Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Killer Serial (Part Two)

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

There are things that I personally enjoy about writing our Saturday serial, “Flash Ahhhh!” Here they are, also in a handy dandy list form.

Lack of Planning – I think this bothered Nathan at first. Maybe it still does. The thing is that I get a lot of ideas, and I think sometimes that they don’t see completion based on the fact that I plan so much that by the time I get to whatever I’ve been planning for, it feels hard to complete. By its very nature, a serial that is written by two people with little to no discussion of direction can’t really be planned. You can do little things to shape the future of the story, but they are at the mercy of the other writer. What this means is that I’m surprised by the direction of the story, almost as though I’m a reader rather than the author. Even when I’m writing, it’s somewhat a surprise because I start with no idea what will happen.

No Budget – A long time ago, I started a project called “Inside Joke.” It got out of control, and I eventually delegated it to a future novel project. What happened is that I started writing a script one day for me, Miguel, and our pal Chris Modester (who we haven’t seen for too long) to shoot. As I kept adding to the script, I started getting some odd ideas that were not really things we had the budget to do. I did my best to write my ideas in a way that could be shot, but it got a bit crazy. Miguel, Modester, and I once did a sketch that was a plane hijacking by using Miguel’s garage as the plane and making a big joke about the limited budget. I figured some things could be done like that for “Inside Joke” but when it became clear that it was never going to be shot anyway, I wrote a number of pages of notes, and planned to write it as a novel one day. Maybe. One day. Much in the same vein, I started an “According To Whim” novel a few years ago. It was intended to be book ends to some short stories that Nathan, Adam, and I have written. It will be finished sometime this year. I can say that with some certainty, because I’m very intent this year. What the ATW novel became was an opportunity to write the “According To Whim” that we’ll never be able to shoot until we have some sort of budget, and maybe not even then. “Flash Ahhhh!” has that same appeal. It has gone beyond our ability to shoot it many episodes ago. It is a lot of fun to write for the budget we have, and occasionally see what we can do that seems a little beyond that budget. But it is fun in a completely different way to not have to pay attention to budget at all, and believe me with the serial, we don’t.

A Note about the Novel – When I was talking about the planning aspect, I was thinking about the ATW novel, because for as crazy and all over the place that it goes, there was a very specific place that it was going, and once I was only a couple of parts away from having to bring all of that together it got a little overwhelming. It’s a case where the actual plan was more overwhelming than the writing.

Collaboration – Even though it’s a very loose collaboration, it’s been a lot of fun writing something with Nathan. Miguel wrote one little part, and I was hoping he would step up and do something else, but he hasn’t. The show has been an odd hodge podge of writing styles. Season One of “According To Whim,” and much of what has been done that isn’t Season Two, falls into one of three categories: Nathan’s idea, my idea, or us having a conversation that becomes a sketch. Season Two was Nathan’s project that he seemed very intent on maintaining as his project. Season Three is an idea that we collaboratively came up with, and have been collaboratively putting together. The thing is that there was a lot of time in between Season One and Season Three, and I felt rather alienated from the creative process. And I’m seriously more about the process. I do creative work every day regardless of what’s going on, and I guess it’s interesting enough to see what I can do on my own, but if I wanted to do it all on my own I wouldn’t work with people. It seems counterintuitive.

Completing Projects – The thing that is driving me this year is getting the clutter that surrounds me organized. One thing that has always driven me nuts is my tendency to start more projects than I can finish. In some cases, I suppose it’s for the best that I’ve dropped ideas, because some of them aren’t that great. It’s when my mind keeps wandering back to a project idea with actual regret for not finishing it that I get a bit antsy about it. “Flash Ahhhh!” was one of the projects that I always felt should have been finished. Between the novel I recently finished, the ATW novel, Season Two/possibly Season Three, and “Flash Ahhhh!” I will feel very accomplished by the end of the year if they are all done. There are many more projects to work on in the coming years, and going into another year with a list of incomplete projects that is the same length or longer is just not an option for me anymore.

We’re Writing for the Blog Anyway – Finally, finishing “Flash Ahhhh!” as a year long weekly serial is perfect since we are writing for the blog all year anyway. This falls into two basic areas. I have a goal which is to write 2,190 pages this year, which I have also stated as approximately 1,277,500 words (as sort of an accounting device, since page length can be hard to gauge sometimes with different formats. For instance, I space between paragraphs on the blog, but not in book projects. Writing 2,190 pages of poetry wouldn’t be all that hard as compared to writing 2,190 pages of novel or article work. So for me, writing half of a year worth of daily blog posts is just part of the goal of 2,190 pages. In that same way, finishing “Flash Ahhhh!” is just part of writing a year worth of daily blog posts.

Anyway, if you haven’t had a chance to read the Saturday serial yet, and if you like silly humour, then why not go check it out. I would put a link in here, but I’m still having issues with the editor. The first episode posted on January 8, 2011.

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