pile – perhaps that’s a B+, as opposed to the FAIL of the earlier critic. And that’s fine.

Drama is about horses for courses; it is subjective by its very nature. The best we can do is to do our personal best and hope that it chimes with someone, somewhere.

To return to my own competition entry, I know where ‘Hard Men’ falls down. I’m just hoping my stitching is better than I think it is…

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