Great source material and inspiration is everywhere for writers … But sometimes we just didn’t look hard enough! This is why I found Oscar’s article about writing and making a short film for The Pitch so fascinating. For those who don’t know, this contest uses the Bible as the source material. Check out the things he’s learned in the process, plus watch the films produced by clicking on the links. Also do be sure to check out the details for the contest at the bottom of the post. Good luck if you go for it!

The Greatest Stories Ever Told?

A few years ago, I got involved with The Pitch, a short film competition, currently looking for pitches inspired by any passage in the Bible until September 24th. If I hadn’t entered, enticed by the £30K budget on offer for the winner, I wouldn’t have realised what a great writing source the Bible is.

So, here’s 5 things I learned from the Bible as my unexpected source material, plus how some of the films that have come out of The Pitch demonstrate these lessons…

1) The Personal Connections Will Surprise You

Case Study: Only Child

Great writing is not necessarily about writing what you know, but making each script personal to you in some way. It makes your story worth telling.

Case in point is the BAFTA Cymru-nominated short film Only Child, directed by 2014 winner Andy Toovey. Andy looked deep within himself, as all great writers do, found a connection with the source material and created something profound.

If you look at some of the best film adaptations of books, you can tell when the writer simply had to adapt it – because they had a personal connection to the text.

2) The sheer variety of stories is staggering

Case Study: Rahab

Before I looked at The Bible to find a story to adapt, I looked at the kind of short films that were coming out of The Pitch and realised pretty quickly that there was more to this competition than first meets the eye.

2010 winner Rob McLellan made Rahab, an epic sci-fi starring David Oyelowo. If you watch the film, you wouldn’t guess what it was based on unless you knew the story of Rahab. It just goes to show, you could make a short film out of literally any part of the Bible.

The biggest problem I faced when I entered The Pitch was actually settling on one story. If you believe adapting a Bible story is going to be limiting, you haven’t read enough of it!

3) So many beloved films have their basis here

Case Study: Fingers

 2013 runner-up Alex Marx pitched and produced Fingers, transporting the story of Herod and Salome to a club in 1960s gangland London. I bet you didn’t expect a historical gangster movie could be based on a Bible story, did you?

Why not open the Bible at a random page and read the story on that page. I can guarantee that no matter what the story is, a film or TV show will come to mind.

I did this before I came across a Bible story that instantly reminded me of Wall Street, which served as the basis for my pitch in 2016.

4) It’s so open to interpretation

Case Study: The Black Scholes Conspiracy 

2011 winner Tim Bassford created The Black Scholes Conspiracy, a paranoid conspiracy thriller inspired by the story of Samson. You know, that strong dude who gets his hair cut off and loses his superpowers!

Tim created a modern-day superhero who develops a formula resulting in instant wealth, stripped from him by the wrong people. I certainly wouldn’t have come up with an idea like that if I was adapting it!

Great characters can be explored from plenty of different angles and there are untold stories crying out for fresh perspectives. Reading the Bible, then looking at films like The Black Scholes Conspiracy, made me realise just how open to interpretation the Bible really is.

5) It says a lot about our world today

Case Study: Leash

Leash, a commentary on Brexit produced from a pitch by 2016 winner Harry Lighton, used a story where Elisha the Israelite arrives in Bethel only to be met with abuse for being a foreigner.

Some of these stories are timeless, and it says a lot that we can still relate to them – have we come that far when we can still make films based on the Bible that feel relevant?

If you want to make a film that has something to say about the crazy state of things today, you might as well look to the Bible for inspiration. It depicts events that aren’t dissimilar to ones on your twitter feed or newspaper.

Conclusion? Go Read The Bible!

A good film is a good film, regardless of what it’s based on. If you look at the Bible as a whole, it’s a book that’s got it all – sex, violence, humour, tragedy, redemption, huge set pieces, and some of the best characters ever.

There’s about a hundred potential Citizen Kanes hidden within the pages of The Bible. Open it up – you might just find one of them. Enter The Pitch to make it – I can’t wait to see what you come up with! 

BIO: Oscar Harding is a filmmaker and a screenwriter whose work has screened at film festivals, and had one of his scripts under consideration for option by an international production company.  After previously entering himself, Oscar is now working for a short film competition called The Pitch, which is currently seeking 2-minute pitches for short films inspired by any passage from the Bible. Enter The Pitch here. Check out our Facebook and follow The Pitch on Twitter.

For B2W offers and free stuff first, join my EMAIL LIST

Share this:

Low budget horror has been all the rage for YEARS now. But don’t take my word for it  — I’ve drafted in an expert, Samantha Horley, an ex sales agent. Sam used to work at such companies as Salt and Summit Entertainment, so really knows her onions – she even helped make the commercial success that was The Blair Witch Project. Over to you, Sam!

Low Budget Mistakes

I get approached regularly by investors, sales companies and distributors, directors and producers, looking for low budget horror films. Some of them even  have that rare beast – the cash to fully finance!

But there is a dearth of good product, though I did recently set one up with a sales company. The script needed a helluva lot of work … But it had the holy filmmaking trinity:

  • the hook was really good
  • it would be low budget – aka cheap!!! – to make
  • it was clear the writer knew what they were doing.

