writing blogs

Someone once said to me, “The internet is like the biggest library in the world, but all the books are on the floor.” I can SO relate to this. With so much great content online, it can be difficult to know where to **start** when it comes to sourcing help and opinions on writing.

But the good news is, it’s never been easier to navigate the web and get what you want/need. So, if you’re sick of being the last to know about helpful articles and tips on writing, plus you’re wondering how some people always seem to know before YOU do, here’s 3 great, useful and FREE ways to join them! Enjoy …

1) Flipboard

Get Flipboard, HERE from iTunes and HERE from Google Play

Sick of combing the web or social media for articles and blogs about writing? Then STOP! With Flipboard, you can create your own “magazine” tailored to your own interests. It will comb the interwebz for you for articles on subjects YOU choose and  aggregate them into your version of the app, plus you can actually create and share your own with others if you want to. Flipboard has revolutionised my reading and research, no exaggeration — not only on writing either, but on ALL the subjects that interest and influence me. Download this FREE app to your desktop, phone, tablet or iPad NOW! MORE: 4 Indispensable Social Media Platforms For Writers 

rebelmouse2) Rebelmouse

Follow @Bang2write on RebelMouse HERE 

But OK, you can’t be bothered with downloading apps and suchlike – no problem! Instead, you can subscribe to RebelMouse. It’s free and combs through Twitter and other social media platforms daily for content about subjects you choose (such as writing), delivering a digest direct to your email inbox of useful links and other stuff. You can create your own, or FOLLOW MINE, which is already done for you! Just click the button to subscribe. MOREUsing Social Media: Making Connections, Self Promotion, Building Relationships

417835_199619453468865_1757782809_n3) Paper.li

Follow the B2W paper.li, HERE 

B2W has used this app the longest and over the last couple of years it’s become better and more streamlined.

A daily automated round up of content such as articles, videos and photos, you can designate keywords to ensure it filters only the stuff you want. Mine are #scriptchat, #writing, #screenwriting, #novels and #socialmedia. Alternatively, if there are particular users online you want to follow, enter his/her Twitter handle — or better still, do a combo of both!

Another feature I like about it is that you can ensure it publishes to your social media accounts like Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter, as well as your email inbox. In addition, daily on Twitter paper.li will randomly tag users who’ve featured in your day’s round up. Whilst this can *occasionally* be an epic fail – (I’ve had a couple of porno-bots, plus people who’ve been confused as to why this has happened!) – 90% of the time it’s on point and I’ve even met really interesting writers via this function.

Just click the button to SUBSCRIBE TO MINE and/or create your own. Alternatively, my paper.li publishes to @Bang2write on Twitter and Facebook between 1:45pm and 2:45PM (GMT), so look out for it. MORE: The B2W Writing Resources Page

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How do YOU find great stuff online about writing?

If you know of other free apps, platforms & round ups, then link to them in the comments section for other Bang2writers. Don’t forget you can also check out my writing books, by clicking the link below or the pic above.

Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!

Click here for the festival programme

Click here for the festival programme

To celebrate the launch of BritCrime’s first free online crime fiction festival, 11-13 July, I have teamed up with @BritCrime authors to give away one fabulous prize.

You could win a gift bundle of ten print books, including new releases by Colette McBeth and Sarah Hilary, and MJ McGrath’s Gold Dagger longlisted White Heat. This giveaway is open internationally. One lucky winner will win all ten books.

Please complete the entries in the Rafflecopter before midnight 10th July for a chance to win. Click HERE or the big shiny red button at the bottom of this post.

To learn more about the BritCrime festival, please visit http//britcrime.com and sign up to the newsletter. There will be giveaways and live Q&As with bestselling British crime fiction authors hosted on BritCrime’s Facebook page 11 & 12 July.

The Magpies + What You Wish For by Mark Edwards

No Other Darkness by Sarah Hilary

The Life I Left Behind + Precious Thing by Colette McBeth

White Heat by M J McGrath

Beyond the Rage by Michael J Malone

Follow the Leader + Watching Over You by Mel Sherratt

The Harbour Master by Daniel Pembrey

Good luck!

A Rafflecopter giveaway

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Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!

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Are you a writer who wants to get your work out there? Many writers are now taking matters into their own hands when it comes to getting their work produced, especially in short film.

It can be tricky to navigate from being a writer to organising a team of cast and crew for a small shoot. But it’s possible! And guess what? There’s no ‘set way’ in which to do it.

That’s right – there is no ‘pathway to producing. And after you’ve done your first production you’ll do things differently the next time.

Here are our Top 5 shortcuts that we come back to, time after time:

1) Good, Fast & Cheap?

