Sunday, April 29, 2007

Gothic Science Fiction conference

I went to the Gothic Science Fiction conference which Napier hosted yesterday - it was well worth spending a Saturday at University for it!

Speakers included Roger Luckhurst, Nickianne Moody and Fred Botting, who (along with PHd students) lectured on their areas of expertise and invited discussion with the audience. There weren't many of us there and I appeared to be the only non Dr or PhD student in the entire conference (where were you, Mandy?!?) so I felt like a right nonce with only my BSc and MA on the way, but it was a nice friendly atmosphere and everyone was really interested throughout.

I originally decided to attend this because the subject of the conference as well as several of the speakers research areas seemed attractive to my general interests. I wasn't sure what the event itself would be like, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed myself. Discussed were: books by Lovecraft, Wells, Shiel; films like the Matrix, Blade Runner, Dawn of the Dead; the genres (and if genre exists!!) of science fiction, Gothic-Punk, horror (zombies, primarily) and the "Post Genre Fantastic".

I talked to a few of the PhD students in attendance during the breaks (one girl was doing a PhD on Terry Pratchett!!!) and a student at Napier is very kindly going to let me read her thesis for my own research project, as she is studying literary fiction in the subject area I am researching for my own MA research module.

I actually came away with loads of research ideas for my project, as well as a few wee ideas for the film I'll be using my research to write as well. We have to do 25 annotations for the research project and currently I'm WOEFULLY behind in this area. Yesterday's conference has pushed me towards about half a dozen appropriate academic papers as well as several pieces of fiction that I want to investigate.

Hopefully I will be spending most of tomorrow in the Edinburgh University library, ploughing through academic papers and nice old books that our Uni doesn't stock. The conference has really inspired me and I hope I don't lose the impetus to research properly!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

I'm a TWIT

Did I get your attention?

I'm not really a twit, silly. Well, maybe a bit. Anyway, my boyfriend alerted me to another great procrastiation tool, which clearly we will all be too busy to use but which I shall blog about anyway.

It's called Twitter, and basically it just lets you write down what you're doing, and see what your friends are doing. That's it. I put a link on my sidebar, so if you are feeling really bored you can see what I'm up to.

Not much, clearly!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Screenwriting Books

Yesterday Mike asked me if I had read and liked "Which Lie Did I Tell" by William Goldman. The answer is: oh boy, yes.

When The Princess Bride movie came out, I was 9. Didn't see it at the cinema, wasn't particularly interested in it either as the title evoked really girly things, and I was shirking my girliness at that point, to an extent. A few years later I was round at the house of my parents friends, and all us kids lay on bunk beds and watched the film on video together. It was amazing, I can't describe how much I loved it. Alan and Laura (the other children) knew most of the dialogue by heart, they laughed uproriously at every moment, and even though Alan fell asleep on me he woke up for the ending. It was fantastic watching such a great film with people who had nothing but unadulterated love for it, and it has made it a really special film for me since then.

In the year or two after that I got hold of a really scabby copy of Adventures in the Screen Trade, specifically because it was written by Goldman. I thought it was really funny (I loved Hollywood books in my mid teens: I have a great deal of affection for David Niven's books too), and after a bit of searching I found the book of the Princess Bride. Again, I loved it, and was just amazed at Goldman's style and turn of phrase: also was really interested to read all the bits that had to be left out of the film.

When Which Lie Did I Tell came out I bought it immediately, and I can say with no small amount of uncertainty that it if there was something that inspired me to actually want to be a screenwriter, that was it. I wasn't sure if I'd be any good in such an apparently cut-throat business (still ain't!), and as I read it towards the very end of my maths degree it didn't seem like the logical career course to follow, so I tried to ignore the desire and just occasionally patted the book, like I am forced to do when I see kittens.

Anyway, fast forward a few years and I am bored, unhappy at work and desperately wanting to write. And I mean desperately. It's the only thing I can think of that will challenge me properly as well as satisfying the urge I've had since I was a kid. I see a nightclass at Edinburgh University in Screenwriting, and hop on it. It was great fun, I made friends with a lovely young man that is very talented and (importantly) a great friend, and it also made me think that i could actually do this! I could be a writer: and a screenwriter at that.

Andrew told me about the Masters, I miraculously got on it, and a year after applying I go to look at my books for Mike. I have to say that the sheer number of books I've bought on writing have actually taken me by surprise somewhat. I have about 2 dozen, and can't say that I've read them all. They are like a collection of brollies or something, I do use some of them frequently but the others are there just in case.

For the record, here are my favourites:
I have other "biggies" like Story, The Tools of Screenwriting, etc, but to be honest Story just scared me into thinking that I was going about everything wrong for not doing things the way McKee does them, and the Tools of Screenwriting realy didn't seem so hot.

I think you can only place so much stock in guide books like this, anyway. There isn't a right or wrong way to do things, there are only good or bad results, in my mind. I'm still a newbie, so perhaps I'm way off the ball here, but as good as the books are for initial inspiration, guidance and occasional reference, I think the best way to learn is just to write and get reviewed by people you trust.

Hope that's of use (?).

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Bloggy birthday to me

It's been a year to the day of my very first post on this blog!

I don't know if I imagined it would last this long. I know I'm not the most voracious of bloggers at times, but I feel like I've done enough to chart my own progress, interests and moans.

Strange to think that this time a year ago I'd probably only just applied for University too. It seems so long ago! I'm really happy with where I am just now, I hope there's a positive difference in my life this time next year: perhaps a book under my belt, a TV drama in production, a film getting underway (one can hope, after all).

I would like to say that the amazing cake above was made and/or bought for my blog birthday, unfortunately this wasn't the case: I am greedy, yesterday was Monday, and I had a lot of work to do for my job. Therefore cake seemed only appropriate. T'was very tasty, if you're interested: Starbucks Sicilian lemon cake.

Anyway, thank you to everyone who reads it, your comments, links, suggestion and occasionally guidance over the past year has made this blog thing worth pursuing! I thank ye all, and if I had enough money to buy you all cakes or throw some sort of elaborate blog party I would certainly do it!