Sadly, this is not always the case. Here are my top 5 mistakes writers make so often with low budget horror.

1) There’s no hook

Newsflash: a clever new creature isn’t a hook. How it kills people might be. Your low budget horror really needs a cracking two-line pitch to let us what the hook is – WHY we would watch it. MORE: 7 Things Agents, Producers and Filmmakers Can Tell From Your Pitch

2) The writer isn’t a horror fan

I’ve known many writers have a crack at horror because they think it’s more likely to get made. Nope. Horror geeks are a community, be they sales agents, distribs, festival programmers, websites, critics and the fans. If you’re not one of them they’ll smell you a mile away! What’s more, many horror films have clever nods and winks to masters or mentors, some are veritable homages. If you can’t talk the talk, you’ll never walk the walk.

3) It’s utterly implausible

It may be totally made-up but I still need to believe it. Eg:

  1. The hokum doesn’t work. Whatever the hokum, the hokum “lore” needs to be totally watertight, and should be used as a smart device, not an excuse to explain away hokey shit.
  2. It’s total nonsense. Whatever the world, I really need to believe all this would really happen, AND everyone’s reactions and responses to it are utterly bang on and believable.

4) The script itself is just crap

Horror writers writing at a low budget often seem to think they don’t need to follow the rules of a good script, e.g:

  1. The story is non-existent. We still need a page-turning script where we are dying to know what happens in the story. This is not just about who lives or dies.
  2. The structure poor, the tone all over the place, the pacing terrible. Some writers don’t seem to understand the use of tension as an essential device and rely on the promise of a director making it scary.
  3. Monotonous (no sense of humour). Some scripts take themselves way too seriously, I’m not saying make it a comedy but you do need pressure valve releases to give your audience a physical response, be it laughing or jumping.
  4. Crappy characters. The worst are two-dimensional characters you don’t care about. In any genre you need to emotionally invest in the characters. In horror, in order for an audience to be scared, they need to be scared with them and for them. Also, crappy female characters!! 50% of a horror audience is women. And don’t start me on female characters who fall over while running away.
  5. Other issues.  These include blowing your load too early, showing the creature too quickly.
  6. An over-reliance on gore. Nuff sed.

5) It crosses into another genre

  1. Horror comedy. These don’t work unless you’re Simon Pegg and don’t @ me with Tremors, it’s old and wasn’t successful at the time. Grabbers didn’t work even though it was (arguably) a really good film.
  2. Horror/thriller. Lucy writes very eloquently about this HERE.
  3. Arthouse or drama horror. YES there are exceptions like Let The Right One in and Stakeland but these are few and far between and Stakeland was uber low budget and had a great hook (throwing vampires out of helicopters to infect the enemy? Yes please). Don’t assume that you are exceptional. For every exception there are hundreds of films that get made and never see the light of day, or never get made at all. MORE: 8 Mistakes That Will Kill Your Horror Screenplay DEAD

BONUS!!!

6) They are too expensive to make!

Writers MUST take responsibility for budgets. No, you don’t need to know exactly how to budget your film. But if you want your script made, BE SMART! Watch low budget films in all genres (if I have to watch low budget British social realism, so do you, it’s your job). Take note of the number and smart use of locations; the number of characters and set-ups. And if there’s a creature? Know how you can do it cheaply, as you will be asked.

Do the research and be clever. In other words, be creative … Which you are, aren’t you???

BIO: Formerly in international sales, Samantha Horley’s genre credits include The Blair Witch Project 1 and 2, Jeepers Creepers 2, Stir of Echoes, Donkey Punch, Grabbers and recent credits include Freehold which premiered at SXSW Midnight 2017, and a thanks on Prevenge. Follow The Vipers Nest on Facebook for details of Samantha’s next one-day workshop “Write a Script the Market Wants” as well as information on up and coming British and Irish filmmaking talent, and film releases.

For B2W offers and free stuff first, join my EMAIL LIST

Share this:

Jonathan Hall is not only a member of the Bang2write community, but also a seasoned screenwriter with credits such as BBC’s Doctors, as well as award-winning short films In The Mood and Mr Thornton’s Change of Heart.

Jonathan’s recent feature SOLO! is an inspiring story for all filmmakers – it’s the ultimate example of making it happen on your own. SOLO!  is a musical, romantic comedy and was shot over in Valencia, Spain and recently selected for the Marbella Film Festival.  If you’re struggling to imagine your ideas off the page, then Jonathan’s interview and tips are not to be missed!

1)  Jonathan’s 2 Top Tips 

You know you’ve got enough grit and determination, but how exactly can you help your chances of getting ‘through the door’?

  • Know Your STRENGTHS – Jonathan knew early on his focus was always on the STORY. Think about your own strengths, is it character/theme? Explore your writing projects by using this as a jumping off point. HOW does it tie your story and characters together and does it showcase your writing at its best?
  • Be ACCOUNTABLE & Enter Competitions– There’s been a lot of talk about the pros and cons of entering competitions lately, however they are a great way of holding yourself accountable and working to a deadline. Treat it as the job you already have, show up and get it done. The bonus is you may end up winning!

2) Be Pro-Active & Move Beyond Your Writing

Stop waiting for permission and do it on your own like Jonathan… But be realistic and prepared to work for what you want. So, get networking and do your research!

