A bit more of a boring blog post, but hey, it can’t all be fun and games and we’re in the midst of Camp NaNoWriMo so it’s a good time to have a post about writing! No pictures in this one, sorry. There’s just no time! But if you find it boring, watch this video about being bored. And then buy the book. It is awesome and hilarious:
I’m writing a new webseries now. This one is a bit different than NaNoMusical. For one, it’s a lot smaller in scale: no musical numbers, two actors, and one location. This makes for easier scheduling and filming. For another, there’s no definite deadline (ie, 3 freaking months). This has given us the chance to play around with the script a bit more before we finally get filming it.
I’ve once again been learning a lot through the process. I am still fairly new to writing on a regular basis. I expected to run into the usual problems: the writer’s block, the lack of knowledge of script writing technique, the constant “man, I suck” feeling followed by the “EUREKA!” moment several hours later. There was one issue though that caught me off guard: the fight to trust my instincts and not just assume I’m wrong.
I decided this time around that I would actually send a first draft of the first episode out to some friends. This is incredibly important for any writing. Writing is such a subjective venture, you need other people to see your work. It’s less important that you pick friends who will just say “It was good, you’re amazing!” though than to get friends who you know will give you an honest, constructive opinion. I’m lucky in that many of my friends are like this.
I picked my friends fairly carefully: a mixture of geeks, fellow writers, actors, and close friends who I knew would be honest. It worked extremely well. Everyone who I sent the script to responded, giving their advice and opinions, suggesting what I could do to make it better. And at first, I very much took almost every piece of information quite to heart. Some said the characters were too similar or that the ending was too abrupt. Others said the beginning was too abrupt. Someone else said that the dialogue was too fake. Someone else said the dialogue was quick and witty. One person gave some reference suggestions, someone else thought there were quite enough references.
I took all of these in and sat down to try and implement every single suggestion that had been given to me. But the more I heard, the more I got this nagging sensation in my stomach that some of the advice I was given was not necessarily advice I wanted to take. They were good suggestions. I knew why they were being given. But I didn’t want to take them. And only then did it dawn on me:
Of course this is a fact that I’ve always known. But for some reason, it never entered my mind that it would get in the way of my creative process. The thing is, I have incredibly talented friends, and it’s the kind of talent I can only hope to achieve one day. Because of that though, I tend to get into the mindset that if someone makes a suggestion to me about my projects, it means that I am completely and utterly wrong and I should definitely take their advice otherwise everything will fail. Extreme? Heck yes. But I am always extreme when it comes to failure :D.
But something different is happening now. I’m standing my ground. I will still listen to others, I will still try to see what I can use of their advice, but there is much of it I simply thank them for and put off to the side should it prove useful in the future. I will even start defending my own ideas. One friend was certain that if I continued a certain route with the characters, that my entire series would ultimately fail and I should change my story to make it more engaging. But it was this route which actually inspired me to write the series in the first place, and it was not one I was ever thinking on giving up on. I let him know this. He shook his head (in e-mail form, I guess) but understood that I would not change my script in that way.
As important as it is to listen to others’ opinions and to be willing to change and adjust your baby, it’s just as important to know which advice to filter out. It’s something I’ve already learned as an actor. Different actors will always have different takes on a character. Think of Doctor Who. Heck, even think of Sherlock Holmes. Each actor had a different interpretation. Is one better than the other? No. But everyone has a preference and there’s nothing wrong with that. I was in a play called Rumours twice, once in university and once in a community production. I played the same character, and the men playing my husband each had vastly different interpretations of what they considered the character to be. It was an interesting experience and I adjusted my performance to match those interpretations.
Now it’s something that I have to relearn as a writer. Sometimes, it’s good to just trust your instincts and go on no matter what other people think. They may not like it, and it’s especially difficult to know what advice to take when you go against the norm. And the script I’m writing now? It’s breaking the mold in a few ways. Not big ways, and certainly more capable writers have already tackled the issue, but enough that some people are perturbed with the choices I am making. But I stand my ground. And I keep writing.
That being said, I AM grateful for all the help I’ve gotten so far. I’ve found that taking ten people’s advice and seeing if there was a common thread in all of them seems to work. And now…I must delve back. This was a bit more ranty than usual, but it was something that’s been on my mind. What better place to vent than an online blog :D.