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Monday, December 20, 2010

Playwriting Opportunities

Thanks to Katie at Blake Friedmann for sending me these... For you theatre writers out there, there's quite a treat in store! Lots of opportunities here for you. But hurry, some of the deadlines are 31st December 2010.

Not a theatre writer... yet? On this blog before about theatre "Research Or Die: Writing Plays". Get going!
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New Vision Theatre Free Playwriting Course

Are you over 25 and living in the London Borough of Lewisham? Do you want to write your first play?

New Vision Theatre will deliver an introduction to playwriting course for over 25's within the London borough of Lewisham. This is an opportunity to be supported in writing your first play, beginning in January 2011.

The course will comprise of weekly evening classes run over a 6-9 week period. You will be guided through ways to develop your creative ideas, and will learn the basics of dialogue, character development and setting scenes. You will also build your skills through writing exercises and developing your first short play. At the end of the course scripts will be selected for readings which will be performed in a Lewisham venue.

For further information, visit http://newvisiontheatre.weebly.com/

Creative Assistant Bursary Scheme

The Federation of Scottish Theatre is a membership and development body which advances the interests of professional Scottish theatre and dance at home in Scotland and abroad. Their Creative Assistant Bursary Scheme is designed to support and nurture the professional creative development of emerging individual theatre artists by supporting an attachment to an established Scottish theatre company or Director.

Applications for an attachment for a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 12 weeks full-time equivalent are jointly submitted by applicant and host.

More information is available from www.scottishtheatre.org or by contacting Kirsty Bailey, FST Training Officer attrainingATscottishtheatreDOTorg or by calling 0131 248 4842. The deadline for applications is 21st January 2011.

COMMISSIONS, COMPETITIONS, AND CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS

Soho Theatre: Verity Bargate Award 2011

The Verity Bargate Award is Soho Theatre's national competition for the best new play by an emerging writer. Soho Theatre are looking for a new play that will stand out from the crowd - it might be your first script, it might be set in a kitchen or on the moon. The only limit is your imagination. Be bold, brave, and entertaining.

Recent VBA winners have included In-Sook Chappell for This Isn’t Romance, Matt Charman for A Night at the Dogs and Shan Khan for Office. Writers may submit one unproduced, unpublished full-length play (not shorter than 70 minutes). There is no restriction to subject matter. The winner of this year’s award will receive £5000 and a residency at Soho Theatre. The prize money is in respect of an exclusive option for Soho Theatre to produce the winning play according to the Company’s standard license agreement.

The following are not eligible: playwrights with three or more professional productions to their credit (defined as those produced under ITC/TMA/WGGB contracts), plays commissioned by Soho, previous Verity Bargate Award winners, plays that have already been rejected by Soho ’s literary department.

Please send submissions to: Verity Bargate Award, Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street , London W1D 3NE . The deadline is 11th March 2011.

For more information, and full details on how to enter, visit the Soho Theatre website.

Call For Scripts for 24:7 2011

The 24:7 Theatre Festival is a showcase for original and stimulating theatre. Season 8 of 24:7 will run from 21st – 29th July 2011 in severalManchester city centre venues. There will be nine days of productions, including a full-to-bursting Big Weekend.

Submissions should be be less than 60 minutes long, never produced before, in the English language, and capable of being staged in a non-theatre space. A non-refundable fee of £30 (incl VAT) will be charged for each individual submission. This year you can submit your script online, if you wish, and pay by bank transfer.

You can read information on all aspects of the 24:7 process on the website and in the updated online application area. Please email any enquiries to: info@247theatrefestival.co.uk. Scripts will be accepted until 10th January 2011.

Re:play Festival 2011: Pitch Party

Re:play Festival are offering one artist in Greater Manchester the chance to bring their idea for a great piece of theatre to life with the help of Contact and Library Theatre Company.

This year Library Theatre are joining forces with Contact to create their most diverse and interesting re:play Festival to date. Building on the festival’s history of showcasing and developing new playwrights throughout Greater Manchester, the Pitch Party will be an opportunity for theatre makers of alternative artistic backgrounds, based in Greater Manchester, to showcase and develop their work.

Six artists will be selected to pitch live at Contact on January 28th, 2011 to a live audience and Contact, Library Theatre Company, Northwest Playwrights and BBC Writersroom. The winner will receive artistic support and development from Contact and Library Theatre Company.

