Tag Archives: scriptwriting

Do the Olympics inspire you?

4 Aug

Proud to be British? With olympic fever grabbing the nation its hard not to be. Watching the athletes compete not just for their country, but for their own personal hopes and dreams, you can’t help but feel inspired. Watching that final push to gold, you feel their desire and it catches you in the throat. What an honour for us to be able to experience their moment.

I have spent time with people recently that perhaps aren’t part of my usual crowd. this has led to variety of conversation, and ultimately talk of where we hope to be in the future. An example of this would be the question posed to me, ‘What needs to happen for you to be ready to retire?’

Ok, so I am only 30 so that is totally a long way off, and maybe somewhat naively, not something I have ever considered. Having at this point in the evening been in receipt of one or two (OK that would be a blatant lie) cocktails, my flippant response was, ‘oh, ok, ultimate dream would be to be featured on Richard and Judy’s book club.’

Now, calm down. It was a flippant response, and I am sure even just to complete a novel would be a nice thing, but for an off the cuff answer, it made me question how  hard am I working towards that?

Woah. I’m not. Not even slightly. I am however, and this is the crazy realisation, working towards my day job.

Whenever I think about my future, my end goal, the point of happiness (like im not crying into my corn flakes each morning but you get what I mean), I am the proud author of a bestselling novel. When I sit down to write each day, I am working on my scripts, my thoughts are consumed by how I can portray my idea within a script, how I will be different, a bit clever, what twist I can add to make it stand out from the crowd.

I am, a script writer. And that is just fine.

But fine is not enough. I can do scripts, I really enjoy doing scripts. I would love to have a script commissioned, but the dream was never to be a scriptwriter. It was always about the novel. the cheesy photo on the back cover, and yes, the well turned dog-eared corners of the pages.

A novelist I may never be full-time, but I can be a scriptwriter. That doesn’t mean I can’t still work towards the dream. It will just be allowed centre stage once I have the day job. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Little steps and all that.

Watching the olympics, I have no idea who these athletes are. I mean, on the first day I had a call saying watch the BBC, your cousins in the rowing race. Really? (fact!) I have not been part of their journey, many I know, have competed in the olympics before, but it never registered on my radar. What is registering is the end of their journey. I feel heartache for them when they go out, and absolute joy when they win. I am screaming at the TV, I’m swearing at the athletes that try to challenge the British (Like seriously, step back guys), I am playing ‘olympics’ in the garden with the kids…I am stealing this enthusiasm and keeping it for my own dreams.

So what about you? are you proud? Regardless of nation (apologies for my step back comment), are you behind your athletes? Can you understand their determination sand apply it to your own dreams?

Taking a side step from your greatest dream is nothing to be ashamed of. I am certain many coaches are supporting the athletes, having never been able to realise the dream for themselves. Side stepping doesnt making you less of a person, side stepping shows you understand your strengths and weaknesses. Self belief is vital for your determination, denial will fail you.

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Fear. What is yours?

31 Jul

Fear.

Fear is the emotion that stops us in our tracks, prevents us from being what we truly want to be, stops us from being great.

I know many writers out there that have fear. They can’t share their work, and as a result it sits there, hidden away, never to be read by another.

I don’t have that fear. I have another one that I believe to be more crippling, and I wonder if any of you suffer the same?

I have never worried about sharing my work. In fact, the first time I wrote anything under the guise of ‘learning to be a writer’, I shared it within the children’s writing lecture that took place two days later. This was within my first two weeks at university.

I am the creature that writes and shares before it has undergone the first edits. I believe in my writing that strongly, that I know if something has ‘legs’ as the words are typed. If it is a struggle, it is wrong.

Of course editing is required, but I just want to share with everyone my latest piece of work. I am proud of what I do, and for that, I have no shame.

I explore genres, techniques, nothing is out-of-bounds. There is no limits to what I can do (and you for that matter). Writing is not just the setting down of a story, it is an experiment, a journey. One which cannot be taken without risks.

I identify my strengths, my weaknesses and I use them equally. Quietly pushing myself for the next challenge.

It is when thinking about that next challenge that I experience the fear. It’s like stepping off the cliff face. What if, just consider this for one moment, what if this time my self belief has blinded me. What if, my safety net, the one that slows my process when it is not simply great, does not catch me?

