Penny Can

The Hobby Shack => Creative Writing => Topic started by: Neumatic on September 06, 2015, 07:08:03 pm

Title: Pre-writes, re-writes, and de-writes aka playing with other people's stuff
Post by: Neumatic on September 06, 2015, 07:08:03 pm
Considering Chip has been thinking about playing around with flicks like Tron: Legacy and Sucker Punch, and given that I've always enjoyed doing that kind of thing, and that it's not an often-discussed way of writing, I thought it would behoove us to have a thread dedicated to that.

There are a couple things to bear in mind about this approach:

* This isn't a direct path to anything.  Remember the line from Halt And Catch Fire: "it's not the thing, it's the thing that leads us TO the thing."  I personally approach this as writing for the trashcan, a way to analyze what I like, see what works and what doesn't, and what I can learn.

* The idea of "fixing something" is pretty arrogant.  Instead, the mentality should be experimentation.  "What would happen if I did this?" "What if I put this character from this movie into another movie?"  That sort of thing.  The objective isn't to fix, it's to play.

So with that in mind, I figure this thread would be a nice place to shoot the breeze about this sort of thing, not just what we're working on, but our approaches, what we might want to play with and why, why we do it, that sort of thing.

I'll tell you what started this for me: When I was a kid living in Italy, one of the only shows on was Power Rangers.  Well, I remember figuring out the whole dual-nature of that show, how half of it was a whole different show from Japan, and that inspired my imagination, wondering what I wasn't seeing.  Then, when I started getting online, I discovered that the Japanese show always aired a whole year before the American show, so I would see these scans of Japanese magazines featuring new outfits, creatures, robots, etc... early 90s JPG quality, and if I was very lucky, a clip or two on RealPlayer.  Low-resolution text in a language I couldn't understand if I could even see it... well, it gave me a year to try and figure out what I thought it would be. 

And when I got exposed to more things, like books I wanted to read or trailers for movies I wanted to see (remember how long it took for a movie to come out when you were young?), my mind started playing with those too.

Of course, back then I wasn't a particularly skillful writer, and I was barely an artist, so the extent of what I could do with all that was limited.  I guess that's why that instinct went away.

Ironically, I think what brought me back was Power Rangers.  A couple of years ago Disney cancelled the series and it looked like that might have been the end for the show.  And I saw the amazing designs that would have gone to waste and started thinking "okay, if I had to bring the show back, what would I do? What would I want to see? How could I please old and new audiences? What are the flaws in the show and how could I fix them?  What current shows have the mood and style that I'd like to see, and how could I recreate that without ripping them off?" etc.  I played around with it, had some interesting ideas (as well as a couple brand-new original all-my-own "parts" that I can insert into other projects... and doing this taught me how to  effectively use Scrivener without sacrificing a "worthy" project to that cause (I always want a "sacrifice" project when you're trying something new, because developing a workflow always comes with snags and hang-ups.

