Showing posts with label The Twilight Zone. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Twilight Zone. Show all posts

Reigning In The Twilight Zone

Yesterday, the impossibly evil James Moran blogged it the hell up, on the subject of his writing process.  If you haven't read it yet, and think you're getting the link right now then you're insane, because I want you to read this post first.  You'll get the link at the end, now settle yourself and commit.  No speed-scrolling down!  I'm not some cheap word-hooker you can skim before linking off into the night.

One of Moran's passages particularly thrilled me (oh dear God, what's the matter with you people?)...

"The best thing about having the outline worked out so clearly is that it lets me go really fast. So fast, in fact, that I don't have to stop to think - my brain goes into that slightly disengaged, slightly zoned out mode, that lets the words flow and the characters say things before I've even worked out what they're going to say. Obviously it's still me thinking up the words, but it makes it feel like some weird magic is afoot."

He's talking about what I think of as The Twilight Zone.  It is, without question, one of the very best places to be in the world.  

When you hit The Twilight Zone while scripting (or prose-ing, or drawing, whatever) the pages fly out of you like glorious eagles.  You lose awareness of the world.  Times flies, or freezes, or something.  I have no idea what it does.  In truth, it probably ticks along as usual.  All that matters is that the script is hurtling, zooming and you are focused without even trying.  It's like a trance.  Like being at the eye of a tornado, where it's quiet.

For me, it lasts maybe an hour at a time.  Hard to tell.  Certainly doesn't happen every day.

Like Uncle Jimbo Moran, I listen to music while writing.  Some people don't, or can't, do this.  For me, the trick is to play music with which you're very familiar.  That way, your brain needn't waste any of its precious reserves concentrating on these strange new sounds.  

Reign In Blood, the seminal 1986 thrash metal album by LA veterans Slayer, is my favourite ticket to The Twilight Zone.  It's not so suitable if I'm writing comedy, but it sure provides the ultimate backdrop for horror and all things adrenalin-fuelled.  The album is a mere 29 minutes in length.  29 amazing minutes of caffeined-up hyper-metal, awash with Satanic, murderous lyrical imagery.

I'm certainly not suggesting Reign In Blood as your own Scriptwriting Album, unless, like me, you've lived with the album since its release.  I feel like I haven't properly listened to the record for years, though, as it's almost always churning away in the background while I'm in that Zone.  I'm dimly aware of the opening track Angel Of Death screaming blue murder... and then the Zone becomes all... until the closing torrential rain sound FX of Raining Blood's final few seconds brings the album to a close.  Throughout, the album has been psyching me up, driving me along, making me type faster, but I haven't been consciously aware of it at all.  In fact, it seems to zip by in a heartbeat.

It's wonderful.  Wondrous.

If you're already acquainted with The Twilight Zone, then I'm very happy for you.  Isn't it great, etc.  If not, you owe it to yourself to find yours.  Music may have nothing to do with your method.  Maybe your own Zone lurks in an entirely silent void, in that golden hour before the kids come home from school.  Maybe you'll find it in the mysterious hiss of white, green or brown noise (you can download some free white noise files here) or the trickling thrum of a rainforest or other ambient environment (also at that link).  You might even enter The Zone in your local cafe, when the chatter of those around you becomes a blur and the creative centres of your brain shift into pin-sharp focus.

Of course, The Zone isn't just about your environment and sounds.  It's about preparation.  If you've devoted hard thought to your characters and story, then your brain is free to create the finished product. In the same way that it shouldn't be distracted by new music, it shouldn't be distracted by having to make decisions which you should already have made, regarding plot, character, story, everything.  Every time your brain has to switch gears to re-examine the blueprint and fill in structural gaps, the spell is broken.

Just like most other writing methodologies, it's also about what works.  Find whatever works.

How do you enter The Zone?  Tell me with a Shriek From The Abyss, aka 'a comment', below.

You are now at liberty to head over to James Moran's post on his writing process.  If you've stolen any of my blog-ornaments while here, don't try to sell them to him or anyone else - they carry special UV watermarks.  Leave them on my doorstep at midnight, no questions asked.  Good day to you.

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