  • Be Prepared to Step Back – Think as a producer. Don’t spend ages writing about a set piece with 300 Vikings riding elephants on a beach! Know what turns producers off and avoid doing it! Think can this be easily translated onto the screen?
  • BIG Ideas & Clever Writing– IF you’re set on writing those Vikings with elephants, then be clever about what you write. Look at other films who have inspired your project, how did they render big ideas as images?
  • Do Your Research– Research the production companies that made these films, and know what they would be looking for. For instance, small indie companies known for rom-coms will unlikely be considering a big-budget Sci-fi. Use this knowledge to your advantage.

3) Start with A Short & Aim For The Stars

Jonathan made several short films (one of which had Kelly Brook star as the lead). As a writer/producer this was invaluable experience when it came to understanding HOW to write successful scripts for the screen – star power is REAL! 

  • Attracting Talent To Your Project – Don’t pretend to have done more than you have. It’s a small industry so be honest from the start. Look at talent than can add levity to your project, and don’t be afraid to approach them even if you have no salary to pay. No matter how small the role is, make it intriguing enough for them to WANT to be a part of your project. More on How To Attach Named Talent To Your Screenplay.

4) Just DO IT! 

Jonathan conceived SOLO! as he sat in a café in Spain and saw the local brass band perform. Use your experiences and surroundings and just GET IT DONE.

  • Work with what you’ve got– Structure your script around what you’ve got, for instance your environment – how can you use it to tell a story? (Especially if you’re writing a short).
  • Ask Others  – Look at your network … Who else could you get involved? Be honest if there’s no pay in it (there usually never is at the beginning) – you’d be surprised how many will still want to be involved in the ‘right’ project!

Conclusion:

  • Find Your Strengths– Know what they are and use them to your advantage! How can you showcase this?
  • Think Like A Producer– Know how to write what Producers want to make!
  • If You Don’t Ask? You Don’t Get! – Be brave and approach well-known talent. Often the opportunity to be part of something truly creative, even for free, is hard to turn down.
  • Work with what you have– Start with a short film, use a simple concept and structure it around what you can use for free. This means locations, props, anything and everything. Simple is often better when it comes to great concepts.

BIO: Hi there! My name is Olivia Brennan and I a Freelance Writer, Blogger & Assistant Script Editor. You can either find more of my articles here, at the Shore Scripts blog, or you can follow me on twitter as @LivSFB. Please feel free to come and say hi!

For B2W offers and free stuff first, join my EMAIL LIST

Share this:

Structure? It’s An Issue

‘How to spot structural problems’ brings writers to this blog every single day. It’s something that plagues writers, from new to professional to somewhere in-between. It’s not difficult to see why either – it’s DIFFICULT to keep a viewer or reader engaged!

But how do we spot structural problems in our OWN work? Some of my Bang2writers insist this is impossible and that an objective outsider – like B2W – is ‘needed’ to help them spot it.

But if that were the case, why is it that every time I say, ‘There’s a structural issue with X‘, those writers will say, ‘Yeah I know’??

Here’s Why

Let’s rewind a second. We all know the basic structure of ‘beginning, middle and end’. These are imperative, whether we’re writing screenplays or novels. The notion of ‘B-M-E’ is universal, it’s built into our DNA as human beings and storytellers. Even small children know that stories require beginnings, middles and endings.  B-M-E doesn’t even have to be in that order!

If you look at the visual representation above that I found via Google, you’ll see there are lots of people saying pretty much the same thing, just in different ways. It’s rare to find anything any truly ground-breaking when it comes to structure, because we all ‘know’ how it works anyway.

What may be particularly enlightening is HOW these people describe the way structure works. This is because that particular someone chooses particular words and/or has a particular way of describing structure that resonate with us. This in turn helps us spot problems in our own work.

Here’s How

There’s 2 easy tips I give my Bang2writers on improving their ability to spot structural problems, which in turn will make them better writers. Here you go:

i) Develop the vocabulary to describe how YOU see structure working

This means you need to do the work. Check out all the books, the websites, the visual representations. Watch movies with 5 plot point breakdowns in hand. Make notes. Compare and contrast. DECIDE who describes structure the ‘best’ as far as you are concerned.

Next, figure out WHY you think this. What can it tell you about your style of writing? Knowing how the various descriptions of structure work and why you dis/like them can only help you – it means you move out of instinctive writing and into THE CRAFT of writing, which will give you many more options to play with, such as non-linearity. It will also help you avoid plotting hell.

ii) Make lists/ draw the story

Take your draft. Make a list of everything in your story, chapter by chapter or scene by scene. This WORKS. It shows you where the gaps are, where you are trying to cheat or ‘gloss over’ bits. It doesn’t have to be mega detailed, bullet points is fine. But it gives you what I call ‘a story map’ and can act as a catalyst for fixing those issues.

