Storytelling Geekery

IWSG: Twenty Abandoned Drafts

This is an entry for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group, a way for writers to discuss their writing anxieties. Writers who take part in IWSG write about our writing anxieties and check in on each others’ posts on the first Wednesday of each month.


At the weekend’s Oscars Jordan Peele won the award for Best Original Screenplay for Get Out. A racially charged horror-comedy was a brave choice for the subject of only his second feature film script, and Peele admitted in his acceptance speech that he stopped writing it around twenty times. It’s interesting that even someone as experienced and successful as Jordan Peele could have this kind of loss of faith – for those who aren’t familiar with his work, Jordan Peele is half of the hit sketch duo Key and Peele, and had been writing sketch comedy for MADtv since 2003.

Continue reading “IWSG: Twenty Abandoned Drafts”


Quote: Mel Brooks on seriousness in comedy

Mel Brooks at the White House for the 2009 Kennedy Center Honors by US Federal Government
Mel Brooks at the White House / Picture by the U.S. federal government
At the weekend (on Saturday February 17th) the BBC aired a special about Mel Brooks – Imagine…Mel Brooks: Unwrapped. As well as new material it included archive interviews, including this great quote:

“All my films are serious, if you examine any one of them. Because they are passionate and the depict human behaviour at given points in human history. They are not dramatic, and that’s the difference. You’ve got to be careful what you say when you use those words.

You can’t make a successful comedy that doesn’t have any passion. It will not be successful. You’ve got to say something about the system. About the social structure. About prejudice, about people, about behaviour. Comedy is not successful unless it deals with… even Laurel and Hardy, you could say they were cheap comedies, they have to deal with the system. The Marx Brothers always dealt with the system.

Every picture I’ve ever made has dealt with some aspect of the social system and human behaviour within it. I don’t want to get clinical about it but The Producers was about the dream of little Leo Bloom, about success. Zero Mostel in it says ‘Bloom, Bloom I’m sinking. I’m part of a society that demands success when all I can offer is failure.’ Blazing Saddles is about racial prejudice. It’s all about the hypocritical west shitting all over a black sheriff, wanting him dead.”


IWSG: Returning to my Vomit

This is an entry for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group, a way for writers to discuss their writing anxieties. It cross-posts on each others’ blogs on the first Wednesday of each month.

A popular piece of writing advice is that ‘a writer should no more return to their writing than a dog should return to their vomit’.* While I agree with the intent behind this – that a writer should keep moving forward rather than correcting what they’ve already written – I think that it’s a simplistic philosophy.

Firstly, the bit I agree with. I’m an obsessive perfectionist when it comes to writing. I can get wrapped up in a single, relatively unimportant part of what I’ve written, wondering if I did enough to paint a picture of the scene; narrator’s ignorance is too subtle for a joke to work, and if it’d be believable if it were less subtle. I think that often it is better to leave this kind of uncertainty behind, carry on writing, and come back with fresh eyes.

Continue reading “IWSG: Returning to my Vomit”