Many will be familiar with the notion that you can pick any two but never all three. Now switch it up.

To produce a piece of work – in this case a short film – you’re going to need a Writer, Producer & Director. If you are setting out on your first short film then you can choose to do any two of those roles. You are already the Writer so you get to choose between being the Writer/Producer or Writer/Director.

So: Choose your strength and set yourself up for success. MORE: How To Maximise Your Portfolio

2) Trust is key!

The most common choice is to become the Writer/Producer and this means you have to select a director to work with. You need to find someone you can trust (because they have a quality showreel you admire) and someone who is on the same wavelength as you.

Where do you find these people? Look for graduates from the NFTS, Film Schools or advertise on Shooting People. Once you have selected the right director for you – hand over creative control to them.

So: Trust that you have selected the right person to deliver your project and let them get on with it. MORE: All About Relationships & Teamwork

3) It’s all in the timing

Set yourself up for success and plan to shoot no more than 4-6 pages per day. Don’t kill everyone on set with long hours, don’t kill your script and don’t make the editor want to kill you because there’s not enough material to choose from.

So: Create a reasonable timetable and organise yourself. MOREThe Writer Is King (Or Queen) … IF You’re In Ultra-Low-Budget Film

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4) Are you experienced?

Always select and book a location with the director, DoP and Sound dept.

You can’t see or hear what they can see and hear – remember this is your first shot at producing your own work. Listen to the experience of those around you. And if you’ve done your job properly you have surrounded yourself with people who are better than you. That way you’ve just turned your first shot at producing your short film into your very own film school education!

So: Find people who are better than you and trust them to do their jobs and you will learn an immense amount in the process. MORE: 4 Top Tips for Entering Short Film Contests 

5) Lights, Camera… Actors

Where do we get our actors? Firstly, you need to make sure you have budgeted accordingly but you can get good actors to work on your project for around £100 per day plus expenses. Use agents as your casting director. Here’s how. Write a thorough breakdown of your characters; age, accent, class and then email that breakdown along with brief details of the project and the fee you are going to pay the actor to the agents.

You can find a list of agents in CONTACTS which you can buy from Spotlight, HERE. Agents are great because they have done a lot of the leg work for you already. If an agent sends you one of their clients as a suggestion for your short – you don’t have to worry about ‘if they can act’. You only need to think about ‘are they right for the part’.

You then book a church hall or small space for the casting. You will want to see if they can listen to you and take direction. You then have the difficult choice of deciding if they are ‘right’ for your project. Let the agents know who has or hasn’t made the cut. Be professional and courteous and suddenly you have the beginnings of a reputation with actor’s agents.

So: Actors are an invaluable asset and a secret tip to finding good ones is to go through an agent. Then it’s up to you to figure out if they are right for your project. MORE3 Issues With Casting That Great Character In The Produced Version Of Your Screenplay 

As we said earlier, there is no set way to do this and we do hear a lot of people asking, “But how do you produce a film, I don’t know where to start?”

You start by surrounding yourself with people who are better than you. At Makelight Productions we’ve made countless shorts and been screened in festivals all over the world. We are now embarking on our first feature film. You can find out more about it HERE.

Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!

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Every single time I write about there being NO writing “rules”, yet more writers come rushing out the woodwork with counter-arguments on why there ARE.

Look, I understand. When someone says you can do WHATEVER YOU WANT, it can feel weird and scary.

Human beings are pack animals, so it makes sense to stay with the crowd doing what is considered “common sense” rather than forging out on your own and doing your own thing.

BUT YOU MUST! Here’s why:

1) A great-looking page does NOT = great craft

YES, grammar and punctuation and spelling are all important. Yes, good format is essential. This is because we gotta “reader proof” our work against the interns and work experience kids who obsess on that stuff. So your writing might look GREAT on the page and yes, that is a good start. But it is not everything. It can’t be!! MORE: 10 Common Errors You Need To Fix In Your Writing RIGHT NOW

2) Character and story is EVERYTHING

I can’t stress this enough. You can forget everything else, as long as you know this. I’m serious. Write a great (aka MEMORABLE) character, doing something really interesting *for some reason*. If this shows you know your target audience, your structure, genre and tone? BOOM. You will sell something. It is as simple – and as difficult – as this! honest, guv! MORE: “Why This Story?” Or 8 Questions They’re REALLY Asking

3) We DON’T NEED any more vanilla writing

This is the thing. There are more submissions than can ever be read. Your screenplay or unpublished novel might look professional, but if it isn’t FULL OF FLAVOUR, then we just won’t care.