If you don’t like making lists, draw the story. Find a worksheet, diagram or visual online that will help you visualise your story and how it works in terms of taking you from the beginning, though the middle, to the end. Again, it will show you where you are trying to cheat or gloss over inconvenient bits. It will also show you where there are

Me? I do both! I start by drawing the story, marking the main beats of the story and adding anything else important. Then I make a list of everything in the current draft:

  • Where are there repetitions?
  • Are there scenes or chapters where nothing much happens?
  • Or two high octane scenes too close together?
  • What about 2 characters whose role functions are too close together?
  • Is there too much of a lull in the middle?
  • Are the turning points in the ‘right’ place?

… And so on. You’d be surprised how stuff STICKS OUT like a sore thumb!

So next time you want to know where the issues are in your draft, remember these two simple tips for spotting problems in your writing.

Good Luck!

Take Your Writing To The NEXT LEVEL!

  https---cdn.evbuc.com-images-29888419-3773478736-1-originalWe all know format is the LEAST of our problems as screenwriters … but *how* do we improve our writing craft?? My course with LondonSWF, Advanced Fundamentals of Screenwriting at Ealing Studios, London (Oct 20th-21st, 2018). Over two days, we will put writing craft under the microscope & you will learn tricks to elevate your writing to the NEXT LEVEL. Don’t miss out!

CLICK HERE for full details of the course (or on the pic above). We expect it to sell out , so act now to avoid disappointment. See you there!!!

For B2W offers and free stuff first, join my EMAIL LIST

Share this:

How do you get your posts noticed among the millions of others published on these social media platforms every day?

Social media is a blessing for us writers. It has the potential to help our writing attain great heights. Plus, we don’t even have to spend a single penny while we’re at it. Sounds attractive, right … But how do writers do it well? Let’s see what you must do to ensure that you commit no social media marketing errors:

1.  Have a clear intention

Ensure you are fully aware of the purpose that you want your social media post to serve. Are you simply promoting your product? Or do you wish the reader to take a certain action after reading the post? Being able to understand the reason behind publishing a post is the first step towards creating a post that gets noticed.

2.  Engage the audience

Instead of simply stating your opinion or giving some information, try to ask a question to your audience. Ask for their opinion. Try to have a conversation. For instance, instead of writing that “I love Paris”, write “Paris is my favorite holiday destination, which one is yours?” Make your questions subjective instead of simply asking for a “yes” or “no”.

3.  Call-To-Action option

At times, it is important that you add a call to action link to your posts. This must be done occasionally, when you wish your audience to do something for you such as visit your blog, take a poll or fill in a feedback form.

4.  Be empathetic

Think like your own customer or audience. Identify their needs and try to explain how your product or service is capable of adding value to their lives. Ask yourself the following before you publish a post:

  • What’s in it for me?
  • Would I pay attention to this post if I were a potential customer?
  • Does this post reflect my brand?
  • Is it engaging enough?

5.  Be original

Do not simply copy ideas from a successful social media campaign launched by your competitor. Your brand may have a different appeal as compared to theirs. Make sure that your posts become your brand’s voice. Be formal, informal, humorous or even downright nasty! Just be authentic – that’s the key.

6.  Be a Storyteller

Cook up a story around your brand for your customers to relate with. Instead of simply downloading information, put things across in a creative manner. This will ensure that your audience pays attention to your post and stays glued to it till the very end.

7.  Use hashtags

Hashtags make it convenient for people to search for your posts. They also help you connect with a wider audience, of people with similar interests and likes. Make sure to not overload your post with hashtags, as that may appear like spam. Use keywords that define your product or brand so that Instagram and Twitter can help your customers locate your posts with ease.

8.  Create Valuable posts

Do not incessantly promote your product or service. Offer pieces of information or resources that could add value to your customers. Give your audience a reason to watch out for your posts. Share posts of loyal customers and give it back to them in your own unique way. Appreciate those who are regular followers of your posts.

9.  Be Regular

Once you start posting on your social media handles, make sure that you are regular with your posts. Do not keep the audience waiting for too long for your next one. Decide on the frequency at which you would want to post and then remain consistent. Tools like Buffer could help you schedule multiple posts on Facebook and Twitter so that you do not have to worry about forgetting to publish a post. You can use it to schedule up to 10 posts on one social media account for free! In case you want a more advanced version, you will have to pay an amount starting $10.

10.  Choose Appropriate Platforms

Make sure you choose the right social media platform for promoting your business. While doing so, keep in mind the demographics of your target audience. For example, if your product caters to the demands of the young generation, using Snapchat or Instagram could be a good idea. However, if you wish to target working professionals, you could explore LinkedIn.

Do your own research to see which platform is being used the most by your primary competitors. Also, include images, infographics and videos to make your content easy to remember.

There are no set rules for social media, just as there are no specific rules for writing. But it is in your best interest to create some ‘best practices’ for yourself, so you know what you are doing. We have made your life easy by giving you an entire list of some above. So, get set write!

BIO:  As an academic researcher & private tutor, Bella Williams guides the new age professionals and students with their career. A graduate from Monash University, Bella organizes free coaching workshops and promotes free sharing of knowledge. You can also find her on LinkedIn.

For B2W offers and free stuff first, join my EMAIL LIST

Share this:

This Is Reality?

Reality TV gets a bad rap. You don’t have to go far to discover people denigrating it, both online and in real life. It’s considered the opiate of the masses, sometimes exploitative and/or generally not very stimulating in any meaningful way.

