Back in 2018, I decided to read a script every day for a year and the only failure was that I got a wee bit carried away and ended up reading 624 of them. I counted. But as you can imagine, my first thought on January 1, 2019, was that thank goodness that was done, I had completed the year, I could relax now.
Unfortunately, my second thought was that I really wanted something to read.
So 2019’s pledge was to stop this reading a script a day, but I screwed up nearly completely. When you and I are done talking today, I’m off to read my 596th of the year.
Give me credit, though, that is less than 624. This is the quality of information you get from me: 596 is less than 624. I’m not wrong.
Then true, as I write this it’s December 20 so there are another 11 days, including today, so there’s a fair to decent chance that I’ll end up having read 606. But that’s still less.
Also, on March 24, 2019, I forgot to do it. So that’s failure in every way possible.
Last year I wrote about the ten things I’d learned from reading daily and this year did reinforce every one of them. But I’d like to add one more, an 11th in my top 10.
11) A good bit at the end isn’t enough
I read most of these scripts for the fun of it, but maybe 70 were actually for work. I’m involved in many different projects that required me to read scripts, and one of them was from a soap. I’m not a soap watcher, nobody expected me to be of any particular use on this part of that project, but I started reading it.
And then asked the person who’d hired me whether I really had to finish.
We both knew there was nothing useful I was going to be able to contribute – and there may even have been a dozen other people on the project so I didn’t matter – but she insisted yes, I had to read it, because there’s a really good bit at the end.
I pointed out that every line on the first few pages was a cliche and she argued that this is the trouble with soaps, they have to have realistic dialogue. They can’t do great speeches, they can’t rely on music and sound effects and green screens.
Yes, I said, but they don’t have to talk bollocks.
Soaps do not have realistic dialogue. They have dialogue that sounds like every other soap. What’s that supposed to mean?
I’m being unfair. This year I read a radio script that you could argue is a soap and it was so good it made me cry. In my mind, that makes it drama, but there’s a decent argument that it’s a soap and so clearly I’m wrong with my all-encompassing, all-sweeping description of soap dialogue.
Whether you like soaps or don’t like soaps, though, if you’re not into the first part of any script and/or you can’t bear the dialogue, my 11th Top Ten writing tip is that a good bit at the end is not nearly enough.
This was all very early on in 2019 and, besides, it’s only you and me here, so I’ll tell you. I didn’t read to the end.