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Sunday, April 29, 2007

New Additions and a Q

I'm pleased to announce there's been several new additions to the Bang2write Household this week... No, not cats or human babies - I've learned my lesson on those - but a Tamagotchi called Susan. My son is the proud father and despite a bad start (poor Susan had diarrhoea - sp?? - on sunday and was ROBBED on Monday!), she has already made Alf a proud grandfather by giving birth to baby Keith yesterday. Mother and baby are doing well and Keith is already at secondary school. They grow up so quick nowadays.

The lovely MA David emailed me on Friday: I call him this since he's asked me about courses a number of times now, though I don't think I've read for him... He's also not David Bishop or indeed any other David I know, including Him Indoors because his grammar and spelling are too good! Also, he doesn't ramble about bushcraft, fishing or crisps, his fave pursuits, so I can be pretty sure it's not my spouse. Would be a bit weird for him to email me when he could just ask me. Mind you, the husband IS a bit weird, so MA David, if you're not him, let us know more about you!

But I digress. MA David is applying for a course and one of his questions on the application form is this:

What makes a film cinematic in your opinion?

This is an interesting question, because to me it immediately throws up a multitude of others over what the word "cinematic" actually means: can a low-budget film be "cinematic"? Or does "cinematic" inevitably mean high budgets, big arenas, CGI, big loacations, scenery and costumes? Is a "cinematic" film one with less dialogue and more action: does genre play a part in the decision (ie. an action/adventure is more "cinematic" than a drama)? Does the term "cinematic" link to the idea of story = ie. if it makes a big franchise, then is it more "cinematic" than a single, stand-alone film?

What are your thoughts on the matter? Over to you...

Friday, April 27, 2007

Round Up

Right, two things in one since I have several beers with my name on. And a couple of eggs left over from Easter (I know! Where HAS this sudden self control come from?! They will be devoured tonight, don't you worry my little chickadees).

BSSC short went off in the post, but pretty sure it hasn't a hope in hell. Why? Because I have been deliberately OUT THERE with my premise - think ADAPTATION meets EDTV in ten minutes and you're probably there. In retrospect, perhaps I should have written the more standard fare of some bird recalling a traumatic event and then topping herself. I read a lot of shorts by my peers like that when I was at uni. Niiiiiice. No really, it's a love-it or hate-it script. I'm pleased to say a large amount of my Readers loved it, but all bar one had the same reservation that it was "too clever". Time will tell. And if not I'm sure I can find someone on my blackmail list to make it for me anyway so I can stick the little git up on YouTube *evil laugh*.

My Writers' Academy application has gone off. Managed to get my writing sample uploaded but for some reason my proof of professional commission just wouldn't load, so after 17 tries at various different times of the day I gave up and printed the bastard out and sent it via snail mail. Then was struck with fear all over again. Was it the right writing sample! What if I don't get in?! What if I DO get in!! OH. MY. GOD!!!!!!!!! Well, too late now. Sigh.

Secondly, the lovely Lara tagged me with a meme about my 5 goals and since I can't NOT respond and go against the blogging code, here goes:

1. Get in to the Writers' Academy
2. Win the BSSC
3. Win Bluecat
4. Win Scriptapolooza
5. Get in to the Writers' Academy

I'm sure you can see a theme there, but I just can't put my finger on it...

I tag all the boys:

James Moran
David Bishop
Danny Stack
Good Dog
One Slack Martian

Get that, suckers! ; )

Thursday, April 26, 2007

A Quick Vote

I don't normally do this, but I'd appreciate all you lot's POV on a dilemma I'm having.

The BBC Writers' Academy want a writing sample submitted with the forms, etc. Only I can't decide which to send. I'm thinking EVERYONE will send a drama spec script, so should I NOT to stand out? Or would I be a fool to not conform?? Mind melting.

Here are the choices:

HUSBAND AND FATHER, psychological drama. An immature youth must face upto his responsibilities and in turn, help his pregnant girlfriend confront her traumatic past. This script is presently at The BBC Writers' Room, not heard back yet. It was my solicited script after they liked THY WILL BE DONE so much. I have received some good feedback about this script from Head of drama Development Lisa Osborne and from The Evening Play People, who passed it down to Belinda Campbell last year, with a view to my making an application for the Academy last year, but of course I'd just had the baby etc etc and didn't even fill in the form on account on somebody running a car through my insides, ouch.

THY WILL BE DONE, supernatural thriller. A man loses his mind when his daughter goes missing... Or are Higher Forces at work? The Writers Room gave me some great feedback on this, as did BBC Wales. Whilst it's not even vaguely anything to do with programmes like Casualty etc I do think it's my best work and shows what I can do re: dialogue, arena etc. And people like it. And it might make me stand out from all the others, or may make me look like a tit.

KINGS OF THE CASTLE, family (first episode of a series). Two Twin boys leave the city when their father wins a derelict rural castle and turns it into a theme park. CBBC got back to me recently about this and they really liked it, giving me great feedback - but this is the one that someone reccommended I read bloody Robert McKee over because my dialogue "lost my story impact", so confidence is shot to hell here, even though no one else has brought this up and I suppose it has been read by lots of others.

Which would you choose to send?

Ten Things

As requested by Dom, here are my top ten things I feel a writer should and shouldn't do when I'm reading their script or when they're redrafting...

1. DO: Use poetic language in your scene description. Get your thesaurus out, don't repeat words over and over. It gets dull for the Reader. Try and be inventive.

DON'T: Overdo it. This isn't a novel. Try not to use words you don't understand or use them out of context because it seems "different". I'm looking at you, Mr. Verisimilitude and Mrs. Tenebruous, you know who you are! ; )

2. DO: Run a full grammar and spelling check. There's nothing more annoying than reading consistent errors. Remember to check tenses particularly and get rid of all instances of mixed tense and/or the present continuous where it isn't neccessary. Apostrophes too.

DON'T: Get too hung up on the above. The odd typo will make it through no matter what you do; you expect to see a certain word spelled a certain way, which is why you miss it. It's consistency that's key here: a good Reader is only irked by consistent errors, not the odd mistake.

3. DO: Develop your arena. Give the Reader a sense of where this story is taking place and WHY it's there and not somewhere else. You'd be surprised by how many writers leave this notion out altogether and stories feel like they're "floating in space" or conversesly, put it in a particular, specific place for no apparent reason.

DON'T: Go overboard. Sometimes a writer can fall so in love with their arena they neglect character motivation or even the plot.

4. DO: Have strong, interesting female characters. I am so bored of reading about females who are self-obsessed or rely on men or conversely, ARE men in everything but body and name. I have become interested in even the most flawed scripts because they have at least one interesting female character.

DON'T: Use the interesting female character as a marketing tool and try and construct a script AROUND her. Readers can spot this a mile off. Try and make your characters fit organically INTO your story.

5. DO: Make your script as "vanilla", "vertical", "white" (or whatever you want to call it) as possible. If you bunch scene description together, impact will be lost for certain actions - a Reader might even miss them altogether. Whilst this sounds daft, a writer has to appreciate the Reader has not written what is on the page, so they do not know which the significant actions are. If it's a BIG event, pay off, etc, put it on its own!

DON'T: Put too much black on the page. You see what I've done here? Essentially, as above.

6. DO: Think about structure BEFORE you start your script. A lot of scripts I read, structure is an afterthought and as a result, the story is all over the place, sometimes to such an extent that I'm unsure what is going on. Structure is not just a "buzz" word, but a legitmate device to make your screenplay coherent. Some thought must go into it - whether you go for the Three Acts, Five Acts, Mini-Movie Method, 22 steps, etc - BEFORE you start.

DON'T: Get hung up on structure. Good structure won't neccessarily deliver excellent characterisation, nifty dialogue, a fabulous story. It's just a device to make your plot coherent, not a fix-all-ailments cure.

7. DO: Outline before you begin. The more coherent, interesting scripts have better foundation work: it's obvious on the page to the Reader; they can make an educated guess as to who has outlined and who has not. Whilst they may not always be right on who has, that's down to luck on behalf of the writer in my opinion, not skill.