We want something that will GRAB us, even if that means we go, “Ewwwwww I don’t like that, YUK!” Because that’s how we remember. Vanilla writing is “Oh sure, it’s fine.” Do we want it? Again, NO. Do we remember it? DOUBLE NO. Better to inspire loathing, than be met with a “MEH”.

So REJECT VANILLA. Have the guts to make your writing strawberry, chocolate, mint, orange, banana, bubblegum, soap, metal, fire, stinging nettle, WHATEVER. Just do it! MORE: Writers, Stop Sabotaging Yourself – Here’s How

4) You must reject writing CONFORMITY

Working with writers, what do I think is their biggest enemy? Easy. THEMSELVES.

Why? Because writers will impose certain standards on their own work and others’, just based on what they perceive is the “right” way. And what’s more, just because LOADS of people think this way? Does not make it the “right” way.

In fact, I’d venture the more people who tell you you’re WRONG about something? The more likely you’re on the right track. So keep going and damn the naysayers to hell! MORE: On Writing “Conformity” And Why It’s A Missed Opportunity For Writers

5) You gotta make your breakthrough YOURSELF!

Writers desperate to break through think it is about conforming to some accepted “standard”. As a result, they fail to STAND OUT. HOWZAT for irony??

So instead you must go out there and you stand up for something you believe in and do it the best way you can.

THIS is how you get your break, NOT by doing what you’re “supposed” to. Never, ever forget that and never, ever apologise. JUST DO IT. See you on the other side! MORE7 Things You Must Stop Doing If You Want To Be A Professional Writer

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Check out my novels!

The Decision Book Series confronts a female protagonist with ALL the possible outcomes of a single dilemma. Which would YOU choose? CLICK HERE to download today. No Kindle? No problem – download the Kindle app for your phone or tablet, HERE.

Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!

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Script reading course success

‘Lucy is a total rock star, down to earth, fun but highly knowledgeable.’
Philip Lawrence, Writer

Delighted to say my recent workshop for LondonSWF, BREAKING INTO SCRIPT READING was a huuuuge success!

Unbelievably, 100+ delegates turned up and I had a blast teaching the course. Everyone was so switched on, asking brilliant questions and taking to the exercises with such enthusiasm, sharing their insights and POVs with the class.

More new script readers already

‘Potential Script Readers can’t afford to not attend this course. Lucy gives a great but realistic view of the script reading/editing world whilst providing useful screenwriting advice. 2 for the price of 1. Thank you!’
Bren Sanders, Writer

I’ve already had delegates send me their optional “homework” script reports after the class and I can say, B2W’s got some serious competition coming up the ranks! Except of course we’ll all be ALLIES, a key element of being good freelancers!

In addition, several of the delegates have been in touch already, saying they’ve gone after work placements script reading based on what they learnt. At least three so far have already secured a trial, too – barely two weeks after doing the class. Amazing!

One for the diary

‘This course not only helped me understand how to be a script reader, it showed me how to be a script writer who can connect to an audience. Great atmosphere, great knowledge and great contacts.’
Daemian Greaves, Filmmaker/Writer

Lots of Bang2writers have been asking if I’ll be running another course and I’m delighted to say I am!! The next course will be at Met Film School again, this time on 10th & 11th June 2016. You can be an early early bird sign up for the course HERE for the bargainous price of just £89.00.

Why do the course?

‘I recommend this course to all writers/readers and filmmakers for the networking opportunities as well as the in-depth knowledge surrounding script development.’
Ruth Trippitt, Script Researcher

If you want to be a script reader this is obviously the course for you, but equally if you want to understand how your writing is viewed by the reader and want to improve your chances of getting out the spec pile and/or forming good relationships with other writers and filmmakers, then THIS is the course for you, too!

See full details HERE and view even more feedback from delegates who did this course, HERE.

Want a taster of what you’ll get next year? You can read an epic live tweet of the two days, HERE, plus you can see all the Flickr photos, HERE.

See you in 2016? Hope so!

Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!

You may have seen last week on social media that I’ve just signed on as one of the judges for 2015’s Shore Scripts Screenwriting competition! I can’t believe the talent I’m on the panel with, make sure you check it out. So I’m delighted to welcome Lee, one of the Shore Scripts contest’s readers today offering some insights into their spec pile! Over to you, Lee …

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Ever wondered what kind of scripts other people submit into screenplay contests? Is there a genre or plot type they see time and time again? How can you buck the trend and make your script stand out?

I personally read about fifty of the 2014 quarter finalist scripts from last year’s Shore Scripts Screenwriting Competition, with an eye to put roughly a fifth through to the next round. Here’s an insight into what I found.