For more information and to submit an idea visit www.replaypitchparty.com.

Deadline for submissions is January 7th 2011.

Theatre Trail Writers Competition

The Arundel Festival Theatre Trail, conceived and presented by Drip Action Theatre Company, is now in its eleventh year. It performs at the end of August, on each of the Festival’s eight days, eight short plays at eight different venues all over Arundel – last year, for example, in a living room, a kitchen, an art gallery and a pub.

Writers are invited to submit plays for next year’s Trail. Plays should be about 30 minutes long, suitable for day-time performance, with practicable casting and props. One play only per entrant, in hard copy (not e-mail). Please enclose SAE if you’d like your play returned. A reading committee will select the plays that will be performed, with the best submitted script receiving the Joy Goun award of £200 at the Theatre Trail launch in May 2011. Each successful playwright will receive a £150 writer’s fee.
All entries should be submitted to:

Drip Action Theatre Trail 2010
1 Norfolk House
28 High Street
Arundel
West Sussex
BN18 9AB

For further information call 01903 885250 or e-mail dripactioninfoATbtinternetDOTcom. The deadline for entries is 31st December 2010.

Red Bull Theatre: New Short Play Festival

Red Bull Theatre, New York, seeks new 10-minute plays for their Spring short play reading day.

New plays of no more than ten pages, written in heightened language, in verse, with classic themes, adaptations of classics, or that otherwise fit their mission and history are welcome. The deadline for entries is 31st December 2010.

For submission guidelines, visit www.redbulltheater.com/Collaborate or email wendyATredbulltheaterDOTcom.

The Last Frontier Theatre Conference - Call for Plays

The Last Frontier Theatre Conference has released a call for plays for the 2011 Play Lab. The Conference takes place in June 2011 inAlaska . Selected plays receive public readings at the Conference, with both public and private feedback sessions led by theatre professionals. Authors must register for the Conference and be in attendance for their reading.

This Play Lab will feature plays from twenty minutes to two hours in length. Accepted writers will also have an additional opportunity to present their work in the 10-Page Play Slam, the Monologue Workshop, and the late-night Fringe Festival. The deadline for submissions is31st December 2010.

For further details, visit www.pwscc.edu/conference

To submit applications, please contact Dawson Moore at dmooreATpwsccDOTedu

ScriptSpace - New Writing Workshops

ScriptSpace is a new writing initiative brought to you by SpaceWorks, the resident theatre company at The Space, Mudchute, London . Writers are invited to submit their new work to be read by professional actors and receive valuable feedback from fellow writers and other industry professionals.

ScriptSpace offers an opportunity to hear your work out loud and network within the theatre community as well as accessing advice on how to proceed both on the page and in the practical world of theatre.

Interested parties should email their work to Lucy Fredrick at info@space.org.uk marked SCRIPTSPACE. For more information about Spaceworks, visit http://space.org.uk/?page_id=37

Script This - Call for Script Extracts

The Broadway are looking for ten pages of your script - whether you're a new writer, established playwright or looking for some invaluable feedback on your script. Script This... is the bi-monthly new writing event held at the Broadway providing a platform for London 's writers, giving them feedback from audiences and an opportunity to see their work developed.

A panel selects four scripts and these are given a professional, rehearsed reading by actors and a director in front of a live audience. The audience vote for the script they would like to see more of. The writer of the winning script will have the opportunity to come back to the following Script This evening and show a longer developed piece of their play to the always eager audience.

Send 10 pages (about ten minutes worth) to scriptthisATthebroadwaybarkingDOTcom

For more details, visit http://www.thebroadwaybarking.com/joinin/artists/script-this/

The Script Readers

The Script Readers aim to connect talented writers with professional actors, and invite talented writers to submit scripts to their reading panel. The panel assess these submissions and then invite selected writers to hear their work at one of their monthly sessions. After the reading, members, who include actors, writers and directors, share their feedback in an open discussion.
For more information on The Script Readers and to submit your work: www.thescriptreaders.co.uk

The Good Ear Review: Call for Monologue Submissions

The Good Ear Review, a dramatist's literary journal, is a website dedicated to publishing stand-alone monologues that share a moment in time with the reader (and, eventually, the audience). They are committed to posting original and quality writing from both established writers and emerging playwrights.