DON'T: Stick to your outline no matter what. An outline is just an outline, it's not set in stone and nor should it be. Writing is an organic process. Whilst writing your draft, you'll get ideas that will mean changing certain aspects; you'll get feedback from other writers and Readers who may have read a few pages or you tell your story to. This is as it should be. If you shackle yourself to your outline from the outset, this will become self-limiting in terms of what you can achieve not only in your draft, but the rewrites that come after.

8. DO: Invest in your characters. Audiences - and Readers - don't always remember plots, but they remember characters. Those more successful scripts have characters that jump off the page in some way, whether they're male or female, good or bad, black or white, etc.

DON'T: Be afraid to kill off characters. Even if they're good, sometimes they just aren't needed for this particular story. So cut them. No writing is ever wasted, you can use them in another script. Recycle!

9. DO: Pay attention to your dialogue. I see a lot of scripts where scene description is very good but dialogue is horribly on-the-nose or goes on for far too long. Make every word count. Try and give characters different ways of speaking.

DON'T: Use Parentheticals. Only use these when absolutely neccessary, if a bit of dialogue is ambiguous for example. Or if the character speaks in another language or with a heavy accent. Don't use them to tell an actor HOW to say the line, ever.

and finally:

10. DO: Thank the Reader for their time in reading your script - especially if you're a private client and have asked them additional questions to the coverage you've ordered, but even if it's from a more anonymous Reader at a prodco or initiative wherever possible. A little courtesy goes a long way: you never know when you might come across these people again.

DON'T: Argue the toss. Emailing a Reader and telling them they're wrong, misguided, ill-educated, misinformed is an absolute no-no. You will get coverage you agree with and coverage you'll think is wrong. Live with it. It's the nature of the biz.

Writers and Readers - anyone out there got anything to add to this? Have I missed anything? Let me know...

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

UK Film Council: 25 Words Or Less

Well, 25 Words Or Less is open again. This year, they're wanting Lo-fi Sci-Fi, Comedies of Mistaken Identity and "Teen Hitchcock" - ie. Hitchcockian style thrillers with teens in. The good news is, if you have one of those, then you can enter it. The bad news is, you have to have an agent or be a fully paid up member of The Writers Guild (not a candidate member) to do so. However, if you have either of those stauses, you can find out more and get an application form here.

Bad news for me: I have an agent this year (missed out last year), but I DON'T have any of those 3 scripts outlined above, especially since they detail the Lo-fi Sci-fi has to be low-budget. The confusing thing is though, they give a "comparable film" example of PITCH BLACK in this category. Now, I know this film cost 20 million dollars to make - the director says so in the commentary on the special features of my super-deluxe boxset DVD (yes, I'm sad, so what). Twenty million dollars is roughly eleven million pounds. I reckon I could make ECLIPSE, my werewolf thing, for eleven million squid. Does this mean then I fall into the category? Also, from their guidelines and examples, they seem to imply that sci-fi doesn't just cover "outer space" concepts, but stuff to do with the supernatural as well. Hmmm. Maybe I could just get away with it...? What do you guys think? Should I enter regardless and be damned?? Doesn't cost anything after all.

Meanwhile, I am struck with fear re: my application to the BBC Writers' Academy. I'm looking at my experience, my writing sample, my answers to the application questions and thinking I SOUND LIKE A TIT. "I really want to write TV..." It's true, I do, but WHO is going to write: "Eastenders et al is a load of bollocks but it's a way in"? no one, that's who. And as uncool as it is to admit it, I actually enjoy soap...Sorry, "Continuing Drama" and WOULD like to write for them, not just as a "way in" but if I stayed there, that's cool. I'm not fussy. Work is work! I've written university prospectuses for God's sake. Now THAT is dull (but thanks for the moolah, it cleared my credit card bill nicely, MWAH!)

However, The Writer's Academy has been advertised EVERYWHERE this year, so I reckon they're probably going to get about 6000 applicants for 8 places - The Evening Play Comp of 05 got 2000 (did anyone ever get commissioned for that? I never heard of anyone, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen... However, the staggering amount of people I know who got rejected seemed to make up most of that 2000!). The likelihood of my even getting an interview is slim I would think. Working on the basis there ARE 6000 applicants, whittled down to a shortlist of 50 (I'm just plucking numbers out of the air here, I don't have any insider knowledge, don't worry), by my calculations it will take me eight consecutive attempts to get accepted on this scheme. So better send my first one off!

Which contests and schemes are you entering at the moment?

Monday, April 23, 2007

Format The Write Way...

...Like what I did there? Write? Right? Oh, never mind.

I got an interesting question from the lovely Melissa, a previous Bang2write client, over the weekend: how does one format an intro with a narrator voiceover like one in say, The Dark Crystal?

A cursory look on the internet revealed lacklustre results, as did flicking through my trillions of books on format. As you can see from this transcript of the original screenplay, all we have is dialogue! No scene description or even formatting of ANY kind. Whilst it's pretty accurate (hands up who watched it this weekend!! Ok, me...What??), it's not a lot of use to the aspiring screenwriter...

...And this is where the rub is when it comes to format. Looking at scripts online is great for ideas and sites like Script-O-Rama and Simply Scripts are a godsend for getting different versions of what we see in the cinema, but thinking they can be the authority on how to lay out one's script can be foolhardy. After all, we can have no idea what we're seeing: is it a shooting script, maybe or even a transcript off a DVD or Video? If the script of a film that has not yet come out in theatres, is it the "right" version, or one that was discarded? (The number of times I've done this - read it, then watched a different movie with the same name is uncountable!)

So rather than rely solely on scripts like The Dark Crystal's, interesting only as a transcript, I find it works better to actually ask people who have done what you want to achieve. I had this exact problem myself about eighteen months ago when writing my werewolf project Eclipse. I wanted to start with a narration, but not neccessarily have the SAME pictures in the background - just like The Dark Crystal in fact, when the Narrator talks about "The time of Wonder" and fills the audience in about the backstory re: The Crystal, The Shard, The Skeksis and The Mystics and of course, the importance of The Gelfling Jen.

So I made a nuisance of myself. I wrote lots of crap examples and sent them to people I know: is this right?? I got some profane replies and I got ignored, but a couple got back to me, explaining very patiently that no, what I'd written was a load of tripe and had I thought about doing it "this" way? One problem though: the two people who had been kind enough to get back to me gave me two very different examples. What was I do? Which was the "right" one?

They both were.

Someone once told me that Format isn't about being "right", it's about not getting "caught out". In other words, as long as it's NOT TOTALLY, UNBELIEVABLY ALL OVER THE PLACE, or worse, INCREDIBLY DENSE WITH BLACK ALL OVER THE PAGE, then you should be ok: you won't get crucified for it. So the good news is, if you have a transition in the wrong place or TITLE instead of SUPER and it's one of perhaps three mistakes or typos in the entire script, you should be okay.

For example: I was really surprised recently when a script was returned to me with a favourable report, because for some reason when I had bound it, I had gone quite mad and forgot the number 7 existed. I put all the pages with the number 7 in at the back. No kidding. Quite how this happened I have no idea: I can only imagine that Evil Aliens whose mission in life is to sabotage Human Screenwriters took over my body for the duration it took to print out, arrange and bind my script. There is no other explanation (ok, maybe).

However, rather than ridicule me for my ridiculous page order, The Reader wrote:

"I enjoyed the challenge of reading your script...Not least because it was in the weirdest order I've ever seen in my ten years of reading. However, the story, visuals and dialogue are strong, with an intriguing central premise."

Of course they didn't want to make the bloody thing, but they did want another script, so they can't have thought I was completely barking. Or maybe you don't have to be mad to work there, but it helps (GROAN - couldn't resist).