The top 3 most submitted GENRES in 2014:

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1) Period

24% of the scripts I read were era pieces ranging from Roman history right up until the 1970’s. There’s actually no such thing as a pure period genre as the ‘period’ simply refers to the time rather than the plot so it kind of has to be combined with another genre. But this means it’s very versatile indeed. Each script was completely different and there was a high level of originality to be found in this category. Some were hard fast dramas; some were comedies, and some romantic. Most, not all, were based on real events, and had been suitably well researched, but this often led to a tendency to over embellish in the scene direction. Other pitfalls included all the characters sounding alike, or when the writer was writing from personal experience and although the story may have been interesting to them, it didn’t necessarily make a great movie. MORE: 5 Tips For Writing Period Movies

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2) Drama

Unsurprisingly 20% of the scripts I read fell into this category (more if you include the period dramas). This is a popular genre for writers, although not necessarily for audiences. When was the last time you heard someone say “Ooh, I fancy watching a right good drama at the pictures tonight”? This doesn’t mean dramas are bad by any means; drama is the backbone to compelling stories. We don’t go looking for it because we expect it in every movie. Most of the dramas I read were centred on familiar family and relationship dramas but placed within an unusual setup. Dramas are great at building a deep connection with the audience but what was often lacking was enough of that strong and engaging emotion coming off the page. Equally lacking was any actual drama! (a surprisingly common mistake) And promising premises didn’t always deliver on the emotional and dramatic content needed to pull the protagonist along. MORE: 8 Mistakes That Will Kill Your Drama Screenplay DEAD

3) Thriller

I was pleased to find that 12% of the scripts were thrillers, even though it’s not a particularly favourite genre of mine to watch. What was impressive about this category was again, the originality of the concepts. Often combined with a crime plotline and a heavy element of mystery, this created intriguing hooks, which made you want to know more. Subsequently I put through more thrillers than any other genre into the next round. Tension, suspense, plot twists and reversals are the much needed elements to pull off a successful thriller. What’s difficult to handle is deciding where and when to reveal information to the audience. The writer needs to find the right balance between combating predictability and creating an overly complex and confusing plot. While it’s important to maintain mystery, there’s nothing worse than baffling the reader unnecessarily. MORE: 8 Mistakes That Will Kill Your Thriller Screenplay DEAD

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Now DON’T think automatically you shouldn’t submit any of these types of stories into a competition. It’s important to remember ones those that really stand out are those where something new has been brought to the table.

So what struck me was the fantastic variation of plot types within these submissions, all with a high degree of originality in their concepts. But which plot types occurred most frequently?

The top 3 most submitted PLOT TYPES:

1) Rites of Passage

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22% of the plotlines centred on a relatable problem, such as the relationship or family drama (hence the percentage mirroring the amount of scripts that fell into the drama category) where the protagonist is avoiding one problem by chasing another. It’s essentially where the main character is trying to achieve a misguided goal, keeps failing all the time, then finally begins to change, learn, and eventually discovers that what they thought they wanted, isn’t the emotional ‘need’ they inwardly desired all along. A lot of the scripts that didn’t make it any further fell foul of not developing a clear ‘goal’ for the protagonist or didn’t generate big enough stakes for them. Often there weren’t any huge consequences for the characters and this made their journey and ‘goal’ lack urgency or importance. Writers of this plot type need to make sure that the audience is really rooting for their main character. MORE: Top 5 Ways Writers Screw Up Their Characters

2) Buddy Love

18% of the scripts focused on romantic relationships or featured two main characters instead of just one. These scripts relied largely on a “will they or won’t they?” question, which was either the characters getting together romantically or uniting as a team to achieve a pivotal goal. More often than not, Buddy Love plots are comedies, so having a fresh take on both plot and genre was what we were looking for (notice how we keep coming back to mentioning original concepts?). The dynamic between the two central characters also has to be a compelling one. This was a hard category to assess, as there were plenty of high concept ideas submitted, which all could easily have gone through if there had been enough space. Plus comedy is such a personal thing. You either think it’s funny or you don’t and a lot of the scripts didn’t do it in terms of making the audience laugh. MORE: 8 Mistakes That Will Kill Your Comedy Screenplay DEAD

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3) Golden Fleece

16% fell into this category, which is almost like a plotline that potentially everything fits under. What’s central to the Golden Fleece however, is the inclusion of a team. That team, led by a central character, has to overcome obstacle after obstacle in order to reach a clear and identifiable goal. There has to be a good mix of characters in the ensemble and each has to have their shining moment too. What didn’t work too well in the submissions was that the goal was often a weak one. In some instances it was hard to care whether the goal was reached or not as it just wasn’t dramatic, hard to achieve, or interesting enough. A boring goal meant the overall concept wouldn’t grab audiences, let alone keep them gripping their seats. MORE: 7 Reasons You Should Write A Sports Movie

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When trying to assess what worked and what didn’t, what we saw a lot of and what was rare, it becomes obvious that even though there was perhaps more of one genre than another, they all had a fantastic variety of plot types within each genre. Any genre can be mixed with any plot type, so there’s really an unlimited amount of stories out there waiting to be written.

