The Writing Journal #3

Pinch, punch, first of the month!

Somehow, we’ve managed to crash into October 2018 already. Before we know it, “The Big C” will be upon us with all its tinselly delights (85 days, if you’re already counting…). But let’s not get ahead of ourselves too quickly. Let’s take in the week that was and see how those writing targets came along.


Target Number 1: Catch up with The Bodyguard before the ending is spoiled!

Status – ACHIEVED 😊

And boy am I glad I did! A magnificent achievement across the board, it was one of the best TV thrillers I have seen in a long time. Jed Mercurio is a master of doubt, making you credibly suspicious of everyone simultaneously which is a very difficult thing to pull off. Every thriller aspires to twists like this but their success comes down to credibility, which was managed brilliantly through the rich characters and conflicts of motive created here (and, indeed, in Jed’s other masterpiece Line of Duty). Add to that the confident directing style, nuanced performances and atmospheric sound design and you had an intensely satisfying, exhilarating drama series to start the autumn in style. Over to you now, Doctor Who…!


Target Number 2: Add 3,000 words to my novel manuscript.

Status – ACHIEVED 😊

I must admit I thought I’d smashed through this target as I thought a breakthrough about my central character had spurred me on to comfortably pass 3,000 words. As it turns out, I only passed it by four! That doesn’t stop it being a good week for my novel, however, and the breakthrough I came to has made my central character much stronger moving forward. Up to this point, there was a danger that she was becoming too passive, but the direction she has taken now has not only made the catalyst of her journey more character driven, but has also opened up further opportunities to keep her as a dynamic, proactive and therefore engaging protagonist, from this point onwards. It was one of those breakthroughs that felt exhilarating as it poured out of my fingertips onto the keyboard, which is the feeling I most love about being a writer in the first place!

Target Number 3: Add 3,000 words to my screenplay.

Status – FAILED ☹

Yep, the first failure of this experiment and its only Week 3! Last week I told of the comedy “riffing” that had helped me reach my target. Whilst that was great at the time, and led to some really fun, witty scenes, it made this week more about wrestling that back into the actual heart of the story to keep it driving forward, which I think is one of the hardest things about writing anything comedic. You can get lost for hours in jokes and scenarios that are funny and will no doubt get laughs on screen, but if the story gets lost and momentum stalls then difficult decisions have to be made about whether they can actually justify their inclusion in the story. Those are questions to be more firmly addressed in the second draft, and I haven’t thrown any of that original stuff out yet, but I think it did play a part in creating just enough doubt to make me over-analyse what I was doing this week and question whether I should write it or not. It also didn’t help that I hit a structural roadblock once I reached the end of the sequence I had been working on previously. For the first time, my step outline became disconcertingly vague for the next section of the script, making it more difficult (for me at least) to write through it. Whilst I was able to write many of earlier scenes organically, this section requires more careful structuring that couldn’t be tackled through “scene-writing” alone. This is something that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later if the script is to continue moving forward to the firmer ground of my third act.


Where does that leave me? Well, to quote Meatloaf (which I do at every opportunity I get), “two out of three ain’t bad”. Part of me is annoyed that I didn’t hit the target for my screenplay this week but I do still feel that both projects moved forward which is a positive to take away. I’m further along in my screenplay’s story than I was last week, and was only hindered by a structural gap that needs to be reflected on before I can add more words and progress the project in this way. This is an equally important part of any writing process and, now that I’ve identified it, I can address it as one of this week’s targets to keep the creative ball rolling.


This week’s targets:

  1. Add 3,000 words to my novel manuscript.
  2. Complete the step outline for the latter half of my screenplay.

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