Monologue submissions should be sent, in the body of the email, to: submitATthegoodearreviewDOTcom by 31st December 2010. Visitwww.TheGoodEarReview.com to read posted monologues and get a sense of the layout and the work that The Good Ear Review publish. For submission guidelines, visit http://thegoodearreview.com/submission-guidelines/

Second Round of TippingPoint Commissions

With a focus on the performing arts, artists are invited to submit projects that stimulate audiences towards the radical and imaginative thinking necessary to comprehend and successfully navigate a world shaped by climate change.

There are up to seven awards on offer this year, with one commission for outdoor work on offer as a co-commission between TippingPoint and Without Walls.

Visit www.tippingpoint.org.uk for more information and to download an application form. The deadline for applications is 31st December 2010.

Fuse Script Reading Service

Fuse is a unique Scotland wide initiative that makes information about new plays available to the artistic directors at the country's top theatre venues. Plays submitted to Fuse will be read and critiqued anonymously by theatre professionals. This feedback is made available free of charge to the playwright.

For more information on how to submit a play to Fuse please visit www.playwrightsstudio.co.uk/fuse.html

The Drama Association of Wales : One Act Playwriting Competition

The Drama Association of Wales Playwriting Competition is now launched. The competition aims to encourage the writing of plays for amateur theatre in English and Welsh. In addition to cash awards, prize-winning plays will be considered for publication.

Plays must be 20-50 minutes in length, with a minimum cast of two. Entries will be accepted from anywhere – they do not have to be from Wales.

Prizes will be awarded for Best Play for a Youth Cast (16-25 years), £250; Best Play in the Open Category, £250; and Best Play in the Welsh Language, £250.

More information can be found at http://www.dramawales.org.uk/showArticle.php?ArticleID=53 and for application forms, please contact Teresa on Cardiff +44 (0) 29 2045 2200 or email teresa@dramawales.org.uk.

The deadline for applications is 31st January 2011.

The First 20 Minutes - Scripts Wanted

Every two months Writer’s Avenue will choose three contrasting plays by new writers, to be shown as works in progress in a fringe venue in central London. The first twenty minutes of each play will be performed in front of an audience that will give written feedback which will be given to the writer. The plays with positive feedback will go on to have a rehearsed reading.

In 2011 Writer’s Avenue will select up to six writers from the 2010 series of The First 20 Minutes to compete for the chance to have their full length play produced at a London fringe venue. This will be another chance for the writer to receive feedback from the audience and gain industry exposure. Script submissions are accepted throughout the year.

Send submissions to submissionsATwritersavenueDOTcoDOTuk with your name and the name of your play in the subject heading. For more information, visit http://www.writersavenue.co.uk/The-First-20-Minutes.php

Sunday, December 19, 2010

WTF? On Film # 10 - Splice

MEGA SPOILERS Okay, we all knew this day would come and I would write another WTF? On Film post. Regular followers of this blog or me on Twitter or Facebook know I'm a hard taskmaster when it comes to films - very rarely do they register on my LOVE IT scale, but just as rarely do they figure on my SCALE OF RAGE. As a screenwriter myself, I'm always willing to believe that various things could have gone wrong or perhaps the script didn't translate to the film version; it's only occasional I believe films to be so DEEPLY FLAWED that they end up on this list (hence there being only ten articles over the last eighteen months - two years or so, instead of hundreds).

And it's a shame I feel I have to add Splice to this list, because writer/director Vincent Natali is responsible for the awesome Cube, one of the few movies I actually do LOVE. But since I believe all films should be considered on a "case by case" basis (no "get out of jail free" cards here - or equally, automatic condemnation on the basis of a previously crap film), I'm going to have to lay out my case for not liking Splice even one little bit:

It's really predictable. You know that classic story, Frankenstein? Well Splice is it, updated. Only not even half as good. Which is a shame, cos you would have thought with decades and decades of new technology, the writers could have come up with some *new* element to play with here, y'know that whole "same but different" thing. Instead, all that's substituted is animal genes for body parts. They even name the characters Clive (Adrien Brody) and Elsa (Sarah Polley) after characters in The Bride of Frankenstein. Yawn. But even so, this would not have been enough to add it to my WTF? List, so let's look at the rest of the evidence.

