Strategies for 2011- second update

First of all, I had to do a modification after the first month of 2011. Initially I was supposed to write 3 hours per day. But I realised that my academic work is not included in this target and I had difficulty in often completing them. The reason is that I started to push them to later in a bid to complete the 3 hr target of script writing. So now I have decreased the 3 hr writing target to 2.5 hours and also added one hour academic work along with that. So currently the objective is to complete total of at least 3.5 hours of work before accessing net.

No of days in last 45 days where I completed at least 2.5 hours of scriptwriting- 25

No of days in last 45 days where I didn’t do any scriptwriting at all- 9 days

No of days where I wrote for more than 2.5 hours- 2 days

What have I accomplished in terms of writing in 2011?

Have completed outlining a indie co-writing project and we are midway into the first draft. Another comedy co-writing project, we are rich with some interesting detailed outlines. Also did a redraft of a short film script. Did outline for the second draft of the heist script. Have almost revamped the whole thread of the story. Did an outline for a comedy (hopefully it will come out as a comedy). Started writing the first draft of the drama script for which I had done a treatment earlier.

What was my original plan?

To flesh out a treatment every 2 months. Instead of that, I have done around 3 detailed outlines (including that for second draft of heist script). The issue has been that I have my finger on too many pies. And the situation is that I cant disengage from most of them due to different reasons. If I get another 2 weeks or so, I can write down a treatment for the comedy script. Same with other outlines. Probably I am lagging behind by around 1 month in terms of what I really wanted to achieve. Let’s see if I can close the gap.

Photo by Today is a good day on Flickr.


Reading Slaughterhouse-Five reminded me that often what we label originality in terms of screenplays can be cliche in terms of literature. Nonlinear structure? Jumping back and forth through time? Some original ideas to re-imagine an alternate world? It is all in there in Kurt Vonnegut’s absurdist classic. And that too in a book written 40 years back.

Slaughterhouse-Five is the story of Billy Pilgrim, a man who becomes unstuck in time after he is abducted by aliens from the planet Tralfamadore. In a ingenious demonstration of fluidity of narrative, we follow Pilgrim simultaneously through all phases of his life, concentrating on his traumatic experience as an American prisoner of war who witnesses the firebombing of Dresden.

But what really made this novel charming to me is it’s dry humor- and the ability to evoke it without going into too much trouble.

See how Vonnegut describes an intoxicated Billy trying to find the steering wheel.

‘Billy found himself out in his automobile, trying to find the steering wheel. The main thing now was to find the steering wheel. At first, Billy windmilled his arms, hoping to find it by luck. When that didn’t work, he became methodical, working in such a way that the wheel could not possibly escape him. He placed himself hard against the left-hand door, searched every square inch of the area before him. When he failed to find the wheel, he moved over six inches, and searched again. Amazingly, he was eventually hard against the right-hand door, without having found the wheel. He concluded that somebody had stolen it. This angered him as he passed out.

    He was in the back seat of his car., which was why he couldn’t find the steering wheel.’ Continue reading

Dabbling with multiple scripts, the same day

I have been working on 4-5 projects simultaneously in the last 1-2 weeks. Two co-writing gigs- one is at the stage of outlining and the other we have just started the first draft. I am redoing the outline of the heist script for which I had put down the 1st draft one year back. Also outlining a drama project whose one line a star from regional cinema had shown some interest a couple of months back. Also trying to put down the 1st draft of yet another treatment which I finished recently- even though I am not into writing full drafts right now. The idea is just to keep myself exposed to all stages, all genres and all aspects of scriptwriting all the time.
So does working on so many projects simultaneously really work? The truth is that five is actually too much. It is just that the timeline of the cowriting scripts overlapped with some ongoing (delayed) projects of mine due to different reasons. The real issue with working on five projects is that in a given week, I wouldn’t be working on more than 3 projects (because maximum I write is 3 hours per day) so that I pretty much lose track on the other two and have to come back to them with a certain effort.
But still I think that I work better if I am on to at least two projects rather than one at the same time. It gives a fresh perspective on a daily basis. Also you can switch back and forth if you get stuck. There are writers who say that it all came in one flow-‘I sat down and it all came out like a torrent. By next day evening when I came out of my room I had finished the script.’ When something like that happens to me, when I read it the next day, it turns out to be absolute trash. It is more like I got carried away and there was nothing to break my fall. So when I work on at least two, I am forced to re-examine what I came up with the last day from a different angle and different state of mind. But probably more than three is counter productive.

Photo by mari_1008

7 Khoon Maaf: late afterthoughts

This was an idea that was flawed even before development. And all the clever stuff a writer tries to do after adopting a tough seed idea often falls short because all your energy and time is invested on remedying a basic defect. So naturally there is no question of trying to take it into a new level.

Now what is the basic defect? When you decide to make a film based on a woman who murders her seven husbands, you cant run away from the repetitiveness it will bring about while narrating the story. The audience knows what will happen, it is only a question of how it will happen. The writer rakes his brain trying to make every husband and every murder different. He tries to deal with the repetitiveness even with a forced in non linear structure (which has become a cliché in itself now). The ending of the movie was interesting, but it was too little, too late.

Still it is nice to see such a different (commercially risky) idea being made into a film in mainstream Bollywood. That itself absolves Vishal Bharadwaj of all his sins. This Khoon is maaf.