The story so far…
The scorching sun hung high atop the blue desert sky. Jack, Marie and Arbuck walked behind Alice single file, to cover their trail (and to, for once, humor Alice’s incessant panic attacks). Once every few steps, used as she was to her role as the responsible one everyone loved to ignore, she turned and looked whether her fellow caravaneers were still there, and in the formation she asked.
Jack was his good-natured self, checking left and right for hidden treasure and adventures to be found in the sand. Because of his carefree nature and tendency to get everyone out of trouble, everyone considered him the caravan’s captain. Only problem was he was the one who got them into trouble in the first place. Marie had changed into a beautiful but impractical bikini. Impractical was the name of the game with Marie, who a) was the group’s cook, but didn’t believe in carbs, and b) had uncontrollable binge eating attacks that her turned into a rabid monster three times her size until she had used up all the calories. Arbuck was sleeping off the hangover. He could shoot a bulls-eye on a dartboard from three miles off when sober. Only his dictionary didn’t know sobriety. And neither did his gut. Arbuck was literally allergic to water. And then there was Alice. Good, reliable, boring Alice.
Alice adjusted the heavy backpack containing the provisions and turned back towards the road ahead. What was she doing? Caravaning was a highly forbidden activity punishable by death. She knew this all too well – after all, she worked for the company that upheld this law. How then did she end up in one? She was just about to start her daily session of pinpointing the moment things had started going wrong for her when Marie shrieked.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of being bored to bits by me blabbing about my work, you might know I’ve been working on a all-age fantasy novel. It’s one of those stories I really really want to tell, but it’s too specific and productionally intense for cinema or TV so it has to be a book. And unfortunately I’ve been so busy getting my actual career as a screenwriter on the rails that books are just not going to happen anytime soon.
Luckily, that doesn’t stop me from writing short stories set in the novel’s universe.
And you know the cool thing about shorts?
I can share them with all you magnificent people.
So starting next week, this site will be home to a six-part short story told in two installments of three weeks. It’s set in the fantastic Caravan universe – a universe featuring a magical desert and a group of adventurers traversing it. All talented heroes, with one exception: The fearful insurance agent Alice, who wishes she had just stayed at home…
Hey guys and girls,
Tonight marks the first of fifteen episodes I’ve written (in a writers’ room context) for the longest-running Belgian soap, Familie. You can check them out on vtm or on their website. Eight of them run up to next Wednesday, the remaining seven start sometime in March.
If you think soap writing is a dumb job for bad writers, think again: I’ve seen fellow writers invent better stories faster than I could type shitty ones down. There’s an insane amount of speed and efficiency involved in working for a soap, and you need to have the willingness to relinquish all control over the things you have written. You’re not the creative artist, but a piece of the crazy machine that keeps the unstoppable soap train hurtling down the tracks. There’s no room for egoes or selfishness, and all my wonderful and brilliant colleagues reflected this.
When I went in last February, I was scared out of my mind because I thought I wouldn’t be able to pull it off. As it turned out, however, I had a lot of fun writing these episodes and I can wholeheartedly recommend anyone who wants to be a writer to try and get a soap job. I was lucky enough to be tossed into the deep end of the pool, with 320 pages of dialogue to write in a limited timespan and the watchful eye of a mentor I knew would have to write everything I wouldn’t be able to. Failing was not an option. I couldn’t do that to him – he has kids!
Soap writing is without a doubt the most intense job I have ever done in my life, and a great change of pace with my normal routine. Sure, I love meticulously crafting the most intense, most gripping storylines at my own pace – all things considered, I’m still an artist at heart. But my creativity recharges when I can work in a team. And sometimes, you just want to put the pedal to the metal. You want to write a lot of different stuff – from romance to comedy and suspense. It’s the change of scenery that makes the job so awesome and keeps the writing fresh.
Right. Now it’s back to staring at an artful three-page exposé for the next three hours while sipping from a seemingly endless supply of coffee. Less like a runaway train, more like a snowball in March.
I’ll be back in January with a special surprise of the literary kind. Think the very opposite of soap. If you’re thinking all-age fantasy, you’re absolutely right. Look forward to it!