In fact, this is such a popular opinion that comedian Bill Hicks’ infamous Executive 11110 (‘You are free, to do as we tell you‘) skit could replace ‘American Gladiators’ with, ‘Here’s reality TV! Here’s 56 channels of it!’ some twenty five years on, easily. (Though in real terms I suspect there there would probably be more than 56 channels! 😉 )

Like most writers, I am a committed people-watcher, so must admit the notion of reality TV is irresistible to me. Whilst I’ve often said I ‘don’t watch TV’, I have taken to having Channel 63, Blaze, on in the background most days. If you’ve never watched The Blaze Channel, it’s a Brit channel on Freeview that airs almost non-stop American shows.

Reality of Experience

I think that reality TV can be a real boon for writers: where else can we see insights into people’s real, lived experiences in jobs, lifestyles or skills (especially via contests) so easily? Whilst we all must appreciate that elements of these shows are staged for the sake of drama just like fiction, there are still real takeaways we can use as jumping off points, especially for specific  characters and storyworlds.

But I will go one further. When we watch ‘real’ people doing ‘real’ things (note the the scare quotes: is anything really real anyway?), this can power thoughts we can apply to our own lives, jobs and interests … such as writing!

So, here are seven Blaze shows (you may have seen them elsewhere) and what my key takeaways are from them for the writing life. Do you watch them and if so, do you agree? Let us know! Here goes …

1) You gotta speculate to accumulate

Case study: Hardcore Pawn

via GIPHY

Like reality TV, pawn shops have received a bad rap historically. As someone who struggled financially in the pre-ebay/social media era, one of the only places you could get fast cash for your merchandise was the pawn shop. Some pawn shops are legit, some are not, some were in the middle – but where there is struggle, feelings tend to run high.

This is epitomised by the show Hardcore Pawn, which really plays up to its image as the ‘biggest, baddest pawn shop in Detroit’. It’s a highly stylised show, with so many colourful characters it’s difficult to believe even thirty per cent of it is true. But the owner Les comes from a long line of pawnbrokers and the family business is still going strong.

That said, one of the of the most uttered phrases here is, ‘If I can get the item at the right price? I KNOW I can flip it.’

In other words, you need to speculate to accumulate, aka ‘spend money to make money’. But in order to do this properly and make a return on your investment (whether that is actual £££ or time), you have to KNOW your business inside out. Too few writers appreciate this, then wonder why they are not advancing in their careers. Doh!

2) It’s A Crapshoot

Case Study: Storage Wars

via GIPHY

According to Storage Wars, abandoned storage lockers get auctioned off to the highest bidder. Those bidders then sell on the merchandise, just like in case study 1. Some do it privately, others have shops. For some it’s a hobby; others a job.

What’s interesting then about Storage Wars is the bidders are not allowed to go through the lockers in any detail.  The auctioneers will open the doors so they can get a glimpse, but they’re not allowed to go through the boxes or comb through the contents. I don’t know if this is true of all storage auctions, or just set up in this one case for the cameras in this case, but it certainly makes for compelling viewing as the bidders work out whether they have paid too much for what they end up owning inside.

Like Storage Wars, writing is a crap shoot. We might make enquiries to the best of our ability, but end of the day we may not even know who is reading our work! To get ahead in our careers, we have to make peace with that. If we don’t, when we get rejections or things go wrong in other ways, we will drive ourselves nuts.

3) You have to work together …

Case Study: Swamp People

via GIPHY

Swamp People follows the the day-to-day activities of Louisiana natives living in the swamps of the Atchafalaya River Basin who hunt American alligators for a living during the 30 day cull every year. Hunters are each issued a certain number of tags that must be attached to their kills; once they “tag out” (run out of tags), their season is over, and they may no longer kill any more alligators for the rest of the season.

I became particularly interested in this one because rural living (and the agricultural and traditional associated with this) has always been one of my personal interests, but I discovered even this one can be related to writing.

People hunting alligators work in pairs, for safety but also because it’s incredibly difficult to pull a giant thrashing alligator into a tiny boat on your own when it’s attached to a single fishing line! Writing sometimes feels like that thrashing alligator and only with your peers’ moral support can you truly flourish. This is why I set up Bang2writers (join us!).

4) … But you’re *also* on your own

Case Study: Mountain Men

via GIPHY

As its name suggests, Mountain Men follows approx nine men who scratch a living off the rural wilds of the United States. They live in places so remote that they – and their wives and families – must deal with problems like natural disasters, wild animal attacks and even medical emergencies alone. 

Like Swamp People, this show can also apply to the writer’s life because it illustrates that whilst peer support is essential (the Mountain Men may also have friends, after all), ultimately it is up to YOU to get done what needs doing.

5) You gotta make a return

Case study: Pawn stars

via GIPHY

Like Hardcore Pawn, this show is also set (unsurprisingly) in a pawn shop. I don’t know or care which came first, because Pawn Stars’ USP is entirely different. Set in Las Vegas, the Pawn Stars shop claims ‘family over money’ and has set up very obviously as a more ‘upmarket’ establishment than the one featured in Hardcore Pawn.

As a result, Pawn Stars focuses less on the customers than the items brought into the shop. This is because the items often have historical value, with various background on said items provided by an array of experts brought into the shop, who will also value the item. It’s kind of like a cooler version of Antiques Road Show, imho.

