Awwwww the much maligned female lead. Wouldn’t it be NICE just to greenlight a movie with a female characters  and everyone think it was NORMAL?

HAHAHA AS IF! Online, the summer 2016 has gone SUPER-CRAY, insisting an all-female Ghostbusters or Ocean’s Eleven (with eight) is RIGHT or WRONG or MEH.

And let’s not forget all that ‘Rey is a Mary Sue’ bullshit … Thanks Max Landis. NO REALLY!

But we’re WRITERS, so we’re concerning ourselves with ACTUAL WRITING, not nonsense-crit to get Youtube hits. So, WHY do people react so ridiculously to female characters?

Well, what I see in the subsmissions pile *might* have something to do with it, so strap yourself in boys and girls …

Manic Pixie Dream Girls

1) There can be ONLY ONE!

Look, if you only have ONE female in your screenplay or novel, you better be damn prepared for explaining WHY. Sometimes, it’s obvious: ie. there’s only one frigging character; or maybe there’s only two and the other one is male. THAT’S OBVIOUSLY FINE.

But if you have a cast of a thousand males and only one female? Have a word with yourself and STAT. MOREThe 1 Gender Swap That Could Make ALL THE DIFFERENCE In Your Story

2) They’re KOOooooOOKY!

Now, I’ve never had a real problem with the so-called Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Certain snarky sites call them ‘shallow’ but as far as Ican see, this character is usually represented as someone who’s in charge of her life, is no slave to fashion or ideology and has wisdom beyond her years. What’s not to like?

The problem then is the MPDG’s UBIQUITOUSNESS. I’m BORED of her. Also, she is a ‘Dream Girl’ – ie. an idealised version of a woman. How about some warts and all??

So, please come up with another role function for AUTHENTIC women, writers! KTHXBYE. MORE: 5 Male Secondary Characters Who Teach The (Female) Protagonist 

3) They’re POSITIVE

One of the worst things online femcrit EVER DID was supposing female characters *should* be so-called ‘role models’. It’s easy to see why, but it means female characters are unfairly judged CONSTANTLY and can never, ever, ever match up.

This goes deep into the writing of female characters, too. It means female antagonists are even more of  minority than protagonists; it means female role functions generally are more homegenous; it even means male characters can go on ‘journeys’ (including unethical ones), but female characters can’t.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’d rather my daughters saw representations of ALL TYPES of women — something femcrit says it wants, too. Yet this can’t happen when they’re all supposed to be GOOD. Talk about an own goal! MORE: 4 Female Secondary Characters Who Deserve Their Own Movie

4) They’re EXTRAORDINARY

Everyman is a character role function we see a lot. As a protagonist, he’ll be the ordinary Joe who learns something about life – especially in comedy and dramedy, especially from a MPDG!

But we see Everymen in all kinds of other genres too. Everymen turn up in Drama, Horrors and Thrillers the most after comedy/dramedy. As secondaries, Everymen may well be in ANY type of story and why the hell not.

But where is EveryWOMAN? Why don’t we see her as often? Oh right — cos we judge those female characters so much more. So if they’re not gorgeous and skilled, (or conversely, UNgorgeous and yet hilarious), they’re ‘boring’. Riiiiight.

But this is the thing – if every female character is extraordinary? That’s boring, too. Funny, that! MORE: 5 Modern Kickass Hotties Who Are Also Great Characters 

5) They’re STILL FACILITATORS for men

Look. There’s nothing wrong with female characters having boyfriends or husbands. Sometimes this CAN act as a great motivator, such as SALT trying to protect her husband in the movie of the same name. This felt fresh and interesting, ‘cos usually it’s the other way around, with the male hero trying to rescue his wife or girlfriend.

But when a female character exists solely:

  • to be rescued (literally and/or figuratively)
  • to kick some ass
  • for sexxxxxxytime (looking AND touching)
  • to ‘crack open’ other male characters’ EMOSHUNS (positive AND negative)
  • Combo of the above

Then NEWSFLASH: this is dull. This is what always happens. Punch yourself in the face and try again. It’s okay, we forgive you. BUT HURRY HURRY HURRY! MORETop 5 Female Character Mistakes

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TIP_ Accept there is no 'right' way or time to write ... Magically you will get MORE DONE. Really!

