So, I’ll be running a new series on B2W, this time “Top 5 Mistakes”. I’m kicking off with Feedback and will be following up with my top 5 mistakes on Submissions. Have an idea for another in this series? Then let me know in the comments, on Twitter or via email.

First off then, here’s my top 5 mistakes on GIVING feedback – Enjoy … and BEWARE!

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1) Highjacking Another Writer’s Vision

Look, we get it – it might seem OBVIOUS to you how the story has missed opportunities, or that writing a story *that* way just doesn’t work. But writers may be too close to their work, which is why they’re asking for your help, not your condemnation.

Equally, just because YOU think your idea for the story works, doesn’t mean the writer will. Your job is not to give solutions per se, but provide a springboard for the writers’ OWN ideas, remember. MORE: 6 Things To Remember When Dealing With Writing Feedback

2) Forgetting writing is about DEVELOPMENT

No one can write a first draft that’s top notch straight off the bat. NO ONE. Sure, some first drafts are better than others; plus some will be absolutely awful. It’s not your job then to express surprise or disappointment that the draft is not “better”; it helps no one, least of all the writer. In fact, it’s demotivating. Besides anything, it makes no sense to do this, because *any* draft can always be BETTER. That’s what development is for! MORE: How Do You Script Edit Without Rewriting It As Your Own Story?

3) Thinking your job is to FIX writing

We’re back to number 1 on this list again, essentially. Opinions on what “works” and what “doesn’t” are just that – opinions. There are multiple ways of looking at story and characters and forgetting that is a huuuuuuuuuuuge error when giving feedback.

But more than this, the best feedback-givers FACILITATE writing, they don’t “fix” it. They go beyond what is solely on the page and motivate the writer, encouraging them to connect with both their talent and grit, to get their best work done. What’s not to like? MORE: What Script Editors Do AKA 5 Tips To Edit Your Own Screenplay

4) Not having the vocab to explain issues

There’s a reason new feedback-givers focus on little niggly things like Format, such as HOW the script looks on the page.

They may also focus on strange little details to do with the story – random, tiny moments, as opposed to elements that might actually DEVELOP the story and its characters.

Put bluntly, this is usually because the feedback-giver doesn’t know what s/he is doing. Sure, we all have to start somewhere, but if you want to be taken seriously as a script reader or editor? You have to get the skillz – and QUICKLY.

This means, you have to understand how structure and character works, STAT. And no, I don’t mean reading a single book on structure; I mean IMMERSING yourself in the subject. And no, I don’t mean talking about character “tropes” and how terrible they all apparently are – I mean character motivation vs role function (and that’s just for starters!).

MORE: 2 Things ALL Writers Get Wrong In Early Drafts

5) Forgetting these are people’s hopes and dreams

It comes down to this: if you’re a writer, you’ll probably know how much vitriol and rejection can sting. Do as you would be done by.

But okay, maybe you’re one of those thick-skinned writers, or perhaps you don’t write yourself. So think on this, instead: yes, the work in front of you might be awful in your opinion. But someone worked hard on it, sacrificing time, money and more to do it.

These are not just spec screenplays and unpublished novels; these are people’s hopes and dreams. Forget that at your peril. MORE: How Do I Become A Script Reader?

Breaking Into Script Reading – Back For 2017! 

How do IMy sell-out course, BREAKING INTO SCRIPT READING will be back for its THIRD year in 2017! If you’re interested in becoming a script reader, or finding out more how script readers may assess YOUR own writing – or both! – then this is the course for you. The course will run 11th-12th February and early bird tickets are on sale now. GET THEM HERE, or click the pic on the left. See you there!

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

One of the top questions I get from Bang2writers is, “How do I find TIME to write?”

My answer: you have to MAKE TIME!

Yeah, I get it. There’s never enough time – especially if you have a day job, or a family. This is why you need to come up with a strategy, plus writing goals, if you want to progress. This isn’t to say you have to STICK doggedly to those goals – if you find you change your mind, you can adapt accordingly and keep going. What’s important is creating a FRAMEWORK, rather than crossing your fingers and hoping some of that spaghetti sticks.

Whilst this infographic is bent towards blogging, there’s some great tips here on becoming a more productive writer generally, whatever your medium. Enjoy!

More On Productivity:

10 Tips On Being A Productive Writer

5 Habits Of Highly Productive Writers

Help – My Partner Won’t Let Me Write!

13 Tips To Beat Procrastination and Write Productively

7 Ways To Find More Time To Write

productive-writer-infographic

Infographic Source: How To Make My Blog

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

www.bang2write.com-2 copy

It doesn’t matter whether you’re an experienced writer or just a beginner, you’re going to confront a few dilemmas! They tend to appear as difficult choices between two different things, so here are my top 7, enjoy!

