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.

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!**