SPOILERS FOR EPISODE 2 BELOW. TURN AWAY IF YOU HAVEN’T LISTENED TO IT YET.
Writing episode 2 of Tiny Tales and it’s bloody hard. This is my first ever attempt at detective fiction and in hindsight a radio drama was the worst possible format to start with.
One day I am stuck on page 10 (ten pages written over a week) with nothing coming to my mind, next day am at page 20 (10 pages in one day, personal record) and not a lot happens in these 10 pages (pacing too slow).
Wrote a couple more pages today. Was out of action due to this and that. Cleaned up the script a little bit. Gave the plot some coherence because it was getting a bit too convoluted. Fixed some plot holes. Act 3 remains to be done.
I was initially happy with a few changes that I made today. But the inevitable happened, as it often does when I sit on a script for too long: I started hating it. Not just parts but the entire thing. My inner voice (ever the bully) was telling me “this is garbage.. delete the whole thing and start over.. you’re a bad writer”. Such fun.
It’s 3 AM. I was lying in bed listening to some music & I think I just cracked the ending. Now I need to figure out a path to reach it and make our detective be “clever” & stuff.
Also, I’ll have to sprinkle some breadcrumbs throughout so that the listener, on repeat playing, can see it coming.
Wrote a few pages for act 3. Pretty clunky stuff, not organic at all. Will need massive rewrite. The restrictions of radio format are apparent, I’d much rather “show” something at this stage of the story. Tried adding some light moments because it was all serious till now. Dreading writing the big reveal.
Nonetheless, I’d like to write another episode for our detective Bikram Roy. Maybe in season 2.
“Plot hole Plot hole everywhere, no matter what I think”
Writing the ending and it’s a disaster. Some gaping plot holes that need to be offset, I’m afraid with some campy reasoning.
I know that this particular genre, mystery or detective mystery to be specific, comes with a baggage of tropes & cliches. It’s a fine line between embracing some and avoiding some. But I wish this particular story was done in animation, it would have been real fun to do flashbacks, transitions & non-linear sequences.
Okay, so almost a month after starting I’m holding the first draft of episode 2 in my hand, freshly printed moments ago. I like printing when I’m done with first draft because having a physical copy gives me a sense of accomplishment (creating something out of nothing).
Making revisions on a printed script has many advantages. I use a red pen & making edits is much easier and clearer than on a computer screen. Also, having a physical copy means I can add something as soon as it comes mind instead of noting it down someplace first and then adding later when I’m on the computer.
Coming to the script itself, there are good and bad parts. I’ll be polishing the really bad stuff over the next few days and then we’ll record.
Just finished the final draft. No more changes in the script other than the ones I’ll make while recording (if things feel inorganic).
Very filmy and formulaic episode; exactly what I was hoping for.
Next step: Casting.
Found our Gokuldas, the detective’s client. Recorded all his dialogues today. Need a couple more recording sessions with other actors before I can move onto post production.
Ok, so after four recording sessions most of the dialogue has been recorded.
I realise now that I went way too ambitious with this one. Episodes 3 & 4 will definitely be smaller in scope. Big, cracking episodes, like this, one after another are unsustainable at this scale.
Good news! Sound design and editing up to page 4 is done.
Bad news! It’s a 30-page script. So there’s a lot of ground to cover.
If I manage to publish by Feb 7 it would have been roughly two months from writing the first word of the script itself.
One episode in two months, that’s a very slow pace.
Almost done with the editing and sound design.
An interesting thing happened with the final act. I noticed that we missed a line from one of our actors. Amitoj, playing Harilal, was supposed to record a line that would have further propelled the story.
“Lekin aapne ye nahin bataya ki chori kaise hui?”
This line was supposed to be a relief from the incessant explaining that the detective is doing at this time. I tried to make this act more conversational than monologue-y with more such interjections from the client and his son.
But because this line was somehow missed I was in a conundrum. Should I ask him to come back to the studio to record this one line? Is it worth it?
This gave me an opportunity to review the script. After scripting is complete and the show is in post production, the routine becomes monotonous. I try to stick to the script as much as possible while editing and sound designing, adding a few flairs here and there to lift things up. But this mistake, this missed line revealed to me that the entire third act was being a drag, which I didn’t notice during writing.
Bikram (the detective) blabbers on and on and then there’s a flashback at the end – which wasn’t very impactful to be honest.
After reviewing the script at this stage I realised I could do a clever reveal.
Now the flashback has become an important plot device and runs parallel with the original explanation. We cut to the flashback three times, learning something new every time.
Is this approach better than the original? Who knows. But one thing is for sure – it’s different. And it would never have happened if that one line had been recorded.
Editing truly is the final draft of scriptwriting.
Phew! Just published it. That was a looong journey.