There's an approach to writing I heard about and love called "writing for the trashcan," songwriters do it a lot, the idea is just to write something, maybe it's useful, maybe it's not, but you just have to keep doing it.  Doing de-writes and mash-ups has allowed me to design a modular workflow meaning for whatever I create, I can see all the parts that went into something, and if a project fails, I can just take out the parts I want and insert them somewhere else.
Title: Re: Pre-writes, re-writes, and de-writes aka playing with other people's stuff
Post by: Chiprocks1 on September 06, 2015, 10:18:39 pm
I already love this thread! I have heard you use the term 'writing for the trashcan' numerous times and I knew exactly what it meant. I may never thought of it in that way with regards to "re-writing" movies or TV shows before on a personal level, but the end result was always the same for me. I love to write. When I'm not on here posting, I'm writing because I enjoy the process more than anything. When it comes to taking characters from movies and doing my own take on them, it has never been with the idea that I could write better than what was on the screen. It's always been about figuring out what kind of story I want to tell and then seeing it through to the end, good and bad. It's the process for me that I thrive on and taking characters or plots or whatever from whichever medium helps keep me writing and more importantly curtailing the dreaded writers block we all run into. Usually while I'm working on known characters from films and TV, I'm also working through my own original stories and it does help me with make big breakthroughs by shifting my focus elsewhere so I'm not obsessing on "what to do here and what to do there", if that makes sense. Really glad you started this thread Neumatic.  :) I look forward to contributing to it as much as possible.
Title: Re: Pre-writes, re-writes, and de-writes aka playing with other people's stuff
Post by: Chiprocks1 on September 06, 2015, 10:30:00 pm
I forgot to mention in the last post an Example of re-writes I use to do all the time. When Curb Your Enthusiasm was regular TV viewing for me, I would just write endless amounts of dialogue and scenes with Larry in mind, using his voice in my head. I was beyond thrilled with the stuff that I was coming up without really even trying. This isn't me bragging, but more about pointing out that your characters and the story will write itself when you 'let go'. I always heard this from people like Stephen King and Quentin Tarantino and this was one of those moments where I really just let go and went with it, letting the characters take me on a journey, rather than me trying to guide them where I wanted them to go. I need to find my backup files with them on it. I still have a few lines of dialogue and scenes in my head that I wrote years ago that still make me smile when I think about them. These kind of moments are what I like to call "lightning in a bottle" moments because you know that while you're writing this stuff as it happens, you know it's damn good and can't believe your dumb luck of what's pouring out of you onto the computer. Man, I really hope I can find them. I think I saved them either on those floppy discs as well as filling up a couple of CD's worth of stuff.
Title: Re: Pre-writes, re-writes, and de-writes aka playing with other people's stuff
Post by: Neumatic on September 06, 2015, 10:42:49 pm
I am such a parrot, I can remember when House was on TV, I would be stuck in his cadence for about half an hour after the show ended.  I've always been impressed by people who can do impressions and while I can only do a couple, I've gotten real good at capturing voices on paper.  When I really get into it, I've got the mannerisms and so on going on, I match their physicality and I'd like to think that physicality translates onto the page.

This is why I tend to "cast" my ideas when I'm creating them, not just so I can picture them in my head but also so when I come up with a scene, the characters can just start talking.  It's such a great feeling when the scene just starts taking off on its own and you're just sitting there transcribing.  It CAN cause the scene to go off into side paths if you're not careful... this is why I like to improv in the conceptual stage where anything can happen, not on the final page.

The casting thing is a double-edged sword, my "stripper" project (which unintentionally became my "sacrifice" since I'm re-learning how to re-write), I was never able to cast the right part for the lead's nemesis, and that's really keeping the whole thing from gelling together.
Title: Re: Pre-writes, re-writes, and de-writes aka playing with other people's stuff
Post by: Neumatic on September 07, 2015, 12:02:06 am
I bring up "parts" movies quite a bit, though I feel the need to clear the air: I've never been that good at playing with other people's stuff.  I was never good at fanfiction because.. .well, first I wasn't great at capturing voices and moods yet, but also because I would keep experimenting with everything in there, "why does it have to be this way?"

Anything I like, I don't like the "file the serial numbers off" approach... I hate it when I see it as a viewer, so why would I engage in that sort of thing as a writer?  Anything I like, I try to figure out why I like it, why it works, what doesn't work... it doesn't matter if it's a character, a location, a design style, whatever, I try to boil it down to an energy... turn it into water.  I've always like Bruce Lee's "be water" approach to martial arts, I try to do that as a creative... lose the details, find the soul of the thing, and find a place to use it.  Elegant and simple.

I'm really glad that I learned how to draw.  I remember back in the day I was copying styles, I had my own rudimentary style, but started to mimic others: Kia Asamiya and Moebius, mostly... but they were night and day.  I never became a truly good artist until I understood what I liked and turned it into energy, now all that art that inspired me is a natural part of my own style (of course, it also helps that I started drawing for the trashcan as well).  So having a visual understanding of it made it easier to approach writing the same way.

But let's boil the drawing analogy down even simpler: when I was learning to draw, I would trace sometimes.  Papers to window, or later on, a clear clipboard with a flashlight cradled between my legs.  Poor man's lightbox.  But everyone who's traced a picture knows what happens: the traced element doesn't fit in with any of the modifications or additions you do add.  Using an actual element from somewhere else would have the same result, and you're a fool if you think otherwise.  This is why you gotta break it down, find the core, and turn it into energy.
Title: Re: Pre-writes, re-writes, and de-writes aka playing with other people's stuff
Post by: Neumatic on September 13, 2015, 12:48:21 pm
Gentlemen, I give you the Remastered version of Everything is a Remix ( by Kirby Ferguson.  Enjoy.
Title: Re: Pre-writes, re-writes, and de-writes aka playing with other people's stuff
Post by: Chiprocks1 on September 13, 2015, 04:46:00 pm
Sending that video to my Roku now.....