The characters are really two dimensional. Clive's the peace-loving hippy who wants to change the world; Elsa's the hard ass who wants to get there first. They have a hysterical male boss and a hard ass female boss. Clive's brother handily works in the same lab and knows about everything, but just as handily keeps his mouth shut until the very end when he gets himself - and the hysterical male boss killed. Dren - the creature they create - is sweet and innocent and serene when she's female; when she turns into a male she wants to kill and shag everybody.

For 2D characters, Clive and Elsa are hardly consistent. Considering Clive is such a peace-loving hippy and Elsa is such a hard ass then, they handily swap entire personalities in the first half after the "birth" of Dren: Clive wants to kill the specimen Dren, whereas Elsa - always resistant to Clive's desire for a child of their own - suddenly turns into a nurturing mother. This abruptly changes AGAIN when Clive begins to empathise with Dren's plight when she's locked in the barn alone from prying eyes - and Elsa suddenly turns abusive, cutting off Dren's tail after provoking her, by taking her beloved cat away. Whilst there is some allusion to a back story of Elsa's whose own mother was abusive - and the troubles between Clive and Elsa's relationship they attempt to fill with science - it felt too me far too little, too late and all rather contradictory - and not in a good way.

But again, poor characterisation is too often the nature of the game in films, so really it was these two elements that gave me THE RAGE:

She was asking for it # 1. The underlying theme of Splice appears to be thus: Men are weak - and successful women will always have to put up with them cheating. Yes, that's right. Despite the fact Clive has raised Dren practically as his daughter - and claims to love her when she wants to jump from the barn roof - he has absolutely no moral trouble sticking it to her, despite the fact she has only ever exhibited the faculties of an adolescent girl, which borders on paedophilia to my mind. But hey! The girl's a genetic freak so fair game! She came ONTO HIM - it's not statuary rape at all, but perfectly understandable, 'cos the GIRL IS HOT. Of course Elsa walks in at *exactly the wrong time* and sees them at it. And of course, she's horrified - but not by Clive's appalling breach of trust, but by the effect it will have on their relationship. Later Clive even attempts to justify himself by pointing out Elsa has done lots of horrible things to Dren herself: never mind poor Dren, who hasn't a clue whether she's coming or going - let's play the blame game instead.

She was asking for it # 2. At the end of the movie the female Dren "dies" and becomes a male, something to do with her lizardy gene splicing I suspect and more than half borrowed off Jurassic Park. In comparison to the female Dren who was sweet and serene then, male Dren is a HARBINGER OF DEATH AND DESTRUCTION. Oh, and rape. That's right: pissed that his "mother" Elsa abused him, the male Dren makes sure he despatches the males and then RAPES ELSA. I'd like to point out this film is a 15, not an 18 - and the way in which the rape is dealt with is both gratuitous and graphic, with Elsa screaming and crying, her head bobbing back and forwards as he fucks her. Whilst the back of the DVD box promises "strong violence, sex and sexual violence", the latter can mean anything between sexual intimidation, groping and actual rape, so it seems to come right out of the left field in comparison with the tone of the rest of the movie; this was not a film in which I had expected to deal with images like that. And it pissed me RIGHT OFF because it didn't strike me as even vaguely necessary to tell this story... oh but wait! There's an epilogue and OF COURSE Elsa is pregnant by the male Dren (despite having had sex with Clive during the course of the movie as well, btw) and she's signing the baby over to her sciencey colleagues in the name of "progress" for squillions of dollars. Ground breaking? Um, predictable. Again.

In conclusion:

I think the real tragedy of Splice is, that as a sci fi/drama, it could have worked really well; forcing Clive and Elsa to face up to the consequences of their playing God to the female Dren could have produced some strong pathos and even a little comedy along the way. What's more, had Clive and Elsa been more consistent in their motivations, we could have got more of a "feel" for their positions on how far science should go and where lines should be drawn between what's possible and what should stay in the imagination. A stand out moment had to be when Clive attempted to drown the child Dren, only for them to discover she had aqua lungs, with Elsa saying, "How did you know... You did know, right?" But with Clive swapping back from wanting to kill Dren just as quickly, impact felt lost to me. At the end of the day, it felt like all the "action" had been "back ended" into the resolution - most notably the last fifteen minutes - for sensationalism's sake.