As I have said before, I do not plan. I do not sit there etching it all out, character bibles, plotting, synopsis, sub plots and the rest before beginning. Oh I think, I think a lot, generally starting with one idea and stretching it across, exploring within my mind the possibilities before I start. It is rare I make notes during this process. I have always believed if the idea has ‘legs’ the story will carry itself. Finalising details, checking the  story arc is there, ensuring character consistency is there all comes later. I believe many call this first part of what i do ‘passion’. I write because I feel it inside, a story bursting, a want, a release of emotions.

When I sit down to write, I already know if this is a script, short story, or hopefully the latest bestselling novel. When I try to fight this (see the disaster that was the uncompleted No Way Out Challenge) it grates, it physically hurts, and I feel myself hiding from the crowds. The only situation I can liken this to was taking my son to school when he begged not to go (I pulled him out eventually but that’s another story).

Fear is where I stand now. I have three ideas. all workable. two are scripts, one a novel. The daredevil in me is shouting try the novel. Not only have i never completed a full novel, the idea formulating is romance based, chick lit if you prefer. I have never written chick lit. The scripts are comedy based again, so they feel safe. I am still driven by my confidence in my previous one. Yet that could have just been fluke. Either way, what if I have lost my ability? What if I am the one hit wonder?

So tell me, what is your fear? What is the part of you that makes your writing career stutter?

***Without sounding conceited I am not a one hit wonder. I know this from professional feedback. Likewise I have not as yet been successful. I have not previously completed a novel as each one I have started has been abandoned due to other commitments at that time. The fear I speak of prevents me returning as it is the same psychological thought process***

Ooh, so that’s a writing tool!

23 Jul

Have you ever used writing tools?  Not like a pen and paper, no I mean a dedicated programme. Dedicated software to make your life that much easier?

Well up until the last script, I had only ever downloaded a programme. I think I may have opened it, but I never used it. I think I may have decided it was far too complicated and learning hoe to use it would hinder my progress, after all, I want that story on the page NOW. (Not to mention the fcat that I am rubbish at technology – I don’t even have an iTunes account!!)

I guess my initial reluctance was my want to be traditional. Once upon a time all you had was  a pen and paper, before that, well, you know how it goes. The greats had to work without, why shouldnt I? Well simply the greats can go do one. Just because it was hard for them, doesn’t mean I am going to make myself suffer.

So, yeah, Microsoft word has been my companion. To be fair, I am happy with it too. I don’t need anything else. Well my pad and pen to make notes I guess, but to be honest, I’m just not a great note taker.

I digress. When writing the script, simply I got annoyed. Annoyed with scrolling and scrabbling around for bits of paper, it bugged me it wasnt in front of me each character description. I am ashamed to admit it, but when I started writing two of my characters kept getting muddled, checking who was who was a pain in the backside, however it did show a major flaw in my writing.

I downloaded Celtx.

Celtx is a free script writing tool. It takes the hassle of layout and just allows you to write, sorting the formatting as you go. You can add notes, edit sections to save for later, as well providing the tools for creating notes about your character (yep, those all important character bibles I always talk about) and the best bit for me, tools for providing descriptions of each of your settings.

It may not be the best, but for me, it was invaluable. I loved jumping from one scene to the next, having a sidebar showing the titles of each scene so you have a reminder at a glance,  and this is just the bits I used. I didn’t explore the software fully, that, remains, a task for another day.

There was one flaw. I exported the completed script into word, at with point I had to play around with the layout. It was acceptable, but I think this just came down to preference, and I just saw it as an extra editing exercise.

So how about you? What tools have you used?  I ask with genuine interest. I am wondering if part of my past lack of dedication to writing has been contributed to by my making, as in, I have making my life unnecessarily difficult by rejecting anything but word. So please, do share.

**If you are not familiar with my blog you will not know that although I complete work, I tend to give up on a lot, midway, due to disengagement, oops!**

 

Hello…anybody there?

21 Jul

Who would have thought it huh? Returning after a long break is really hard. How should I start, should I say hello, just dive right in, explain what I have been doing…

Well, you all want to know I am sure whether I did it. Did I complete my script?

Erm…of course I did.

Unknown to me, I love a deadline, really gets the old motivation going. That’s not to say it was easy, it certainly wasnt straightforward, but I did it, and I couldn’t be happier.

If anyone asks, I say it took me ten months to complete the script. What? ten months? ten months for one episode? That’s crazy!

Of course it didn’t really, but it was ten months of thinking for sure. Of that, there was probably only four weeks of editing and revising, and then that was only part-time.

You see, I am not one for writing, putting to one side, returning at a later date. No. I am a writer that thinks, a lot. Then when I start, I just throw it on the page, and fortunately for me, this usually works.

