– RANDOM STUFF –
The list of writers I admire goes on and on but here’s a short list and the reasons why I believe they’re so good at what they do.
Russell T Davis
Big things happening to little people. That’s what a lot of Davis’ writing has been about but some times he also tells stories about incredibly small but important things happening to normal people. The way he writes a script is deceptive in its effortlessness because, as readers of Davis’ own The Writers Tale will know, the effortlessness comes after weeks, sometimes months of agonising. I wish I could a script like him, they’re full of film and TV references used as short-hand to describe locations or set-ups. Davis once said he gets slightly impatient when it comes to writing a novel “describing what colour hat someone is wearing”, preferring event over dialogue, he’s probably the biggest supporter of that old screenplay writing maxim, “don’t tell – show”
Everything is personal about Russel’s writing. He creates strong characters, sometimes with incredibly broad strokes but often the devil is in the detail, and it’s the details and the motivation that gives his characters real heart. I defy anyone not to care about any of Russell’s characters. They’re too real, too much like the rest of us to deny them emotional involvement.
My only hope is that Russell never stops writing because his words, his heart are an absolute gift – to everyone
So much more than just the guy in the sparkly suit, his books feature characters that leap from the page. You won’t get to know Ben Elton via his stand up routines and if you do, it’ll likely be a version you don’t like, but read his books about people who are funny, yet tragic, real but comedic. His film and television credits, Black Adder, Johnny English etc. speak for themselves. He can stop with the French jokes now though.
His scripts for the Star Wars films were shit. Harrison Ford reportedly once said “you can type this shit, George but you sure as hell can’t say it.” Regardless, the movies were made and are the most famous films of all time. He dreamt it all up but he made a hash of putting it on the page (and sometimes the screen) yet despite that, he became an industry-leading tycoon who pushed boundaries and attempted to redefine movie making.
Anyone who like 1960’s television will have seen this name on the screen a good few times. In his heyday he wrote scripts for The Avengers and co-created Man in a Suitcase and The Champions. Before that, he spent a year working on Doctor Who and introduced comedy elements not seen before. A great imagination, and one of those hard-working script machines from the golden age of television. A bit of a hero.
I have to be honest, a find a lot of Orwell’s stuff a little inaccessible and although I admire Animal Farm, I don’t much like it. Orwell’s greatest strength, to me, is transferring his fears about government, business, corruption and war so clearly into exciting fiction, which is no small feet!
1984 remains his most enduring work, and for good reason. It’s a shocking insight into a totalitarian Western regime, still underpinned in modern times by regimes in parts of the world that bear a striking similarity to the one depicted in the book. Is it a forecast of a future we must prevent? Or a prediction of a future we’ll soon face? 1984 the year has been and gone but in a society of thoughtcrime and double-think, who says the clock can’t be dialed back to whatever year you want? Who says time, like history and news, can’t be manipulated, after all Big Brother is watching, remember. Sadly, BB doesn’t just watch – it twists thought, freedom and language into something inhuman, and yet there’s something particularly human about the very inhumanity we read in the book, and ordinary life.
I’d love to write a story about a dystopian society in the future. Not only has the definitive work already been published, but the realities faced in some corners of the world are more terrifying and real than anything I could every possibly write.
Another telelvision writer but his ouput over the last 40 years is mind bogglingly vast. Every episode of Last of the Summer Wine, every episode of Open All Hours, Keeping Up Appearances and so many more we could be here forever. It takes natural ability to be funny on that scale. He continues to amaze even in his senior years, the traditional comedy landscape of Britain would now be barren without him.
A naturally witty man with a gift for off-the wall prose, overloaded with observations big and small. I love his books, his mind, his imagination but most of all I admire Douglas Adams for being so effortlessly hilarious. I wish he’d finished more of his books but ultimately, I wish he was still around to delight and confound us all.
Another Black Adder alumni. I don’t like it when Richard Curtis is conventional. I couldn’t stand most of Vicar of Dibley or Four Weddings and a Funeral. I don’t care if that’s sacrlige or not! I prefer Richard Curtis when he’s forced to play by rules. He and Tony Robinson went through a little phase in the late 80’s where the they gave the Black Adder treatment to the siege of Troy, Thesues and the Minotaur and Robin Hood, amongst others – all for children. Unlike most writers, Curtis works well when confined by the target audience, or by a particular genre – it doesn’t stop his imagination flowing. A lot of writers can’t handle structure or rules that’s imposed upon them, or perhaps they don’t have the discipline. Not only does Curtis handle constraints well, arguably he produces his best stuff within them. Necessity is the mother of invention, after all.
It’s rare for somebody not to like even one of Stephen King’s stories. How many people have said to me over the years “oh I don’t like his stuff” only for my to reply, “so you didn’t like The Shining then? Or The Green Mile? Did you watch Under the Dome?” To which they usually reply “oh, was that Stephen King. I didn’t know that.”
I haven’t read or watched either of the three stories mentioned, not my cup of tea, any of them. But I did enjoy Kingdom Hospital and IT. I remember me and a friend in school sneaking away at lunchtime (or even during class if we could manage it) to read Pet Cemetary, which scared several ounces of faeces out of me and made me vow never to watch the film!
But why does King make my list of writers I admire? Because there isn’t a person alive who hasn’t heard of him and very few who can’t claim to have enjoyed even one of his stories.
Really this post should be called “More Writers I Admire” because I listed about 10 two weeks ago. Go to the main page and look through ‘older posts’ to find it.