1) Write For Money Or Love? 

You must be a truly lucky person if you earn a living by writing what you enjoy. There’s lots of less fortunate writers who are obliged to make money by writing anything and everything. If you do write something you truly cherish by all means enjoy it to the fullest, but get ready to be broke!

TIP: Find a stable salary job and keep on writing. MORE: 6 Writing Tips If You Have A Day Job

2) Be A Trend-Setter Or Follower?

Originality can be overrated, but obviously you must never plagiarise, either: a self-respecting writer won’t just take somebody else’s ideas. Do be aware too that while reading others’ work your own thoughts may intertwine with the ideas of other writers and you could lose your unique view on a story or subject. Balance is key!

TIP: Use plagiarism detecting software such as Unplag to keep you on your toes. MORE: The 9 Circles Of Plagiarism Hell

3) Write in the morning or at night?

Biorhythms are something you cannot just ignore. You’re either a morning person or a night owl, and you must plan your daily routine accordingly.

So if you’re up with the lark, it will be much better for you to work right after an early wake-up. Owls are more productive working late at night and feel washed-out in the morning. There is also a third in-between type, the hummingbird, which has some traits of both larks and owls. Know who you are and how you work!

TIP:  For planning your daily routine, pick some helpful tools like DayViewer.

4) Use pen and paper or use a laptop?

I’ve tried both variants. And you know what? I prefer laptops to the old school methods of writing like pen and paper. Firstly, my typing speed is fast and I can put down a thought promptly right when it strikes me. And secondly, I find editing on my computer much more convenient. But again, you need to find out who you are and how you like to work.

TIP: Amazing writing apps like OMMWRITER or ZenWriter are at your disposal, not to mention fantastic “old school” stationery like this.

5) Be critical or assume you’re agenius

Sometimes it happens. One day you think you are a total loser while re-reading your work. But the next day, your writing seems to be a masterpiece! Or vice versa … It’s no secret that all people experience this kind of rollercoaster ride when it comes to writing. It’s just human nature.

TIP: A bit of criticism will always be a plus. But arguably, it’s better to be overcritical than uncritical. MORE: 6 Things To Remember When Dealing With Writing Feedback

6) Traditional or self-publishing?

Sooner or later this dilemma is going to torture every writer. Publishing houses and agents provide you with a set of obvious advantages. However, self-publishing is attractive as well. Also, it’s easier than ever to get started as a writer: thanks to the internet, you can easily create your own blog and/or write for online resources.

TIP: Self-publishing has become an easy and affordable process, you should also take advantage of it. MORE: 6 Ways To Find Success As A Writer With Your Blog

7) Pseudonym or your own name?

Both options are widely used. I know some writers who are sure they should work only under one’s own name since you’re in charge of what you do. Others, however, tend to choose a new name, which can serve as a mask and gives a sense of anonymity.

TIP: If you don’t like your name, it’s a good chance to start anew and decide what’s suitable for your writing career. MORE: How Do I Pick A Writer’s Pseudonym? 6 Top Tips

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BIO: This post is written by Nancy Lin, a freelance writer and editor from Kansas City, Missouri. She is a contributing author for DIYAuthor, CulturedVultures and SoCawlege. Nancy is finishing her studies at Rockhurst University and wisely using her spare time to continue working on her first novel.

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

Gender inequality in the film industry has been a hot topic for a good while now, but especially in recent weeks.

Over the past nine months, Stephen Follows researched gender inequality in the UK Film Industry. Stephen is an award-winning writer and producer, so we can feel assured he knows exactly what he’s talking about. Check out his full report HERE, plus the many projects he’s been involved in, HERE. You can follow him on Twitter as @StephenFollows (and you should!).

HOW DO I SUPPORT FEMALE FILMMAKERS?

So Bang2writers!

I read Stephen’s whopping 140 page report, not to mention a stack of other articles and discussion. Stephen himself also kindly offered some quotes for this article. So here’s what I took from it all and want to share with you – ready??

1) This Is A Man’s World …

Let’s get one thing straight before we start.

The UK Film Industry IS predominantly a man’s world. Stephen’s research shows that after their first feature, women will direct fewer films than their male peers. Stephen also found the higher the budget meant less chance of a female being hired.

  • 2,591 films were released from 2005 – 2014, 13.6% were directed by women.
  • In 2005, 11.3% were directed by women.
  • In 2014, 11.9% were directed by women.