Screenwriters hear this all the time, but what people are really looking for is a strong original concept that engages emotionally with the audience. But this is just the basis of a great script. All of the other elements from dramatic structure, believability, clear character motivations and all the rest, still need to be prevalent in your script too. But please believe that a good story will always sell. Trust me. I’m a Script Reader!

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BIO: Lee Hamilton is a writer-turned-longtime-reader and script analyst for the Shore Scripts Screenwriting Competition and a graduate of Screen Academy Scotland’s MA Screenwriting course. She also writes coverage via Short Com, a UK based comedy short film programme. Both seek to discover exciting new talent from around the world. Shore Scripts regular deadline ends 31st July and you can enter your Feature or Short script at www.shorescripts.com and follow them on twitter @shorescripts.

Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!

Very often screenwriters will get their protagonists and antagonists DOWN in their scripts … But when it comes to the rest of their characters??? EPIC FAIL.

Why? Well, all too often it will simply be because those other characters are simply DULL. Those secondary characters may be just hanging around randomly; or they may feel underdeveloped, there only to serve the plot. Basically: LE YAWN.

This is never more obvious than with female characters in spec screenplays in my experience, so I thought I’d take a look at four of my favourite female secondaries and why they’re so great. Check out these lovely laydeez and learn from them:

1) Gloria, WHITE MEN CAN’T JUMP (1992)

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I remember watching this movie when I was a kid. Though I’ve got as much interest in basketball or sports in general as I have in being stuck in the eye with a red hot needle, I was really struck by Gloria.

Gloria is a great character not only because she feels three dimensional , but because she’s always so optimistic. Notice she doesn’t say “IF Jeopardy calls …” in the movie, she says WHEN!! And guess what, Jeopardy does call, because Billy fixes it for her, because he KNOWS she will win (plus she’ll hopefully get back with him). HOWZAT for self fulfilling prophecy??

So as a secondary character, Gloria’s life is the triumph of hope over experience, encapsulated by this little speech:

Sometimes when you win, you really lose, and sometimes when you lose, you really win, and sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie, and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic mechanism, from which one extracts what one needs.

Yeah! You said it, Gloria. I totally agree. And if you don’t know what she means?? Then school yourself sunshine, STAT. MORE: Don’t Let Your Secondary Characters Take Over 

2) Greta, LIAR, LIAR (1997) 

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Long-suffering Greta is a legal secretary for Fletcher Reede, a lawyer who finds himself unable to lie for twenty four hours in this comedy. It’s unusual to see a secondary character of Greta’s age in movies at all, but I think what I like best about Greta is not only her no-nonsense approach to Fletcher’s lies, but how she deals with his truth as well:

“Here’s your raise!” Greta gives Fletcher what for

Many supporting characters in comedy act only as a foil or facilitator for the lead’s actions. But here in LIAR, LIAR Greta has her own views and her own motivations, making her place in the story unforgettable. This proves once and for all Joss Whedon’s notion that everyone in the story “must have a reason to live” if we are going to get behind characterisation. MORE: Download The Character Motivation & Reference Guide from the B2W Downloads page

3) Karen, BLADE (1998)

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What I love about Karen is she’s a SCIENTIST and uses her skills not only to try and find a cure for herself, but to help Blade fight their mutual nemesis – vampires. Who can forget that impressive *stuff* she creates that makes vampires explode??

Quite simply, Blade could not have fought the vamps off without this WHOA-man!! A haemotologist, Karen is dragged into Blade’s world against her will (and our hero’s, as is customary with the Thriller genre), but she’s not going to cry about it. Neither does she slink about her lab being sexy-schmexy, she just gets on with things. In fact, she is so practical, when she sees Blade is fading in the resolution, she even offers herself up as a little snack to pep him up! How’s that for hardcore??? MORE: 33 Experts Share Their Notable Female Characters Of Recent Years

4) Letty, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS  (2001)

Letty’s is dual lead Dominic’s longtime girlfriend in this franchise, but she’s ALSO rock solid proof the “love interest” role function doesn’t have to be dull, sappy or even vulnerable.

