Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Two down

Another rejection from the e-mail submissions.; this one from Eve White.

Doesn't know what she's missing ...

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Latest rejection

Out of all the e-mail submissions I made late last week, I've had the first rejection. Julia Churchill at Greenhouse Literary Agency decided that it wasn't for her. Fair do's. It'll be printed out and join the collection.

Greenhouse have a policy of having a cover 'letter' and the first five pages in the body of the e-mail itself. She wrote that she thought the story had merits but ... well, you know the rest. It may have been genuine - and I'm sure it was - but it may have been standard rejection soft-soap, so not to annoy.

Writers always moan and bitch about rejection, but how many of us look at it from the other side? If an Agent gets 300 submissions a week then at least 290 (if not more) will be probably be rejected instantly, so what must it be like to send that many rejection letters or e-mails out? Not easy. I'm guessing a thick skin would quickly be grown.

Anyway, never mind. Rejection's all part and parcel of this crazy game.

Never give up, never surrender.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Submission Anxiety

Its been a busy few days for me. Not with my regular job, you understand - the restaurant's holding on, but not by much. No, it's been the writing that's been busy.

Late yesterday afternoon I started to email submissions to a number of Agents selected from 'The Writer's Handbook'. I'd highlighted a number of potentials; based on info in the handbook, and then looked at their websites to see what the current state-of-play was. Some aren't looking at the moment, some have full lists, but a number are still open to unsolicited material in the area I'm aiming this work at - the YA market.

I emailed ten Agents yesterday and another two this morning with three to go in the post on Monday. A little earlier I got a mail from an Agent at A P Watt Ltd asking for the first three chapters by email. My first thought was that I'd forgotten to attach them in the original mail, but no. A P Watt ask for the synopsis to be included in the initial cover email. So maybe the synopsis looked okay.

I know it's nothing to get excited about but it's a step forward. If she doesn't like the chapters then I'll have at least learned something - the synopsis is okay but the writing still needs work. Now the wait begins.

I guess like all writers, particularly new ones, submitting work to the slush pile is a daunting task. Maybe the work could do with just another look before I send it anywhere? I've re-visited the Horseshoe story so many times that I'm not sure any more polishing will make a difference at this point. It's time to send it out into the world and see if it can stand up.

I've had rejections in the past, and undoubtedly will have more to come, but if I don't send work out, then I'm not a writer, I'm a dabbler.

Who knows - maybe in a year or so - just in time for Christmas, perhaps, 'Oliver Drummond and the Four Hosremen' will be available at all good bookshops and online retailers. If it is, it'd make the perfect present for your little darling ...

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Road, and The Book of Eli

**Spolier Alert**

Two films, both alike in grime, In dystopian future, where we lay our scene.

I wanted to wait until I'd seen 'The Book of Eli' before commenting on 'The Road'. You may know that I'm a big LoveFilm fan and watched 'TBoE' yesterday. Both films have similar themes - post-Apocalyptic, striving to stay alive, the desire to reach 'somewhere', and having the protagonits die before the end. But that's about all they do have in common.

In 'The Road' (based on the book by Cormac McCarthy) Viggo does a fine job of not smothering his whining son (played by Kodi Smit-McPhee) whilst trying to get somewhere better, and not be eaten in the process. For me it was just an endless sprawl of 'woe is me', 'life is hard' moaning that was just far too depressing. Don't get me wrong, in the world of the film I think I'd whine and moan, but a film has to entertain, and I just don't think this did. At the end I asked myself what it was all about? What was the story? To be honest, I'm not sure it had one. Nothing was really achieved. Nothing was really resolved. And what was the family who wanted to help the boy at the end, all about? They'd been following them for ages but only wanted to say 'hi' once Viggo had shuffled off is mortal coil? Please. And they had a son, daughter and a dog? God bless stereotypes.

Acording to wikipedia (so it may not be accurate) it cost $25m to make and has so far grossed just over $26m. So that's a loss, then. The book may have been a Pulitzer prize winner (yawn) but it just shows that what high-brow literary types deem a cracking novel doesn't always make that story transferable to the big screen. It was 113 minutes of tortoise-slow drivel.

Now, on to something different.

'The Book of Eli' - directed by the Hughes brothers (Albert and Allen) and writen by Gary Whitta has Denzel Washington (everyone loves Denzel) 'heading west'. The world is just about as bleak as it is in 'The Road', but people aren't whining about it. There are still marauding bands of killers and cannibals (Frances De La Tour and Michael Gambon's couple are great - she reminded me of Julie Walter's Mrs Overall from Acorn Antiques) but the characters just get on with it.

Gary Oldman's small-town boss, Carnegie, wants 'the book' so that he can use the words within to control the masses. The book in question is a bible. After the 'war' - which was blamed on the book, or religion as a whole, supposedly all copies were destroyed. Denzel found one and wants to take it where it'll do good. It's just the same and 'The Road' in that it's a journey destination film, but it has a purpose. There's a story, a reason behind the action. It isn't just words - there's cause behind the actions of the characters. The supporting cast of Ray Stevenson (Pullo, from 'Rome'), Jennifer Beals and Mila Kunis. There's also a nice twist towards the end which works quite well. Although I'm not sure about the being blind thing...

