WriteHard

In many ways I feel like writing has saved my life. Maybe it has yours too? I don’t mean it swooped in and saved you from a burning building. I mean perhaps it’s helped to give some purpose to your life, or maybe it’s helped you work through some issues you’ve had buried deep inside.

Whatever it may be, I think it’s important to look after that side of ourselves. The side that’s able to escape the worries of the world and put the pen to paper.

1) 750 Words

This web application has helped me work on my craft, develop ideas, and even work through some personal issues of my own.

Inspired by the idea of morning pages in the book The Artist’s Way, Buster Benson created a space for you to freewrite 750 words every single day. All of the writing is completely private, so you can really let loose on there.

For every day you complete you get a cross marked on that day. The idea is not to break the chain and to keep getting your crosses every single day, and by building up your streak.

My personal record is 551 days in a row. I broke the streak when I got drunk and forgot about it. I wasn’t angry or anything, because by that time, I’d learned to appreciate the value of writing those words for their own sake.

If you take one thing away from this article, please make sure it’s 750 Words. Get it HERE.

2) Hemmingwayapp 

I love the idea behind this app. You feed in your words, and it tells you where your writing sucks. Easy. It tells you which sentances were difficult to read. How many adverbs you’ve crammed in there. How many spelling mistakes, etc.

A note of caution: it’s really handy when you want to get some quick feedback on your words, but be sure to take the app in moderation. Remember it is a robot. It’s not a replacement for a good human copy editor. Get it HERE.

3) Freedom

I love writing on a computer. In fact, it’s been so long since I’ve handwritten anything that I’m not even sure I know how to any more. The pen nib touches the what? The paper? … that doesn’t sound right.

But where a computer gives you freedom of information and the amazing ability to spellcheck, it also gives you the ultimate distraction machine. I can’t write 200 words without flicking over to my web browser to check Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+ too – god forbid I end up on YouTube. There’s so much fun happening just outside your bedroom window, and you’ve been told you’ve got homework to do. It’s impossible.

Enter Freedom. It cuts you away from the internet for a set amount of time. Type in how long you want to be free for, and click go. Now it’s just you and your work. The only way to turn the internet back on is by restarting your computer … and how much of a pain is that?

If you come to a point where you NEED to jump on the web to check a reference or a spelling or something, simply write the word TK (To Kome) into your document. Once you’ve finished, search your document for all the TK’s and fill in the missing pieces. We use TK because they’re two letters which rarely appear together in the English language. Get Freedom HERE.

4) TeuxDeux

Finding a decent To-Do list app has plagued me for a long time. The reminders app that’s built into the iOS devices just isn’t up to the job. Here’s what I believe is required of a good to-do list application for a writer:

  1. The ability to create repeatable tasks. This is key for building habits. It’s all about not breaking the chain.
  2. The ability to have Someday tasks – stuff that you plan to do someday, but you’re just not gonna get around to anytime soon. A place to put your longterm goals for the year, or even your lifetime. Crossing these off the list should be causes for celebrations.
  3. Cross-compatibility. The ability to have easy access to my list on my home computer, work computer, phone, tablet, etc.

Luckily, TeuxDeux has all these capabilities! Get it HERE.

I’m a huge fan of cool little gadgets, as long as they serve the purpose they were intended for. I’d love to know what you guys use and can’t live without. Do you have a journalling app, a note-taking app, or do you think it’s all nonsense and you just want to go back to your quill?

Need even MORE? Then check out 5 Essential Apps For Writers By Patricia Shuler

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I’ve been a huge fan of Luc Besson since I was a teenager in the 90s and THE FIFTH ELEMENT came out (“I am Corbin Dallas!”) so I was delighted to receive KT Parker’s guest post on LUCY, which obviously Luc named after **me**! Thanks KT and enjoy, everybody …

Lucy_Banner

LUCY hit the screens in Paris last week and Luc Besson, who both wrote and directed it, was doing no less than 6 “avant-premières” all over town. Those of you who don’t live in France may be wondering, what on earth is an avant-première? Well, it’s like a première minus the glitz of the red carpet and the flashbulbs of the paparazzi, but with the added bonus that the director often stays to chat with the audience after the screening.

Yours truly was very fortunate in that I got to walk in with Mr. Besson himself . I joked with him that I was LOVING the headlines in American publications saying “Hercules is getting beaten up by a girl!” That made him laugh. He said it was probably because Lucy had a nicer dress than Hercules…

1) LESSON N°1: The Judicious Use of Humour

So right off the bat I learned that Luc Besson is a funny guy. He knows how to use humour. At times the Q&A was like a stand-up-comedy routine. He made us laugh and had us hanging on his every word.

Likewise, in the film, here and there a note of humour is injected when you least expect it. Then, in the very next moment, the tension is ratcheted up, and you gasp all the more because the humour made you drop your guard. As writers, we are responsible for designing the emotional ride the audience will go on. No matter what your genre, use a dab of humour now and then as a counterpoint to the primary emotion you’re eliciting. (Or pathos if you’re writing a comedy.) MORE: All About Genre & Craft

2) LESSON N°2: Be Open

LUCY is the story of a young woman, played by Scarlett Johansson, who is kidnapped by Korean gangsters and forced to act as a mule for a new super drug. The sachet containing the drug bursts inside her and unlocks her full potential, so that she can control first her own body, then those of others, then all matter and finally time itself.

The genesis of the idea occurred about twenty years ago. Mr. Besson, invited to dinner by the mayor of a small town, was seated next to a young woman. Our favourite French filmmaker was immediately wary. He often finds himself sitting next to the daughter or the niece of the host of a dinner party, and by coincidence she just happens to be an actress who would love a part in his next film… Nevertheless, Mr. Besson was very gallant and engaged his dinner companion in conversation.

“What do you do?” he asked.

 “I work in cancer research,” she replied.

He wasn’t expecting that. There then followed a three-hour conversation about cells and neurones and the brain. She was the one who told him the line that Morgan Freeman delivers in the film: cells select one of two strategies, immortality or reproduction, depending on the harshness of the environment they find themselves in.