So let’s shut down the idea that female filmmakers and their opportunities are diminishing because of our desire to ‘play house’ and ‘raise a family’. It’s an unfair and inaccurate generalisation that proposes stereotypical ideas.

One thing is clear: there are simply not enough opportunities available to women. Our full potential can only be reached by competing on a level playing field. Also worth remembering: we also need to value the support of our male allies. Both genders need to consider each other as we navigate this business together.

STEPHEN FOLLOWS: “The system is rigged against women. It’s definitely not conscious, but it IS definitely happening.” 

MORE: Women! Know Your Place (hint: absolutely everywhere)

2) Congratulations, You Got The Job!

In an ideal world, career opportunities would be offered based solely on skills and abilities. But Stephen’s research found that career prospects and roles for women in the UK Film Industry are severely limited compared to their male companions.

  • The more senior a role in the industry, the less likely it is held by a woman.
  • In all but two key departments, female representation ranged between 6% – 31%.
  • The majority were found in Casting/Make-up/Costume.
  • A total of 17 crew credits were studied – 14 out of the 17 had fewer females than males.

The best candidate for any job relies on experience, but if more experience is offered towards men, than that is an unfair advantage in any profession.

STEPHEN FOLLOWS: “What we’ve got here is an “image problem” – women are seen as not being a “safe bet”. This is not caused by women in any shape or form, nor is it caused simply by men who hate women, but rather historic and financial conservatism.”

MORE: 9 Female Movie Screenwriters Worth Watching

GENDER

3) We’re All In This Together … Or Are We?

In the UK, a fifth of films released receive public funding. A higher percentage of female directors were found in such films … Hurray, right? Wrong! The average showed a clear decline in supporting and funding female directors:

  • In 2007 – 32.9% directed by females
  • In 2014 – 17% directed by females

Wow, that’s a BIG decline. Yet it’s our duty as filmmakers to showcase a varied and inclusive representation of the public, especially as public funds support these films. These percentages sadly do not provide a true representation.

STEPHEN FOLLOWS: I think that a 50:50 public quota would help greatly. One in five feature films made in the UK have some form of public funding (development and/or production) and it’s public money, so carries with it an obligation to reflect the public.”

4) Do Film Students /Industry Entrants Stand A Chance?

The good news is that emerging female talent isn’t being put off. Stephen’s research found that UK film students are roughly equally represented:

  • 50% Male
  • 50% Female

And for Industry Entrants:

  • 50.6% Male
  • 49.4% Female

However:

  • Only 27.2% of British Short Film directors are female.
  • Only 14% of TV Drama directors are female.
  • 1% of low-budget films directed by females.
  • 3% high-budget films directed by females

Even if we are to assume that 27.4% of female short film directors is a “true” representation of the talent pool (Newsflash: it’s not), it still simply does not make sense that MOST of these talented females “don’t want to” make TV Drama, features or high budget films after making shorts! C’mon.

There ARE enough women and our ideas to level the playing field. Now is the time to change the situation for ourselves and for others following in our footsteps.

STEPHEN FOLLOWS“Bringing in new entrants is less of a problem than we might think, because it’s 50/50 – women ARE coming in, they’re not being put off. The industry is not simply “not selecting” women at all, it’s that women have a harder time than men.” 

MORE: 20 Female Experts On Writing

5) With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

To summarise, the cause is believed to be down to those hiring and their preferences. For example, research found that female creatives had a higher percentage of women in their departments.

The responsibility of changing the current situation falls on all of our shoulders. We must value each other and strive to create an environment where talent and imagination creates endless possibilities for both genders.

STEPHEN FOLLOWS: “Most people in the industry would count themselves as liberal and pro-equality, but at the same time they need to be as risk averse as possible in an uncertain world. This creates the disconnect that puts women at a disadvantage.” 

MORE: 15 (More) Fab Female Writers On Writing

Concluding:

Stephen Follow’s research found that men *do* have a significant advantage in UK Film in comparison to women.  But it should be noted he also concluded there was NO EVIDENCE found of any organised or conscious and deliberate effort to exclude women in the industry. It is believed these decisions are made due to an unconscious bias.

But overall, there’s nothing to debate anymore: this IS happening but we can use the figures to our advantage. In order to stop any type of discrimination we must support each other, ignoring every sub-category or label. These facts are our fuel to create more opportunities and a better circumstance for ALL writers.

So what are we waiting for?? Let’s GO!

IMG_8071BIO: Hello, my name is Olivia Brennan, a 25 year old who was first inspired by the power of film when I cowered behind a cushion watching JAWS, aged 6. Ever since, it’s been my mission to understand what ingredients make a great film and why we all love films so much, even loving to hate the bad ones! I work as a Freelance Writer, Blogger & Assistant Script Editor. Check out my blog HERE or Facebook Page The Final Frontier. Feel free to follow me on twitter as @LivSFB and say hi!