So what am I saying here? Know Format exists, but don't be constricted by it. It can actually help you. But don't get hung up on it. I went through a PHASE when I could barely let go of a script into the postbox JUST IN CASE something was wrong with it. When they came back with rejection letters, I'd see a format error and go, "Oh God! It's because of that!" Actually, now I know it's 'cos all my early work was the product of those same Evil Sabotaging Aliens who wrote really godawful shite to keep me out of the writing market, but I overcome them most of the time now and people actually sometimes like my specs. Even if they don't make them. Damn their hides.

Friday, April 20, 2007

I'm Baaaaaaaack!

Have no fear, for I have RETURNED!!! I know you all missed me as much as I missed you. I promise not to go away for such a long time again... In the next two weeks, anyway. In the summer, starting from June, I have a whole host of stuff lined up so I'll probably forget I even HAVE a blog, so you bitches will get kicked to the kerb again. Soz in advance.

Now...What did I do?? Well, twenty minutes after arrival (yes, it's true - the bloody road between Chideock and Bridport was a NIGHTMARE! 4 MILES IN 40 MINUTES!!), I rushed down to the square to meet Dom and the elusive Danny Stack. Dom was in fine form as usual, enthusing about Dr. Who in his lovely baseball cap (or was that at Adrian Mead?) and then Danny turned up and I am relieved to tell you his beard is not taking over the world. A small connurbation, yes, maybe even one the size of Poole, but definitely not the world. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it James Moran.

Anyway, I wanted to seem delightful and charming and a fantastic writer (the mind boggles, I know: how can you prove that in a conversation??), but instead I started burbling about a dog I once knew called Michael and how it is possible to answer the door in just your underwear (thanks Dom!). Upon his arrival Danny informed me that he'd seen me in the street about ten minutes' previously and thought, "I bet that's Lucy." Perhaps I have one of "those" faces? The face of madness! As my husband always says. Cheers m'dear.

Talking of Him Indoors, he shamed me for all eternity on the Tuesday. His crime? He ordered a 16 oz steak/burger thing and was unable to finish it like a real man. In public too! I was so embarrassed. I tried so hard to smile through the tears but all I was thinking was, "My wonderful children will grow up fatherless now, since I'll be unable to look him in the eye ever again." I refused to unpack his things anyway. No point, since he's out the door tomorrow! ; )

We visited friends as well as the sights and one of my girlfriends and I went out in Charminster where we were chatted up by various Greek men who it seems wanted sympathy for their "cold, cold, wives". We told them to buy a convector heater - they're quite cheap this time of year - and went back to our pints of beer and the crafty fags we were having out of the sight of our disapproving husbands. On the bus home we sprayed perfume in our hair and chewed gum like fourteen year old schoolgirls hiding their habit from their Mum. And it was great.

The boy was in fine form, announcing on one of the days he was "only going to eat with his canines and not his incisors" (three guesses what they've been doing in science last term! Why? I ask. "Because I like a challenge!" he says), but poor old Lilirose aka Rosie (she would only answer to the latter on Tuesday) threw up more times than I knew possible when not possessed by some sort of evil spirit. Still, she did have a lovely time on the Wednesday when we visited Brighton and my lovely sister, also called Rosie. We visited the Aquarium where Lilirose made known her love for starfish, seahorses and more curiously, pollack. Conversely, she rejected all the farm animals that we saw at a farm park another day, even going so far as to poke a guinea pig in the eye, leading her father to speculate that perhaps one day she will love fishing just as much as he. Over my dead body.

What have you been up to?

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Holiday, Celebrate, etc

Well, hands up who forgot to send the Baby's passport form off in time*...That would be me! So we now can't go to Dublin these Easter School Holidays like we planned - so instead we're going to Bournemouth. Hey ho. I'm hoping to see Sir Daniel whilst I'm away and of course Dominic, that's if he can tear himself away from his lovely wife's extending stomach and his BSSC scripts. I emailed you yesterday fellas! Don't make me get wicked on your asses... ; )

*Seriously, why do babies need their own passports?? I mean, I know there are a lot of babies out there with criminal convictions and the tendency to smuggle contraband of course, but they're only from rough-as-dogs families, not nice ones like mine. Lilirose will always hand over grenades, semtex and 7-UP bottles when you ask her nicely. Tsssk.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Writer's Toolkit

We all need stuff to write. A PC or Mac, obviously. Final Draft/Movie Magic/Digismart/CeltX/Sophocles etc is a given. A brain helps. Hands (though not neccessarily: a couple of my long term Bang2write clients use voice recog software for a variety of reasons, nice one guys!). Coffee is a must: I remember a chap at university calling over the bar once to his mate - "You'll recognise the screenwriting students in here...They're the pasty, ill-looking ones with staring eyes drinking black coffee!" Heh. True.

So, in addition to the standard, we all have our own personal Writer's Toolkit. Those artefacts, conditions, situations and so on that help us or enable us to write. Here are mine:

1. Solpadeine. I think I'm addicted to this stuff. Thank God it was invented. I spend so long staring at the screen I'd go mad with the headaches else and paracetemol on its own doesn't work! Probably because of first statement.

2. Rhubarb and custard sweets. Did you hear someone crunching at the back at The Adrian Mead Seminar? You did? That was me. These things help me concetrate. I'm probably putting the sweet manufacturer's kids through private school, I eat so many of these. Now just thinking of scripts makes me taste rhubarb and custard. Like right now. MMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm....

3. Comfortable knickers. I live in the hottest flat in the world so often read scripts and write with nothing on but my pants. Really. My fave pair have dancing cats on. Unfortunately, when I was pregnant (and even hotter than normal), I answered the door with just my pants on. It gave the postman a fright.

4. Lipbalm. I chew my bottom lip when I'm concentrating whilst redrafting. A particularly gross habit but one I can't seem to stop.

5. Perfume. When stuck for an idea, I go through my nearby perfume stash and my husband's aftershave and squirt them. I'm not sure if this stimulates ideas, but it certainly passes the time until that Eureka! moment.

6. The baby. Nothing like blowing raspberries on baby tummies to get you thinking about stories. Love it. Also, because the baby is awake, no story writing will get done, so you end up thinking about it more before sitting down in front of a PC, so it actually works FOR your creativity.

7. Lots of books. So I can open them at random. Often for no reason, though sometimes amusing things can happen. Like when I opened the dictionary at the word "penis". Always funny.

And as always, my favourite left til last:

8. Scissors. I cut out hearts and paper dolls. A lot. I also cut out letters from magazines and throw them on the floor to see if a spirit is trying to communicate story ideas with me. Don't you just wish you worked at home?

What's in your toolkit?

Friday, April 13, 2007

He's had his chips...

Well, it's certainly SOMEONE'S unlucky day... My husband has just returned home with only four cans of beer and NO CHOCOLATE! And it's Friday! He's dead, dead to me now. I'm packing his stuff as soon as I get offline. Fool.

P.S. If you're looking, email me your specifications, I may be able to do you a deal. You have to have your own teeth, like cats, kids, beer and chocolate. I don't do women, blokes called Keith or politicians. I thank you.

Friday the Thirteenth

Because, as screenwriters, we all love useless information...

1. Paranoid and afraid today, maybe so much you can't leave the house?? Then you have paraskevidekatriaphobia: that is, Fear of Friday The Thirteenth. Really.

2. Friday the Thirteenth is considered unlucky in English, German and Portugese-speaking countries. In Greece and Spain, it's Tuesday the 13th that's considered unlucky.

3. The film, Friday The Thirteenth had a budget of $700,000 yet made $39,754,601. Everything you could ever want to know about this or the many films that came after can be seen on this website, including scripts. Additional trivia: I have never seen any of them. It's true.

4. A lot of people believe that Friday the Thirteenth is considered unlucky because there is a deep-rooted fear of both the number thirteen and, more surprisingly Fridays, stemming from Christianity. Basically, Judas was the 13th disciple (and we all know what happened there) and Christ was crucified on a Friday. In addition, some Christians believe that Adam and Eve ate the apple on a Friday and Noah's flood came on a Friday too. Many early Christians refused to plan any sort of trip or major activity on a Friday as they believed they would be doomed from the start.