The lesson here is openness. Mr. Besson could have closed himself off and avoided an encounter he assumed was going to be banal, even boring. Instead he chose to be open and GENEROUS with himself, and he was rewarded with the gift of a great idea. MORE: Connecting With Writers, Filmmakers & Producers Online, plus 10 Ways To Kill Your Writing Career Dead by Linda Aronson

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3) LESSON N°3: Do Your Research

After meeting the young scientist, Mr. Besson sought out other scientists and gradually built up his knowledge. He set to writing the screenplay of LUCY NINE YEARS ago. This was a passion project and he wanted to craft the screenplay so that the science and the philosophy it contains would be presented in a way that was fun and entertaining.

Research then, is essential to create a sense of authenticity and emotional truth in a screenplay. But note, this is not necessarily the same as factual truth! MORE: The Importance Of Research

4) LESSON N°4: Make Your Story Accessible

Some American critics have beaten up on Luc Besson because one of the central ideas behind the film – that we only use 10% of our brain capacity – simply isn’t true. Mr. Besson KNOWS this. He’s done the research. Two decades of it. He even helped found the ICM, an international research institute focusing on the brain and spine.

What is true is that we only use 15% of our neurones at any given time. Mr. Besson worried audiences might not be familiar with the workings of neurones, whereas just about everybody knows what a brain is. So, to make the story accessible to the widest possible public, he made a CHOICE to use the brain as a metaphor… In the film it works beautifully.

The “truth” in your script can be anything you want it to be, as long as you CLEARLY set up the rules of the world of your story, and you do it in a way that is comprehensible for the audience. MORE: Sacrificing Facts For Drama

5) LESSON N°5: Challenge Yourself

There is an extraordinary car chase in LUCY. I guarantee there are shots and angles you’ve never seen before, even if you’ve watched every one of the dozens of car chases that have been shot on the streets of Paris over the years.

Mr. Besson asked himself, “what would be the most DIFFICULT circumstances for a car chase in Paris?”

He came up with rue de Rivoli, at noon – equivalent to Oxford Street in London or Fifth Avenue in New York. The scene was shot over the long weekend of August 15, which is when Paris is at its emptiest. It covers the distance of approximately one kilometre and lasts only a few minutes of screen time, but it took four days to film and for safety reasons 25% of the cars are CGI. The result is breath-taking.

In your screenplay, don’t take the easy way out – ever. Challenge yourself to put your protagonist in the most difficult situation possible. That’s where you’ll find the drama or comedy or thrill or chill with the most impact. MORE: Writing, Selling & MAKING Thriller Screenplays with @jkamalou

It’s amazing what you can learn in ten minutes, isn’t it?

BIO: KT Parker is an emerging screenwriter and producer. She likes to travel, both in the real world and through fiction, and when she’s not busy working on a writing project, she has been known to sneak a peek at cute pictures of cats on the Internet. Follow her on Twitter HERE and see her on About.me HERE.

Please press the buttons at the bottom to share the page on your social media profiles and/or check out my books. Thanks!

Following the runaway success of the rebooted “I’ve Written A Screenplay, Now What?” page, lots of Bang2writers requested a similar one for book writing. So here’s Luke with a short and sweet rundown for you novelists and bookists out there, with plenty of great linkage too! Thanks Luke :D Enjoy everyone …

ebooks

So, you’ve written a book.

Congrats! Go out and celebrate. Pat yourself on the back. Pat yourself all over. Eat a cake. Eat two. Writing a book is hard, so you should celebrate it.

However, writing is only the first step in publishing a book, because that’s the ultimate goal right? To spread your message and your ideas across the world and to touch people’s hearts and maybe … just maybe, make someone cry. You get bonus points for making people cry.

As it stands, you’ve got two options:

TRADITIONAL or INDIE PUBLISHING

Each option has its merits but whichever you take, here’s what to do next:

1) Get Some Feedback

Beta-Readers: Friends, family, acquaintances. Find anyone who will read your book and give you their honest feedback. It’s important to know how your work is being received. Try to ask what they liked about the work, what they didn’t. If all of your beta-readers are mentioning the second paragraph of chapter 2 … then maybe it’s time to reconsider the second paragraph of chapter 2. MORE: How To Find Beta Readers, plus 5 Ways To Use Feedback Effectively 

2) Get It Edited

Editing Services: Don’t kill your babies … Hire someone else to do it! As James Altucher said, after fifteen drafts, his editor turned his book from chicken sh*t to chicken salad. There are editing services out there who will help you to structurally edit the story, such as Command + Z. Once your story is in the proper shape, you can use Copy Editors to help you weed out the grammar and the punctuation errors.

Price wise, editing can be super cheap or super expensive. As with anything, go with the best you can afford. Here are some links for services previous Bang2writers have recommended to Lucy:

Ebook Editing Pro 

Bubblecow

WriteSoFluid

Elinor Perry-Smith

Anne Hudson Editorial

3) Build Your Platform

Regardless of whether or not you self-publish, you really want to start building your audience right away. The last thing you want to do is release your book to crickets. Plus, nowadays, most publishers will expect you to do the majority of the marketing anyway.

Seth Godin says you should start promoting a book three years before your release it. Maybe that’s an overstatement, but it sure couldn’t hurt.

There’s a million ways to build an audience. It’s going to be down to who you are, what you do, and what you’ve written. Important metrics to consider could be subscribers, email lists, facebook likes, twitter followers. Also, don’t forget Good Reads! MORE: Making connections online by Lucy; 6 Marketing Tactics You SHOULD Be Doing by Luke; plus audience-building tips for writers from Jon Morrow, @FrancesCaballo and Bestseller Labs

4) Choose Your Route

Indie. If you decide to self publish your book, then you’re already most of the way there. Your next steps are going to be cover design, ePub formatting, and if you really want to push the boat out, Audiobook production. I’d recommend reading James Altucher’s Publishing 3.0 article on how he self-published his Wall Street Journal Besteller.

You will also NEED an excellent front cover; do not skimp on this, because readers DO judge a book by its cover. The covers for THE DECISION: LIZZIE’S STORY and THE DECISION: JASMINE’S STORY were done by the brilliant Peter at Bespoke Book Covers. But there are plenty more, such as 99 Designs. Check out the B2W Novel Writing and Publishing Pinterest board for more.