Like Hardcore Pawn, there is one phrase that gets uttered a lot: ‘I gotta make a return’. This is because the average client does not realise the valuation price is not the RETAIL price. In other words, if the valuation is two thousand dollars, the pawnbroker will not offer two thousand. They need to make a return – money! If they can’t? NO DEAL.

Writers then have to realise they must make a return on their investment – whether it’s literal in terms of cash, metaphorical in terms of time, or both. Too many accept bad deals, rather than no deal. This is an own goal.

6) Your craft has to be the BEST

Case Study: Forged In Fire

via GIPHY

My personal preference for reality television is what I remember being called ‘fly on the wall documentary when I was a girl. These are shows that join people in a job or way of life, as you can see from the majority of this list (though these days there is usually an interview element as well).

But reality shows are also synonymous with contests. Billed as ‘Bake off With Blades’ by the Blaze Channel, Forged In Fire is about blacksmithing (or it turns out,  ‘bladesmithing’).

Bladesmiths are invited into the forge to make a blade under timed conditions. Contestants are then eliminated by the panel of judges via a series of tests. The final two end up making an iconic weapon from history in their own forges. They then return for more tests by the judges before one is declared the winner.

Bladesmithing is unbelievably intricate and creative. Before I watched this show, I really thought it was ‘just’ about heating stuff ups and beating the hell out of it! I figured there was skill involved, but I was clueless just how much!

This is why I think bladesmithing is the perfect analogy for writing. Most people realise there is skill to it, but they are clueless to how much. But rather than feel bitter about that, remind yourself the BEST craft is *invisible*.

7) Where there’s muck there’s brass!

Case study: American Pickers

via GIPHY

The show follows antique and collectible pickers Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz. These two ravel around the United States to buy or “pick” various items for resale. They may go to places you expect, like old museums and shops that are closing down; or they may go to barns and warehouses literally full of old junk. Sometimes they even stop randomly by the roadside.

Stuff like car parts, bicycles and vintage toys are obviously of value. But these guys are incredibly enthusiastic about the most unlikely of things – eg. bottle caps, oil cans, and old (broken!) neon signs. I have seen many things on this show I would never have imagined could generate money. As the old Brit saying goes, ‘where’s there’s muck, there’s brass’ – or rather, ‘dirty job = £££$$$’.

And this is what writers can learn: writing CAN be a dirty job. But if you feel compelled to dive in, then understand that potential value for our stories is EVERYWHERE. Including in reality TV! 😉 MORE: Check out more ‘X Things I Learned’ posts

So get out there … And good luck!

For B2W offers and free stuff first, join my EMAIL LIST

Share this:

Essential Legal Tips

Did you know that writing can be a legal minefield? While you can get away with a lot under ‘fair use’, there’s still a limit to what you can legally do as a writer. There are some areas where you might end up coming unstuck if you’re not careful.Try to avoid any mistakes by keeping these five legal tips in mind while you work:

1) Copyright is important! (But probably not the way writers think)

A lot of the time, especially in this digital age, writers have no idea how copyright works. They don’t necessarily understand, for example, that copyright is automatically given to the creator of a work – whether they have registered that work or not. In Australia, copyright currently lasts for the life of the creator plus 70 years – although it was only plus 50 years for anything created before 2004. There are also moral rights for music performers, and artistic designs can be covered under the Designs Act. All this means you have to carefully check your source before you know whether you’re legally allowed to use it – and it’s probably best to try to contact the creator or their estate and ask.

2) Don’t throw mud

If you throw mud – which is to say, to smear someone’s name in public – then you might get into hot water. If you make accusations about someone that are unfounded, or cannot be proven, or are a matter of opinion, then you could be at risk of being sued. There are some cases where a lawsuit wouldn’t work, so be sure to check rather than allowing yourself to be bullied into taking down a piece about someone if you aren’t certain. But if you would be at risk of a lawsuit, think twice before publishing.

3) Credit your sources

Writers can get into trouble even if they don’t copy the words or copyrighted pieces from other people. If you write something and present it as fully your own work, but the research was taken from work done by someone else, then you could get into an argument with the person who did it. People on the internet are quick to notice these mistakes, so don’t allow yourself to get drawn in. Credit your sources at the bottom of any article so that the people who did the work are recognised for it.

4) Know a lawyer

How do you keep all of the intricacies of the legal system clear in your head? Simply put, you don’t! Unless you’re an actual legal writer, it would be a waste of your memory. Instead, you’re better off making friends with a lawyer and asking them when you are in doubt. This is a good way to have yourself checked before you publish, so that you at least know your back is covered.

5) Own your content

It’s not just about getting sued yourself, either. You might want to use your newfound knowledge to protect your own work, too. If someone republishes your work without credit or consent, you could be at rights to demand payment or take them to court. Don’t be afraid to fight for your own rights when the case arises. On that note, don’t ever republish someone else verbatim!! This especially true online, as it could ruin their search engine rankings, which are hard won!

Concluding:

Legal issues are not something to be sniffed at. It’s important that you always keep yourself safe while you work. Don’t get caught out by something that could easily be avoided. Good luck!

