Scriptwriting on my mind

When I was in college and university, I was active in the theatre groups and did time on stage myself, but what has always appealed to me was script-writing. This is evident in my everyday writing as I tend to have strong dialogues in my stories.

But I have always been hesitant in making the leap from writing articles and stories to scripts. A leap to some but to me, its like the cow jumping over the moon.

Yet, it has been on my mind lately. So the question I posing here is, how do one make the leap into script-writing in general and also for the Malaysian market?

Post your answers in the comments.


Meeting young writers and a new project idea.

I had the privilege of meeting ten (10) young writers last night and to share with them about writing. It’s so up-lifting to know that in Malaysia, there are young people who are willing to hone the craft of writing and be writers in their own league.

And after the gathering, it dawned upon me that this was an opportunity not to be missed, so I came up with an idea to start a little project with these young writers.

I’ve yet to come up with a name for this project but it will involve them writing shorts stories or articles or whatever they plan to write and having the material published on this blog.

I hope to get this started and take it wherever it wants to go.

For now, I’ve to prepare for a talk to about 100 school students about writing.


Depression and this Writer

I never thought I would fall into this state of mind but it happened. I was depressed and this was the reason I had turned cold towards my writing. I did not know it was depression and instead blamed other factors such as work, commitments and people as the reason to why I couldn’t sit down long enough to write a sentence. Yes, within the period of depressive foggy-ness, I did managed to churn out several short stories (most appearing on this blog) but my main project merely sat on the sideline.

Depression hits for no reason and your mind just fogs over and your motivation to do the things you love just evaporates, leaving you with this perpetual sense of emptiness. In the end, you feel as if you are merely a shell and life has ebbed it’s way to the twilight zone. Nothing seems right, you become sensitive and needy. Needy for attention or someone to understand but you full well know no-one can fully understand the state of mind of a depressive person. My mind and heart were locked in a bind of negativity. Nothing seemed positive and optimism became a curse word.

There were evenings I spent walking in my backyard, devoid of thoughts and merely walking. I viewed things with an emptiness, a detachment from what was real or fantasy. In this state, plants looked alive and the world just seemed a shade of gray. It was bad.

Yet, I knew all this and I am glad I had friends I could just talk to. People I could open up to and vent. And I also had my writing. I realized the most passionate of my writings were done when I was in this state of clawing myself out of my emotional black-hole. The stories were real and the emotions raw. Sometimes our very weakness is the source of our greatest strength. Our insanity is the root of our creativity, the source of the logic for which we write about and our readers get transported to.

In my depression, I wrote about the need for love, the strength of hope and the desperation of one who has reached their end. Maybe it’s good for me to walk in that dark alley called depression, if only to gain the stories but not to dwell in it.

Am I out of my depression? I don’t know because its a part of me, yet I know I can keep it in check and continue to write with passion due to it.

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The 3 things I hate about being a writer

I took a long time to get back into my writing groove. My 2nd book is way behind schedule, in fact there is no exact schedule for me to follow anymore. It went out the window sometime in March. Vacations, work and personal issues have grounded my writing momentum. So picking up the pace (so to speak) is akin to scaling Mount Everest on stilts.

So what do I hate about being a writer? As fulfilling as it is, there are somethings that make me wonder, why I ever bother writing a book? There’s no turning back on my 2nd book, I’ve written 21 chapters and there is no way I will throw that in the waste-basket or in today’s world relegate it to the hidden folder on my iBook.

Number 1: Writing is emotional.
You want your readers to feel what your characters are feeling. Right? So imagine writing a scene where your two characters are falling in love and you’ve just spent the evening chasing after your kids and wifey has a bone to pick with you over junior’s school work. So in the end, your characters actually end up arguing and the plot just goes down hill from there. You blink hard and try to imagine the beauty of the scene when all you see is wifey’s face holding up junior’s homework.

Being in the right mood and right frame of mind is so hard…even in writing.

