Tuesday, 5 June 2007


Writing a script is hard. I sort of stumbled into it. Me and my Dad, Bryan, had cooked up this idea for a show about teenagers, and he'd got all these cool people in to write it. I never thought I would be more involved than sitting in on the writers meeting and making the occasional uninformed comment, and even THAT I saw as for my amusement rather than for the benefit of the show. But as time went on, I found that I had something of a knack for suggesting ideas for the main characters (I'd been fiddling with them since I was 15), and that let to me being more involved...and THAT led to me eventually being offered a script.

All I'd written before was angsty adolescent short stories, and a pile of essays for university. What on earth did I know about writing a script? Granted, I'd been reading my Dad's work for years, but I was to quickly find that experience and execution are two different things. I found myself facing the biggest challenge of my professional life (which is not too hard, when all you've done before is stack shelves in shops and hoiked sacks of powdered milk around warehouses).

So I looked at what I had to my advantage. Firstly, I'd been given the episode that based around the character Sid. It's no secret that when I made this character up, I based him on myself...the neurosis, the awkwardness, this is all pretty much me when I was 17 (and not too far away from the way I am now). So I could draw upon my own experiences and emotions around certain events. Sometimes I knew exactly what Sid would say in a given situation, or what he would do when faced with conflicting choices. So I had that.

But that wasn't nearly enough. Firstly, though Sid is nominally based on me, he is NOT me. He is quite different in many ways. So I couldn't fall back on the 'what would I do' stratagem too often. I still had to be creative, and imaginative.

Also, script writing, especially for telly, requires a certain amount of technique. I had assumed, to some degree, that it just involved writing down what people say in certain situations in a manner that reflects real life. Not true. Unless you're Lars Von Trier, and specialize in that sort of awkward realism, any attempt to simply quote from your own daily discourse to seem real will often end up seeming, well, unreal. Transcribing what should seem like reality to the script, and then to the screen is a process of mediation and editing, not quotation. It's a skill you have to learn.

Well, I didn't have very long to learn that skill - the skill that makes a writer a writer, rather than a reporter of real events. But I had a lot of help, especially from Bryan, my Dad and Chloe, our wonderful script editor. The script editor is, at least on our show, a far more important figure than their rather modest title might suggest. She is essentially only second to the show runner in terms of shaping story, continuity and the scripts themselves.

So you've gotta write a lot of drafts. That's a given. And slowly, but surely, I began to learn, through a process of trial and error, what worked and what didn't, with the help of Bryan and Chloe. And my script began to take shape. One day, I finished it, and I'm very proud with what I achieved, and very grateful for all the help I got with it, from Bryan, from Chloe, from Charlie and George (our executive producers) and from the writers' meetings.

1 comment:

Lau said...

love you x x x x x x