‘Nothing, like something, happens anywhere.’ In I Remember, I Remember, Philip Larkin reminds us of the intimate connection between action, place and memory; between what happens, where it happens, and how it is remembered. Or, in his elegant paradox, nothing happens. (Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot was famously reviewed in similarly paradoxical terms following its British première, as a play in which ‘nothing happens, twice.’)
Larkin’s paradox is an essentially dramatic premise, and it’s one with which we engage from the outset of the MA in Creative Writing: Scriptwriting. In our reading, we begin with a story’s ‘world’ (or worlds): with place and time; inhabitants, visitors and interlopers; with habitual occurrences and extraordinary irruptions. In our writing, we ask our characters to make, unmake and remake their world/s through deeds and words, to be made or remade by them, and to share their responses with us. But as Larkin shows, while we look for actions and events, we should recognise what doesn’t happen, what our characters don’t do; for they happen at the same time, in the same place. The boundary between the two – between something and nothing – is where drama resides.
The scriptwriters in this collection locate their stories in very different places: in Paris, Liverpool, or an Essex car park. In a shopping mall decked out for Christmas, or a boarding school in a futuristic ‘Yorkshire Dales Botanical Park’. A fast-food takeaway on a busy urban street, a seaside joke shop, or a haunted house. On a countryside railway bridge, or a Greek island.
What happens there? (Or not.) I’ll let Michelle and Harry, Stephan and Monte, Phil and Eliot, Olivia and Ruth, and our two Nicks, show you that. These stories are their responses to Larkin’s paradox.
This year’s scriptwriting anthology contains work by Olivia Waring, Phil Montgomery, Harry Mason, Nick Hopkins, Monte Jackson, Ruth Gaukrodger, Eliot Fallows, Stephen Drury, Nicholas Cohen, and Michelle Brown.