More Links:

Female Films Directors MUST Get Equal Funding (But They Mustn’t All Be White)

BFI Mulls Covering Childcare Costs In Bid To Boost Diversity

BFI’s CEO: “Without Diversity, Cinema Will Become Irrelevant”

How The Women Of Hollywood Call Out Gender Inequality

Ava Duvernay & Catherine Hardwicke Respond To Hollywood Gender Discrimination Probe

Effie Brown Challenged Matt Damon. Now She’s Ready To Challenge A Whole Industry

Sandra Bullock Talks Gender Inequality In Hollywood

Geena Davis & Emma Watson Talk Gender Inequality

Jodie Foster Admits To Being “A Little Sick” Of Discussing Women In Hollywood

Got any other thought-provoking links? Post them in the comments!

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

HOW DO I

Many thanks to Bang2writer Amber Isleib, who asks this question via the B2W contact form:

Do you have any advice on picking a pseudonym? I’m sure I can’t be the only one struggling with this. It seems I either come up with something that sounds nice but is boring, or sounds weird but appeals to me for some dorky reason, but nothing fits what I want my professional persona to be. Help!!!

Pick a name:

1) You identify with

There’s no rules to this. You can pick whatever you want, you’re the one using it. Just because you’re female doesn’t mean you “have” to use a female pen name (or vice versa).

Equally, if initials feel like a “better” fit, than go with that. There should be no pressure or expectation here and though this *can* happen, don’t let it sway you. It’s your pseudonym, you don’t *need* to justify it.

Sometimes, BAME authors and screenwriters feel they would be taken more “seriously” if they have “non-ethnic sounding” names (please note these are not my words, but based on various conversations with my Bang2writers).

This is a tough one. It’s true we live in a heirarchal society, so if female names can get marginalised, then it’s pretty obvious “ethnic sounding” names may be too. Some say we should go with the ones more likely to get through the (virtual) door; others say we should push on regardless, since change can’t happen otherwise.

MY TAKE: I still think it’s about whatever works for you, personally. You’re the one battling the submissions pile.

2) Is memorable …

We all know standing out can be key in the pile, so a memorable name can be worth its weight in gold. If your surname (in particular) is something in common with literally thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of other people, then it’s possible your name might fade into the background. It’s no accident that writers with last names like Smith or Jones are frequently told to come up with a good pen name, after all!

Diablo Cody is the first screenwriting pseudonym that comes to mind here. The pen name of Oscar winning writer Brooke Busey-Maurio, she apparently chose it because it was “cool and intimidating” and it certainly is that. However, Busey-Maurio feels she chose it too early in her career, establishing the name online before she established her career. She has written since this was a mistake.

There are other times a memorable name can be something of a curse, too. For example, I can think of only one “Palahniuk” I have ever heard of and that’s of course, American novelist Chuck Palahniuk. Yet I have to look his name up every single time I write it to check it’s correct (and I’m a good speller!). I dread to think just how many entries online are spelled wrong and therefore not contributing to Palahniuk’s search results!

MY TAKE: If you’re going to pick a pen name, pick one that *fits* with your remit. Cody’s pen name worked far better online when she was a blogger, than as an award-winning screenwriter.

3) … but also makes sense!

“Diablo Cody” is not my favourite pen name by a long shot, but it does exactly what it’s supposed to do: “Diablo” means “devil” and “Cody” is presumably a reference to Buffalo Bill Cody. In other words, it’s “cool and intimidating” like Busey-Maurio says she wanted, (presumably) because it’s not only hyper-masculine sounding, but UBER-AMERICAN. And why not?

However, I see pen names all the time that don’t make a lick of sense. Instead, they end up sounding like completely mad Klingon names, that are waaaaaaay too long and full of too many consonants. This reeks of desperation in the spec pile: “Notice meeeeeeee!”

MY TAKE: If you’re picking a pen name, shorter is nearly always better – and try and stay away from Sci-Fi-sounding names.

Click for a useful WikiHow article on how to make your own pseudonym

Click for a useful WikiHow article on how to make your own pseudonym

Other important things to remember:

4) Be consistent on submissions!

I can’t tell you how often this happens in the spec pile on email addresses, CVs/resumés, cover letters and even TITLE PAGES in script calls and contests:

“Mike Smith WRITING AS Peter Augustine.”

This does my head in royally. This means I will get sent stuff from Mike Smith, note down his pseudonym and then later I have to remember he’s not two people, but one.

