Sunday, 14 August 2011

Action! Catherine Johnson


This is a happy blog. I have had a good year writing wise, although my finances are in ruins there is plenty of hope on the horizon with a lovely TV commission which I must get writing now.
I've always done bits and pieces of screenwriting and think the parallels between this sort of writing and writing Young Fiction are legion. I thought I'd share, but I do hope you're not all going to go and start writing incredibly brilliant TV drama and leave me standing...
It's obvious really, when we write for young readers we have to tell our stories through action, through drama, rather than simply sitting inside our characters heads. We want our readers to know our characters by what they say and how they say it, and what they do and how they do it, not by streams of consciousness or acres of description.
We need to be able to do good dialogue, to hear our characters speak so our readers can hear them too.
All those little nuances of emotion and tendernesses, all the ways our stories hurtle towards their conclusions, have to be shown and not told.
Every scene has to work really hard, to be revealing as much of the story as possible, to be revealing more stuff about our characters and worlds without once telling the reader or hitting them over the head with exposition.
That's it really, externalise, dramatise and show. Easy.

So I'm off, in my head, to South Tottenham in 1971, (I know? prescient or what!). For a feel good, rags to riches, hard hitting, roller coaster story about the birth of now (the birth of now? Did I just right that? Have I had enough of pitching to TV companies....)
Anyway, there's a great soundtrack, from Ride a White Swan by T Rex, Knock Three Times, by Tony Orlando (and Dawn) to Rougher Yet by Slim Smith http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTxFJsc1gms if you don't know it.
And of course it may never get made, but hey ho, that's life....

Photo is by Colin Jones

9 comments:

Stroppy Author said...

Sounds exciting, Catherine! And what a useful insight about screenwriting and writing young fiction. And I love the picture - is it your family?

Catherine Johnson said...

Sadly not, Anne, Colin Jones took loads of photos in this house, a squat in Holloway called The Black House that teenagers used as an informal Youth club.

Sue Purkiss said...

Congratulations, Catherine, and fingers crossed it gets greenlighted! (Greenlit? Whatever!)

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

Sounds great - screenwriting sounds a really good idea, methinks...

Nicky said...

Sounds wonderful!

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

Good luck with this script Catherine. I hope its a really wonderful project for you. Your photograph reminded me of photographs of the black suburb of Sophiatown which suffered forced removals in 1955 by the Government in South Africa. It was a suburb of hugely creative people... known for its writers and musicians... (and the famous DRUM magazine)who were relocated to Soweto. Their homes given to blue-collar Afrikaners and the suburb renamed Triomf (Triumph in English.) In his book 'Naught for Your Comfort' (1956) Archbishop Trevor Huddleston wrote of Sophiatown, 'It is not your physical beauty which makes you so loveable; not that soft line of colour which sometimes seems to strike across the greyness of your streets: not the splendour of the evening sky which turns your drabness into gold - it is none of these things. It is your people.'

Catherine Johnson said...

Will look them out, Dianne, thanks, c

Miriam Halahmy said...

Definitely Y.A. writing lends itself to action and dialogue showing our characters. Never thought about it in relation to screen writing before. Thanks for this - not because I will be writing for TV next - but because I will be watching TV in a completely different way now - hmm, wonder what's on tonite!

revolvermaedle said...

dear all - what a wonderful project. and ja, it reminds of sophiatown. i work on sophiatown & would love to hear more about the processes. all the best: katharina