Uncle Phranc? Mom won't let her come to Thanksgiving because of her haircut.

I've been tooling with "Bourgeois Punk" this week and not really getting anywhere with it. I couldn't really keep it going after the first twenty or so pages of screenplay, so I thought I might try it in some other mediums. Found some success doing it as a comic -- jumping from scene to scene, and leaving out a lot of annoying exposition is satisfying, and I never really felt like I was writing anything just because I had to. Something's not quite clicking though, and I might take another run at it as straightforward prose.

The only thing I'm really worried about there is losing some of the more cinematic elements that cropped up in just the few pages I've written, a common trade-off for the added character perspective that a more novelistic approach provides. I don't want to let any of that go, but [in theory], there's something very appealing about using that medium to better convey the almost casual contempt my protagonist has for the world he's in. Which isn't exactly difficult to add, as a great deal of my revision time is spent taking out the judgmental prickishness that sometimes shines through when I'm writing about my characters or the world they inhabit.

In the context of film, this is a big no-no. If someone has a vague sense of douchebaggery about them, you don't just write that in the script -- you show them acting like a dick, treating people badly, doing the things that make me, as the author, look down on them, in such a way that the audience also get that. The simple term is "showing, not telling," letting the audience figure out for themselves that this character is a bad guy/girl, and not have them think that just because that's what the author thinks.

Perfectly valid. And while I'd never say that "showing, not telling" wasn't a great rule to have when writing a short story or a comic book, what's sort of appealing about those types of writing is that, in their own way, you get to show and tell, and if I want to have some of that contemptuousness shine through, I can. Certainly not always, and certainly not if the subject matter doesn't call for it [it probably says a lot about me that I can't think of an example of something that doesn't deserve a little contempt], but in the case of "Bourgeois Punk," which deals with a bunch of Mercedes Marxists and country club socialists, I think my natural inclination to go a bit negative could add a little flare to a relatively quiet protagonist.

The funny thing about this negative bit -- while I knew I was never Mary-Fucking-Sunshine, I never thought that it came through as bad as it did, until early on in a Steven Bach screenwriting class, when he went through my short page after page and asked me why I was being so hard on my characters. Hilariously, I never noticed I was being so judgmental about the characters I was writing, and even more hilariously [and one of the reasons I feel fortunate to have had Steven Bach as a teacher], Steven didn't discourage this habit, but instead, suggested I point it, and again, let the audience come to the same conclusion I had about the characters in the story. And though he didn't suggest this, I sort of decided right then and there that if I couldn't convey my contempt in a manner that was at least clever and useful, that I was going to do my best to take it out of the narrative.

I guess I'm hoping this is the door to key I keep trying.

I'm also mulling over doing some more shorts pieces. The few I did after Dad died were worthwhile, and I'm pretty sure I only stopped after things got so intense with getting "Nova" just perfect. I'd like to do some in the vein of what I used to write so often, just two or three characters on the screen, having conversations in front of a straight-shot stationary camera, "Clerks"-style. Kyle mentioned that if I did more of these, we might be able to take a weekend here or there to film them, and I think that would be beneficial, if not a lot of fun.

Of course, I just decided I'd like to get back to these, and even though it's only been a week or two since I got the idea in my head, my lack of progress is already annoying me. It's really hard to get any sort of rhythm going in my head, and worse yet, a lot of the deep talk disguised as guy talk or small talk just isn't coming to me like it used to. I'm going to sit down with a few indie films in the next couple of days, and maybe dig through some of my older notes, to see if something doesn't shake loose in the process.

Anything in that vein I finish [using the word loosely] I'll probably post here.

Haven't been sleeping terribly well again [shocker]. Upside is I've actually been getting some rest, though it's mostly been in the evening hours. I've seen more mornings than I have in a while, and frankly, I don't see what all the fuss is about.

I bought a vintage winter coat today on eBay. I think the biggest shocker to most people will be that it's not black. Sort of a rockabilly look to it, and apparently came from someone's estate sale. I've gotten one from a dumpster, and one from the military -- I guess it's way past time that I add a dead man's coat to that list.

Thanksgiving's almost here. Last year I got pretty maudlin about spending it on my own [and hey, I still could], but thinking realistically about how tenuous family has been, right now I'm pretty okay with the idea of an underwhelming dinner at some restaurant with my grandmother and her friends. It's not glamorous, but as tenuous as my family situations is, and uncertain as where I'm going to end up, it seems... pragmatic to get used to the idea of being alone on these family-type holidays.

I don't know. I have so much to say on this subject, and several related ones, but this probably isn't the place to air these grievances. Not that it's ever stopped me before, but it is this time.

Fun side-effect to having this place -- I'm starting to feel accountable.

2 comments :: Uncle Phranc? Mom won't let her come to Thanksgiving because of her haircut.

  1. Whoa, whoa, what's all this about showing and not telling? No wonder my writing is plagued by so many disasters!

    Also, rest assured that you won't be the only with a sub-par Thanksgiving. The way I see it, there are greater tragedies.

  2. You can't just SAY how your characters feel! That makes me feel ANGRY!