Saturday, 6 December 2008


Amid a week of hassly diversions, I finally managed to put a bit of heat under Foot Soldiers on Tuesday, and came up with about eight pages.

However, I've already hit a bit of a stumbling block. After an ambiguous and hopefully intriguing flash-forward opening, we go back to meet the protagonist (Adam, at the moment) in his original state: he is frustrated by the rudeness and aggression of modern urban life, but feels too alienated to step in and do anything about it. Basically, he needs to get his balls and backbone back.

So, everything changes when he sulks off down the pub and meets a mysterious stranger (Lloyd) who is, in effect, his alter ego - assertive, dynamic and not prepared to take a step backwards in his confrontation with the world.

The way the story develops means that Lloyd must have something of the cult leader about him - he is sufficiently charismatic to lure Adam over to his way of thinking and then manipulate him even further. And here's my problem - it's easy enough to stick that in my outline, but how do you then convert that into actions and dialogue.

I know that moving beyond our own outlook and experience is what we do as writers, and getting inside the head of people who are nothing like us is one of the biggest rushes we get.

But how do you go about writing characters who are more clever or persuasive than you are? If I could draw on those qualities at will, I'd be doing it a lot more in real life. I'd probably be lording it up over some Jonestown-style settlement hidden away in a corner of Crystal Palace Park.

At the moment I feel like an actor who's been told that he'll have to run 100m in less than 10 seconds because he's playing Asafa Powell.

In other news... Jason Arnopp's gulp at the brevity of life might give you the jolt you need to stop wasting time and just get on with 'it'.

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