LINKS

Splice on IMDB

Splice on Rotten Tomatoes

Splice Trailer

Splice - the website

Monday, December 13, 2010

Only The Beginning

As everyone knows, being a script reader/editor turns you twisted and well, like this:

(Don't be fooled by the serene Script Angel that is Hayley McKenzie or the chilled out dudes that are Danny Stack or Jez Freedman, people - inside them beats the same dark heart as I or the scarily furnacey Industrial Scripts, mark my words... By the way, some of them might have slots before Xmas if you're quick - word to the wise: I haven't! Unless it's a short short or shorter, ie. a pitch). Where was I? Oh yeah - we're all evil. It's one of the hazards of the job. We've all got psychological problems from the ill-focused scenes and 2D characters, sexual problems from all the ill-advised sex and rape scenes, concentration problems from the... what was I talking about again??

OK, OK I'm playing to stereotype. Really we're all average Joes/Jos who WANT to pick up a script and find it to be good, great even. But no one would be surprised to hear this happens very infrequently. Sometimes, there will be craft issues preventing us from making that judgement; other times, it will be issues to do with character or story "I don't believe someone would do that/it would happen that way because [of this experience I've had]". Other times a story will simply not touch us like it would another reader. One (wo)man's meat is another man's poison and all that.

So, imagine this scene:

We pick up a script and we.... LOVE IT.

Against all odds, we love you story, your hook, your characters, whatever. Maybe we love ALL of it, full stop. Maybe it needs some development [on this element] or to make it work for production we'd need to [do this or that or the other], but ultimately THIS IS A GOOD SCRIPT. PROCEED TO THE NEXT LEVEL.

But what is the next level?

Well, annoyingly this depends. Getting a great script report doesn't necessarily mean proceeding anywhere.

Yes, you read that right: you can get an enthusiastic script report praising your script to the high hilt, but that DOESN'T mean 100% that producer, screen agency or initiative is going to get you in for a meeting, never mind option your script and/or make it.

Why? Well, let's put this into perspective and check out the language of script reports: RECOMMEND, CONSIDER, PASS.

Recommend. I write RECOMMEND roughly 3-5 times a year on script reports average; usually on the lower end of the scale. This year, I've written it only once. RECOMMEND basically means this:

I think this script is great. It's got good characters, relatively few craft issues and I think with some development, could represent a viable potential project for this company/agency/initiative.

Check out the language here. "I think..." to start with. Getting an enthusiastic report from the likes of me might be a good start, but a script reader NEVER holds the purse strings. I've lost count of the number of times I've recommended a script only to be met by "meh" by the next guy or gal up the chain. Check out the idea too that all scripts need *some* development, there are no scripts that are so brilliant they are produced *as is*. Last of all, no project is a "dead cert", only ever potential - until the money crosses your palm, you can count on nothing. Even then, great films have ended up languishing in the can forever.

Consider. I probably write CONSIDER a further 5-6 times a year. CONSIDER roughly means this:

This script has some issues, particularly craft. However there is enough about it - particularly character-wise - to make me think it *could* have *something*.

ISSUES is the big word here - how much is too much? Sometimes a script's idea is SO FAB a producer can look at a really shitty script and say, "Wow, this has something. Why not give this writer an option, a "story by" credit and get someone else to actually write it?" Other times, a producer sees something in a character or moment that "sells" the writer to them, if not the actual script - that elusive "je ne se quois". But notice here how GIANT a leap this is - anything is possible, but is it likely any of that can happen. Probably not. (Note: the "Weak Consider" seems to be an American script report verdict, I've never been asked to rate any script as "weak consider" here in the UK).

Pass. The rest of my reads (that AREN'T for private clients via Bang2write) all receive the verdict of PASS. Pass roughly means this:

This script has some good things about it, but ultimately is not for the company/agency/initiative because of [these logistical/budgetary/genre/style/etc elements.]

Or it could mean:

A good idea, but too many craft issues for further development at this time.

Or it could mean:

An otherwise well-crafted script that unfortunately is too similar to stuff we already have in development/has missed the boat premise-wise/has a confused central concept.

Or it could mean:

I hated this script and I wanted to shoot the writer in the head.

In other words then, a PASS does NOT automatically mean your script is rubbish. There are so many reasons scripts get rejected; whilst craft issues are far and away the BIGGEST reason, if that were the ONLY one, those professional, experienced writers would get everything they ever wrote greenlit which of course just does not happen.

So, rejoice if you get an enthusiastic script report from somewhere. Tell everyone you know. Why not? It's a big step up the ladder. But it might also be your only one for that project at that place - so take it and run with it and build on it. You're your own biggest fan, remember.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

From Page To Screen

One thing I hear over and over from writers is the belief *their* script has been *ruined* by some director/producer/whatever getting their grubby paws on it and turning it into something far different to what the writer originally envisaged.