5. One of our very own bloggers Jason, not the guy in the hockey mask, has written a book about Friday The Thirteenth. Rock on.

6. The Bible is well known to consider numbers and their significance. The number 12 is considered a lucky number: 12=1+2=3 = physical reality. As a result, the number which follows 12 was thought to be evil.

7. On Friday 13 June 1997, The Stranglers staged a concert at the sold-out Royal Albert Hall, London, UK with an eighteen piece string orchestra called The Electra Strings. "Friday the Thirteenth" then is the recording of their songs there, which include Skin Deep and Golden Brown.

8. I like this one the best: another suggestion for Friday the Thirteenth being unlucky is that it comes from Norse Legend. Twelve Gods were having a feast in Valhalla and the mischievous Loki gatecrashed the party as an uninvited 13th guest and arranged for Hod, the blind God of Darkness, to shoot Baldur, the God of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow. Baldur was killed and the Earth was plunged into darkness and mourning as a result.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Feedback and Repetition Compulsion

My Mate Freud - you might have heard of him, the famous psychoanalyst who apparently claimed all women were bisexual because they were breastfed by their mothers and that child abuse "just didn't happen", riiight! - did have one idea I do subscribe to and that's repetition-compulsion.

Of course Freud meant it from a psychoanalytical, rather than screenwriting sense, but I've taken the gist and bastardised it Bang2write style to fit my own sensibilities, so all the scientists, psychologists and philosophers out there: don't get your knickers in a twist! We're all friends here. (As long as you agree with me).

So what is repetition-compulsion when one is screenwriting? Well, I believe it's those things that crop up again and again, whether a writer wants them to or not. Take a writer friend of mine. He always calls his girl characters Tracey. He just can't help himself. Nine times out of ten they're deranged or disabled in some way. No kidding. Another girl writer friend of mine writes Lesbian sex scenes. Why is unconfirmed: she is not, nor ever has been, a Lesbian. Yet her characters all turn gay. She's not sure why, she doesn't set out for them to be gay, they just...evolve.

Those are two extreme cases, but we ALL have small foibles that we can begin to pick up as we build our portfolio of specs. I have five highly polished scripts now and looking through the feedback I've received on all of them from a variety of sources, I can see many odd things have been picked out in them by Readers male and female, young and old, British, American and European:

1. Phones always herald bad news. No one ever uses the phone in my specs except to tell someone that something bad has happened, or threaten them in some way. The only phone call that ended with "I love you", the character then got plastered all over the road by a passing lorry. Ouch!

2. My female characters are nearly always pregnant. But never very pregnant, just newly-pregnant. All of them want to have abortions yet can't go through with it, either for moral or financial reasons. All of them threaten their babies in some other way too: one says she's going to put hers up for adoption because she doesn't want to even see it, another holds a knife to her stomach. Contrary to popular belief, I never wanted to get rid of my son when I was pregnant, it didn't even enter my head - even though I was frightened about the future and only 18. So this is not autobiographical. But people always nod and say, "Of course, of course" and think secretly it is. Argh.

3. Men who are good-looking are always, always wolves in sheep's clothing. Either because they are psychos or actual wolves. The only good men in my specs are either complete saps or die hideous deaths.

4. All the men in my specs are dark. And hairy. Just the way I like them.

5. Children are always brats in my scripts and run away. I'm not sure where I got this from because my children are not brats and have never run away. Not even once. Honest.

6. The relationship between mother-daughter and father-daughter in my scripts is always fucked up, but never between father-son or mother-son. Sisters always like each other but Brothers never do. If there is a Brother and a Sister in a family, one is always dead. Again, bizarre as I have a good relationship with my family and none of them are dead.

7. I never dictate the colour of any of my characters, nor have the need to for the story. I don't see what relevance a character's colour is, that's all - not because I expect them all to be white. I sometimes list hair colour: I seem to have this strange idea that blonde, thin women are more vulnerable than more voluptuous brunettes, which actually is daft now I think about it and will change. I very rarely go into detail about the men (except detail listed, see number 3).

8. All my characters start their lives called Rob or Melissa when I write bios. I've never met anyone in real life called Melissa, so I don't really know how this has happened. Usually before the draft, though not always.

9.I write women being drunk quite a lot, but hardly ever men! Which MAY be autobiographical. >BURP<

10. Nearly all the female characters in my scripts are nurses. Conversely, my brother is a nurse, so I don't know if this has had any influence. Other occupations include teacher (naturally), but these are always fellas, as are the students in my specs. Women in my scripts often don't have jobs - one's a single Mum and another is on the run. Ooo er.

11. I love axes. They're always in there somewhere, whether someone kills someone with one, has to smash out a window or smack a werewolf in the head. No one ever chops wood with one though.

12. I'm obsessed with breasts! My favourite and picked up by a recent reader in a Power of Three. I had a BUSTY NURSE, a BOSOMY SHOPKEEPER and even a GIRL WITH NON-EXISTENT CLEAVAGE: this was in just one script! I then had a look at some other scripts and sure enough, there they were: BUSTY HARLOT, a WOMAN with "sizeable breasts" and a FULLY-BREASTED MAID. No wonder you boys like reading my scripts...!

What do you keep writing and can't stop??

Scribosphere Revolution

LA is "the" place for screenwriters apparently, but for those of you outside The Screenwriting Zone, like moi or even London (also like moi), The Scribosphere is going through a change that may interest you.

Evolving from the blog "round-up" it is at present, Scribosphere aims to become an advanced workshop and networking opportunity online. There will be guest chats from Big Writers, seminars, mentoring, the works.

Scribosphere are asking for donations at present to get up and running and Donaters will be getting a pass to the first Beta test of this new level. I think this is a great idea and I had the honour of being the first donater this morning!

Check it out here and get in on the action.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New Shoes

No, not for me. I don't "do" the girl-shoe-thang darling. I'm like Marge Simpson when she looks inside the dead Maud Flanders' wardrobe and sees four pairs: "Oooooh Somebody had a shoe fetish!" I do have shoes. But I always wear the same ones. Why? Because I never see my feet. No, not because I'm hugely fat, but because I always have a small child attached to my hip or, in my son's case, he actually stands ON my feet because he is possibly the clumsiest little bugger in the entire world. Ever. In addition to squished toes, he's given me black eyes, bruises and once, I'm sure he cracked my elbow. It makes a strange clicking noise now.

No. It was Lilirose's first pair. Aaaaaaaah.

I wanted them to be pink (natch), but because she's an early walker there was only one pair that were small enough to fit and they're blue. They're still cute though and have flowers on, which is a small compensation. And of course she looks adorable - not least because she's now walking like she's on the moon 'cos they're so heavy for her.

Lilirose however is unimpressed. Like her namesake the fearsome Tigerlily from Peter Pan, she's making her displeasure well-known. She would far rather walk out in the garden in just her socks. In fact, she not only tore one off and bit it, she threw it at me! I'm not looking forward to that girl's teenage years. As I've said, many a time before, I just don't know where she gets it from...

...Along with her goldy-blonde hair. How the hell did that happen? Both mine and her father's families are all stupendously dark. My husband's making accusations about my having an affair, so I told him Lil's the product of a torrid assignation with the Milkman when he came round to collect for three pints of semi skimmed and a carton of eggs. Of course, we don't have a Milkman and buy all ours at Tesco, but I never like to let the truth get in the way of a good yarn.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

More Google Searches

Since I've been demanding things of you guys today like reading my script, etc etc, I thought it only fair I provide you with some more Google Searches from my sitemeter for your viewing pleasure...

1. Successful adaptation + apocalypse. Only one word/acronym suits here: WTF?

2. NHS-style glasses. Mind boggles. Perhaps they were looking for a dating site?

3. JK Rowling + Deus Ex Machinas. Not. Saying. A. Word.

4. 3Fishfingers. Seriously, who IS this guy/gal? Reveal yourself! It's been a mystery too long. You cropped up on the old blog and now you're gone and people are looking for you via Google! Please enlighten us!!