I have learnt that I lack confidence in my writing, and I have moments that if I gave into, I would quit everything. But what I knew before I started, and what has been confirmed, is that mid way, I always have a wobble. many talk about the blood sweat and tears of writing. There is none of that for me, just boredom.

I get bored writing.

Oh my god, I actually just said that.

I get bored in everything I do though. I like excitement. I am like the kid that refuses to go on the carousel because it’s not a rollercoaster. Whats good though, is I now know, so in the future I can prepare myself for it. In short, I have discovered who I am in in so many ways.

For those of you wondering, the script is based in a student union. It is a comedy. A very brave move for me as I have never written comedy before. But as I say I like excitement, and this was a risk that was just asking to be taken.

It has been sent to the Wales Drama Award, and yesterday I had my email saying they had received it. I wait, slightly anxiously to see if it gets through the first round. Naturally I will be devastated if it is sent back with a thanks, but no thanks. However, I have taken a huge gamble, changing not only my genre, but my demographic too.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Semiotics: The Science Of Signs In Your Writing

18 Mar

Semiotics is the science of signs. the study of the denotations and connotations in the media. simply put, it is understanding the way a media message is created.

If that’s not clear enough, if you see an advertisement that shows happy healthy children eating a particular product, you expect the same for your own children. That, is semiotics at its most basic level. I actually feel that bu using that example I am completely disregarding the studys of this fascinating subject, and actually making it somewhat meaningless. It really is not.

Now obviously this is a subject that fascinates me. What I love about the knowledge, is the understanding of when we are writing, what those words, those descriptions ar e leading to. Once we can recognise how we use semiotics as a writer, we can abuse it. We can be clever. We can make the reader believe, or viewer if it is a script, that they are in on a secret, or part of an élite club. We can twist our writing to really screw up that old classic ‘the sting in the tale’.  To be honest, the possibilities are endless.

But what about language? Does the way we tell our story matter? Would it be wrong to use an outdated version of our language? Could it be acceptable if it set the era for which the plot is based? But then again, as writers we are to look ahead to see how the world is changing, to try to fit our writing to certain events several years in advance for marketing purposes – what if we are looking ahead and we only see a world that uses text speech?

Yes, I did just go there.

Even that sentence (above) would have looked strange on the page say 30 years ago. I wouldn’t like to say it would have been unacceptable (I simply wouldn’t know) but I do know I have been corrected on my use of the English language many times, and that one sentence would not be acceptable to many.

(Just as an aside, my spoken English is atrocious. I am a typical writer in that I struggle to formulate knowledgable, clear and concise sentences face to face).

Acceptable language however does depend on where and when it is being used. I have my creative style, my blogging style, my work style, and my friends style. As for texting, I am getting sloppier (!) as each day passes but you will never catch me spelling Wednesday as wednesdaii – I just don’t get that!

(Oops, did you see that? I used an exclamation mark. I should abandon my craft immediately).

Text language does grate me. I believe it is because half the time I do not understand it, both in terms of the message, and why it has been developed. But it is still a developing language, there are no set rules. However, isn’t every language a developing language? I believe so. As speakers, writers and interpreters of the language, we are changing it constantly. So why is text language so wrong?

Simply, it isn’t, it’s just too new. I have been on the outskirts of text language for the past fourteen years or so. My nieces, at fourteen years, are fluent in the language, and openly mock me for my lack of understanding. 

So how does this relate to semiotics?

If we consider the statement that kids do not read enough, one could wonder that on a language level, we are alienating them by simply not writing within their chosen language. The signs we are giving (by using a stricter version of a language many adults do not understand), are saying this is above you. This is better than you.

If you doubt this, think how frustrated you get when you spot a grammatical error in print. Kids that struggle with language won’t even get through the first sentence of a flowery written novel, let alone a paper such as the Independent.

I ma not talking about dumbing down writing (an expression I abhor). I am talking about looking to the future. Understanding that change is inevitable, but is that tomorrow or the year 3,000.

For writers, gauging when that change will take place is crucial. get in there early and the language police will be after you. getting there too late and your readers will have forgotten you.

Hollyoaks made me cry…twice.

16 Mar

It is no secret that I have somewhat of an obsession with soaps. However, it does remain somewhat of a love hate relationship. I have been composing a post for a while now about my favourite soap characters, unfortunately I have got to four, and am now struggling to find another to round it up to five.

Listing characters that get right on my wick would have been so much easier.

I digress.