In some cases, this will be indubitably true. After all, no one wants their hardcore horror rendered from the page to screen as a comedy, or their thought-provoking kitchen sink drama turned into a musical. But barring perceptions of the material that are totally at odds like this (or half-baked visions of plot points, character motivations and so on), the viewpoints of directors, producers and the rest of the team are absolutely invaluable in taking your script from the page to the screen. As writers, I think it's a really important insight for us to learn: other people's suggestions and thoughts do not automatically screw up our projects. Also, with the exception of super low budget shorts (possibly movies if in one room), it's not possible for us to cover every aspect of production: the collaborative nature of filmmaking means we HAVE to let others in and accept they won't want to be dictated to.

The marvellous William Martell has the great idea of calling movies the "film version" of his script - and I think this is a brilliant way of looking at it. Your script will always be what you started with; but even if it ends up signed off as the shooting version, there will be surprising and even interesting changes that need to be made along the journey of turning your words into image. Sometimes the "film version" will disappoint you; other times, you will be pleasantly surprised - but the likelihood of being disappointed increases if *your* vision of the script as image is the only one you will accept.

Some of those changes will be for logistical or budgetary reasons; others will be because all human beings have experiences and thought processes of their own and will bring that to the production process. to illustrate my point, I want to draw your attention to the Deviation Blog, which carries the story behind *that* tattoo on Frankie's back (above) - what it looked like on the page and how it ended up in the film. Check it out here.

LINKS

Deviation - official website

Deviation blog

Deviation on Twitter

Deviation on Facebook

Monday, December 06, 2010

Guest Post: Writing for Soaps and Television Drama Series by Yvonne Grace

NO SPOILERS PRESENT It's the 50th Anniversary of Corrie tonight - and *that* infamous tram crash is coming! I for one CANNOT WAIT... Coronation Street has been my favourite soap since I was a little child - and it's possibly my favourite TV programme, full stop. The brilliance of Corrie is it's all about the characters - nowhere on television can I find characters, esepcially women, I identify with as much. Can't wait to see what the response of the current cast - Rita, Emily, Molly, Deirdre, Leanne, Carla and especially the fabulous Becky. On this basis then, when the marvellous Yvonne Grace of Script Advice Writers Room (who even used to work on Corrie! JEALOUS) offered this blog a post about soap writing, I jumped at the chance... Enjoy!
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I cut my teeth on Soaps. They are a fabulous place to learn, develop and grow your skill base. They are definitely not a training ground; you have to know your stuff before you hit the ground running, but Soaps continue to nurture some of the best writers and Producers working in the industry today.

Many of the leading show runners who started writing Soaps and series television see Soap writing as an invaluable experience. Yet the snob-factor still remains regarding this particular drama genre. Here I will attempt to take the mystery out of writing for Soaps.

Very few programmes ever reach the Olympian ratings-heights of our much-loved, much-discussed Soaps. Having spent a large proportion of my career as a Script Editor and Producer making them, I can honestly say that apart from a memorable shopping frenzy in Marylebone High Street back when I had an empty new flat to fill and a concrete credit rating, I have rarely enjoyed myself more.

However, Soap land can be an unforgiving place and an inadequately-prepared, wet-behind-the-ears writer can come a proper cropper if he or she is not careful

Some tips on how to be a good Soap writer:

* Watch a lot of television
It may sound obvious to say this but I would recommend you watch a lot of television before honing in on a Soap-writing career. Most people engaged in the all-consuming task of making Soaps are usually pretty much addicted to the whole process of storytelling and cannot get enough of television drama across all genres.

It’s a highly competitive business, generating storylines, and a producer worth their salt is aware of the storylines being covered by their rivals and are obsessed with the task of generating better storylines to appeal to more people. They will love you to bits if you can aid them in this process.

* Have strong opinions about the characters
It’s hard to be a shrinking violet in Soap land. As a writer, you will be expected to have strong opinions about the characters that populate this world and as a result, you will have to prove you can create stories for them. Be prepared to fight your corner (preferably without shedding blood or resorting to name-calling) and nurture your favourite characters like you would your real-life friendships; it’s always more fun spending time with people you like. This makes for better results and a more enjoyable experience all round.

