September 2011

Novelising a script

by Suw on September 18, 2011

I was talking to a friend about my upcoming writing projects, one of which includes novelising Tag, the screenplay I wrote seven years ago. I got to thinking about some of the pitfalls of a taking a script as a basis of a novel. I have already had one stab at writing the novel version of Tag, three or four years ago, but wasn’t quite in the right mental space for it.

But starting to think about it again, I had a flash of understanding: What is shown in a script can only too easily be told in its novelisation. Authors alway say “Show, don’t tell”, but what is showing in one medium may mutate into telling in another.

A script is a starting point, a sketch, which a whole host of other people turn into a fully-fledged story. A script just has to say “An English soldier crouches in a WWI trench, up to his ankles in fetid water”; the scene itself is realised by the set designer, the costumer designer, the actor, the lighting designer, the director of photography, the sound designer… All these people, and more, affect how this single line comes across on screen.

In a novelisation, the very worst thing one could do would be to simply write, “An English soldier crouches in a WWI trench, up to his ankles in fetid water” and then move on to the next line. What is sufficient in a script may need significant unpacking in a novel. What does the soldier feel? What can he smell? How does the water feel seeping into his boots? Can he hear the enemy nearby? Or his comrades, recently wounded, screaming in agony?

This might all sound blindingly obvious, but I think it’s an easy pit to fall into. It’s also a thought that I suspect will make novelising Tag a lot easier when I finally get round to it.

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Argleton on Kindle and GoodReads

by Suw on September 15, 2011

If you use GoodReads to keep track of your book reading habits, then you might be pleased to hear that Argleton now has it’s own page. So far, it has four rating, averaging 4 and a bit stars, and two reviews, so do go and add yours!

I’ve also chucked it up on the various Kindle stores – UK, US and Germany – at the cheapest possible price, just so that anyone who wants buy it to can.


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Unexpected rough seas

by Suw on September 14, 2011

Hello, all the new people who’ve come here from BoingBoing or Kickstarter or Twitter. It’s nice to see you! You’ll have to excuse me for a moment, though, because this blog post contains 100% unadulterated and somewhat self-pitying me, and not much about Argleton (though I have plans… I do have plans.)

I’m writing this partly because it’s 22:33pm and although I really want to go to sleep I feel a bit bad retiring until Kevin is at least getting ready for bed, because he’s an hour ahead of me in Sarajevo and working like a slave. I’m also writing it to get back to my blogging roots, ie I want to have a good old whine.

Just before Argleton was released, I started a new gig writing for the Indian news website, FirstPost, that Kev and I helped plan and launch earlier in the year. It was a bit hard starting a new gig whilst getting Argleton out the door, but I was looking forward to a life of writing about tech in the mornings and then doing creative things in the afternoons whilst gently ambling towards Ada Lovelace Day on 7 October.

Life, of course, had other plans. Our landlord decided to bump our rent up by 11%, i.e. about £200 pcm. We tried to negotiate, having been good tenants who have looked after the place we thought he might be amenable to, say, an 8% rise, which was still a lot and way over inflation, but kinda within what we felt was reasonable. To cut a long story short, he has basically chucked us out on our ear, giving us a month’s notice to find a new place to live.

Kev, unfortunately, had only a few days left in London before a lot of travel, so we frantically ran around north London and Woking trying to find somewhere new to live. We thought we had a lovely little maisonette, but that fell through. We’re still waiting for confirmation on a two-storey duplex near Woking town centre which we applied for last week. The company doing the references, though, seems to be mostly incompetent and incapable of understanding what a ‘family business’ is or how it is that the people who run a family business do tend to be related to one another.

Ada Lovelace Day is also creeping up on me with alarming alacrity. Having had to put it off to try and ensure we had enough time to sort out the website, sorting out the website has taken more time than I had hoped, just because websites do. I’ve been so stressed first with Argleton, then the new gig, and then this housing stupidity that it’s only recently I’ve been able to give it the love that it requires. I’ve rearranged my expectations that 7 Oct really marks a new beginning for Ada Lovelace Day, but not sure anyone else has. I’m in it for the long run and I have plans, but somehow the fact of there being A Big Day feels a bit like a millstone around my neck. The damn thing can’t just evolve quietly at its own pace, it’s rushed and hurried every year by a single significant date, but I feel sort of stuck with it now.

The earliest we’re going to sign a contract on the new place is next Tuesday because the estate agent is on holiday. And then I need to go all-out on doing all the bill switching and sorting and forwarding and arranging that needs to be done when moving house. Thank fuck I’m hiring people to pack the place and move me, frankly, because if I had to do that as well I’d just lose all will to live. And guess when I have to be out of this place? Yup: 6 October. Perfect timing! Kev’s home for one night on 8th October, then away again for a week, arriving home whilst I’m in Dorset at a bash my mum’s organising. Thankfully, he’s then home for more than 12 hours.

Which is all to say that my plans for the latter half of this year have all been well and truly screwed. So much for working on Argleton promo and the geogame (so nearly finished!). So much for working on The Books of Hay. So much for spending some time binding books. I made a beautiful leather-bound journal at a Falkiners’ course in August, and haven’t even had a chance to take decent photos of it yet.

That said, it looks like I am on course to finish that bloody round tablecloth I’m crocheting. Should be done about a day or two before I move out, leaving the table it was made to fit behind.

Still, it could be worse. I’ve had a good whine now, and I feel a bit better, though I’ll feel a lot better which this whole hideous mess is behind me. I have moments where I feel like I’m only clinging on by my fingernails. I nearly lost it on the phone to the reference agency this afternoon, and the poor chap from the movers could easily tell how stressed and frustrated I was. If you do have interactions with me over the next few weeks, do bear all this in mind and give me a big hug. I could do with one.

I know that I’m not alone – quite a few of my friends are going through similarly difficult times at the moment, especially when it comes to rent increases and house moving. The market is insane, with properties being snapped up the day they are put on the agency’s books. Rents are through the roof and it’s increasingly difficult to justify spending so much money to line someone else’s big greedy pockets.

Anyway, yes, sorry. Bear with me. Normal service will be resumed around mid-October. Aaah, only a month to go of hellaciousness. Only a month to go.

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