Traditional. If you decide to go the traditional route, then your’re going to need to start looking for an agent – somebody to help you sell the book. One way to find a suitable agent is to work backwards. Which are your favourite books? Who wrote that book? Who represents that author? Boom. You’re onto a winner.

Alternatively, you should grab a copy of the Writers & Artists Yearbook and make a list of the agents you’d like to query from there. Make sure you don’t drop any obvious submissions clangers, though – like sending science fiction to agents who only represent authors who write historical fiction. Sounds obvious, but it happens. Daily!!

From there, you want to be getting yourself solicited by sending over that perfect cover letter.

So what do you think, guys? Are you planning to go down the traditional route or are you considering indie publishing? Let us know here in the comments, or via the B2W Facebook page or the Linkedin group!

Further Reading:

12 Things To Think About Before Rushing Into Self Publishing by Jan Caston 

3 Ways to Transform From Self Publisher To Indie Author by Mary Evans

Self Publishing eBooks by Lucy V Morgan: Part One and Part Two

5 Careers Strategies For Writers

Can I Use My Self Published Book To Hook An Agent?

10 Tips For Authors Promoting Their Books Online

29 Ways NOT To Submit To An Agent By @caroleagent from @BFLAgency

29 Ways To Find an Agent by Harry Bingham

Don’t forget there’s LOADS more about indie publishing, finding agents, submissions and promoting yourself and your work online on the B2W Resources page. Good luck!

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Sofia’s Diary was a real inspiration to me when planning and creating the transmedia strategy for my Decision Book Series, so I was DELIGHTED when the show’s creator Nuno Bernardo approached me to write a guest post for B2W! This is a real treat for you Bang2writers on using the power of transmedia to engage your audiences, so enjoy!

sofias-diary_05

When I sat down to write Sofia’s Diary, my first Web series, back in 2003, I had no real scriptwriting experience, let alone transmedia writing experience. So, for me, it was always going to be a process of trial and error. As if this wasn’t daunting enough, I was learning the basics of scriptwriting at a time when there were no rules for writing for digital media. Looking back now, I can say that I was lucky because I had a lot of freedom in the process; a lot of freedom to learn, but freedom also to write what I thought would work on this new media.

It’s fair to say, I suppose, I was literally making it up as we were going along. Because Sofia’s Diary had a large interactive element, we were day by day discovering what worked in transmedia writing, based on the users’ feedback. If something didn’t work, the audience either complained or, worse, was unresponsive. Strong audience engagement and positive feedback were also, of course, helpful for us on this steep learning curve. As my Web series and TV projects become bigger and bigger, this immediate response was becoming less and less part of the process, but here are some of the things I learned in the last decade writing and producing hundreds of hours of Web, TV and Transmedia series.

1. Every transmedia project needs a showrunner

In order to realise your vision, you have to be pretty clear about who exactly is running the show. I discovered early on that, because of all the collaborative elements of creating a show, you need ultimately one person to unify all the elements and push forward your plan. The showrunner in a US television series literally runs the show – he is the head writer, the big director who leads the writing team and controls the output.

The showrunner in transmedia does pretty much the same thing, only more. Practically speaking, the showrunner needs to know what they want to achieve throughout the different platforms (not just television) and also unite a team of blog writers, game writers, or scriptwriters to achieve a unified voice. He is the arbiter of the voice, the person who creates the consistency of the show in terms of storyline and across all the media platforms. This is an especially difficult task for transmedia, where you have to create a voice that is consistent among a group of people that often work in different places and who have never even met! The challenge is never greater than when there is a big turnover of people on that team. The showrunner has to ensure that, though writers come and go, the voice has to remain consistent. MORE: How To Become A TV Showrunner By Neil Landau

2. Characters are the host of the Transmedia Experience

What was different about Sofia’s Diary was that, as there is so much drama in the life of a typical teenage girl, all of Sofia’s dramas and crises seemed normal and credible no matter how frequently they occurred. Along with all the drama, she also had to be like the girl next door, someone that you could conceivably be friends with. It was vital that it felt real without, of course, pretending to actually be real.

We found as we developed Sofia’s Diary that by mixing reality with fiction we could underscore the character’s connection with the viewer’s life. I discovered if the character lives in a parallel world with the viewer, certain events should be in sync between the story world and the real world. For instance, if there is a public holiday in the real world, the viewer will expect to see some reference to it in the character’s world.

You can take this a step further, as we did on Flatmates, when we removed the normal walls between reality and the story. In this show, we had one character who worked as a barmaid in a trendy Lisbon bar. Accordingly, once a month we set up a shoot where the character went and worked in the real bar in town and we filmed the episode there inviting audience members and fans to be part of the experience. MORE: 9 Ways To Write Great Characters

3. Audience participation needs to be carefully managed

As we unfolded our story, we were conscious that we would closely mimic how people actually used and communicated on the Internet. For example, if Sofia had a dilemma – for example, she was torn between having to comfort a friend or go out with her boyfriend – she would ask the audience for advice. The way she did this was also important, as she asked them as any friend would ask another. Accordingly, Sofia used chat, text and email to communicate with her audience and the audience would then reply back with advice. As this two-way communication evolved, we would always make Sofia mail her audience and ask for help. Then, the audience would give their opinion. But it was then that we were presented with a problem – what do we do with their advice?

We realised after a while, however, that if you give your audience power over the story they will get rid of your antagonist, solve all the major problems and erase all the drama. If the audience connects with your hero they will do everything to protect their hero and solve all their problems. We found if you allow the audience to decide the basics of your story you would be in trouble; after a month, your hero will be wealthy, have the most romantic love-life in the world, best friends in the world, best parents, go on the best holidays and nothing bad will ever, ever happen to them. And then story becomes too boring and audiences move away. MORE: 6 Ways To Build An Audience By Dave Turner

4. Pick the best media to tell parts of your story

When you are writing a story for transmedia, the first thing you do is write the entire story with all the elements, twists, character reactions etc. The next stage can be a revelation for some writers. For instance, when we were producing Sofia’s Diary in the UK, we initially hired television screenwriters who had no experience of transmedia. So, after they had written the storyline they were a little shocked when we took their scripts and literally tore them apart, divvying up the different story elements between the different media available.