5. 50 Things to do in a lift. My motto is "anything can happen, so be prepared" but seriously?? Mind you, it's not something I have to prepare for, since I (nearly) always take the stairs because of watching SPEED all those years ago. I wish I was kidding.

6. Dirty talk in bed scripts. And it brought them HERE?? What does this say about my blog? Actually, don't answer that...

Power of 3 Alert #2

It's that time again where I say PEOPLE OUT IN CYBERLAND! PLEASE READ MY SCRIPT!!!

It's the one I'm going to enter for the BSSC, so the good news is, it's only 5 pages long.

The bad news is, I need some feedback ASAP 'cos I've gotta do a redraft by the end of the week. Again.

I will of course return the favour on your own short.

First 3 people to email me get it...

Monday, April 09, 2007

Go for Broke

Dialogue is a big thing for me. I guess you could say I pride myself on it. When coverage comes back saying my dialogue sucks or is even just the tiniest bit dodgy, the world stops as I feverishly try to do something about it. For example, when both Dom and Danny suggested my dialogue in a past Draft of ECLIPSE was "a little bit Buffy The Vampire Slayer" about three months ago, I was mortified. Buffy The Vampire Slayer! One of the programmes I like to take the mickey out of 'cos of its Geek following and its general teenage POV?! Noooooo! Though fun and gory, ECLIPSE is a story of revenge for past actions, of adult sexual themes and of course, my fave notion of responsibility and facing up to who you are. So I got to work...I will not rest until it is ironed out! I am Dialogue Queen of the Planet Talkalot and no rubbish or cliched phrases will slip past my eminent throne and into The World of Spec Scripts. So there.

Imagine my surprise then when it was reccommended I read Robert Mckee's Story book's insight on dialogue, since apparently the person in question was unsure I understood the notion of dialogue revealing character and pushing the story forward. Of course, there was much gnashing of teeth, swearing - in the general direction of "bloody McKee, I've done a DEGREE in this shit, who do they think are, rah, rah rah..." And that's some of the TAMER stuff - but it brought home to me, YET AGAIN, that in this game there is absolutely no such thing as objectivity.

Subtext is described in the dictionary as:

sub·text (sŭb'těkst') n.
1.The implicit meaning or theme of a literary text.
2. The underlying personality of a dramatic character as implied or indicated by a script or text and interpreted by an actor in performance.


Immediately we can see some of the problem. Whilst my most recent Reader for the script in question (and I still haven't forgiven you: Robert Mckee - GAH!) saw my dialogue as "losing impact for my story", the one before that had this to say: "I thought you created distinctive, attractive and likable characters." The one before that: "A really visual idea." The one before that even, "Visual, entertaining, great for the kids."

I believe absolutely in Adrian Mead's Power of Three: as he was at great pains to point out during his seminar the other week - imagine if you show your script to just one person and they didn't like it. You'd lose all your confidence. Equally, you may be showing this script to the wrong person. We all have our pet peeves and likes and even constraints: if I was an Exec and you show me a script about werewolves and I have no money, I'm going to say no - even though I love werewolf stories. Conversely, show me a low-to-no-budget script about Fathers' Rights in separation over The Mother's and I'm probably not going to be too interested, no matter how good it is. Why? Because I've had a tug of love with my own son with his Dad, that's why. No way would I want to make a film about it too, thanks.

Everyone is the victim of subjectivity. It's no good saying you are somehow exempt in my view (and what is that but a subjective statement??), because even if you don't realise it, philosophically speaking everyone is a product of their environment in some way or another, as outlined by my post on Rationalism and Empiricism. Subjectivity is defined as:

sub·jec·tive (səb-jěk'tĭv) adj.

1.Proceeding from or taking place in a person's mind rather than the external world: a subjective decision.
2. Particular to a given person; personal: subjective experience.
3. Moodily introspective.
4. Existing only in the mind; illusory.

Because it's not the external world that is affecting someone's view of your script, but the world within their own minds, arguing your case is not going to change a damn thing. I could have written back to the guy about Robert McKee, pointing out that of COURSE I've bloody read it, of COURSE I know dialogue pushes the story forward and reveals character and here is my explanation, page by page, where I did just that. Would he say, "Aaah! I see I am wrong, oh mighty Lucy, forgive me!" No. Of course not. He'd think I was a prize tit and tell everyone I was. And to some extent, though I might disagree with his view of my script, in that regard he'd be damn right.

Sometimes people won't like or "get" parts of your script. Though 9 times out of 10 it's wise to listen if the same feedback crops up again and again (like Dom's and Danny's about BUFFY, meaning I had to do something), sometimes it will just be a matter of subjectivity. Sometimes it's even a culture clash. I have one script that is LOVED by English and European Readers and positively HATED by American Readers. No kidding. Whilst Brit and European Readers have called its dialogue "Brimful of rich and subtle wordplay, the recurring motif of "You know what will happen" especially good in all its guises", without a word of a lie most American Readers have called its dialogue "On-the-nose, then confusing...You could cut most of it." You can't get a wider chasm than that. But it leaves a dilemma: should I do what the Americans want and make it a straight-forward, cut-to-the-chase script? Or leave it as The Brits like it, complicated and ultimately, surreal?

The answer is in what story you're telling. Though I would never sanction arguing with consultants, Execs, directors, whatever, sometimes you have to go for broke. Sometimes no one will get you; only you will. So take that risk and go for it. That doesn't mean swimming against the tide for the sake of it and telling people more experienced than you that they're wrong and you're right: that's hardly going to win you any mates. But sometimes, just sometimes, popular opinion can be wrong. Sometimes, you find yourself in a place where some people like it and some people don't. So what do you do? It's one of the few occasions in this game you go with your heart, that's what. The script in question here was conceived as a surrealist piece, chockful of dark, Catholic imagery of redemption and sacrifice, influenced by my love of spooky Churches, Dracula, London, TWIN PEAKS and the work of Clive Barker. To change it to what others want would take all of that away and effectively kill off the effort I put into it. Then what was the point of writing it?

So what if no one ever makes it. It was part of my writer's journey. And it's a good script: of all of my scripts, I know it's my best and I'm proud of it. Sometimes you have to do what you gotta do.

Even if NO ONE likes it...

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Required Reading List

All the best scriptwriting-related articles on the web, rounded up for you in one place! Send links to Bang2write"at"aol"dot"com. Thanks, L
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MENU
Loglines
Preparation & Pitching
Storytelling Techniques
The First Ten Pages
Format & Scene Description
Structure
Characters
Dialogue
Genre
Television Scripts & Series Bibles
Writing For Radio
The Realities of Script Reading
Resources
Inspiration
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LOGLINES

Some great insights here for those struggling to get their big chunk of paper into two sentences!

WRITING LOGLINES THAT SELL By Jonathan Treisman

I WROTE A 120 PAGE SCRIPT BUT CAN'T WRITE A LOGLINE By Christopher Lockhart

TIPS ON LOGLINES - Inktip guide

LOGLINES ARE NOT TAGLINES by Me

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PREPARATION & PITCHING

Because you should never just dive in! That way insanity lies...

ONE PAGE PITCHES by Me

THE EXTENDED PITCH by Me (on The London Screenwriters' Festival Blog)

OUTLINES, BEAT SHEETS & TREATMENTS by Me

5 PITCHING TIPS (FACE TO FACE) by Me

THE NEW SCREENWRITING 10 COMMANDMENTS by Screenwriting U

ONE PAGE OUTLINES by Michelle Lipton

12 PT FREE ARTICLE: WRITING AN OUTLINE by Phil Parker

WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER WRITE A "ONE PAGE PITCH" DOCUMENT by John Kell

BASIC SCREENWRITING FORMAT - Film School Online

ROBIN'S FANTASTIC SERIES ON WRITING A SCRIPT FOR RED PLANET From Writing For Performance

COMMON SCREENWRITING MISTAKES AND ERRORS

MOST COMMON SCREENWRITING ERRORS By Charles Deemer

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STORYTELLING TECHNIQUES

Flashback, Montage, V.O, Clarity and more...

