Some background on writing “@”
This book, I’m ashamed to say it, was inspired by my own tweets…
1/2 Sometimes I look at my life choices & consider handing all future ones to my friends…
— Lee Isserow (@Lee_Isserow) August 24, 2015
2/2 … Then I remember who they are, and that it would most likely result in them telling me to punch a policemen, or eat gravel. Again. — Lee Isserow (@Lee_Isserow) August 24, 2015
That was it. Two tweets, essentially the same run-on sentence that murmured and mumbled deep in subconscious recesses of my mind, ruminating and gestating whilst I slept. Upon waking the next day I had a full 10 page outline for a screenplay.
However, this is something like a decade and a half into a career in the ‘entertainment industry’, and I haven’t sold a screenplay or pilot for five of those – I haven’t even been paid as a writer for the last two years. Music videos distracted me; explosive delights of pure pretty, imagery and narrative that I can plan and plot and scheme and have out in the world days to a week later.
So this concept, the outline that had no name, inspired by a tweet (just as Shit My Dad Says was… *sigh*) wasn’t going to be a screenplay. It wouldn’t be another low budget movie that would tour festivals, sell some territories or VOD copies, recoup its budget and then disappear… the only evidence left it ever existed another notch on my IMDB page.
“So, what can we do with this barely-legible story?” I asked myself.
“You know how we have a hundred or so screenplays?” I replied.
“Yes… they sit in drawers and on shelves, stacked high, paperweights for paperweights, I worry about the structural integrity of the apartment’s floor and always tread lightly when walking nearby” I said.
“And you know how you also have a couple of first drafts of books lying around, and one online that really needs to be re-edited?”
“You think this could be a book?” I asked.
“It could be a movie-in-a-book. A prose film. Fast paced, action packed. Think about how much of a book gets cut out when they’re adapted to screen, and yet novelizations of movies are 200-300 pages long. This could be the novelization of a movie that doesn’t exist…”
It’s at this point, dear reader, that I should probably mention the above conversation happened entirely out loud, and yes, I’m aware that’s not normal. Then again, sanity has never been my strong suit.
The concept was sound, and I convinced myself (out loud, in a protracted hour-long dialogue) that this was all a great idea.
The story itself, “@”, was about a young girl, 20-something, who felt lost in life and like my former self writing on Twitter, decides to literally hand every decision over to her followers. A simple, high-concept premise that swiftly descends down a rabbit hole of surveillance state paranoia and a race against the clock.
I could, of course, try to explain how the plot was written, how I went about carving the narrative and slaving away at a keyboard, but it was remarkably easy to write. The outline was sound, and whilst there were tweaks along the way, and a bit of a third act re-write in my second draft. Just over 35,000 words were on the (digital) page in the 3-4 days before my sister’s wedding, the final sentence written literally as I was in a tuxedo waiting to be shouted at for being late to the ceremony.
In retrospect, I don’t even know how that happened, how it was written at all. The words are mine, but the memory of putting them to paper has completely faded.
Is any of this of interest or background to you, as a reader? Likely not.
Then again, this is a more ‘commercial’ narrative that hopefully does most of the work itself. Just you wait ’til I try and explain the thoughts that led to writing about time-travellers joining previous versions of themselves in the past for 12-self bukkake sessions, or a family of entitled wealthy idiots who have to solve the crime of ‘death by natural causes’.
Those require some *actual* explaining.
Until next time, dear reader, I bid you adieu. However, not before letting you know you can pre-order your copy of the very first BAM, “@” via the buttons below.
See you next time.