Monday, August 20, 2007

This fantasy novel of mine is sucking me dry. I have a completed draft and I'm rewriting. The rewrites make it better, but I have no enthusiasm for it, which is strange, as I have enthusiasm for most rewrites. So I've put it to one side for the time being and am going to work on something else.So, I thought, what? It hit me like a flash of lightning. I'm not kidding. Doesn't usually come at me like that. In fact, I don't know how and why I normally get my ideas, but I can pinpoint the exact moment this one was pushed into my head.I'm going to write a one act play for my Church. Every other year in November, we have a big Mission, when we have a visiting preacher who sometimes brings a team, sometimes comes alone. They stay for a week, and we have lots of events and activities for Church members to bring interested non Christians to. They have a good time, listen to a message from our sponsor, and then either go home unmoved or, the hierarchy hope, go home interested and asking questions that will lead them to Christ. Anyway, next one is November 2008, and today my bolt from the blue idea was for a one act play which could go with a simple meal (Ploughman's perhaps) and the sponsor message, to make an evening. The play is about a family of three (Mother, father, daughter) who encounter Jesus at six key moments of his life and death and life. Their reactions will (hopefully) reflect reactions of people today, and highlight facets of the Lord.I know that's not going to make me rich, or even sell. But it hit my brain, synopsis formed and ready, characters three -D before we start - what's a girl to do? Besides, I learned a very long time ago, when God makes obvious what he wants me to do, might as well go and do it. He's bigger than me. I'll write this, and call it part of my giving, and then come back to my more commercial projects. As it's only three actors, I shouldn't have too much trouble finding a cast for it, even amongst the mostly non Christian drama actors I know. (Most non Christians seem happy to act in religious plays, as long as they don't think anyone is trying to convert them, I find. And I never NEVER try to convert anyone. I leave that to God. Oh, I'll happily talk about my faith, share it, answer questions. But if someone's not interested, I accept that. Never do to others what you wouldn't want done to you. I was a non Christian long enough to understand that.)It may be just what I need as well, apart from doing as I am told. I am directing this play, which is quite complex. (When I wrote it, I don't think I realised how many layers there are to it. The actors bring out more each rehearsal.) Trying to direct that, AND write a complex novel might be a bit much. Onwards and upwards.

Good luck, Harrison, as you return to Kenya. Keep in touch!

Monday, August 13, 2007

So here we are, beginning of another week. I have two weeks before I go off on an Arvon course, so two weeks to do as much as I can before projects galore come bouncing at me. With my youngest son off work following an operation, and bored out of his mind, as much as I can may not be as much as I'd like.
Today, a letter to a friend, then a rewrite chapter to my fantasy novel. I haven't actually lost interest in this novel, but I have lost enthusiasm for the rewrite, not because it is a rewrite, but because the world and his wife seem to write fantasy and the chances of it getting anywhere are remote. But if I don't finish it, I will fail, so I plod on. I also have an idea for a thriller, some short stories, a pantomime and a screenplay, so I have lots to keep me going.
And then there are rehearsals tonight...
A friend goes to do his military service in the Norwegian Army as of today. Good luck, Snorre, aka Spookyfish! I'll keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

It's a darned sight easier to write a play than to direct one! If characters are awkward, you can shoot 'em.
As a writer, you don't have to deal with egos: "I think I need to stand there" which translates to "I want to do my action on the front of the stage so the world will see me, not half way back where it suits the story better."
You don't have to deal with people who argue with your vision: "But I don't like the way this scene makes me look."
Characters don't hold up rehearsals for twenty minutes at a time, with the whole of the rest of the cast bored and angry, while the argumentative one tries to get things done their way. (Hint: it ain't gonna happen. As director, I can see the whole picture and I have a reason for wanting it done the way I say.)
If I am concentrating on one part of the story and one set of characters, the other characters sit quietly and wait for their turn. Actors begin to chat, mess about - I'm not talking children here, but adults, some in main roles, who make comments they think are witty (they're not), mess around, push and shove at each other. The words Grow Up, come to mind.
And if a character is supposed to know some information, they know it and act accordingly. I am amazed at the number of actors who don't know the full story, don't know the parts that don't involve their character (and what's more couldn't care less about them). Then they are surprised when the action calls for them to react. And that's AFTER a quick read through at the audition stage. Erm, tip: read the play, people. Make sure you know it inside out. It wil help your performance.
The one thing where characters and actors do seem to be the same is their tendency to try and blame someone else. "This scene could have been better but so and so was in the wrong place and I couldn't do my piece properly." On the night, you're going to have to. "He delivered the line wrong, so I got confused." Know your part and be in character enough that you can compensate.
Yesterday, my son (not in the play but sometimes acts) told me something. He is severely dyslexic and has a lot of trouble reading, but always knows all his lines, and all everyone else's lines as well. He told me, he struggles through the whole play, and learns it ALL off by heart. That way, no-one can phase him, he knows what to expect and can roll with it, he never misses a cue. It was a very professional attitude, and I was impressed. If only other actors were willing to put so much in. *sighs*