BIO: Lucy Taylor is an avid blogger who enjoys sharing her tips and suggestions with her online readers. Working as a legal expert at LY Lawyers, Lucy often helps people dealing with legal problems, addictions and crime.

More On Legal Stuff:

A Spotlight On ‘Due Diligence’ For Writers

What Is A Screenplay Option & How Does It Work?

What Is the Difference Between An NDA & A Release Form?

2 Laws Every Screenwriter Should Know

How True Can A ‘True Story’ Be?

Get This, Writers: No One Will Steal Your Script!

For B2W offers and free stuff first, join my EMAIL LIST

Share this:

Therapeutic Writing

As writers we can often be very tough on ourselves. We strive to meet deadlines or send out pitches. We scrutinise every piece of work,wondering if we will ever  get published/produced, or reach our readers and viewers in the ways we wish.But how often do we throw off the shackles of our own or others’ expectations and just write whatever we feel like writing?

What if we could write for self-reflection and contemplation rather than writing for others? Would that be too indulgent? Using writing as therapy allows us to explore our emotions and our wellbeing. It allows us to simply write for the sheer enjoyment of it. Nothing is expected of us. For a busy writer, it could be just the therapy you need.

Stress Relief

There are many benefits to therapeutic writing as it enhances both our physical and mental health. When you write whatever you feel like, whenever you feel like it, it can feel liberating and provide much needed stress relief.

Therapeutic writing can take many different forms including journaling, poetry and letter writing. Some of these may be unusual or surprising choices for you, but all of them come with the promise of internal therapy. Choose one that speaks to you and you’ll soon find the joy that comes with it.

The infographic by The Expert Editor below shows you the different types of therapeutic writing and highlights the many health benefits that it can produce. When it’s done little and often, it can help to develop empathy, critical thinking, creativity and social skills. The best part is that you can choose the time and place that suits you, and it costs nothing.

So if you’ve always been skeptical about this kind of writing, why not open your creative mind and give it a try. We’re sure you’ll be converted. Check out the infographic after the jump. Enjoy!

More On This

How Free Writing Can Help You Get Started

3 Reasons Writers Should Keep A Journal

5 Ways To Stop Being A Tortured Artist

6 Writing Prompts To Help You Get Started

How To Get Writing Done, According to 20 Famous Authors 

25 Writing Secrets Of Famous Writers

For B2W offers and free stuff first, join my EMAIL LIST

Share this:

Get It Done

‘Get more writing done’ is a Google search that sends literally thousands of writers to this blog every single year. What’s more, countless Bang2writers lament to me they ‘never have enough time’. Because I am a prolific writer, Bang2writers will also ask me constantly me what ‘my secret is’ or how I ‘bend time’ too.

I’ve always told Bang2writers that writing lots is ‘just’ (!) down routine and time management … But recently I’ve decided to take specific note of what I do, in order to churn out those words so I might offer up more tangible tips for you to get more writing done.

Could it be …?

At first, I thought it might be because I have always been a freelance writer to some degree. Perhaps I can churn out words because of this? Well, practice makes perfect and all that, but I know lots of freelance writers who still complain they ‘don’t have enough time’ to write the novel or screenplay they always wanted. In fact, when I conducted a small straw poll of my friends and colleagues, turns out I know a lot of PROFESSIONAL WRITERS who would still want to get more words done. So — NOPE!

Maybe it’s because I have Mr C, who ‘gets’ me being a writer? This definitely helps, because he never kicks off about me having to work at night or weekends. But again, I know a lot of writers who are lucky enough to have supportive partners … Plus I churned out words even before I got married. On top of that, my kids definitely DON’T get that Mummy is working, so now what??

Then I thought it might be just what I’d always said – routine and time management. But then  I sat down and really worked out what my routine and time management was … I realised my system is pretty half-cocked!!! It changes daily and things land randomly on my desk all the time. I am constantly re-prioritising and fighting fires all the time. That’s a skill in itself, but it’s not great routine and time management. So another big fat NO!

So what the hell is it???

Just 1 Thing

I discovered it is just ONE thing I do differently! Seriously! Yet this *one thing* has unlocked the opportunity to CHURN OUT words and get my drafts done. Here it is, brace yourself:

I kill all ‘dead time’ in my life. But what is this?

Dead Time

We ALL have what I call ‘dead time’. Some examples:

  • Waiting for other people – appointments to be called; your kids to come out of school; friends to turn up; colleagues at meetings, etc
  • Breaks, lunches & loo stops – Lots of people NEED their breaks, especially if their job is especially stressful. But if yours isn’t, breaking for lunch, for a cigarette or even just to go to the loo is potential ‘dead time’.
  • Going somewhere – commuting is the obvious one here, but any journey anywhere can be ‘dead time’, especially if you’ve done it a million times, like the school run.
  • Repetitive behaviour – as humans, we often take up time doing stuff we’ve done before, either because we’re bored or because we find it comforting. But it is still ‘dead time’, so what if we didn’t? In my case, I NEVER, EVER, EVER watch TV programmes I have watched before. I turn the telly off and go do something else (like write!). But I bet you’ve watched certain episodes of say, The Simpsons, 10+ times. Now imagine all that time you could have written instead. Same goes for mindlessly scrolling through your timelines and profiles on social media.