Letty is indubitably a Class A bitch, but unlike many of these type of  female characters, we totally *get* her. She might be jealous and possessive; she might be careless and flippant; she might positively REEK of bad attitude … But she’s also an amazing driver and mechanic; she’s loyal to a fault AND she knows when to pick her battles with her own mercurial mate, Dominic Toretto. Here’s what she says when Dominic nearly gets caught by the police and he’s angry “buster” Brian has had to rescue him:

LETTY: (concerned) Are you alright?

DOMINIC: (incredulous) Am I alright????

LETTY: (deadpan) It’s a question.

But I think my favourite element of Letty is her totally unapologetic stance on owning her sexuality. Too often female characters who do this get humiliated or threatened for it, but not Letty. She likes sex, she is sexy and she gives zero fucks who knows it, including Dominic:

LETTY: You look tired. I think you should go upstairs and give me a massage.

No wonder Dominic’s frequent line to Letty throughout the entire franchise is a variation of, “You got this?” We KNOW she’s got this!!! MORE: 5 Modern Kickass Hotties Who Are Also Great Characters

Like Female Characters? LOVE @DecisionSeries!

The Decision Book Series confronts a female protagonist with ALL the possible outcomes of a single dilemma. Which would YOU choose? CLICK HERE to download today. No Kindle? No problem – download the Kindle app for your phone or tablet, HERE.

Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!

Many thanks to Grammarly, who have been in touch with this fab infographic, The Anatomy Of A Grammar Nerd. I love it and if anyone says “irregardless” around me?? I WILL PRESS THE RED BUTTON AND KILL US ALL. See below for more!

Good grammar, spelling and punctuation can be a constant challenge to writers and readers alike, so it’s really important to ensure you can get a handle on this small, but significant element of writing. Check out these previous articles on B2W here for more:

10 Common Errors In Your Writing You Need To Fix Right Now

5 Killer Grammar & Punctuation Errors That Will Sink Your Reputation … And Ways You Can Fix Them!

Creative Ways To Edit Outside The Box 

3 Killer Typos That Blow Writers Out The Water

5 Tips For Editing Your Work

The Format One Stop Shop

Don’t forget either you can check out my books HERE. Like this post?  Then sharing is caring, so please hit the buttons at the bottom of the post and send out to your friends and follows on your social media profiles! 

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Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!

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So last weekend I taught my “Breaking Into Script Reading Course” for LondonSWF … And what a weekend! I had a terrific time with some really switched-on delegates who brought their energy and enthusiasm to the room, two days just FLEW by and I had a blast.

If you missed the class, please check out the fantastic live tweet my scripty sisters @SoFluid & @BrideofChrist provided … Their thumbs must have been ON FIRE because they did approx 70% of the nearly ONE THOUSAND #Bang2write tweets over the weekend! Amazing. View the live tweet HERE and find out about other courses I’ve done HERE.

With script reading on the brain, I’m handing over to Pinar aka @zoeyclark for her thoughts on dealing with feedback effectively … Over to you, Pinar!

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So you wrote your script. Edited and polished it. It’s something of a 4th or a later draft. You sent it to professional readers. And you finally, after what felt like years, you got back your coverage.

If you got a recommend, congratulations! If you have two recommends, congratulations squared. Please, work on rocking that one page pitch!

But chances are you didn’t get two recommends or two of anything. YIKES!

Saying your feedback was mixed is a major understatement. Well, welcome to the confusing world of script evaluations. Before you attempt at a rewrite, you’ll just have to accept some facts:

– Some notes will be more on the positive side.

– Some will hang on the negative side.

– But generally, it’ll be somewhere in between.

SO: Your script has strengths; it has weaknesses. No surprises there. What’s more likely to confuse you, however, is if you get evaluations from multiple readers. You will realize they can (wildly) disagree.

It happened to me. Out of the many different readers, including Lucy, I got a huge variety of reactions. How much variety do you ask? They should at least agree on certain things, surely? Like dialogue? Structure? Originality? Premise?

Nope. Not so much.

So, which people are right? The ones that gave you a consider? Or the ones that gave you a pass?

Before you panic, get on the defensive or get depressed, take a deep breath. Acknowledge this as a confusing, albeit extremely beneficial thing. It means your script has potential. It also means you still have work to do.

I can hear you. Aargh!!! But don’t start pulling your hair out yet. After distancing yourself from the story and characters for a while, you need to evaluate your evaluation(s) first. Below are my tips and observations on how to do just that:

1) Follow the “2 Or More” Rule

As Lucy points out in 5 Ways to Use Feedback Effectively, if 2 or more people point out a problem, there probably is a problem. But what if four people read it, and only 2 think there is a problem? Then you have to follow your gut. Still not sure? Maybe it’s time for a fifth lot of feedback.