NARRATIVE CLARITY by Danny Stack

LOCATIONS AND ARENA by Mystery Man On Film

FORMATTING A MONTAGE SEQUENCE By John August

FRAMING STORIES By Fun Joel

IS THE DEUS EX MACHINA A GOOD THING? by Cover My Script

GOOD EXAMPLES: VOICEOVER, FLASHBACK, MONTAGE, INTERCUT by Me

DRAMATIC IRONY & TWISTS IN THE TALE by Me

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THE FIRST TEN PAGES

The most important pages of your script: the difference between getting a full read or not!

THE TEN PAGE TEST by Me

THE FIRST TEN PAGES by Danny Stack

THE FIRST TEN PAGES from the BBC Writersroom

MAKE THE FIRST TEN PAGES OF YOUR SCRIPT COUNT by Marla White

THE BEGINNING OF A SCREENPLAY From Write For Stage & Screen

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FORMAT & SCENE DESCRIPTION

Because good format & non-prescriptive scene description is STILL missing from the spec pile

FREE PDF - NO REGISTRATION REQUIRED: BANG2WRITE'S ONE PAGE UK FORMAT GUIDE DOWNLOAD

16 STEPS TO BETTER SCENE DESCRIPTION By Bill Martell

FORMAT by Hayley at Script Angel

FORMAT ONE STOP SHOP by Me

DOES YOUR SCRIPT SMELL? By Bill Martell

SCENE DESCRIPTION, Unknown Author

MAKING SCREENPLAYS VERTICAL by Charles Deemer

WHAT A WRITER DOESN'T WRITE
By Danny Stack

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STRUCTURE

Whether you're re-investigating the form and want to see what others reccommend or all this structure malarkey is Greek to you, here are some great pointers.

FREE DOWNLOAD: POWERPOINT PRESENTATION ON STORY, PLOT & STRUCTURE by Me

WHY YOU SHOULD LOOK TO YOUR SCENES AS WELL AS OVERALL STRUCTURE by Michelle Goode

THE STRUCTURAL MONOMYTH By The Unknown Screenwriter

PLANTS & PAY OFFS by Jared Kelly

CLIMBING WALLS - A NEW APPROACH TO STRUCTURE by Me

ANOTHER LOOK AT ACT 2 (AN ALTERNATIVE TO "CLIMBING WALLS") by Tom Murphy

SCREENPLAY STRUCTURE - A QUICK REFERENCE By Barry Pearson

HOW TO SCRIPTWRITE, PARTS 1 TO 5 By Andrew Lowes

WRITING ACT ONE OF YOUR SCREENPLAY (From "Screenwriting For Dummies")

WHAT IS THE THREE ACT STRUCTURE? By Stephen J. Cannell

THE MYTH OF THE THREE ACT STRUCTURE by Crafty Screenwriting

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CHARACTERS

Because audiences don't always remember plots, but they DO remember good characters

KNOW YOUR STEREOTYPICAL FEMALE CHARACTERS FLOW CHART by Jezebel

12 PT FREE ARTICLE: STRONG FEMALE CHARACTERS by me

MAMMOTH CHARACTER QUESTIONNAIRE by Hayley at Script Angel

12 PT FREE ARTICLE: THE ROLE OF THE ANTAGONIST By John Brice

ANOTHER CHARACTER QUESTIONNAIRE - this time from The Script Lab

CHARACTERS ARE MORE THAN JUST WITTY DIALOGUE by Mark Hosack

CHARACTER INTRODUCTION by John August

CREATING CHARACTERS By Sam North

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? Part 1 by moi

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH? Part 2 by moi

SURPRISING CHARACTERISATION by Danny Stack

12 CHARACTER JOURNEYS WE CAN LEARN FROM by Me

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DIALOGUE

Dialogue... Probably the thing people seem to obsess over the most! Some good tips here for avoiding "on-the-nose" exchanges in particular.

HOW TO AVOID EXPOSITIONAL DIALOGUE by Michelle Goode

WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? STEREOTYPICAL DIALOGUE by Me

TOP TEN TIPS FOR WRITING BETTER DIALOGUE By Ginnie Weihardt

DIALOGUE: AN OVERVALUED RESOURCE? by Me

WRITING EXERCISES: DIALOGUE By Stephen J Cannell

A SELECTION OF INSIGHTS ON WRITING DIALOGUE From The Marvellous Screenwriter's Toolkit

DIALOGUE
By Danny Stack

TOP 5 REASONS WHY PARENTHETICALS ARE USELESS by Me

TWELVE EXERCISES FOR IMPROVING DIALOGUE By The Writers' Resource Center

WRITE BETTER DIALOGUE by The Thinking Writer

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GENRE

Because knowing what *type* of film you're writing is as important as the rest of it!!

Genre Or Die Series - by Me:

GENRE OR DIE: ARTHOUSE

GENRE OR DIE: GANGSTER (PART 1)

GENRE OR DIE: GANGSTER (PART 2)

GENRE OR DIE: SCIENCE FICTION

GENRE OR DIE: ROMANTIC COMEDIES

GENRE OR DIE: COMEDY

GENRE OR DIE: THRILLER

GENRE OR DIE: HORROR

THE SEVEN DEADLY SINS OF HORROR by James Moran

TOP TEN ROMANTIC COMEDIES
by Billy Mernit

WHY COMEDY IS MORE THAN "FUNNY DIALOGUE" - From the London Screenwriters' Festival blog

GENRE FILMS: DON'T OVERTHINK IT by Me

KILLING THE HERO: THRILLER by Robin Kelly

MAMET'S MEMO: DRAMA VS COMEDY by Nathaniel Tapley

DR. WHO VS IRON MAN: A BRITISH SUPERHERO? By Me

CREATURE FEATURES: KNOW YOUR ENEMY (BUT DON'T KNOW TOO MUCH) by Me

MISERY LOVES COMPANY? DOWNER DRAMAS by Me

KILLER PREMISES: A CASE STUDY OF SIMILAR MOVIES WITH SAME STORY by Me

WHO IS YOUR SCRIPT FOR? A POST ON WHY KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE IS SO IMPORTANT by Me

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TELEVISION SCRIPTS & SERIES BIBLES

WRITING SERIES BIBLES (WITH DOWNLOADABLE CELTX FILE) by Mike Jones TV

HOW TO WRITE A TELEVISION SCRIPT from Mahalo (with a great list of resources)

12 PT FREE ARTICLE: WRITING DRAMA FOR THE MULTI-PLATFORM AGE. By Richard Bevan

12 PT FREE ARTICLE: SHOWRUNNING BY DOMINIC MINGHELLA

WRITING TV DRAMA TIPS by the BBC Writersroom

COMMON MISTAKES IN CHILDREN'S TV SCRIPTS by Me

SITCOMS by Me

PLOT CONSTRUCTION: TV STRUCTURE IN DRAMA SERIES, UK & US by Me

LIST OF TV SCRIPTS & BIBLES, UK & US - By Lee Thomson

BIBLE BASHING: TV SERIES BIBLES by Danny Stack

HOW TO WRITE TV SERIES BIBLES by Me

THE WRITER IN MODERN TV (PDF), Transcript from BFI Jun 14th 2010 by Michelle Lipton

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WRITING FOR RADIO

WRITING FOR RADIO 4 - FROM IDEA TO DECISION - By Michelle Lipton. Fantastic post! Really worth a read.

BREAKING INTO RADIO COMEDY by Jason Arnopp

TIPS ON WRITING FOR RADIO by Anne Burnett

PRINCIPLES OF WRITING RADIO DRAMA by Tim Crooks

BBC WRITERSROOM: Read Radio Drama Scripts (List)

BBC WRITERSROOM: Read Radio Comedy Scripts (List)

ANOTHER SAMPLE RADIO SCRIPT

SAMPLE RADIO SCRIPT COMPARISON 2

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THE REALITIES OF SCRIPT READING

Why has your masterpiece been returned unread? Find out why, here...