Basically, if we added up all the ‘dead time’ in our lives that we can take advantage of, then writing can get done. More, next.

Cumulative Build Up

I’ve always been of the belief than one’s best writing is done by THINKING. This means you can be working even when you’re doing something else, such as your day job, looking after your kids, travelling, watching TV programmes you’ve watched before, whatever.

What’s more – writing notes or lines long hand to be typed up; or using tools

Every single minute adds up:

  • B2W Friend screenwriter and director Adrian Mead has been very open about how he wrote his first scripts on loo breaks.
  • I wrote my very first one back in the day one-handed on the backs of envelopes whilst breastfeeding my baby son.
  • Screenwriting Goddess Pilar Alessandra has even written a great book on writing during small chunks of time! It’s called The Coffee Break Screenwriter (‘How To Write Your Masterpiece Whilst Sitting On The Loo’ was probably taken, to be fair). Get it now!
  • There’s loads of tools now for writing on the go, especially when it comes to open source and/or cloud-based screenwriting and novel writing software (paid-for and free), but also apps.
  • Here’s a FREE app for iPhones where you can write your script like text messages (an Android version on its way, apparently).

Do Whatever It Takes

So, work out what you want to do and when by … and utilise everything in your arsenal to MAKE IT HAPPEN, including apps and software, as well as killing all that dreadead time.

Then you will get all the writing done you want. Honest!

Good Luck!

Here I am talking producer and screenwriter Naomi Beaty about productivity and strategies for getting your writing done. I will be writing ONE MILLION WORDS in 2018 — find out how I will get this objective done this year. Eeek!

For B2W offers and free stuff first, join my EMAIL LIST

Share this:

Be Professional

Want to be a professional writer? Well, here’s Bang2writer Ewen Glass with the skinny on what he’s learned along the way on his own journey … Enjoy!

1) Find your voice

So, yeah, we’re not exactly starting with an easy one. In fact, this is probably the hardest thing on this list, precisely because it’s the most important. Structure, character-creation, world-building, effective writing on the page, formatting… it can all be learned to some degree. What really makes you stand out as a writer is you. Your background, your point-of-view, your voice.

What do you offer that nobody else can? It’s worth asking yourself this question, discovering a point of difference, an angle on the world and on story that’s unique to you. A voice that demands to be heard.

2) It’s not just about the script

I don’t like pitching; I’m not even sure I like talking to people much (I’m a delight at parties). I won’t yammer on too much about the necessary evil that is networking but being able to write a script isn’t enough – you have to be able convey the story and/or your excitement about this story to other people using real human words (and preferably your indoor voice).

Supporting documents such as pitches and treatments are also vital – writing a great pitch is tricky but if you put time into learning the form and the tone of the pitch document, it will pay off in spades.

3) Don’t be precious (but try to be principled)

Part of me wants to say take every job you can get, every commission, every rewrite, especially when you’re starting out. TV, film or theatre. You may as well try to get something made while you’re learning, putting in the hours and honing your craft.

But another part of me reckons a professional writer is only as good as the people you work with. It’s up to you which part wins out but often the right job with the wrong people can be all wrong. So cast your net wide, be flexible and proactive but if a gig feels seriously wrong, go with your gut. It’ll be less painful in the long run.

4) Rejection is a good thing

Okay, it’s not really but it is something that every writer faces (professional or not!). We all know how tough it is in the creative industries but it’s not rejection or failure that will define you as a writer, it’s how you respond. If you can turn a negative into a positive you’re half-way there. There might be an element of ‘I’ll-show-you’, maybe some ‘bring it on’, you might even say something that’s not a cliché. Just try and pick yourself up and go again.

5) It’s a Marathon not a Snickers

Sorry, sprint. Not a Sprint.

A couple of years out of uni I was ready to be a professional writer. I was good enough. My writing was good enough.

Except I wasn’t. It wasn’t.

The horrible fact is that it can take years and years to break in. In that time try to make your own opportunities – look at local and regional funding bodies, network, make a big multi-coloured database (I’m old) of contacts, make stuff yourself. It will all pay off. Eventually. Feature projects can gain traction 5 years after you wrote them off; that producer you worked with on a small project 3 years ago can come back to you with another great opportunity.

Try to enjoy the journey. I know that’s a bit like saying enjoy the act of cooking, not eating, but it’s true. Sure, things will be difficult, and you can get wrapped up in your own seeming lack of progress but when you break a new story, or come up with an exciting new idea, or find out who a character is or get into the flow with some dialogue… you’re being a writer. That’s writing. And it’s fucking great.

BIO: Ewen Glass’ recent TV commissions include TV drama A Sign of Things, for which he was nominated for broadcast debut writer award at the Edinburgh TV Festival’s Debbies. He has storylines Hollyoaks and co-written the award-winning Lies We Tell starring Gabriel Byrne and Gina McKee. He has two dramas in development with BBC, and 2019 will see the release of his next feature, which shoots in Slovakia this Autumn. Ewen is repped by Phil Adie at Nick Turner management.  Follow him on Twitter as @ewenglass and visit his website at www.ewenglass.com.

For B2W offers and free stuff first, join my EMAIL LIST

Share this: