Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Well, we got there. At times (i.e. most of the time) I doubted I would make it to this point alive, but here we are: today marks one whole year of daily blog posts*, and with it a decision as to the future of The Blank Page. The problem is, I still haven’t decided. Apologies to those who were eagerly anticipating such news (likely praying for a swift death). So, yeah, I don’t really know what to do.

In the absence of a conclusion I’m going to continue until I either run out of words entirely (though I suspect that occurred… ooh, about twelve months ago) or the blog organically evolves into a more appealing, sustainable, and structured form. I have veered from the dizzying highs of averaging thirty-three hits-a-day just two weeks ago to getting a depressing three views so far today. Since I perversely enjoy wallowing in my own misery, I will not rest until my readership has dwindled to zero. That is my new impetus, for the next day or so.

In other news, those who know me may remember that a few years back I wrote and was co-producing an independent feature film called Queensberry Rules. After about a year, the project unfortunately collapsed under its own weight. Last year, however, I was approached by Chris Detton – my former co-producer on the project – who wanted to purchase the rights to the script in order to produce it himself. I was more than happy to come to an agreement with him (the contract for which I vaguely alluded to a while back) since it seemed a waste for the story I created to remain in limbo.

I’ve kept quiet about the resurrected project during the early pre-production phase, but today Chris alerted me to an article about the film on the Daily Post website, so I feel more comfortable about releasing some information about the project. The new production team were eager to reshape my original idea into a crime thriller, so very little remains of my script – two scenes on last reading, but they may yet have been cut in further drafts – and the script has been redrafted by up-and-coming writing duo Paul Howard Hunt and Matthew J. Trow.

I believe that the production team are still casting and seeking other help, so if you are interested in getting involved, please contact Jo Lloyd either via e-mail at jolloyd_27@hotmail.com or by phone on 07595 422551. The film is to be directed by Roger Christian and shooting is slated to begin in October in the North Wales area.

* Though, confusingly, this is my three-hundredth-and-sixty-eighth post. I’m a bit confused as to where the extra post came from. Are WordPress counting my About page, or did I post twice in one day and forget? I need to know. Looks like I’m going to have to go through the blog, counting each post manually.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved


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During my recent afflicted period I have been assessing my use of time. There’s a term in economics: sunk costs. It refers to retrospective costs incurred that cannot be recovered. Like a failed investment, it has been spent; gone, no recourse. Apply that concept to time, specifically those days, months, and years that on reflection were squandered. How much time do we all pine over? The wrong turns, the miss-steps, the make-dos and the dead-end relationships. Instead of grieving over lost time consider it a speculative gamble. Thinking of my “wasted” time as simply sunk costs has allowed me to contextualise it more constructively. Instead of ruing past investments, I focus on future spending, just so long as I dispense that time wisely.

As the above may suggest, I’m still a tad unwell. I manage to temper that by producing a page of script, which also served to nullify the four hours I spent playing LEGO Batman. I can’t help it: the game keeps taunting me with a completion  percentage after every level, and I’m only on 74.6%. During my recumbent gaming, Hattie the rabbit once again imitated my every move. This time, I took photos. I couldn’t get close, though, as she would leap up every time I stood, hence the wide shots.

This was at 11:00:

Then at 13:00:


And then at 16:00:

I’d quite happily watch her morph into the carpet all day. Another sunk cost? Money in the bank.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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Despite being only halfway (I hope) into my current script, I have already been approaching some potential readers ahead of the completion of the first draft. I’ve allowed the kind souls who will be casting their critical eye over my work plenty of warning, giving them the vague target of by the end of the Summer. The idea being, conspiring with others helps to enforce the completion date. Well, I thought it might be prudent of me to crystalise it, right here, with an actual deadline: 1st September. That is when I will – nay, must – finish my first working draft.

I’ve done it now: I’ve written it here, and it will be posted for all to see. Healthy dose of pressure? Hopefully. Undue stress? Only the Summer will reveal. Factor in the seven-years-in-the-making album that I intend to finish recording by 30th July and I have quite a season ahead of me. I’d complain about the Summer sun being curtailed by the sheer volume of rain recently, but I love the rain so I’m quite content. What I wouldn’t give for a late-night thunderstorm: lights, sat in the conservatory, cup of tea, listening to Kid A. Ah!

I’ve had a bit of a rough day today – aches, drowsiness, and for some undetermined reason I’ve been unconsciously clenching my jaw over the past few days – but I don’t foresee that extending into tomorrow (except the jaw thing, unfortunately. My teeth hurt!): I’m sure it’s nothing a good sleep won’t fix.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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I’m at the horrible mid-point with my script – currently at sixty-six pages – where it feels as though I’m mired in the second act as though it was quicksand, with the more I write the deeper I sink. The trouble is, I’m being pulled in five different directions, between exposition (without dumping), building pace (without losing story focus), and character development (without sacrificing the building pace, stakes, and peril), all the while trying to balance the necessary information with the spectacle. I am constantly referring back to a quote from Jimmy McGovern:

“I’d rather be confused for ten minutes than bored for five seconds”

It’s a great ideal to strive for, but easier in theory than execution. And that’s precisely the way it should be.