Where particular material is used, essentially content is best suited to a particular medium. For example, a conversation that perhaps included a bit of comedy would go to radio. An action scene would go to television. A monologue containing some private thoughts would go to a blog. For you to do this, you have to make sure you choose the media best suited towards the content of your show.  The question ‘what media should I choose?’ is closely linked to ‘how often should I use it?’ Ideally, there should be a sense that the content is always updating, that the story and your characters’ lives are constantly moving in parallel with the viewer’s life. In Sofia’s Diary, we wrote one episode per weekday, but there was always this sense created through blogs and social media sites that the characters were always there to update the audience with their perspective. Through all the different tools available, you can create an on-going conversation and engagement with the viewer. MORE: 5 Reasons Writers Should Consider A Transmedia Project By Dylan Spicer

5. Experience design is key in a Transmedia series

The Internet and social media enable producers and writers to bring characters into the daily or hourly lives of the viewer in exactly the same way that they would interact with their friends. We can now further enhance this real-time experience by running the interactions in sync with the audience’s life. What is critical to the success of this involvement is that it has imitated exactly what the audience expect when they go on the Internet. Typically, Internet users have a lot of distractions, a lot of other activities running side by side. I realised that it is vital to keep your audience communicating back with you, because if you don’t engage with them they’ll quickly get busy with the billion other distractions.

Beating the distractions is just one element of this interaction; the other is keeping the tone of your engagement consistent with the tone of normal communications between friends on social media, blogs, etc. We knew our show had to be more than a video episode – there can often be a video element, but that wasn’t enough to really connect with our audience. The irony was, in order to make our product successful and exceptional, we had to mimic all the normal, everyday things friends do. We realised that, if this was to be successful, it had to be about more than just telling a story; it had to be about creating a compelling experience.  MORE: What Is Transmedia? (The Blake Friedmann Literary Agency blog)

Conclusion – Transmedia tricks and pitfalls

Something worthwhile to note is that, by using different story elements on different media, there are endless opportunities for the writer to move the story forward. One successful technique that writers for cop and detective shows on television have been using for years is to encourage the audience to problem-solve before the characters have themselves discovered the answer to whatever puzzle is at hand. In most television detective shows, the audience is given sight of key clues that allow them to come to a conclusion that is usually about the identity of the person who committed a crime.

This way, the audience watching the programme is encouraged to engage with the programme to do some problem solving and draw their own conclusion before the characters finally reveal the answer.  This sort of teasing can be played out in a myriad of ways using transmedia. I recall we used a similar technique in one episode of Sofia’s Diary when a character posted on her blog a YouTube video of Sofia’s boyfriend with another girl in a club.

The blog post happened hours before the broadcast of the daily episode, but of course Sofia doesn’t know about it. The audience knows about the incident in advance and can predict that Sofia will find the video in the episode that issue will be raised. The video clip is like a ticking time bomb under the entire episode, teasing the audience who will want to watch the consequences. We got a huge reaction to this by providing the audience with knowledge beyond what the characters know about an issue. I think it is worth bearing in mind as a general technique to drop clues and hints to the audience, to give them a wider perspective and use that to engage them with the show.

Cliffhangers and teasers also provide opportunities to remind you of your hero’s mission and keep you involved. A writer seeking to engage the audience for the next episode of the show may deploy the cliffhanger device in a number of ways. The device can be used simply to get the audience to return for the next episode to see how a problem gets resolved. Alternatively, it may allow you to reiterate the conflict between the hero and the antagonist who is forever trying to frustrate the hero’s mission. In transmedia, you can of course use your various platforms to heighten tension and even to give the audience clues as to how the problem may eventually be sorted.

In the Internet jungle, no audience is guaranteed, as you need to fight for, attract, engage, pull, draw you audience in through a dense tangle of distractions. The good news is you can create reasons for them to come to you. Just creating compelling stories isn’t enough, though. You have to do more to fight through all the demands on your audience’s attention. You have to create something that the audience likes and will make time for; crucially, you have to constantly remind your audience that they like to watch it. Digital media offers you the tools to really engage the audience.

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BIO: Nuno Bernardo is an award-winning and Emmy-nominated writer and producer and using his unique approach, Nuno has created and produced several Web properties that have successfully crossed to TV. He has just released a new book, Transmedia 2.0. Find him on Twitter and Facebook.

Please press the buttons at the bottom to share the page on your social media profiles and/or check out my books. Thanks!

An outstanding post from Luke this week to inspire you on marketing yourself, your scripts, films and/or books online – number 4 is genius! Thanks, Luke! Enjoy …

Advantages-of-SMOI’ve always been terrible at marketing. The worst. But I have to say, with so many amazing resources out there, I’m getting better.

‘I just wanna write, man.’

‘I don’t wanna sell my soul.’

‘I’m an artist dammit!’

^^ Words I’ve probably said at some point. I used to believe that marketing was an evil little lump on the shoulder of creativity. I just wanted to sit in my bedroom (laboratory) and create unique works of art. I’d tell myself that if the work is good enough, it will find its audience, but I have to say … that was bullshit.

‘Once you’ve finished your book, you’re 10% of the way there,’ some smart person said.

It’s only when I started to look into marketing that I realised it’s an art form in itself. There’s hundreds of unique routes to take with it and you can be as creative with your marketing plan as you can be with your writing.

Plus, if you believe in your writing, and what it is your selling, then marketing isn’t a necessary evil at all, but a privilege.

1) Make A Plan

What do you want? Be specific. Do you want quick and dirty sales. Or do you want to create lifelong fan base who will follow you in your endeavours and evangelise your work?

Maybe you want Twitter followers, Facebook likes, E-mail subscribers. Whatever it is, you need to create a metric you can measure. 100 followers? 100 likes? 100 subscribers? etc. It will give you valuable feedback for what’s working and what isn’t. MORE: 5 Career Strategies For Writers

2) Who’s Your Target Audience?

Kevin Kelly once wrote that all you need is 1000 true fans. These people will buy all of your work. They will retweet your tweets. They will tell their friends about you. They will spread the word.

What do your true fans look like? How old are they? What do they do? What websites do they frequent? Write all of those details down and create your avatar.

Once you’ve done that you can focus on reaching those people. If they’re middle aged sci-fi fans then maybe you should be looking at getting guest blog posts on websites that operate in that field. Maybe you should get yourself on a Sci-Fi weekly podcast or maybe you should start your own. MORE: Who Is Your Work FOR?

3) Make Something Amazing

It goes without saying. If you want to have something that sells. Make something good. No, make something amazing. It’s the only way to create genuine word of mouth.

I know it sounds obvious, but it also feeds into the marketing. If you’ve created a book you’re only kinda happy with, you’re not going to have the necessary drive to put 110% into the marketing.

Create something remarkable. Something you’re willing to shout from the rooftops. Or in a supermarket. In fact, video yourself in a crowded supermarket shouting and raving about your book, put that on youtube. MORE4 Reasons Your Concept Counts Above All Else 

4) Use Your Birthday!

What day of the year do you get the most activity on your Facebook page? That’s right … your birthday.

On my 26th birthday I posted on my wall that I’d just released a short story on the kindle store. When everyone went to my profile to leave a birthday wish, they saw what I was up to, and within a couple of days, my story was downloaded 300 times, enough to get it into the Top 5 Amazon Kindle Short Stories.

Another way to get people on your profile page is to change your relationship status. This always gets people taiking. Before doing this, please consult your other half. MORE: 6 Ways To Build An Audience by Dave Turner

5) Referrals

Dropbox used the referral method to perfection. Invite your friend, get extra storage space. Harrys used a referral system to gain 100,000 new e-mail subscribers in a week, check it out.

A referral system could be as simple as placing a Call To Action at the end of your book – ‘if you enjoyed this please tell your friends’ etc.

Or it could be a little more interesting. What if you were to say to your readers that if they e-mail 25 of their friends about your book, whilst CC’ing you in, that you would offer them some other form of value – free consultation, free bonus behind-the-scenes PDF, whatever you can think of. The more the spread the word, the more value you offer in return. MORE: 10 Tips For Authors Promoting Their Books Online

6) Communitize

This is something that I see Lucy doing well with her Decision book series. She’s working on creating a community around that work. She’s making herself part of the discussion.

John Green, the author of The Fault In Our Stars has a successful youtube channel with his brother. They have nearly 8 million subscribers. Long before the book (and the film) became an international phenomenon they were creating a community around themselves. When John released his book, he had 8 million people already willing to listen. So:

I tweet
I tumble
Luke Kondor

JOIN ME!

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thrillerSo, to celebrate SUMMER and MY BIRTHDAY is soon, plus the fact Writing & Selling Drama Screenplays is out THIS SEPTEMBER (w0000t!), I will be giving away 3 copies of my 2013 screenwriting book, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays to three lucky peeps. Make sure enter to win for your chance to win one of the 3 copies HERE or click on the widget below.

In addition, you can still ask me your screenwriting and/or writing Qs on Goodreads now, don’t forget – just leave your question HERE. So if you want to know all about Dramatic Context; or how Thriller differs to ALL other genres but what it’s got in common with Horror; or how writing Drama is not about being as “depressing” as possible; how to get an agent or prodco interested in your work; or how to create an effective writing platform online — or something else WRITING RELATED, then this is your chance to ask!!

So, don’t miss out:  friend me on Goodreads and ASK ME A QUESTION!

See you there :D

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays by Lucy V. Hay

Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays

by Lucy V. Hay

Giveaway ends August 11, 2014.

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“Transmedia” is the latest buzzword in the industry, but many Bang2writers still aren’t really sure what it means! Luke is talking to the team behind Loves Of A Cyclops this week to shed some light on this great opportunity to get your work out there and create a following for your project … Enjoy!

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Loves Of A Cyclops is a short film project … sort of. It’s also a photograph collection, a series of audio snippets, an immersive experience in web design and modern aesthetics, and a ball of quirky fun. it’s a great example of what Transmedia can be.

If you wanted, you could simply watch the film HERE.

But that would be missing the point. To truly get the most out of the project you should go to the main website HERE. There’s no right way or wrong way to experience this project. Explore the depths of it all. Lose yourself in The Pearson Photo Archive, read up on the science behind the Cyclopticals, or peruse The Francis Collection – a catalog of items from the story.

I caught up with Director, Nathan Punwar to talk about the project:

Q: With a lot of young creative teams focusing on short films and trying to raise their profile that way, what made you take the approach you did with this project?

A: Honestly, the project we set out to make ended up spilling beyond the film itself, and the longer we worked on it, the more ideas there were to explore and have fun with. That was the nature of the script – packed with detail that blows by in a second. But what if you stopped and examined one of those details? Since it was a pet project with no fixed timeline, we had the freedom to keep creating and building the world of this story. If you’re an independent filmmaker, you should take advantage of those freedoms while you have them. So really, taking this approach just seemed like it
would be fun.

LESSON 1: LET THE BOUNDARIES OF THE PROJECT CREEP UPWARDS AND OUTWARDS

Q: I approached you guys, because your project was so vastly different from other projects out there at the minute. Have you found much interest from the media? Was this part of the intention when developing something so remarkable?

A: When we started, it was all about making this film. And by the end, I really wanted people to more fully explore the world of the film because I lived in it with my friends and we had such a good time in there. So that gradually became the intention in releasing it. I don’t think there are many short form projects that could do this, just because the story is usually too brief, but we already had this story that was long and winding and weird, which lent itself to this experiment.

LESSON 2: CREATE SOMETHING REMARKABLE

Q: One of the fundamental elements of this project is the design and the aesthetics. How did the design and the look of the site fit into your overall vision for the project?

I wanted the site to feel separate from our world, and separate from anything else online, like you enter Francis’ cycloptic vision in this vortex and spend some time swimming around in that pool. That’s why there are as little references to external real-world things as possible. Even the links to social media are somewhat disguised, which probably makes it really hard for anyone to share this with their friends, but that’s fine. Even the border around the frame of the site is meant to prime you to feel like you’re inside this other layer of the internet that no one can touch.