This might not seem like a big deal, but consider the size of the pile – and the fact there is bound to be more than ONE person doing this. As a result, I have wasted whole afternoons looking for people’s work who literally do not exist. Grrrr!

The solution is simple and you need never incur the wrath of screenplay admin types ever again: SUBMIT AS YOUR PEN NAME ONLY! This includes: CV/resumé; cover letter and title pages. And YES, get an email address as your pen name!!! Email addresses are free, there’s no excuse.

5) Social media use

With reference to the above, if you’re going to tweet, blog or use any other platform as a writer (including Facebook), DO NOT USE BOTH your names. Most people will simply assume you are two different people. People online are busy and skimming content, they will not necessarily notice you’re the same guy/gal.

What’s more, you need to be OVERT over what multiple accounts are FOR. Just recently, I launched @LucyVHayAuthor to showcase my own writing, with @Bang2write being for writing tips and general rants. Both were named “Lucy Hay” and both had my picture. Guess what happened?!?! Yup … I got A BUNCH OF EMAILS from different people to Bang2write saying:

“Hey, you’ll never guess what – there’s another writer called Lucy Hay! Weird or what!”

So I ended up changing the B2W Twitter to “Shouty Writing Tips”. Suddenly the emails stopped and people began to notice I was both. Yes, the online world is that weird. FML.

6) Branding

It’s worth remembering that a pen name may not be desirable or useful to you. Being the internet, you may benefit from BRANDING instead. “Lucy V Hay” might be my real name, but you may know me as Bang2write, first. I’m the only one online so easier to find as this brand name (Lucy Hay is The Countess of Carlisle and a historical figure, so I’ll never win a Google fight against her!).

However, if you are going to BRAND yourself, rather than use a pen name, AGAIN – consistency is key. You need to tell your story online as this brand, plus in the very least you should utilise social media effectively via that brand name. This is a lot of effort.

It’s also worth remembering than branding is MORE than just picking a generic name or term. Simply picking words like “scriptwriter” or “film director” is NOT branding. A brand is about DISTINGUISHING yourself from competitors and creating a lasting impression in the minds of potential clients/users.

For example, when you think “Bang2write” – regardless of whether you’ve used my script consultancy – you most likely think:

  • Shouty
  • script consultant
  • blogger
  • Thrillers
  • structure
  • female characters

This is what people come to me for, predominantly too — and this is no accident. I DESIGNED and BRANDED Bang2write this way. And it takes a helluva lot of effort!

Concluding:

If you want to pick a pseudonym, make sure it’s something you identify with and can imagine taking through the various stages of your career. Also, once you’ve committed to that pseudonym, be consistent with it in both submissions and social media use. Lastly, don’t let what others think affect you, but if you can’t think of one suitable, perhaps branding yourself might be more effective.

Good luck!

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

Bang2writers often ask me the “right” way to write a story – whether that’s as a novel or a screenplay (or something else). As far as I’m concerned, **any** way is FINE — just as long as you finish!

One thing that I DO advocate however – whatever medium you’re in – is writing an outline. (And yes, I DO follow my own advice … I’m writing an outline for the plot of my next novel RIGHT NOW in fact!).

Sure, there ARE those lucky writers who find plotting novels and scripts easy to do, unconsciously and good luck to them (bastards). However, from my experience of working with hundreds of writers now, I still believe there is not a writer ALIVE who couldn’t do a “better” job (whether that only means a “faster” job, or *something else*) by just knuckling down and writing that outline!

But writing an outline is hard, which is why of course so many of us DON’T want to do it … So thanks to @nownovel for this great infographic that does a fab job of breaking down the process. Best of luck with yours!

On B2W Before About Outlines:

How To Write Screenplay Outlines, Beat Sheets And Treatments

6 Tips On Writing A One Page Pitch For Your Script Or Novel

On Writing: Why Planning Beats Seat-Of-Your-Pants Every Time

how to write a plot outline - 7 ways - Now Novel
 Courtesy of: Now Novel

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

So, I was teaching at Ealing Studios again last weekend for my course with LondonSWF, BREAKING INTO SCRIPT READING. It’s the second year this course has run and it sold out AGAIN, which I find unbelievable! (Yes, the course will run again EARLY in 2017, watch this space for an announcement soon!)

This got me thinking – I’ve been honest throughout my time at B2W and on this blog and said I never actually set out to be a script reader. I didn’t know script reading was even a job, plus I didn’t even know I was good at analysing stories! All it took was a little seed to be planted … and the rest as they say, is history!!

So, many thanks to Daniela today, who’s written a GREAT call to arms to Bang2writers today … How will YOU begin your next project, or even your whole career?? Enjoy!