If there’s one thing that is worse than film remakes it’s dishonest film remakes. I’m watching Disturbia while I write this and it is nothing more than a poor man’s Rear Window, set in present day with a fit and healthy teenage protagonist, an electronic ankle tag in place of the wheelchair. There’s something so disingenuous about ripping off the plot of another film without crediting the source material. Although, in its pretence behaving like an independent intellectual property maybe that’s as representative (and therefore as honest) of Hollywood as it gets.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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On second viewing, A Good Man Goes to War was more satisfying, on the whole, I think because it had shaken off the expectations that the (anti-)climax had promised. I also watched Castrovalva – the Fifth Doctor‘s début story – for the first time. It’s awful, and not just because Adric features heavily. As annoying as he might be, at least he provokes some kind of emotional reaction, unlike the the terminally bland Tegan and Nyssa. If ever there were a pair of companions designed to be, a) cyphers, and b) female, it’s those two. I intend to persist with Peter Davison’s run, but unless there is a marked improvement I’m beginning to doubt I’ll make it all the way to The Caves of Androzani.

Watching such tripe, though, inspired me to reconsider something that has been in the back of my mind for a number of years: writing a Doctor Who script on spec. The last time I thought about it I was angling towards combining the Atlantis myth – tackled before in The Time Monster, but very poorly according to reports – with a predestination paradox I had designed. I was stuck on it for nearly two years before deciding that it was a non-starter; dead, barring a great epiphany. Until earlier, when I hit upon such an obvious topic – one I’ve been fascinated with since my early teens – that I could retrofit into a great Doctor Who historical. I won’t name the central figure in question, but will say that he was an English  playwright (one of my favourites) who died in mysterious circumstances. And, best of all, is a gem as yet unmined by the show.

I’ve had another debilitating headache and a series of mini-bouts of fatigue today, so I have been slightly less than myself today, although the more often it happens the more that becomes the norm. I hoping that, much like homeopathy, the weaker I am the more effective I become.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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Diurnal Arc

Oh, yes! I’m on fire! I’ve been working on two different sequences of my script, simultaneously! Well, not literally simultaneously; I’ve not been hammering away at two different computers, one for each hand (and each eye, presumably). No, instead I’ve had the two scene progressions lined up, side-by-side, and when I lost steam on one I would immediately switch to the other. It’s just like how I used to operate. If if this is it, that this is the last time I ever work this way, I’m delighted that I got it back, even if for just a few short hours.

Quite honestly, I’m shocked I got any work done at all today, since had a rather disturbed sleep and then forced myself to arise at 10:00. Plus, I had to deal with a crazy rabbit distracting me by trying to dig through the carpet in her sleep (the friendly one, not the timid, boring one. I think we’re going to give her away. Any takers?). Maybe it helped. The late night/early morning, not the crazy rabbit. It’s all part of a concerted effort on my part to re-establish a healthy(-ish) sleep pattern. Let’s see how I manage tomorrow before making any rash assessments. If it doesn’t work, I might have to resort to experimenting with polyphasic sleep. It’s lucky Nic’s not a member of a Mafia family.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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Woo! Fifty-eight pages, and counting! That’s me nearly half-way through. I’ve spent the last half-an-hour admiring the script report stats: 8,872 words, 59% action (not bad, but should become higher in the second draft), and 27% dialogue (rule of thumb being: dialogue percentage should be about half the action value, dependant on what the script is, of course). And let’s not forget the all-important profanity statistics: one ass, two damns, a solitary dick, and a pair of shits.

The blog has been getting a lot of views over the last few days from browsers searching for news on Harry Knowles. At first I suspected that he might be dead, quietly hoping that was untrue considering the tastelessly jocular post I wrote about him. Turns out he’s not dead, so I’m still clueless as to the reasons behind the Harry Knowles surge.

Actually, after browsing my blog stats (I love stats), I noticed that I have also attracted two-hundred-and-seven people querying information on Andrew Wyeth over a four-month period. Now, he’s been dead for years, so who cares? Why is the first place my brain went is that they must be dead? Well, Kenickie died today. Maybe that’ll get me some more hits. Pointless fact: the character Jeff Conaway played in Babylon 5 was named Zack Allen, and I seem to remember my mother telling me that I was nearly named Zachary, so I nearly had the same name as a fictional character. I may have made that up, though.

© 2011 Ashley J. Allen, All Rights Reserved

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