LESSON 3: USE THE TOOLS AVAILABLE TO FURTHER THE STORY

transmedia-2nd-2x3-copyQ: Do you feel going forward, we’re going to get more projects lik this? Maybe in the form of ongoing online web series’s? Or as feature films?

It definitely depends entirely on the project. We’re developing a series concept where I could see us creating some funny content outside the box of the show. At the same time, we’re writing a script where we purposefully wouldn’t want to know anything outside of that because it would detract from the illusion. But no matter what, my mind is always going to go there and wonder what we can create beyond the rectangular frame. Stories don’t feel confined like that when you create them, watch them, or read them. You’re always imagining it as if it’s real and around you.

LESSON 4: IT’S ALL ABOUT WHAT’S RIGHT FOR THE PROJECT

Q: How could a younger artist, looking to recreate some of the magic you’ve created, get started with something like this?

The only reason any of this was created was because of the initial story, or even the initial seed of the story. As far as I can tell, and I’m definitely no expert, all of the magic comes from exploring and researching your source of inspiration as fully and deeply as possible. You keep hunting around whatever the one thing is that really got you interested or excited in the first place, and there’s no limit to what you can pull out of that single resource, budget or no budget.

LESSON 5: THE MAGIC COMES FROM EXPLORATION

Thanks Luke and Nathan – fascinating stuff!

LINKS

What is Transmedia? on the @BFLAgency blog

Why Writers Should Consider A Transmedia Project by Dylan Spicer

6 Ways To Build An Audience by Dave Turner

9 Ways Of Creating A Following For Your Project Online on Script Angel’s blog

Transmedia Strategies on Tom Kerevan’s blog

TEDx: “Embrace Transmedia, don’t fight it.”

All the articles tagged “Transmedia” on this blog

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BIO: Luke Kondor writes stories and make films and stuff. Underdog style. When he’s not interviewing storytellers on his podcast, he’s working on his book of short stories. He blogs at lukekondor.com. He tumbles at lukeofkondor.tumblr.com. He tweets at @lukeofkondor.

Please press the buttons at the bottom to share the page on your social media profiles and/or check out my books. Thanks!

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Click the pic for more writing resources

NEWSFLASH: there are more screenplays & manuscripts doing the rounds than anyone can read, EVER. A lot of script readers are interns, or submissions are farmed out to readers like B2W. This means your submission **could** be in the hands of someone just starting out, or it could be someone more experienced.

But whatever the case, your work may well be read by someone with just a transient connection to the place you’ve submitted to. What’s more, outsourced readers like B2W may never have met the companies/people they’re reading for AT ALL! So this means the reader is actually not a “gate keeper” in real terms. It’s true: s/he COULD be marking time … OR s/he could actually WANT to find a great story!!

Script reading is an entry level job. This means it’s often something people do because they *have* to. But script readers don’t want to impress their bosses (quite frankly, if that prodco or agent doesn’t like their script reports?? With more submissions than can ever be read = PLENTY MORE WHERE THOSE CAME FROM!!), but ‘cos most people want to take pride in their work.

You can see this as depressing or liberating … So, what’s it to be?

Finished and polished a draft? Wondering what to do with it now?? Click here –> “I’ve written a screenplay. Now what?”

Please press the buttons at the bottom to share the page on your social media profiles and/or check out my books. Thanks!

Congratulations and HELLO to the new B2W intern, Luke Kondor!!! As well as sounding like a character from Game of Thrones, Luke will be blogging on the main site each week, plus sourcing links and facilitating chat for you on the Facebook page. Luke’s specialty is Transmedia, which I think will prove a real education to many of us. Please give him a warm welcome! Follow Luke on Twitter HERE or click his rather dapper pic at the bottom of this post.

BTW, If you’re missing MY #scriptchat post this sunday, never fear – my witterings have moved over to the B2W newsletter, which you can sign up for on the right hand sidebar (if you haven’t already), or click on the pic below – this week I’m talking about how Stereotypes and Archetypes are often confused in critiques, which muddies the waters further in the representation debate. You’ll also find a whopping SIX script, novel and writing leads on the newsletter too. GET IT NOW.

SO, Luke Of Kondor – I annoint thee knight of the B2W realm!! Over to you …

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Stop confusing “stereotype” & “archetype” – click the pic to find out how

It’s 05:43am and I’m tired.

I’m sitting at my desk, wrapped in my dressing gown. Sleep on my eyes. My hands are warming against a fresh cup of coffee. The smell wakes me more then the taste. I think about getting back into bed, snuggling into the covers and getting some more sleep before heading off to work. I don’t do that, because that’s a luxury I can’t afford.

I can’t afford it, because I’m a writer. Worse then that, I got inspiration … I’m riddled with it. I have stories to write, films to make, projects to produce, podcasts to record, and because I work in an office Monday to Friday, I have to do my real work in the hours around my job.

I write therefore I am. I also work in IT, so I guess I’m that too. And sometimes I eat. We verb, therefore we noun.

Lucy has given me the opportunity to talk to you guys through this wonderful platform called Bang2Write. I’m going to spend some time talking to you about storytelling in the modern world … for the most part anyway.

Before all of that, it’s customary for interns to introduce themselves, so here’s ten parts that make the whole of me.

1. I wrote and performed a stand up comedy show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It was average at best, badly reviewed, and due to a strict diet of 10p noodles and an asthma attack, it almost killed me.

2. I got a 2:2 in Interactive Media Production. I wanted to make a film for my final project, to which my teachers sighed and said you need to make something interactive. I made an interactive film.

3. I believe that the key to any success I’ve had in the past few years is due to finding a partner in crime who makes me tea, cuddles me, and calms my mind.

4. I also believe that modern storytellers are post-medium. We’re allowed to jump between writing films, comics, novels, and still maintain a clear consistent voice.

5. I grew up in a house of dogs. An army of border collies, who I’d spend more time with then people. At one time I convinced myself that I had a psychic connection to one of them.

6. Humans are a unique mess of ideas, experiences, and feelings. Occasionally we find something that resonates – a story, a poem, a song, a picture. Whatever it is, I believe we should do whatever we can to make more of it.

7. I believe that we’re in a new age of storytelling. One where artists can find their audiences, source their funds, and ship their art direct to the customer.