-POP

1) Dr. Seuss – Just doodling

Theodor Seuss Geisel had no desire to be a writer. In fact, he planned to become a university professor. Then one day, a fellow Dartmouth student saw the cartoons Seuss sketched and suggested that he should become an artist. So, Seuss altered course and eventually landed a job as a newspaper cartoonist.

When he went to work for the army during World War I, he helped product animated films for training soldiers. A few publisher saw his work and suggested that he go into illustrating children’s books after the War. He took the suggestion and decided to give children’s books a whirl. The world now has the wonderful work of Dr. Seuss forever.

Two suggestions – that’s all it took to plant that seed!

Here’s some other well-known writers who began with just one little planted seed:

2) Joan Didion – A newspaper article

Didion was working for Vogue when she read a short newspaper article about a murder in North Carolina – a farmer had killed his foreman. The thought stuck. She relocated the murder to California and began to write her book at night. The half-finished novel was accepted by the 13th publisher who gave her an advance to finish it. Run, River was the result. She may be more well-known for her essays, but anything by Joan Didion is hard to put down.

3) Ernest Hemingway – A Bullfight

Ernest Hemingway wanted to be a writer. He settled for newspaper reporting until he became an ambulance driver during World War I. Eventually he settled in France, hoping life on the continent would stimulate his writing – not much luck. By chance, he traveled to Spain with friends and attended the bullfights. It hit. Even before the group returned to France, he was writing The Sun Also Rises, all of the characters being facsimiles of those friends with whom he had traveled.

4) David Foster Wallace – A Girlfriend’s Comment

When Wallace was a student at Amherst College, a girlfriend rather flippantly said that she would really like to be a character in a novel instead of a real person. Wallace could not get that comment out of his thoughts and spent days trying to figure out what she had meant. Ultimately, he turned that statement into a novel, The Broom of the System, which he wrote during his senior year. It was published two years later.

5) Zadie Smith – The Millennium

Smith was a college student at Cambridge as the millennium and, like most of us, she had heard all of the predictions for the turn of the century, from the Aztec calendar signifying the end of civilization to a complete global meltdown due to the failure of computers to “reset” from 1999 to 2000. With the background of race and immigration, she framed a novel about a man who moves from one century to the next very successfully. She finished the novel, White Teeth, while still in college. Since that time she has written other novels, short stories, and essays.

6) Toni Morrison – Joins a Writing Group

While a humanities professor at Howard University, Morrison joined a writing group, simply as a diversion. She realized she needed to write something, like everyone else was doing but had to find a storyline. She remembered another African American elementary school mate who had once said she wanted blue eyes. She wrote it up as a short story. After she divorced and moved to New York, she spent her lonely nights as a single mother crafting a novel from that short story. Five years later, The Bluest Eye was published. Of course she has written much more, winning a Pulitzer Prize. She’s quite a legacy all on her own. MORE: Join the Bang2writers FB Group, it’s a lively one!!!

SO … What will be the seed for YOUR next piece?

You may indeed find it in some very unlikely place. Practice staying alert to all that is going on around you; immerse yourself in some new experiences or hobbies; read some inspiring quotes from national and international figures; listen to the news. All of these have seeds, ready for planting!

DON’T FORGET: You can check out the B2W Resources page for even more “seeds”. Good luck!

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BIO: Daniela McVicker is an author, psychologist and educator. She believes that success depends on knowing the ideas that allow you to manage and master the universe of information. To know more about her catch up with her on Facebook and/or follow her on Twitter as @danielamcvick.

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

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EXCITING NEWS. So, my new novella, SKYJACK, will be available on pre-order VERY SOON!!

SKYJACK is a 20K word novella and part of the storyworld of the new and gritty UK Thriller TEAR ME APART by @CannibalFilms. Here’s a short blurb:

In the not-too-distant future, women have started dying out due to a mysterious event known as The Fall. SKYJACK follows the fates of Maddy, one of the survivors of the ominous London City Haven where remaining women and girls are rounded up by government scientists.

Escaping to the Westcountry with her father Bill, they create a fort with other women and male allies as their last stand. They feel safe, the roads blocked and Nature creating barriers in the way of the river, the moor and the sea. But what they don’t count on is the air …

Want to be one of the VERY FIRST readers of SKYJACK??

SIGN UP HERE (or click the pic above) and I’ll send the first chapter to you FREE as soon as it’s available!!

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

Following on from Wednesday’s brilliant post by @ShoreScripts on spec screenwriting clichés, here’s a look inside in the Create50 “lock-in” for LondonSWF’s second crowd-sourced feature film, THE IMPACT.

