Trying not to skip ahead

This week, I figured out what I wanted to happen in the season finale of the script I’m writing. It’s all very exciting. Problem is, I still have 4 other episodes before I get to write that episode.

I found myself torn. I was so thrilled and excited by what I have planned, that I immediately wanted to write it. This has happened a few times across my two years of working on Hunters Ridge, but each time I have resisted, determined not to write ahead, because to me it feels like skipping chapters when reading a book, you’ll never really want to go back to those chapters you skipped.

But this is my season finale, it’s where everything is leading to and I found myself wondering if, for once, it was okay to break my rules. If I wrote where it all ends, then I can lead myself there easier. I allowed myself to write segments, including the very final moments. Then I forced myself to go back to work on episode 8.

It’s hard to believe that after two years, I’m coming close to the end of my second full draft. It’s still feels like there’s going to be a long journey to get it from page to screen, but for a project that started as something to do when I was bored on my commute, it’s come a long way. Here’s to the next two years

Chapter 5: Random Research – A Valedictorian Speech

This week, I started a new job. That meant getting back to my daily train commute.

Each day I spend around 2 hours travelling to and from work. And each day, that two hours is the most inspired I feel. The notes section of my phone is filled with random thoughts, ideas, even chunks of writing. But by the time I arrive home, that inspiration has faded.

Why does the inspiration hit on the train? It’s the only time of day where I have nothing else to do, no distractions, no procrastination. It can be very dull to be sat in a carriage full of strangers with limited internet access for 40 minutes. And so, I fill that time with the writing and research I put off at all other times.

This week, I set myself one of the more random research tasks: How to Write a Valediction Speech. 

I’m British. In England, we don’t have graduation from high school, or valedictorians, so writing a valedictorian speech for a high school character in the latest episode of my script, is proving harder than I originally thought it would be. Having no idea where to start, I turned to the internet. A quick google (what did people do before google?) led me down the path to reading the valedictorian speeches of New York high school students I will never meet. I am grateful to them for their wise and inspiring words.

The words of these students made me realise just how useful this one piece of writing could be to the entire script. The one speech can not only provide the audience with background information that they need to know before the next set of episodes, whilst also hinting to future scenes.

My phone is full of notes containing things to include in the speech, but now on this sunny Saturday afternoon, my inspiration has disappeared. And I’ve realised that it isn’t a usual valedictorian speech I need. It is a fictional, scripted one that suits an American teen drama. That brings me to my plan for the rest of the afternoon.

There are shows I have grown up inspired by, hoping to one day make a show as good as those shows, a show that will one day help someone like me decide that they want to grow up and make their own programme, and so on and so on.

I have a plan to follow the valedictorian speeches of these great characters:

Hayley James Scott (One Tree Hill)

Rory Gilmore (Gilmore Girls)

Taylor Townsend (The OC)

Troy Bolton (High School Musical 3)

One day my character Millie Evans, will be added to this list. But for that to work, I have to actually write it. Stay tuned.

Cx

Chapter 2: Hunters Ridge

My current major project is Hunters Ridge – an American style TV programme that I have so far written 5 x 1 hour episodes of.

Hunters Ridge is my baby

My current major project is Hunters Ridge – an American style TV programme that I have so far written 5 x 1 hour episodes of.  It’s probably the longest I have spent on a single project without giving up or completing it, but I won’t give up.

The project was born after a trip to Los Angeles in January 2016. On the return to work, I was inspired following the holiday and had some down time in my office. For a while I had been wanting to start a new piece of writing. I took a notepad and write down every idea I could possibly think of. Most were terrible and held no promise, but one idea caught my imagination. At the time I called it ‘Never Be Alone’ due to an obsession with Shawn Mendez’s first album, but as the project developed and grew, it became Hunters Ridge.

Over the next year I wrote 12 x 1 hour scripts, sculpting this entire world around 6 core characters: Evie, Logan, Jeremy, Seth, Millie and Brandon. Their lives developed and filled my mind until I felt like there was no more space in my mind. With 12 episodes completed, something I had never achieved before, I began to re-write.

My house is now filled with notebook upon notebook of hand written notes, full character profiles, each 20 pages long with every character trait I could think of, whilst other notebooks contain the full back story, up until the start of the first episode. I have plans for 5 series of this TV show and my mind constantly races with new ideas.

When I had finished re-writing the pilot, my friends (who’s help I am so grateful for) gathered at my house for a read through. Each person had multiple roles and it took much longer than the 1 hour I had written it for. But what came out of it, was a revelation. My friends hated one of the lead characters, they felt no sympathy for him and they argued that a very core plot just didn’t make sense. These were things I would never have seen on my own and they started me on a new journey with Hunters Ridge.

I went back to the drawing board, right to the very beginning, to the very heart of the story. I tore everything apart and for possibly the first time I was very brutal to myself. I took a blank sheet of paper and re-crafted the very heart of the story. One tiny change to a key plot point and a whole new and much improved Hunters Ridge was born.

With each re-write, the characters develop, the story lines change and I feel like I’m a step closer to my ultimate dream of one day having a TV show I created picked up.

A lot of this blog will feature the developments of Hunters Ridge, extracts and moments of inspiration. Right now, I’m off to continue on Episode 6, which has been stalled for a few weeks but is finally moving again.