For those of you that are not familiar with Hollyoaks, it is a soap set in Chester in the north-east of England. It is mostly for teens, with the main characters being between final school year and university age. It openly prides itself on having what they describe as a ‘hot’ cast, and is possibly the most shallow pile of poo ever shown on British TV. They even have their own premiership footballer and wannabe footballers wifes urgh!

Once in a while however, they will have a cracking storyline. The type that pulls you towards the trash mags to find out whats going to happen, yet the adrenaline for the character is such that you daren’t destroy the tension of what may happen.

So they have had this storyline about a gay teen, George, who we later find out is homeless. This is the link to Wikipedia to save me explaining the full plot line.

George - such a sweetie

Skipping to the end, we see George and his two friends, Callum and Maddie returning to Georges hometown. Once there they discover a memorial to George on a cliff edge. George has taken the identity of someone else, his real name is Andrew. Desperate to let his parents know he is still alive they return to the family home, standing outside watching George’s parents. George freaks out, he can’t just knock on the door, he is naturally scared and nervous of what reception he may get. That evening the three of them book into a hotel, after a long talk, they decide a decision will be made in the morning.

I cannot actually describe how irritating Maddie is

Now, I want to say at this point I have always had a soft spot for George, Maddie however is awful, not just the character, but the actress really leaves a lot to be desired. I have, many a time switched Hollyoaks off because of her sheer rubbishness. Callum would be ‘sweet’ except he also grates me as he has this stupid moustache that his family and friends seem not to have noticed when it was quite obviously open for mockery. With this in mind, you have to understand that I really shouldn’t have felt anything other than blandness.

In the morning George has gone, leaving a note that really pulls at your heart. Maddie in her pathetic voice tells Callum that she has to meet Georges parents, she has to let them know he is alive. Sensible, mature (he has a moustache so he must be mature beyond his years) Callum disagrees, it’s not their place. Sickly Maddie says they are Georges family (the friends) so basically it is their place to get involved.

With that moustache you are leaving me in some confusion, I see mature masculinity, whilst I am told you are in the sixth form? Is this a future storyline, has callum in fact, 'Never Been Kissed?'

We meet Georges parents. We discover that unlike we had previously been led to believe, George did not leave because he was gay and the parents were ashamed, he had in fact been a victim of bullying, but had never shared it with his parents. When Callum and Maddie then tell the parents that George is still alive, the dad grabs Maddie and tries to force her from their house. With much screaming and shouting, the front door is pulled open and George is stood on the doorstep. Hugs and sobs follow, and then a younger brother and sister (unknown to us) arrive home from school.

Now I know I have not described the scenes with the justice it deserves. The emotions from all parties were so strong. The belief of the friends they can make it OK, the heartache of the parents that believe their son is dead and think a cruel joke is being played, the need of George to have his family back. His loneliness, fear and pain all rolled into one big bundle.

The tears streamed as the front door opened, and I actually believe a little sob escaped as I heard the younger siblings say his name. This was yesterday, during the first showing of the episode on E4. Glutton for punishment I watched it again today on channel 4. Needless to say I was in full on floods of tears.

Many people may mock soaps for many reasons, but we must give credit when due. There are too many departments that would need mentioning, not just the writers, but those that deal with the continuity etc. Hats off to them all, they did a fantastic job.

I would post a link but every You Tube clip has been blocked, although I guess if you were that interested you could look on E4.

Saying that you probably won’t want to bother, I have become immune to ‘Maddies’ acting skills, you may find them so appalling that they are alone will have you in tears.

 

Kicking Myself – No Way Out

2 Mar

I could kick myself. No seriously, sometimes the most obvious is staring you straight in the face and you just miss it completely!

That would be me these past few weeks.

So obviously the experience of No Way Out to date has not been that positive, the indecision, the lengthy contemplation…as a rule that normally kicks in at about 10,000 words, by which point I feel I am too far in to turn around.

However, I have said the progress would be recorded through this blog, so that means ups and downs, warts and all. The stupid decisions, the moments of elation, and hopefully the completion – although if I choose to walk away from it, then I shall have to explain that also.

believe me, I have been just wishing I could erase the past posts and forget it, even with the elation of last week that I had finally started writing.

But this whose point of view, finding the main storyline, choosing the angle, it has just been too much. Even with your support I have just not felt it clicking. I have found my distractions too easy to go with.

I was stupid.

We even discussed it within the comments.

It is a script, and even if it wasn’t, sub plots are required.

The script is started. I am writing both Steves and Poppys storylines side by side. Becky has been pushed to one side for now, but that’s fine. I have the answer. Simple wasn’t it?