So yesterday evening I took some time out to head to Curzon Soho for a preview screening of Martin McDonagh’s 7 Psychopaths, with a post-show Q&A. Delightful.
I do like listening to other writers talk about what they do and how they do it. In September and October, I went to the BFI and went to talks with Julian Fellows and Scott Frank. I asked a question that was puzzling me yesterday to Julian Fellows as he has written, as I so eloquently put, a lot of “historical… stuff” and his advice was yes you do need to be aware but you also need to know when to let go for the sake of the story you’re trying to tell. I had mislaid that information in the recesses of my scatty brain. Scott Frank’s advice was that you didn’t need to feel constrained by a particular genre if you didn’t feel you should, just write what is interesting and exciting to you.
So what did McDonagh have to say? To my utter relief, he does not sit down with a fully fledged plan. Oh no! He has an idea, a sample, some characters, and he lets them lead the way. He is even surprised when some of them end up dead. I like this. I feel I am somewhat similar. When I sit down, I have a rough idea of what might happen, some characters and some bits around it but maybe nothing more. Not that this is enough, I do need to grow it from there but sometimes, just sometimes, the characters write themselves.
So far, I have written two plays: one short and one full length. And, if you asked me, I’d say they weren’t complete yet either. I’m still editing both. But although they have nothing in common in regards to style and genre, they have both grown of their own accords. Stories and characters developing on their own? I am a mother. These are my unruly children. Joy!
I have also been fortunate enough to have another play idea and a short film present themselves to me. And this is why I need to finish the others. So I can get on with writing these. For god’s sake woman: get on with it!
I don’t want to give away the plot of 7 Psychopaths but I loved In Bruges, The Pillowman and The Beauty Queen of Leenane and if you did too, I recommend you go and see it too. Particularly if you can do so in an independent and comfortable cinema like I did.
And with that, I must go. Zzz!