Jay Lake (jaylake) wrote,
Jay Lake

[process] Working in different modes

So I'm still working on the Hugo award script with [info]kenscholes. We're in divide-and-conquer mode right now, direction settled and under way.

It's an interesting process, to be working in a different mode than usual. I've written speeches before, and outlined less formal presentations. In my Day Jobbe, I've prepared hundreds of presentations over the years. And I can't count the number of live performances I've done as an emcee, a toastmaster, an improv player, a reader, a panelist, a charity auctioneer, a masquerade host, etc. But I've never written a live performance script before. Everything I do is extemporaneous. Give me a live mike and a couple of talking points and I can entertain an audience for an hour. I've never needed to write a live performance script before. Probably the closest I've come is doing detailed interview prep when interviewing famously laconic and short-spoken subjects. (To that end, I once interviewed Howard Waldrop for an hour at an ArmadilloCon (or maybe it was a Westercon, I forget) with a three-question prep, and we never got to question two. By contrast, I did a very good one-hour interview with Larry Niven at RadCon one year that involved five pages of researched questions on my part, and I ran out of prep partway through and had to finish on followup notes taken on the fly.)

The demands of the form are simply different. Because there are two of us, and we're working with a lot of others as well, in doing the initial draft I had to include timings and blocking information. I'm having to really drill down into the requirements and limitations of each point in the ceremony. And I have to provide the ceremony managers with a lot of detail for their own technical prep. It's a lot more than words on the page, and it's really stretching my brain in some very good ways.

The reality of course is that we're going to get up there and go off-script in about the first ninety seconds. Ken and I are both extemporaneous players at heart. But the script will still anchor us to the flow of the event and the key points, most especially the timings.

But the writing of this... oh, what a workout.

Meanwhile, yesterday evening I completed and turned in an initial draft of the Sekrit Projekt. All I will say is that it, too, was in a form I don't normally work in. Not a piece of narrative fiction in my usual mode. And much like the Hugo script project, the Sekrit Projekt stretched my brain in some very good ways.

All of which is making me think that maybe I need to dedicate more time to trying my hand at things other than narrative fiction. Maybe a graphic novel script, or a television treatment, or a gaming treatment. A one-act play. Or, God forbid, a movie script. Because this kind of stretching feels like it's really very good for me.

How often do you write outside your accustomed modes? Is it worth the effort?

Tags: awards, conventions, process, writing

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