Friday, 15 October 2010

Write Up of a Read Through part 1

Remember when I took a dance class? That was crazy, eh? Well, you may also remember that I did a write up of my thoughts and apprehension beforehand, followed by a write up of how decidedly average I was afterwards.

I'm doing that again. No, not the dance class!

If you've known me a while, then at some point over the last few years, you've probably heard me mention More Than This, a film script I've been working on for a fair old while now. It's gone through four and a half drafts (half because the last one wasn't a full rewrite), and it needs at least one more before I even consider starting to look at getting the thing made. However, I decided that, before I begin the next rewrite, I really need to hear the thing. Read out loud. By someone other than me.

I've tried for a while now to get a group of people together who'd be willing to read More Than This version 4.5 out loud, and it kept falling through, for a number of reasons. But finally, tomorrow afternoon, thanks to a few incredibly generous people who are willing and able, the read through is finally going ahead.

This is a good thing, and I'm very much looking forward to it. It's going to give me a chance to work out which scenes are working, which ones aren't, which lines need rewriting, which ones are real clunkers that should just go, which ones are actually genius... you get the idea. It's something that, as a writer, you can't always tell until you hear something read out loud. A line which you may love may well turn out to be awful when you finally come to hear it. Conversely, a line you thought was worse than George Lucas writing romantic dialogue may turn out to be one of the best lines in the thing.

The problem is, much as I'm looking forward to it, there's also that little seed of doubt, planted in the back of my mind, whispering to me "The whole thing's going to be shit." Now, a fortnight or so ago, I did read the script again. I didn't like it. At all. I hadn't read it for months, and coming back to it with fresh eyes, I really thought it was bad. Nowhere near ready for others to read out loud without me being mercilessly torn to pieces and told never to write anything ever again. They might even cove me in barbecue sauce and feed me to some fire ants they just happened to bring with them.

Thankfully, a couple of friends who had also read it told me I was being stupid. They were right. In preparation for the read through tomorrow, I read it again last night, and I didn't hate it. It wasn't bad at all. Some of it, in fact, really works. I'm quietly confident about tomorrow, that my readers will enjoy at least bits of it, and will be able to point out to me where I have gone wrong with it and help me work out how to improve it.

The thing is, when I first conceived More Than This, it was (and still is, I suppose) semi-autobiographical. Not the situations the characters find themselves in (although the main character does have a crazy ex who shows up, though toned down from real life), but certainly where the lead is emotionally is where I was when I started writing it. Of course, that was a few years ago, and I'm not there any more, so maybe I'm not quite so plugged into the way my lead is feeling and thinking, and really, I don't know him at all and oh my sweet hairy Odin, the whole thing's going to be shit and here come the fire ants again!

See, the paranoia always creeps back in.

In all seriousness, I am nervous about tomorrow. I can't help it. I'm a writer, and we writers are, by our very natures, a paranoid bunch. Or, is that just me? Anyway, we're never happy with what we've written, and of we had our way, we'd tinker forever. And the first time people read something, we panic. And that's where I am now. But while I am nervous, I'm also excited. These characters have been with me for ages, and finally, tomorrow, after a fashion, they'll finally be speaking to me.

It's going to be an interesting experience. It's been a while since people read out one of my scripts, and the first time it was more than a ten page piece. I'll write up afterwards about how it goes, and my thoughts about where my script is and where it's going, but for now, let's call it a healthy mix of conflicting emotions.

Also, just before I go, once again a huge thank you to the people who have given up their Saturday afternoon to read the words of a hack! I genuinely love you all!

Of course, I can't handle criticism, so that'll change tomorrow.

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