Yes, it is expensive, especially if you don’t have seasoned screenwriter friends who will read your script as a favor. But this is one of the best forms of education you can get. Just make sure you know who your readers are and what to expect from them in terms of feedback. Luckily, most readers provide sample feedback on their site. MORE: Check out B2W’s sample overview script reports on the B2W Downloads page

2) Focus on the stuff your readers agree on

Pay attention to the suggestions on the good stuff and implement the suggestions on how to make them even better. The good thing about a mixed reaction is that there are positive comments. You did some things right. However, even good notes come with a “but”.

Here’s how I made the ultimate list of things to change, fix or improve:

I printed out all the feedback and highlighted the agreements. Then I counted how many made the same point, noted the degree it concerned them and why.

I did the same for disagreed on points, with a different color highlighter.

Then I got to work. MORE: All about rewriting & feedback

3) Always listen to YOUR gut!

Following up on the tip above, I listen to my gut. Chances are, some of the points will confirm your own suspicions about what worked and what didn’t.

When readers confirm your doubts, it’s time to take a deeper look into those issues. On the other hand, when they reaffirm the strengths you know your story has, it’s a good idea to stop the rewriting process on those parts. MORE: Why self belief and “can do” attitude is SO important

4) Don’t obsess over the official result

A pass doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to sell it. A recommend doesn’t mean you will. But when pitching, it helps to have a consider or a recommend. MORE: What PASS, CONSIDER and RECOMMEND really mean on script reports 

5) Accept the inevitable 

It took me a while to accept the reality, but I finally came to terms with all of the possibilities:

– The script may or may not be optioned or sold.

– It may or may not be made into a movie.

– You might give up on the story, or introduce it in another medium (as in a novel, a graphic novel, etc…

There are of course many other possibilities, but you get the idea. It all comes down to doing the best you can with the story and then moving on (at least temporarily) if you have to. MORE: 5 Ways To Keep Up Stamina For Rewrites (And How To Know When It’s Done)

Concluding:

Remember, your script has to remain YOUR story. You have to like it. You have to believe in it. Improve it to the best of your ability, but don’t change it to the point you don’t recognize it anymore. You can’t please everyone. And you can’t wow people with your pitches if you’re not in love with the script yourself. 

After many evaluations, I can say that my screenplay has in fact improved a great deal. I’m currently working on the agreed weaknesses. And most importantly, I still love the damn script.

One pass didn’t cause me to ball up and cry. One consider didn’t have me running to the producers. There’s still work to be done and I’m happy to do it!

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1935231_150864536078_3630667_nBIO: Pinar Tarhan is a freelance screenwriter. She’s currently working on the final drafts of a feature drama and a TV pilot. You can catch up with her on her blog, Addicted to Writing and @zoeyclark on Twitter.

Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!

nbk

Research shows serial killers and/or people on the run frequently ride out in pairs, yet single protagonists (especially the white, male “lone wolf”) dominates the spec pile and a lot of produced movies and television shows. Why??

So, for a change, let’s take a look at these deadly duos from older films for our inspiration:

1) Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

5-things-you-might-not-know-about-bonnie-and-clydeWith the real Bonnie & Clyde gunned down eighty one years ago, now seems as good a time as any to revisit the movie, nearly FIFTY years old, yet it still looks pretty fresh. If you’re attempting a true crime story, you can do a lot worse than start here with your research.

I get a fair amount of true stories through B2W, many of them pertaining to infamous figures like murderers and robbers like Bonnie and Clyde. It’s not difficult to see why: drama is conflict and historical figures on the wrong side of the law provide bags of it. The difficulty is frequently what to leave out; what to “massage” and what to plain ol’ lie about, in getting that true story off the page the “right” way. MORE: 5 Times It’s OK To Sacrifice Facts For Drama

2) Kit and Holly in BADLANDS (1973) 

Badlands28Frequently when writers attempt true crime stories, they will try and get the reader to empathise with the killer. This is understandable, because we want to try and relate to WHY people do terrible things (though usually not condone them, though not always).

If you’re trying to write killers where we understand HOW they got to that point and WHY they are the way they are, then definitely take a look at BADLANDS. Kit and Holly stand up as characters over forty years on because their motivations are so strong and their journey so overt. Watch it NOW. MORE: 12 Character Journeys We Can Learn From (No Real Spoilers)

3) Frank and Julia Cotton, HELLRAISER (1987)

File1532I first watched this movie when I was about nine and nearly had a heart attack. It looks pretty dated now – hence it being earmarked for yonks for a remake – but the movie still raises some interesting and potential horrifying ideas on the age-old notion of, “What WOULDN’T you do for love?”