8. I’m skeptical about everything and anything, but at the same time I’m desperate to find some sort of faith or magic in the world. This is the basis for everything I do.

9. I go through bouts of hyper activity and fungus-like idleness. I’m sure there’s a balance in there somewhere, but I haven’t found it yet.

10. With every story I write or film I make I find a little more of myself. One day, with a bit of luck, I’ll know who I am.

I’d love to hear more about you too. Who are you? What are you working on? Talk to me.

10361055_10152460612687682_4015069592468190677_nBIO: Luke Kondor writes stories and make films and stuff. Underdog style. When he’s not interviewing storytellers on his podcast, he’s working on his book of short stories. He blogs at lukekondor.com. He tumbles at lukeofkondor.tumblr.com. He tweets at @lukeofkondor.

Please press the buttons at the bottom to share the page on your social media profiles and/or check out my books. Thanks!

Twilight’s Last Gleaming

“So I’m the love interest for the female protagonist so I have to trail after her like a lost puppy …”

So US TV series The 100 started on E4 this week … Well, I say “US TV”, it’s almost entirely populated by Australian and British ex-soap actors playing Americans (but it’s all make-believe anyway, so I’ll let that one go).

Based on the dystopian YA books of the same name by Kass Morgan, the series is set 97 years after nuclear war killed everyone on Earth. Luckily, there were some stronauts floating about in space stations (or something) which they all combined to make “The Ark”, civilisation’s last stand. Now, four generations later, things suck on the Ark and supplies, including life support, is running out. Even the most small of crimes is punishable by death – unless the citizen is under 18. Cue THE 100!

Juvenile deliquent teens who have committed crimes are sent down to Earth, to see if it’s now habitable. Amongst them is Clarke, our teenage female protagonist, whose father was “floated” (executed, by being shot out The Ark’s airlock) for trying to tell the rest of the Ark citizens life support is running out and The Chancellor is thinking about culling some of the population. Clarke was a previously privileged member of The Ark and is pitched against a number of others, most notably Wells, The Chancellor’s own son who got himself arrested so he could put sent to the ground; plus power-hungry Bellamy, who has sinister plans of his own for The 100. (There’s some power play going on in The Ark between the adults too, but generally I found those bits a tad dull).

Overall, I enjoyed the pilot for THE 100 enough to plan on tuning in next week. It’s basically “Lord of the Flies”  set in the future and concept-wise, that’s pure gold. It’s nice to see female characters dominating the frame so much, even if the character names are mindcrushingly obvious Sci Fi homages, or the “battle of the sexes” element (especially between the adults: females = GOOD! Males = BAD!) is somewhat overplayed, not to mention the obligatory hottie strips down to her pants within about five seconds of arriving on Earth, LE SIGH:

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“Hey guys, I could jump in with my clothes on, but then you can’t see my shapely arse!”

(That said, a Google search reveals whatsisface from Hollyoaks is going to turn up soon with no shirt on, so yeah … whatevs. WHAT?! :P)

Anyway, regardless of whether you liked THE 100 or thought it was dried-up bobbins, one thing its TV pilot does is especially well is exposition. As I’ve written countless times on this blog, I read a LOT of sci fi features, TV pilots, shorts and novels and writers often screw up their arenas or “world building”. In other words, they will give the reader TOO MUCH or TOO LITTLE background information in order to *understand* the story.

This is obviously a big deal – Science Fiction Arenas & Worlds NEED to be understood, that’s the whole point of the genre – so here are my tips to creating your arena in your screenplay, or worldbuilding in your novel, using THE 100 (TV pilot only) as a case study:

1) Do it quickly!

The obvious one. Whether you’re writing a screenplay or novel, your story and character have to be introduced TOGETHER. In THE 100, we start with our protagonist, Clarke, in prison. Within about 2 minutes, she’s been ordered out her cell, has said goodbye to her mother and is being packed off to Earth. In other words: super fast!

Now, many writers are finally getting the need to be fast like this in other genres, but the Sci Fi spec pile is frequently waaaay behind on this. Too often, a writer will fill the need to give us a horrible dump of information “up front” in the form of a completely extraneous prologue so we know “where” we are in terms of world, time and space. Oi, writers, no! Whether a screenplay or novel, science fiction prologues MUST offer something in terms of character and story and cannot be used simply as “hey, welcome to my world!”

MORE: What’s the Difference Between A Prologue And A Teaser? (screenplays), plus 6 Reasons NOT To Have A Prologue In Your Novel

2) Use Visuals As Introduction

As mentioned in my previous point, THE 100 starts with Clarke in her cell in The Ark, which could have been a very dull, very boring visual to open with. Instead, the pilot opens with Clarke drawing a forest on the floor of the cell, hinting at what is to come next (The 100 LAND in a forest, on Earth), plus the fact Clarke is a bit of a rebel (ie. she’s not supposed to do this). As an added bonus, the picture makes a good visual link between Clarke when she’s departed and her mother Abigail, who ends up in the same cell later on in the pilot.

So how could YOU use visuals? Well, Science Fiction script arenas in particular often use new technology, so a great way of introducing us to the new world is via “The Demonstration” scene. This is when one character shows others *how* something works, which usually fulfils three functions: i) it introduces us to the context of that SF arena (ie.”what’s possible”); plus ii) that new tech will often play some kind of part in the plot and iii) that demonstration will reveal the role function of the character doing it, plus the characters reacting *to* it. MORE: Top 5 Tips For Writing Science Fiction by Robert Grant

Yet Sci Novels need visuals too – something often under or over estimated by novelists. The best writers remember that their readers are more media literate than ever and demand a certain level of divergence between the media they consume – in other words, if your book is like a movie, visually? GREAT! MORE: 5 Top Tips On Visuals For Your Novel by RJ Mitchell

Bellamy in a later episode of THE 100, with a "Grounder" (tied)

“I’m the antagonist, BITCH!”