Basically, Team LSF – and some very knowledgeable guests – locked themselves inside Ealing Studios during bank holiday weekend. Over the course of the two days, we re-read and deliberated over the finalists in extreme detail.

From there, we created The Impact’s storyworld and built a preliminary story arc of 50 final screenplays, so filmmakers can make their choices in phase 2 of the project.

An announcement re: the final 50 will be coming *soon* … Bear with us as we tie up various loose ends, potential and literal. In the meantime, you can check out the highlights of B2W’s weekend in the lock-in below, or read the full post, HERE on the Create50 website.

Screenplays

i) Emotional Truth

“Would people REALLY do [THIS] at the end of the world?” was a question that came up again and again throughout the lock in. “Relatable” is a very mod-ERN word, but generally speaking, this is what readers mean when they say “emotional truth”. This meant some otherwise excellent scripts fell by the wayside simply because not enough of the readers *related* to the actions of the characters in the story. C’est la vie!

Want to know more about “emotional truth”? Check out my book, WRITING & SELLING DRAMA SCREENPLAYS, or click the Marmite pic above.

ii) Marmite!

As Chris has mentioned on social media, Create50 scripts were read and rated by SIXTEEN different people from start to finish in the judging process. This is extraordinary for *any* scheme or initiative, so writers can be assured of getting readers’ due diligence on their work.

However, being a creative process (again inevitably!), some scripts fell somewhere in the middle, with readers either LOVING or HATING them. We called these the “Marmite” scripts.

Marmite scripts were particularly difficult to rate and decide on, with many ending up in the MAYBE pile, to be debated again later. At least two Marmite scripts were debated on at least three occasions throughout the weekend! MORE: 3 Ways To “Reader Proof” Your Screenplay

iii) “There are others …”

This was probably the one issue we returned OVER and OVER again over the course of the weekend. As I’ve written before, there were more “Zeitgeist” scripts (same story, by different writers) in THE IMPACT call than ANY I’ve ever worked on. Unsurprisingly then, we also had several instances of multiple entries by individual writers scoring very highly!

As a result, we had many questions for the material, both at individual script level and for the overarching story of THE IMPACT, but basically boiled down to these two questions:

  • Is this one the “best” entry of these *type* of stories?
  • Is this script *this* particular writer’s BEST work from the pile?

Again, proof that if Story is King (or Queen!!), concept IS the key if you want to catapault your work out of the spec pile. MORE: Check out B2W’s official feedback from reading Round 1  of The Impact Scripts

Read More Impact:50 Lock-in Feedback:

CLICK HERE to check out B2W’s Create50 lock-in feedback in even more detail.

CLICK HERE to check out guest judge and filmmaker Phil Peel’s feedback on the lock-in process.

Good luck, everyone!

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

B2W always loves to shine a light on the spec pile and demystify the submissions process … So MANY thanks to Justine from Shore Scripts today for this insight. Fascinating!

I must say I agree with all 1o here — too often writers rehash concepts, characters, moments and even WHOLE PLOTS from movies and TV they’ve already seen and absorbed (often accidentally, sometimes intentionally).

But it’s important to note: writers shouldn’t necessarily be reinventing the wheel, either … So if you WANT to write any of the below, just TWIST, reboot or genre-bust it. Easier said than done, but can pay dividends.

Over to you, Justine!

WHEN IS A

Since becoming a professional script reader, I must have read 1000s of scripts. I’m always hoping to find that next great hit, but I must admit that sometimes it feels like just the same old story.

So, this is my list of the 10 “world’s worst” clichés in screenwriting. For me, screenwriting suffers from clichés when the characters lack depth or situations lack originality … And Embarking on storylines with these problems can lead you into treacherous waters when it comes to engaging your script reader! So let’s take a look at the spec script pile:

1) American High School – The Principal’s Office

This has to be my number one all-time cliché! The stuffy principal, never bright enough to deserve his or her position of power, tries to dominate our youthful protagonist. Without a strong tie in to the story arc, this is just a stock scene that endlessly recurs in American High School flicks. Unless you have something really new to add, avoid this Rites of Passage cliché at all times.

EXCEPTION: Judd Apatow nails it in THIS IS 40 by turning the tables and putting the parents in the hot seat. MORE: A Look In The Spec Pile: Top 6 Submissions In 2014 Shore Scripts Screenwriting Competition

2) Oddball Loner with a dream gets in trouble with the local mob

Why does everyone want to have an ice-cream van? When competition time comes around, you can bet you’ll get to read at least one script where our early 20s protagonist, from the wrong side of the tracks, aspires to slightly quirky future. Unfortunately, they suffer the inevitable run-in with the local hoodlums. This is a cliché that only the very best of character development can hope to pull off. You have been warned!

