On Giving Up Snark For Lent

August 31, 2015

- 2 min read

While the truly talented, accomplished and amazing team works on making Illusions of Cyn (, I have vowed to be a kinder, gentler curmudgeon, much like one might forego Snark for Lent, and so I am not writing any film or book reviews, except for the reference of deference noted below in a brief notation on "Worricker", the BBC program....

In working on a longer version of a short script on alternate realities recently optioned, I am torn between two approaches. One, I might call "Old White Guys Talking" and the other "All Hell Breaks Loose".

The first of these approaches, "Old White Guys Talking" (OWGT), is the approach perhaps best exemplified by the films made from the novels of John LeCarre. Indeed, while not all of the characters are White, not all of them are Guys, and not all of them are Old, the characters mostly just talk; and while there is plenty of Drama there is not much Action. I admire this writing perhaps as much as any other kind, when it is done well, and it can be as taut and as dramatic as any other. Another good example is the BBC's "Worricker" (especially the initial offering), starring Bill Nighy, which Betty and I recently discovered. Something magical happens when people who really know what they are doing simply talk and walk through scenery and sets, working from a good script. And so, I'm thinking of writing "Alternate States" (the working title of the longer script) in that direction.

The second of these approaches, "All Hell Breaks Loose" (AHBL), perhaps inevitably moves, at some point anyway, from something stable and relatively quiet, perhaps even a beginning like OWGT, to something that quickly becomes (descends into?) one of the many manifestations of chaos, typically involving lots of explosives (a writing technique sometimes described as Blowing Shite Up or BSU), mayhem and death. This seems more grounded in a story about parallel worlds, as frankly I fear that all of existence will end not with a whimper but with a bang (or at least a catastrophic series of events, e.g., nuclear/biological/chemical war or the evolution of super parasitic organism, due to our refusal to reverse all the harm our species has done our world), and so this seems a more likely outcome of someone, or some group of persons, tinkering with the boundaries of time and space; we humans are capable of incredible and also incredibly stupid things, and so this approach recommends itself. However, if I have a forte, this isn't it. I have done at least one AHBL script, arguably, but there was always a twinkle in my eye when writing it, and the end of the world just doesn't seem all that funny.

So, the approach I most favor doesn't seem to fit, and the one that does seem to fit, I don't favor, thank you very much. As is often, however, when laying out various arguments and approaches to a quandary, the very act of that discipline results in an answer, so I think I know which way to go now.

And if you have not yet seen "Worricker", the first episode anyway, you are really missing something wonderful.