“I Must Not Compromise… I Must Not Compromise…”

Having had a fantastic side-spitting time co-writing a feature length comedy drama screenplay with my writing partner, the script is currently in circulation, with feedback coming from various industry insiders and friends.

The responses we have received so far from friends have been really positive, with comments like, “I know someone just like that!” or “That could be my next door neighbour!” An even better response than we had hoped for, considering some of the characters were loosely based around people we know!   Doh! Some copies were distributed some to actors/directors/producer friends, with further positive feedback, if not helpful suggestions.  There may be one or two little background character notes to add, but here’s hoping the right situation arises for it to be optioned.  However long it takes, so be it.

As it happens, I’ve now started on a novel, which will in turn be adapted to stage with my co-writing partner.  I’ve been eager this time to apply more emotion and illustrative thought processes to the characters, as opposed to with our screenplay – obviously a different medium – in which we left much of the stage direction open for interpretation.  The dialogue there speaks for itself.  Always the best way, I believe.  It leaves scope for the actor to make it more their own.

The novel speaks more from a dark place and covers social and cultural issues, among other things, but also a great starting point to create tension between characters.  This would also mean the stage play would be grittier and raw.  Gritty British drama has always been a popular focus for me. Particularly in the crime thriller genre. (Okay, okay… I love period dramas too, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make right now)

I’m sure many a writer has battled over their conscience, particularly with regard to the layers of their characters – how dark can you go?  How dark dare you go? Would you really make them do that? Why?  I often hear my mother’s voice in my head as I’m writing (which is probably not the ideal place to hold her when you go places in your writing that she never knew you would even think about, let alone know about).  This is when half of me is battling with, “Why did you have to go and write that?” or “What’s with all this foul language?” (My mother, God bless her, was a convent girl – all the way – and please believe me, Mum, when I say it’s not for shock value, it is actually necessary… it’s who this character is!) In the meantime, something is lurking over my other shoulder (Faust immediately springs to mind), that is trying to drown out my mother’s voice, bellowing in the immortal words of Darth Vader, “Give yourself over to the daaaark side…”, whilst cackling away mercilessly.

… And so the struggle begins.  “I must not compromise… I must not compromise…”

Which reminds me.  I recently went to a screenwriting master class at the Barbican with the legend that is Robert McKee, who did mention something about 1% of people  – perhaps in the very same room as he spoke – who is probably hearing another voice right now, other than his…

© Brucella Newman and Kensalfirehorse 2013

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