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Monday, August 25, 2008

The Next Big Experiment

Things've been buzzing around in my head for a while now, trying to figure out what I'm gonna do with all the stuff I've been learning - let alone when I'm going to have the time to try and use it.

So I said 'screw it'.

As of now, I've officially booked the entirety of Labour Day week off from work (only costing me 4 days due to the holiday... I don't know why I'm proud of that, but hey, I am).

My Goal: To treat that week as if I was already employed as a writer and doing the job I want to be doing for the rest of my life.

8 hours a day at a minimum, no excuses. Off with the cell phone, off with the email (well, maybe on break time...), I'm gonna do me some WORK.

Now with that kind of time on my hands I'd love to have a first draft of a spec script banged out by then, but as it'll be my first attempt at doing this - well, I'll just be happy if I have something positive to show for it all. A finished 1st draft would be icing on the cake.

I'll be hunkering down and trying to make this all come together somehow, trying to make a cogent line of thought out of it all. I ended up scrapping my original Border spec script idea (and by 'scrapping' I mean 'shelving until I can find a way to make it fit on another show') and am trying to come up with something less... well... epic.

That, I think, is one of the hard things for me - I got into TV, what drew me to it, is that I LOVE the idea of telling big, long stories. I love developing characters and plotlines that grow. Essentially, I've learned that I love writing 'serialized' stories.

I've also learned that apparently they're the black sheep of Canadian Television.

Right. Well then. This should be fun.

And by 'fun' I mean 'pulling-out-my-own-teeth-with-pliers-and-a-blowtorch'.

In case breaking in wasn't hard enough, now I'm trying to do it telling stories that most Canadian Broadcasters wouldn't touch even if you paid them (and I'd probably have to...).

Oh well, I guess it just falls back on me to make sure I'm telling a story so good they'd be idiots to pass up on it. And even then... Well, you know, let's worry about telling the stories first and then worrying about who wants to broadcast them - there'll always be a market for a good tale.

In the mean time, I'm going to learn how to tell 'hangnail' stories.

'Hangnail' stories are - apparently - little stories where you have to find a way to make it interesting. I've been told that 'anyone' can tell the 'big' tale where things blow up and chaos ensues - the hard ones, the ones where real craft and such show through are where very little happens but they still feel important. That's also where good structure and plotting make the most difference.

Essentially, it'll be a great test for me.

In the meantime I'm trying to prepare for this coming week off, building a stockpile of ideas and challenging myself by asking 'what is it really going to be about?'. I'm thinking for something like The Border, in order to do that, I should learn what I can from the people's backstories, find something that won't be used yet. Big stuff, like Gray's ex-wife showing up, seem bound to happen. The smaller stuff, the little details, the crumbs might give me something I can work with that'll be untouched.

If I can tell a small tale that fits right in with the show, that could be any episode in the season, then I'll feel proud.

Hell, just being able to say that I did it (even if it's not the best thing ever) will definitely help my confidence when I try the next one...

Here's hoping.


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