Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Tone Deaf

So I've spent the last couple of days procrastinating. It's something most writers have a flair for but a field in which I think I have a particular gift.

What was it this time that led to two days of 'seepage' as I like to call it?

That ugly little four letter word ''Tone''.

I'm in the middle of writing a spec for a series where the Bible pitches it as being 'darkly humourous'.

Having read what I've written so far I can see a fair degree of dark but not a whole hell of a lot of humour.

That tells me one of two things. Either

a] I'm not very funny


b] Maybe the project doesn't really lend itself to humour. Or, more to the point, my gut doesn't want to write it as humour.

Clearly it can't be a] as obviously I am a certified rib tickler. My store of Knock Knock jokes is legendary.

So it must be the latter. But note the 'Maybe', which is the cause of the procrastination. Because writing a comedy/drama is chuffing hard. And maybe I've just been too damned lazy in the writing.

A comedy/drama needs to effortlessly slip from comedy to.......well.....drama, as well as combine the two at appropriate moments. That takes careful pacing and characterisation. And maybe I've been writing under deadlines for so long that that I'm adhering too much to the old writer's adage 'Don't get it right, get it written'

As an adage goes that's not a bad adage. And it is very tempting for me to bang on, get the thing done and then take a look at it.

But I know that if I've screwed up the tone, the rewrite work will be truly brutal. I don't like brutal. I like a solid first draft that needs tweaking.

I don't have another commission for a couple of weeks and so rather than rush to the finish line on the spec I think I'll take some 'seepage' time. I need to decide exactly what level of humour I want and then look at pace and structure and character and story and see if they all lend themselves to the tone I really want to write.

I may decide I want to write it completely straight, or I may have a Eureka moment and hit on the exact formula. Either way I know there is no point in banging pages out until I figure it out.
Sometimes procrastination is your friend.

1 comment:

Robin Kelly said...

I just saw most of tonight's ITV 'rom-com'/'comedy-drama' and it was the tone that was the main problem for me. There was no seamless transition between the comedy and drama, there wasn't much comedy at all and when it appeared it was incongruous.