Number 2: How do you describe that?
Someone told me that my writing lack descriptive elements. My style is minimal, straight to the point and often times devoid of description. So shoot me! But there are times I want to describe the scene. “Show but don’t tell”. We hear that a lot but there are times when you hit a wall and you just wonder, “How do you describe that?”. So I spend a good part of my writing hour just sitting there lost for words. Yes, even writers get lost for words. Worse still, you know the word but you just can’t seem to recall it. It’s at the tip of your tongue but it refuses to transfer itself to your word-processor. So you get stuck! Hate that.

Number 3: God! I lost the plot
You sit over coffee with some friends and they start talking about your book project. Ideas float around and wham! You get an idea to push your plot along. It’s exciting, interesting, unique and darn unexpected. Your friends cheer you on, calling you a genius and show interest in reading your book. You go home all excited at your moment of inspiration, sit in front of your PC or notebook and…blank.

All the excitement has nothing to show for. I hate those moments. Really do. As a writer, I get so absent-minded because my mind is so muddled. You’ve got work issues, family issues and personal issues all crammed into a 6 pound mass of gray material we call a brain and something has to give.

So there you have it. The three (3) things I hate about being a writer. My list may be just these three (3) but what about yours?

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The One skill writers must have besides writing itself

I am often asked how I come about knowing so much. I never confess to having photographic memory (though I wish I did) neither do I see myself as a genius (I love my hair too much) but what I do have is a wild imagination that seemingly latches on to whatever new information pumped into my cerebral.

Besides writing itself, the other important skill, if not the only important skill is The Mastery of One’s Imagination.

Sherlock Holmes said, “You see but do not observe“. Aptly spoken and it is a phrase that writers should constantly hum as mantra. As writers, the blank page is our canvas and words our paint. We draw imagery, which takes life in the minds of the readers. Such imagery needs to live first and foremost within our writer’s minds. We need to see before it can be seen.

Yes, we all can imagine. As children we played with our imagination, we had dinosaurs running in our backyard, aliens living under our beds, the boogie-man in our closet and suspicious looking people as out imaginary friends. But somewhere along the line we lose this natural tendency to imagine our world. Replaced instead with in the face common-sense or logic thinking. Only a few have learnt to harness and tap the power of imagination. These are the Jedi master’s of their imagination and they are our icons of fantasy and lore example Stephen Spielberg, Stephen King, Johnny Depp; to name a few.

For a writer to excel, he too needs to be a Jedi of his own imagination. He must allow his characters to run free in his minds, he must observe their interactions and listen to what they are saying. The writer is the loyal scribe to the happenings of a reality that lives in his mind, which only he can see and chronicle. Eventually, the happenings of this world would be reported to the world populated by readers; curious to know the whats and the ifs.

For my second book set in pre-war Malaya, I have to rely heavily on my imagination and from watching period movies. There is just not enough research material for the period before Malaysia received her independence. The little that I have come across, does not paint a big enough picture for me to describe. So much of that world, I had to build in my mind and I had to rely a lot on flashbacks by my main characters in order to tell their story. Initial readings by friends tell me that they are comfortable with the flashbacks and the fact I am telling two stories in one. The events of the pre-war story affects the present story. So there is a link between events in the lives of my pre-war characters on the lives of those in the present day. Interesting to read but a horror to write. So I have taken large liberties to fill in the blanks with Constructive Imagination.

Constructive Imagination is not wild imagination but rather inferring and constructing reality based on the little information you have. You may have a shred of information but through a process of deduction you can safely build a picture. Criminal Profilers do a lot of inference work based on evidence at the crime scene. They build a good enough picture for everyone to see, which leads to the capture of the suspect. The same can be said in writing. Build a good enough picture and your reader can see.

Be the master of your imagination and study it well and you will realize that it opens up your writing. Plots seemingly fall out of the sky and your characters take on lives of their own. Link your imagination to information you gleamed from reading and see your stories take on a credible tone.

Before I forget, reading is the fuel for imagination. So read a LOT. It doesn’t have to be a novel, it could be the ingredients from your box of cereals, read, read, read. As you pump your imagination with information, create links between them and watch the stories come alive.

So there you have it; the other skill writers must have, besides writing, is a mastery of one’s own imagination.


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