3) Have us find stuff out WITH the characters

In THE 100, the adults have no idea if Earth is safe or not – so the teens don’t either. The Chancellor makes an announcement to the teens via a screen in the shuttle, wishing them good luck and telling them there is a nuclear shelter in some mountain  near where the dropzone. When they hit the ground, they discover they’re on the wrong mountain and have a twenty mile trek ahead of them. This leads to arguments over whether they should all go, or whether a scouting party should. In the end, it is decided Bellamy and the others will stay at the dropzone and Clarke and a band of others – including Bellamy’s sister, Octavia, Miss Skimpy Pants – should go and try and retrieve supplies from the nuclear shelter. As Clarke and the others make their journey, they find the answers to various questions *anyone* would have landing on a planet after 97 years, such as “where are all the animals?” and “are we alone”. Crucially however, all of this happens not via talk, but via ACTION. The average science fiction screenplay be the other way around, so it feels very theatrical, like a play; in comparison, the average sci fi novel will pay too much attention to describing everything location-related in minute detail. MORE: Top 5 Ways Writers Screw Up Their Characters

4) Reveal what characters are like via their worldviews

When they land, Bellamy goes to open the door of the craft and Clarke tells him not to, in case radiation will kill everyone, but Bellamy, a fatalist, points out that if that’s the case, they’re all dead anyway. So they open up the doors and … don’t die straight away. Later on, Clarke frets that they may still be dying, just slowly, from radiation. In comparison, since he’s still alive, Bellamy is already making plans to take over the group, by recruiting others to his “side”. In other words then, Clarke may be a brave freedom fighter, but she’s already seen her father “floated”, so she doesn’t want to die: she wants to survive. Bellamy in comparison wants power. They have different motivations, thus this informs their actions accordingly – ie. what they DO in the story. Remember point 3 here, in particular! MORE: Your Character’s Motivation

5) Create group dynamics

In the pilot, lines are drawn in the sand between characters with abandon: the privileged versus the poor in particular, but also those who are “criminals” versus those who are not. This is a particularly interesting choice, because by Ark law ALL of the teens in THE 100 are designated criminals, but as with real life prisons, there is a heirarchy established – those whose “fault” it is they’re in prison; versus those whose heritage or even very existence contravene Ark Law. Finn, seen in the first picture on this post walking behind Clarke, is a “real criminal”, because he wasted a month’s worth of The Ark’s oxygen going on an illegal spacewalk when he was bored. Clarke too is essentially a “terrorist”, having aided and abetted her father. In contrast, Octavia, Bellamy’s sister is a criminal for “being born” (second children are  illegal on the Ark, so their mother hid Octavia under the floor until she was discovered and their mother was “floated”).

The great thing about group dynamics amongst characters then is it not only aids characterisation, but plotting as well. Bellamy is filled with resentment at his mother’s execution, which leads him to want to take The 100 for himself, so they never go back to The Ark. In other words, we’re back to this notion of motivation, as in point 4. Yet most Sci Fi screenplays and novels forget about group dynamics as they seek to splurge exposition on how the SF world works all over the place, instead. MORE: 11 Expositional Clichés That Will Kill Your Story

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“So we’re brother & sister? Are you SURE? ‘Cos He’s Australian”

6) Hint at backstory

It’s important to note there are no extraneous flashbacks in The 100 pilot. We never see Clarke’s father or Bellamy and Octavia’s mother getting arrested or floated – we don’t need to. Instead, we hear about these things, via dialogue.

“But WTF?” You say … “Characters are not what they say, but what they do!” Yep, you’re RIGHT. So you don’t SPLURGE it all in one go, but mete it out here and there, disguised wherever possible! For example:

The 100′s shuttle is very old and the teens are not even sure it’s going to make it to the ground at one point as they hurtle towards Earth. Thinking the vehicle is breaking up as it hits Earth’s atmosphere, Wells, sitting next to Clarke, turns to her and tells her that if they’re going to die, he doesn’t want to die with her hating him: please forgive him? She replies that he got her father killed, she DOES hate him and she WON’T forgive him!

This is a great bit of writing because now we understand that Wells and Clarke have “got previous”, but we’ve got the distraction of the (probable) shuttle crash going on around the characters, plus the believability that yes, if you think you might die, you probably WOULD want to get something off your chest like Wells does. In addition, we can also believe that someone like Clarke who values honesty – hence her being on board, even! – would answer like this if she thinks she’s going to die, too.

It’s the same with novels, too. When it comes to backstory, a sprinkling here and there, amidst various “distractions” and/or as the result of good characterisation is ALWAYS worth more than a big solid chunk of chewy exposition. MORE: 5 Ways To Beat Exposition by Jim Mercurio and How Does Exposition Work?

7) Don’t be obscure

This is the thing. Audiences will forgive a little bit of obviousness, but they never forgive even the smallest speck of obscurity. As I’ve already mentioned in this post, I felt certain elements of the story were overplayed like its gender politics, but because enough of the story and characterisation was intriguing, I will tune in again. But this is because The 100 knows exactly who its audience is: we’re talking people have read the books, sure, but also those who haven’t, but may have liked THE HUNGER GAMES or DIVERGENT films and/or novels. As a result, in THE 100 pilot there’s some violence, some threat, but generally it’s not OTT: there’s barely any swearing, though some thematic posturing over the nature of power (which secondary school kids cover in theory in History class). Miss Skimpy Pants might strip down to her knickers and vest, but we don’t even get any lurid close ups of her chest. In short, The 100 is the TV equivalent of a 12A and I’m guessing the novel was too, since it’s YA. whether writing a Sci Fi Screenplay or novel, you need to know too! MORE: Who is your Audience?

Concluding …

So, when attempting your Science Fiction screenplay or novel:

- Don’t be OTT on your SF arena or world’s detail, but be visual

- Introduce character & story “hand in hand”

- Don’t splurge backstory all over the place

- Remember your characters’ motivations

- Remember dialogue and dynamics have their place in good characterisation

- Remember your audience

OH would you look at that: Science Fiction is the same as ANY storytelling! Fancy. Good luck with your projects and don’t forget: all the B2W PDF downloads are now available together, via the main site HERE! I’ll be adding to it as well over the coming months, so make sure you bookmark it and if you like the downloads? Please  press the buttons at the bottom to share the page on your social media profiles and/or check out my books. Thanks!

Please press the buttons at the bottom to share the page on your social media profiles and/or check out my books. Thanks!