Sunday, 22 March 2009

Getting things moving

Yesterday, I blogged about all the writing I had to do. That put me in a very good mood for writing, so we can now confirm - lists are good.

I mentioned I was currently editing webisode one of LOL - the web show I'm creating with Michelle. I sat down last night and charged through it (with some beer - just to conform to the cliche of a writer). I'd already made my notes on the script so it was just a case of re-writing it. I changed some dialogue around, cut bits out and changed the ending to add more of a cliffhanger.

I then got an idea for webisode two. I stuck that in a section of the LOL Celtx file then looked at my watch......10pm. Why not? I figured why not write it? I'm one of those people who has two speeds - shit slow and shit off a shovel. I was in the mood so decided the seize the opportunity and have at it.

I started the script and wrote - while shamelessly giggling at my own lines that weren't really that funny. I didn't get that far but I know what will happen in the webisode so the rest should come quite easily.

The file is now in Michelle's hands. She'll read through my edit and notes on webisode one and chances are with one or two more edits, it'll be pretty great (for 13 minutes of screen time). Then we really need to think about the show as a whole - where will it lead? How many webisodes will there be? What will happen in every webisode? What's the series arc? Where will we be at the end of series one?

These are just a few of the questions we need to think about. Only when we're certain of this can we move forward safe in the knowledge that what we're doing is going to work.

Some writers say that they don't plan their work. They just write. It comes naturally and falls out on the page without any planning, as they write. This is all well and good and I understand it - I often have a free-writing exercise and the (limited) material that comes out is pretty good.

But that doesn't work in TV and web shows. If you don't plan, it won't work. Simple as that. In writing a TV episode, you have to know what is going to happen in each act - where are the act-outs going to be? What are they going to be? How will everything be resolved. It really is impossible to free-write an episode of TV.

This doesn't seem to apply as much with web shows. This is because the rules that apply to TV have no place on the internet. It's a new medium. There are no rules; they're still being made. There is no ordered length of a webisode. They say people won't stay tuned in on the internet for more than a few minutes, but as Joss Whedon said; if people are interested, they'll stay watching for as long as it takes for you to tell your story. DR HORRIBLE was about 50 minutes long (in three acts) and it's amazing. So basically, there are no rules. It can be as long as you like and any subject is fair game.

LOL has a very simple premise - two people (one a semi-successful actor, the other a shy, innocent novice) meet on the internet and talk about their art. That's it. Would that work on TV? No. So why would it work on the internet? Well, it's actually about the internet. The viewers will be the sort of person who spends hours browsing youtube (like every hard worker does). They're like our characters - instant relationship and an understanding.

I believe that if we write a good enough show and publicise it effectively, we can get it quite well known on the internet.

It's always good to attack the five W's when doing anything.

WHO is our target audience? - internet users (as discussed above)

WHAT is it about? - people on the internet.

WHERE is it set? - in peoples' bedrooms, in front of their computers.

WHEN will people see it? - weekly / fortnightly

WHY will people watch? - because it's funny and about them - internet users.

HOW will people see it? - it will appear free on youtube. Why wouldn't people watch it?

If you look at the answers above, they all relate to the target audience - which is always a good thing. If you have difficulty answering any of the above questions, something is wrong. Tackle it now! You have a huge problem if you can't answer the 'Why will people watch?' question. It's the most important. No viewers, no show. If you can't come up with a good enough reason for people to tune in, you're fucked basically.

So, this was supposed to be a quick post about LOL....but seemed to turn into some sort of shiny writing article. Hopefully doesn't sound too bad. Anyway, I look forward to getting Michelle's notes back on LOL and carrying on. And I will get notes - the woman is a sure thing for that! Over 5000 words? Maybe not for this one, but I know she'll present another 50 directions LOL can go in and everything will be made ten times better.

Happy writing, people.

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