Again, according to wikipedia, 'TBoE' cost $80m to make and has so far grossed $157m. What does that tell you? Sure, marketing etc plays its part, but word of mouth is crucial. You see a film and like it you recommend it to your friends, you don't like it you tell them to avoid it. 'TBoE' was 117 minutes of smart action, world-building, character clever, story telling.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Another submission

Today I finished polishing the first episode (of three) of my political/action/drama script - 'The Killing Ground' and posted it off to the BBC writersroom. I've only sent them one thing before; my first ever attempt at a script - 'He Came Back'. It was about a girl who's convinced that the man who assaulted her as a child has come back into her life, even though another man is still serving jail-time for the crime. Despite many etiquette faux-pas's (such as 'we see' and 'we hear') it still got a full read - which I later found out was only about 10% of all submissions they receive - so I was very happy with that.

We'll have to wait and see how this one does. I'll be disappointed if it doesn't get a full read, as I'm confident that it's a damn site better than 'HCB', has sound characterisation and a good, dramatic reveal at the end of the episode. Of course, the only trouble with writersroom is the length of time it takes to go through their system: three to six months on average. Still, if they get a move on it could be on the TV by Christmas 2011. Yeah, right.

Now that leaves me with a decision to make. Do I go back to 'Tiberius : Found' (my not-too-distant future story of a lad who finds out he's been genetically engineered), or start something new? I've plotted out the 'TB' storyline, but at the moment nothing's grabbing me about it so maybe it needs re-looking at, at some point.

At the top of my hit-list is getting the first three chapters of my 'Oliver Drummond' story polished and sent out to Agents. Gasp. I'm pretty happy with it but I'm sure a touch of tweaking will make me feel better about it. Still, yet to hear back from the 'test group' which either means that they hated it or just weren't interested to begin with. A friend of mine - David Gullen - has had another short story accepted, I think he's up to mid-20s now, and is a writing machine. One of his philosphies is submit, submit, submit. And I don't mean give in.

I know that this is partly a numbers game. Write what you like, improve your 'inner voice' and get better at this crazy gig called writing. Hopefully, if you're really any good at all, it's only a matter of time before your work is recognised. It won't be long before David's pulling in big numbers, and with any luck I won't be far behind him.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

And the first draft is done ...

I've spent the last couple of days going through the first episode of 'The Killing Ground'. Cutting, or should that be hacking, out crap that in the distant past seemed a good idea to include. It was one of the first things I tried to write so was full of 'we see' and 'we hear' along with interior monologues and 'emotional thinking'. Sheesh. No wonder Lucy at Bang2Write ripped it apart.

Still, time and experience (I hope) has led me to make it a better, sharper and more detailed piece of work. Gone are the page-long speeches, the ten-page scenes and the superficial nonsense. Scenes are broken up at logical points and hopefully I've started them as late as I should and left them just as early.

The relationship between the protagonist and the love-interest has been amended to make her not seem so much like a bunny-boiler, and his reaction to what happens to her later on holds some justification now, rather than him appearing to be an angry teenager.

It's come in at 58 and a half pages long. Now, a short break. Then I'll take a look at the other chapters I wrote to see what state they're in. I've already pre-cut 20 pages from ep. 2, so it'll be fun. Or a bloodbath.

Still, never give up, never surrender ...

Monday, 4 October 2010

No Classes Yet

A lesson plan was compiled. Sample short scripts were printed out. A work-list prepared. There was only one thing missing: anyone interested in the class.

The guys at Minehead Eye say that they probably didn't do enough publicity for their courses - and I don't think that mine is the only one to suffer from lack of interest - and that a lack of awareness is the more likely reason for low or no interest. We've left it now until after half term (three weeks time) and see if places can be filled for a re-start when the new term kicks in.

Still, that gives me more time to re-develop a script I started a few years back - got hammered by Lucy Hay at Bang2Write - and left on the metaphorical shelf. I recently went back to it and looked at it with fresh eyes.

The glaring issues with it that Lucy raised are now apparent and I've been re-working it to cut out the dross, the redundant exposition and internal narrative and think I'm making headway. So far I've cut 15 pages of 'filler' or 'not needed' from the first episode as was - 60 pages down to 45. I just need to re-fill the time with suitable scenes which drive the story on and add either to character or plot. I've already pre-cut 20 pages from the second 'episode' which had scenes that explained why a particular character acts the way they do. I might re-shuffle this and keep about a page. Write, re-write and edit. Words to live by.

It's a 3-part action/drama set in 2023 with the back-drop of religious terrorism, political double-crossing and knowing who to trust. The current working title is 'The Killing Ground'. I'm sure either the guys at BBCWritersroom or Red Planet (next year) will snap it up. Mmmm, wishful thinking, perhaps.