SO YOU WANT TO BE A SCRIPT READER? By Gideon's Way

READER PET PEEVES by Scott The Reader

CONFESSIONS OF A GENIUS SCRIPT READER By Allan Mcavoy

CONFESSIONS OF A SLUSH PILE READER By Patricia Chui

DAY TWO IN THE LIFE OF A HOLLYWOOD SCRIPT READER by Tiffany Stone

IMAGINARY NOTES FOR FAWLTY TOWERS From That's The Bitterness Speaking Blog

SCREENWRITING CINDERELLAS By Ellin Stein

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RESOURCES

Resources that will help you write, make films or understand how the industry works

FREE, COMPETE ONLINE SCREENWRITING COURSE by University College, Falmouth

FREE DOWNLOAD: SCREENPLAY TIPS, free e-book (PDF) - by Me. Reversals, montage, VO, feedback, rejections & more

GETTING TO WHERE YOU WANT TO BE - Free PDF download, plus others on goal setting, planning, etc.

BANG2WRITERS - Facebook group of writers and filmmakers for chat, links & opportunities

THE FEEDBACK EXCHANGE - directory of Bang2writers looking to do peer review - add your name!

SHORT FILMS CLUB - directory of Bang2writers looking to collaborate on short films - add your name!

WHICH SCREENWRITING SOFTWARE IS "BEST"? By Me

HOW DO I BECOME A PROFESSIONAL SCRIPTWRITER? by Me

FIND THE OPEN DOOR... AND STEP THROUGH IT by Screenwriting U

CAN'T GET READ? YES YOU CAN by Me

MONEY TALKS: FILM BUDGETS by Me

WON'T SOMEONE NICK MY SCRIPT OR IDEA? by Me

ADRIAN MEAD'S SCREENWRITER'S CAREER GUIDE - being positive, opportunities, motivation & more

HOW DOES SHIT MAKE IT TO SCREEN? A look at crap movies.

TOP TEN UNPRODUCED MOVIES Even being successful doesn't mean all your specs get made!

INTERVIEW - ON SCREENWRITING FOR INDIE FILMMAKERS from Script For Sale

GLOSSARY OF CINEMATIC TERMS From Film Site

GLADIATOR FROM SCRIPT TO SCREEN (PDF) By Jonathan Blackwell

HOW TO WRITE A SCREENPLAY by eHow

12 PT FREE ARTICLE: THE DIGITAL WORLD AND HOW WRITERS AND FILMMAKERS CAN USE IT TO SUCCEED By Laura Wilson

12 PT FREE ARTICLE: WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE PERMANENT CRISIS IN THE BRITISH FILM INDUSTRY By Julian Friedmann

12 PT FREE ARTICLE: SHOULD SCRIPTWRITERS WRITE NOVELS AS WELL? By Julian Friedmann

HOW TO HUSTLE by Michelle Lipton

SHOULD YOU OR SHOULDN'T YOU WORK FOR FREE? By Michelle Goode

USING SOCIAL MEDIA AS A WRITER by Me

JAMES MORAN'S BIG WRITING FAQ - All you need to know from a veteran TV writer, all rounded up in one enormous post!
------------------------------------------------
 
INSPIRATION

For when you feel it's not worth being a writer or when you don't know what to do next !

DON'T WAIT TO BE PICKED. PICK YOURSELF By Seth Godin

IVORY TOWER By Phill Barron

CONFIDENCE AND ATTITUDE by Danny Stack

IT'S NOT ABOUT LUCK... AND IT TOTALLY IS by Me

GOING BACK TO PAGE 1 by Me

ARE WE THERE YET? By Me

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If you know a good link or have written a screenwriting article yourself and want it included on this list, then send me an email, a message on Facebook or Tweet me.

Friday, April 06, 2007

School Reports

Well, my financial year ended yesterday like three other million other businesses and I've just finished BANG2WRITE'S accounts. For the second year in a row I have been just shoving receipts, invoices and purchase orders in a folder under my bed. After swearing last year I would NEVER DO THAT AGAIN, of course I did. So a deluge of paper ensued, much cursing and yelling when people knocked on the door for the last two hours. Still, it's done. Phew. I won't do that again THIS YEAR and thus resolve to put everything neatly together, in the right order, writing down each commission, report, development notes etc in my ledger, like good businesswomen do.

Yeah right.

You know, I got a D at GCSE Maths. I had to work hard for that D too. My teacher, the lovely Mr. Osborne, rounded up the "ones worth teaching" and made them sit down the front - the rest of us had to fend for ourselves since he then spent two years ignoring us. My sense of outrage was huge: how DARE he write me off! This was compounded when he wrote in my school report, "Lucy clearly has no understanding of numbers whatsover." He then proceeded to put F/U as a predicted grade. It might as well have said FUCK YOU.

Whilst I have no understanding of algebra (you use letters? WTF?? I thought numbers were used in bloody maths??), tangent ratio (there's a button on your calculator with TAN on - that's the most I know) or Pythagorus' Theorum (I hate triangles!!), I bloody DO understand numbers. I worked in shops from age 12 and to my knowledge NEVER under or over-changed anyone - and those were the days when it was all manual, not those bloody ones like that frigging computer from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. I do the budget in my family home: why? 'Cos if I leave it to Him Indoors, like I did for THREE SHORT WEEKS after I had the baby last May, we go over our overdraft. I can add stuff up and take it away in my head - ok, not brilliantly fast, but I can do it - and I always appreciate EXACTLY what saving I'm making when buying a dress in Debenham's Blue Cross Sale.

And now I run my own business. Numbers are involved again. F/U Mr. Osborne.

What's the most laughable comment on a school report you've ever had?

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Etc

Since everyone else is having a go, I thought I'd try my hand at The British Short Screenplay Competition. I'm slightly worried that at 5 pages, it may come in at under the 5 minutes specified: should I eke it out to 6, to be on the safe side? I have the feeling it may make the material seem forced. Also, the other problem is, the short I want to enter is an animation: is this allowed? It says in the rules "any genre considered" and it's a comedy, but I don't think animation is strictly a genre...Is it?

In other news, a philosophical question of epic proportions is being argued in my house at the moment, so I thought I'd open the floodgates for all you lot to add your tuppenceworth:

You can choose wings (bird, fairy, whatever - as long as you can fly) or a tail - not both. Which one would you have and why?

Over to you!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Seminar place - Check; Plane - Check...

...Well I have a place at the seminar on June 9th! Yay. I booked the plane last night >GULP<. It actually took me three times as long as it should have because I kept looking for trains that would miraculously somehow get me from Exeter to Edinburgh in eight hours or less. None will. Not even Richard Branson has invented a super-fast connection from the South West to Scotland. Damn him!!!

However, I have nowhere to stay yet. Thanks very much to all Edinburghians who've said I can stay with them, I'm sure you're all very nice, but I do like to vet people I stay overnight with in advance. After all, for the last Adrian Mead seminar I stayed with Lianne, and I STILL went to bed with an axe under my pillow 'cos she's a shifty bugger and no mistake. I clocked her, trying to decide if she could fit my riven body into her chest freezer. Oh yes. And thus her fiendish plan was thwarted! ; )

The problem for me is, I have never been to Edinburgh before. The class is on Johnson's Terrace near St. Columba's street or something, but it might as well be the moon - I have no idea where anywhere is. Quite literally. And the places I've been reccommended are either full up or don't answer my emails or telephone calls! >ARGH!<

So, kwik question for you: if I were to stay at one of the many hotels in the vicinity of Edinburgh airport, how long would it take me to get to the city centre and back for this class and is it scarily confusing? Bear in mind I get lost and freaked out easily and you Scots don't need a scary Northerner running amok even if I am only five foot three and according to Dorothy Perkins, "petite" (yeah right). Over to you...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

How to Write An Ode To A Dog...