EXCEPTION: Sally Wainwright in the BBC’s HAPPY VALLEY makes the ice cream a truly menacing presence on the estate.

3) The Supernatural Teenager

There are tons of movies in which the ancient mystery of female puberty can only be understood through the allegory of supernatural possession. While it makes me smile, (I’m a female by the way), it really is a bit old hat now.

EXCEPTION: Unless you have got a new CARRIE in your pocket, I’d avoid this cliché like the plague (arf). MORE: 3 Ways To “Reader Proof” Your Screenplay

4) Pensioner with a hidden past beats the system

What will these crazy crinklies get up to next? If they are not ripping off the local bank or corporation, then they are falling in love at 95 years-old. Wherever you look, there are old folks bucking the system, but how realistic is that? It takes a very rare character voice to convince me this particular senior is going to live on screen, and moreover, that they will convincing pull off what they are tasked to do.

EXCEPTION: COCOON (1985) by Tom Benedek still beats all comers. MORE: 6 Stock Characters That Need Retiring By Writers NOW

5) An American Abroad

Now we all know that it is a common cliché in Europe to describe Americans as insular. However, this cliché is more insidious than you think. In recent times, this cliché has made its presence felt in the well-intentioned military movie. These are the combat flicks where the enemy is as confusing and opaque as it is terrifying ill-equipped (All I’m saying is it might be nice to see another nationalities’ point of view through their own eyes once in a while!).

EXCEPTION: Brian Helgeland pulled of a triumph in GREEN ZONE, where you really root for the character played by Matt Damon all the way through. MORE: Killer Premises: All In The Execution? 6 Movies, 3 Concepts (CASE STUDY)

B2W

6) The Crazy Scientist

Frankenstein! Need I say more!

EXCEPTION: Steven Zaillian’s AWAKENINGS inverted the whole “it’s alive” business and cemented Robin Williams’ career in movie history.

7) Poor Boy Loves Rich Girl

This set up is probably the most common cliché of the fairy-tale, the imbalance of love’s sweet dream and unrequited love. Frequently this setup is combined with the protagonist being an orphan. He really has nothing. Until that is, he finds a bag of beans, or kills a dragon, or … well, you get my point, this story cliché is far from original.

EXCEPTION: Karen McCullah & Kirsten Smith make Shakespearian romance an absolute delight in 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU. MORE: What Shakespeare Gave To Screenwriting (And More!)

8) Daughter Seeking Father

She’s smart and her father was a great man, but now, to honour his legacy she is going to take a step into danger. Bah! It never really works out like this. There is always a slightly older, more experienced male who is on hand to rescue the day, and very likely seduce her in the process.

EXCEPTION: It will take a lot to beat one of my favourite scenes in movie history, where Karen Allen wins the drinking competition in Lawrence Kasdan’s RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.

9) The Merc

Here we have the fearsomely quiet, slightly aging hunk with special combat skills. The art here is in writing a character we believe in, and most importantly, engenders empathy. Unless your character really lives on the page, don’t invent another pale stereotypical copy.

EXCEPTION: If writers want to lift the Merc to the next level, they are going to have to do it better than Luc Besson in TAKEN. MORE: Kicking Arcs: Action Hero Journeys (TAKEN case study) 

10) The Obscure Biopic

The problem with the obscure biopic is that it can often be corrupted into a kind of moral intentioned and message-heavy screenplay. The writer is passionate about the protagonist’s worth, and spends their efforts on dull exposition of the nuances of period and place, sacrificing DRAMA for FACTS. Don’t ever do this! No matter how much you revere your real world inspiration, the story still has to live on the page.

EXCEPTION: Joel Oliansky put Jazz back on the map with his wonderful biopic, BIRD. MORE: A Look In The Spec Pile: 5 Winning Screenplays (@ShoreScripts Screenwriting Competition 2015)

Well screenwriters, that wraps up my 10 Killer Clichés. I know it is tough finding originality, but if you take heed, and avoid the clichés listed above, you are well on your way to writing a damn good original story. Good luck!

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BIO: Justine Owens is a professional script reader and social media manager for the Shore Scripts Screenwriting Competition. Before joining Shore Scripts, Justine worked for American Zoetrope Studios and SpecScout.

Shore Scripts Competition NOW OPEN!

With a passion for discovering new writing talent, the Shore Scripts 2016 Screenwriting Competition is now open, and this year sees the introduction of a new TV Pilot Category and a new Short Film Fund! You can enter your script at www.shorescripts.com and follow them on Twitter and Instagram @shorescripts.

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