* Look ahead as much as possible
Generating story and scripts that fill a year of television drama output is no easy feat. The producer and the script team need all the help they can get from writers who not only understand the size of the task in hand, but can clearly help solve some of the problems inherent therein.

The show will need both short- and long-term storylines to keep the audience happy and the character groupings productive. I have found that writers do not come to the story table with long-term storylines as easily as they do the shorter variety. If possible, don’t fall into this trap. If you can get used to seeing the bigger picture and generate material that arcs across a body of episodes and not just one or two, you will be making a vital contribution to the story bank and providing the script team with a firm foundation on which to build a strong through-line of stories across a healthy number of episodes – thus lightening their burden. If you can take the attention, they will all fall in love with you.

* Have strong story ideas
On a Soap, stories are like oxygen to the production process. It is vital, therefore, that you make sure the stories with which you arm yourself at your first Story Conference are not just one-note wonders. They could be anecdotes that sounded good in the pub but in fact fall apart horribly when pitched to a room of fellow writers and a story-savvy script team. Many ideas turn out to be turkey twizlers when spoken out loud.

Your story will need a clear shape and in the telling, you should explore the characters involved and reveal something interesting about them to your audience. If you can’t succinctly summarise your story to yourself in the privacy of your bathroom at home, spare your own blushes - the story needs clarification and talking it up in front of your fellow writers will only highlight its flaws.

* Familiarise yourself with the script team
Forearmed is forewarned. Do your homework. Find out, before you get in the lift up to the Production Office, the names of the key players and especially those on the script team who will be able - should you make it a pleasant experience for them to work with you - to make your life positively marvellous on the show. Conversely, the opposite can also apply.

* Find out as much as you can about the production process
Not all Soaps are run on the same lines. Show interest and ask questions (when appropriate) about the process of production without being in the way or a burden. If you understand something of the pressures your script editor, for example, may be under to deliver your script to deadline, it’ll go a long way to creating a harmonious partnership and that editor will want to work with you again.

* Be positive and helpful to work with
Script editors are your friends as are the story liners. These fabulously creative people are here to help your labours run more easily and smoothly. Use them, don’t fight them, they speak on behalf of the producer and so keeping them on side and not fighting every script point because you feel protective about your work will get you a regular slot on the writing team. Being open-minded to script changes, collaborative in your approach to your writing task and even though it may smart, saying yes and doing the rewrites without having a mini breakdown about the time frame they have given you will ensure you are invited back again.

* Embrace the fast turnaround and keep at it
Like pretty much everything in life, Soap writing becomes easier with practice.

Be organised. You are about to enter a story factory with very fast script turnaround and an ever-hungry camera team wanting to shoot on time with an ever-demanding producer wanting great scripts on time and on budget and an ever-urgent cast wanting their scripts on time and an ever-ready director wanting your script changes to be on time and to make the script better to boot.

Everything is about timing on a Soap. There is never enough time but you have to work within the deadlines you are given. Don’t panic. The structure and rigours of Soap writing are put in place to help you generate an amazing number of drama hours in very little time.

* Be collaborative
Show respect and listen to the opinions and ideas of your fellow writers. You will have to top and tail their scripts and having your colleagues on side and encouraging them, especially at Script Conference, will make your life easier when you pitch a storyline you think is a winner and it receives the thumbs down.

* A word about rejection …
Take the rejection of your storyline as you would the acceptance of it. Both reactions are from the same Soap family and one will more than likely follow the other in rapid succession.

… and last but not least
Keep your interest fresh and true in the show by taking time out to watch it. When you feel jaded, write a radio play, or do something entirely different and come back to the show refreshed.

Remember, good Soaps need good writers. If that means you, get out there, get in touch, give it a go and HAPPY SOAP WRITING!

BIO: Yvonne Grace is an award-winning Television Drama Producer who runs a training/mentoring company called Script Advice for writers in need of a second opinion, editorial help or a script reading and treatment writing service. Join Script Advice Writers Room on Facebook.

Yvonne is currently designing a Summer short course in Writing For Soaps for The National Film and Television School. If you are interested in receiving details of this course, please send an email to yvonnegraceATscriptadviceDOTcoDOTuk and Yvonne will be in touch.

(This article originally appeared in The Script Writer Magazine; created and edited by Julian Friedmann)
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Thanks Yvonne!