...Well, I don't bloody know, do I?! What are you looking here for??

But that was a google search only this morning (or last night, dependant on your POV). They ended up here. BTW: I've never had a dog and never will, they smell and molt hair everywhere and when you take them out, you have to pick up their poo. I mean, what more can you NOT want in a pet? Oh yeah: they make an absolute racket too!! What a good idea. A smelly noise machine in the house. I have kids and a husband for that thanks, I don't need my ear drums to explode any more than they actually do.

I also got a more worrying one, which was

Bristol + obits + Adrian Mead

Fortunately I got an email from his camp almost immediately afterwards about my cheque for The Long Distance Screenwriter (it's NOT bounced, thank you!) and I'm sure they would have mentioned that Mr. Mead will not be available in June after all...

While we're on the subject, many many thanks to all the people who've emailed me links to books and websites on my phobia of flying: very helpful! Thanks also to the so-called hypnotherapist from Brighton who emailed me to say he could cure me in "one afternoon, as long as I was prepared to take my clothes off." Apparently he saw my picture on the old AOL blog and provided I haven't "gone all saggy" from having the baby, he'll be more than pleased to utilise his considerable skills. The mind boggles as to how hypnotherapy for a flying phobia has become some sort of double entendre, but as I've always said: there are plenty of cyber weirdoes out there my friends. You have been warned!

On a completely different note, I saw a documentary about Anacondas last night. They are truly amazing snakes. Effing scary though. Having said that, the Biologist hunting them down, measuring them and stuff called one of them Marion, which must have affected her swamp cred for the worse. Ouch.

Laters! ; )

Monday, April 02, 2007

The 15 Minute Test

I don't care what anyone says. Us under-30's, we're part of the MTV generation. We're super-media literate. We want flashing images (though preferably the type that *don't* cause epileptic attacks). We want super-fast cuts, interesting shots, questions raised, fancy colours, interesting facial expressions...Oh yeah: and a super-skinny latte to go. And a kitkat. Bee-atch.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it anyway. So: I get bored. VERY EASILY. Movies have very little time to impress me - or my brain goes on vacation. We're talking, what-are-we-having-for-dinner, I-can't-believe-David's-wearing-that-jumper-AGAIN, must-remember-to-buy-disinfectant-for-the-floor-type vacation. I may be looking at the screen, but I am comprehending none of it. Why? Because it has failed my FIFTEEN MINUTE TEST.

So renowned is the FIFTEEN MINUTE TEST in my house my own husband will no longer take me to the cinema unless I have promised him that a) I read the script first b) I know something about the production of it (like it's a director or producer I respect, etc) and c) I buy him nachos WITH jalapenos. Tough break or what. This may have something to do with the fact you have to drive NINETEEN MILES to a decent cinema in this godforsaken place and that neither of us get NUS discount anymore. Which smarts, incidentally, since we were students for about three quarters of our twenties. Damn you Capitalist Cinema Owners!!!

So, anyway. My Fifteen Minute Test goes something like this:

1) Opening shot. What is it? Is it interesting? Does it have a Voice Over? If so, is it a good voiceover (AMERICAN BEAUTY or PITCH BLACK-style) or a shit voiceover by a throwaway character that has no business having a frigging v.o and/or highly expositional(CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK and UNDERWORLD style, shame on your asses!)

2) Who do we start with? Is it the protagonist or the antagonist? Are their goals and/or needs apparent OR the starting point from which they will have to change? Or are we given loads of incidental info that we won't remember or care about twenty minutes from now, regardless of whether it pays off or not? In the 80s, often protagonists would not come to light until approximately ten to fifteen minutes in. NOTE TO SELF, SCREENWRITERS: this is not the 80s. Deal with it, mofos.

3) Is it genre-specific? I don't mean it has to be OBVIOUS but the TONE of it should be. If it's a drama, is it going to be a drama still ten minutes from now: YOU CAN COUNT ON ME does a great job of this, as does LANTANA and SWEET SIXTEEN. Equally, if it's Supernatural, please give us a clue from the start that it's going to be, even if the idea is no one knows it's going to be Supernatural on the first minute. START AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON. No one gets chopped up in SEVERANCE in the first act, but we all KNOW they're gonna get chopped up: why? Because they're a bunch of yuppies in the middle of nowhere on a COACH for christ's sake and EVERYONE knows people who live in the city get killed in the country! Only one means of escape? Uh-oh, coach driver and coach smashed up. Same with DOG SOLDIERS and the landrover. Nice one. Give us a sense of inevitability, but keep us guessing. As hard as it sounds.

4) Characterisation. Do I know/care who is who? If not, uh-oh: doesn't matter how great the concept is. HARD CANDY? Love the idea of a guy meeting some *innocent* girl of the 'net, then getting fucked over by her 'cos she's not what she seems. Watched it last weekend - BORED. Why? Because the two main characters - whom we were asked to listen to for AGES in the first ten minutes just sitting down in a cafe btw, that's my next point - were, for me, completely 2D. I got no sense of foreboding. I got no sense of "oooooh, he's a predator out to get virginal schoolgirl" or even any subtext that she was actually not what she seemed either. Maybe it was just me. Maybe it was poor acting and/or scripting. Whatever. Quack, quack - oops.

5) Static scenes. Oh my god. First thing screenwriting students are told: keep your characters on the move. Why do so few films do this? I love Michael Mann as anyone knows who reads this blog regularly knows: COLLATERAL, MAN EATER, HEAT...They all do a wicked job of this. But bloody MIAMI VICE? I know: let's have two guys on the roof of a night club having a highly expositional conversation cutting between two PHONES - ARGH!!!! Even the shooting of the Feds which we SAW was explained away in dialogue...

6) Which leads me on to my final point: dialogue-led scenes. Often part of a static scene, but not always. Sometimes one can get away with big chunks of exposition if the situation is funny enough - WHEN HARRY MET SALLY is a good example of this. What would have been clunky is funny because Harry's breaking his heart to his friend at the same time as doing a Mexican Wave in a football stadium. Genius. So often however, big chunks are served up to us on a plate WITH FRIES just for the sake of it. LAST OF THE MOHICANS, another Michael Mann debacle in my opinion, likes to repeat itself alot (even though we might have seen what they're talking about) whilst leaving out some really obvious questions like WHY DIDN'T THEY ALL JUMP OUT OF THE BLOODY WATERFALL??? WHY DIDN'T NATIVE AMERICAN BLOKE WHO WANTED TO KILL THE TWO WOMEN KILL THEM THEN AND THERE INSTEAD OF TAKING THEM AND OTHER BOYF OFF TO ROAST HIM?? ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, if a movie fails two or more of these aspects in the first fifteen minutes, it's gone. Either the DVD is turned off or I sit, vacant in the cinema, whilst David watches the rest of it. He'll come out and say, "Wow, that was great!" (he's easily pleased) and I'll go "Hmmm." He'll say, "Which bit did you like?" and I'll say, "Do you want curry or stir fry for dinner?"

My family say that if I like a film, it's one of three things: either bloody brilliant, bloody weird or so bad it's great. So there you go.

However, knowing what you LIKE about movies and HOW you respond to them helps your writing. I know I have a low attention span - as such, I try and ensure my set-up is as smooth and interesting as possible, with transitions leading into the second and third acts doing the same. I think structure is everything in keeping people like me watching - so I invest heavily in this area. It doesn't always work out, sure, but knowing this means I have a head start on those annoying buggers who sit there and say "Thrill me", because I am one of those annoying buggers.

How do you respond to movies? What is the most important part for you?

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Murder! Murder!

No, my house hasn't turned into an episode for MISS MARPLE or POIROT (though David Suchet does live just down the road from me, fact-fans: I saw him at Safeway only recently!)... "Murder" however is Lilirose's newest and fave word of the moment. I'm hoping it's accidental and not a revelation of her fiendish plot against our lives. Time will tell, of course. Why am I reminded of Baby Stewie ?