This is particularly interesting to me as a script reader. This because scribes frequently place this question at the heart of their own horrors, but fail to deliver on it like Clive Barker did. Instead, their plots will lose sight of that motivation and just become a string of grisly scenes, just for the HELL (arf) of it. Scribes need to take a look at this movie and what works in making it fuel their own narratives and character motications. MORE: 8 Mistakes That Will Kill Your Horror Screenplay DEAD

4) Ronnie and Reggie Kray, THE KRAYS (1990)

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I’ve always been fascinated by twins and it seems the world is fascinated by this particular gruesome twosome, with not one, but TWO Kray Twin films out in 2015, LEGEND (starring Hollywood star and Brit Tom Hardy as both twins), plus much lower budget but “authentic” The Rise Of The Kray Twins.

But what I really like about THIS 1990 version (other than the Kemp Brothers, naturally) is how it brings in their homelife, especially their mother, Violet, played with aplomb by the late great Billie Whitelaw. It reminds us even violent men were children once and there are many reasons they end up the way they do, usually not because they’re straight “evil” either. MORE: How To Attach Named Talent To Your Screenplay

5) Thelma & Louise, THELMA & LOUISE (1991)

thelma-and-louise-reunionSo, whilst technically NOT serial killers, these gals are still a deadly duo as far as I’m concerned, with the FBI and a bunch of others after them throughout the movie.

Whilst male/female teams *might* turn up in produced content (though hardly ever in the spec pile, it seems), two WOMEN hardly ever do beyond the Rom Com genre. For shame, writers! What’s more, especially in action specs, two women might provide the catalyst for the action, but nearly always it’s the men who have the last word and/or clean up after them. YARGH. What’s fantastic about THELMA AND LOUISE then, is they perform role functions we commonly associate with male characters. They’re active and have agency of their own BUT ALSO plant the seeds of their own downfall as well. What’s not to like about that?? So check out this movie and learn from it. MORE: 9 Female Screenwriters Worth Watching

6) Mickey & Mallory, NATURAL BORN KILLERS (1994)

Natural_Born_KillersEnigmatic serial killers who are white and male get a lot of time upfront in Hollywood movies. Normally they’re educated too, used to the finer things in life, so a redneck like Mickey as a bloodthirsty cowboy was a refreshing change … and get this, still IS, 21 years later!! WTF?? Proof thinking “left of the middle” when it comes to characterisation really does pay dividends.

However, NATURAL BORN KILLERS doesn’t stop there, because Mickey’s ahem, “better half” Miss Mallory is every bit as deranged and violent as Mickey, proof the female of the species really can be as deadly as the male:

“How sexy am I now, huh? Fucker!”

Who hasn’t wanted to kill leering twats in restaurants and bars? I know I have. Plus been here as well:

“WORST fuckin’ head I ever got in my life. Next time don’t be so fuckin’ eager.” 

As movies go, NATURAL BORN KILLERS could *almost* be a hyper-real remake of BADLANDS (number 2), so why not watch both back to back and see what’s similar and what’s different? MORE7 Screenwriting Lessons From Crime Movies

7) Corky and Violet in BOUND (1996)

maxresdefault-1What I love about BOUND is that it would have been so easy to make Corky a man and have Violet run off with him, flipping the V to her ex Caesar, ie. he’s twice the man YOU are. But BOUND side-steps this well-mined territory with panache and like Thelma and Louise before them, Corky and Violet have agency of their own and drive the narrative forwards all by themselves.

Too often screenplays, both spec and produced, pigeonhole LGBT characters into “expected” genres and role functions. We’re used to seeing gay men in particular in Rom Coms, dramas and dramedies; plus very often gay characters will perform the Mentor role function, guiding a (usually younger, usually straight, too often white) character towards an important realisation, usually about love or life. That’s often a positive representation in its own right, but it does get dull.

BOUND in comparison reminds us that just because you’re gay or bisexual does not mean you can’t be an ex con and a thief, or running away from the mafia after trying to scam them. Because: WTF not?? LE DUH. MORE: 4 Tips to Write An Unusual Character

Writing A Killer?

thriller

Then buy my book! “Not just a great read for those writing a Thriller, but ANYONE with a serious interest in screenwriting”. Available in ebook & paperback. BUY IT NOW.

Like this post? Then please check out my books, HERE and share on your social media profiles. Happy writing!

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