Look, time is tight, motivation is hard, and writing – actually sitting down and getting the effing ideas out of your head and onto the Big White Page Of Doom – is utterly terrifying. We get it.

But you have to! Because – and here’s the big thing – if you don’t?? Then you’re not a novelist, or a scriptwriter, or any other kind of writer … You’re just the person at the party who bangs on about Graham Greene and 500 words a day and we all know you haven’t actually finished The End Of An Affair because it’s really boring.

Don’t be that person. Here’s some tips how:

1) Accept it’s never going to be the perfect time

This applies both macroscopically – you’ll never feel clever enough or as though you have the big expanse of time you want or that you’re really ready – and microscopically – the kids will always be loud (no really, how are they so loud?), the house will always need tidying, you’ll always be in crippling debt to a university degree that hasn’t been all that useful after all, and there’s always another Netflix series to watch (for research, natch).

None of this is ever going away, so it doesn’t matter if you deal with it in 45 minutes after you’ve looked at your work in progress or right this second. Opt for the former. MORE: 7 Ways To Find More Time To Write

2) Death to Twitter!

Gaaaahh how we love those 140 character snippets of emoji-riddled banality. But to achieve your dreams TWITTER MUST DIE. Or at least be shunted around your day a bit. It’s not so much that you have to stop looking at Twitter altogether, or Facebook or whatever, It’s just that, during the 20 minutes when you were going to slump on the sofa and finger swipe the scroll of doom, you could – maybe – jot down a few ideas in a notepad instead.

3) Change to pen & paper

I know we all fantasise about the leather topped, mahogany desk with a red Chesterfield swivel chair, the lovely picture window to gaze out of and the bliss of silence so that you can think. But right now you’ve got a puke stain on your shoulder, there’s three missed calls from the office and you don’t know it yet but you sat on some buttered toast and you kinda look like you wet yourself.

Forget the desk. Jeez, forget the laptop right now. Get a notebook and a pen (remember those? From the olden days?) and whip that bad boy out at a moment’s notice.

under-pressure-B2W

4) Stop sleeping?

Yeah no don’t do that. But maybe you could get up at 6.30am instead of 7am to bash a few hundred words out. Perhaps you could knock out some notes quickly and head to bed at 11pm instead of 10:30pm. And you might even find that you sleep better, knowing that you’ve done a little bit today towards getting your story finished.

5) The blessed commute

Do not use this time to stare out the window or text your friend Ginny about your epic weekend. Are you c-r-a-z-y? Get out your laptop, your tablet, your phablet, your phone, your notebook, for lawdy’s sake, write on the back of your train ticket – anything! Commuting time is precious. Use it wisely. And if anyone tries to strike up a conversation with you, give them the best of British social awkwardness and carry on as you were. MORE: 6 Writing Tips If You Have A Day Job

6) Magic

When you really enjoy something, or when something is deeply important to you, you’d be surprised at how much time you can magically open up for it. Know that writing is important to you. Know that when do something else – like reading listicles on productivity, for example, ahem – you are making that more important than writing. Ask yourself: is reading this more important than writing? No. So git, go on, and don’t come back till you’ve written something.

7) Force yourself into it

Book yourself some time away – a writers’ retreat or night in a posh hotel away from your noisy family (seriously, the noise is getting out of hand here) or anything you can wrangle. Once it’s booked and the money is spent, then you’re committed and you have to deal with it.

8. Stop f***ing about!

A few years ago I saw one of those Build Your Dream House We’ve Got More Money Than Sense kind of shows which featured a man who built an entire house so he could have the glass fronted, Norwegian wooded study of his dreams, so that he could write his novel (incidentally, he was a Graham Greene 500 word a day person too). Now, as beautiful as the study was, you can bet your sun-deprived buttocks that he still has not written his novel. Why? Because he built an entire house and spent several hundred thousand pounds just to avoid doing it. That’s some Grade A procrastination. My advice? Don’t do that. Stop looking for excuses. Sit your bum on a chair and bash the clicky alphabet in front of you until some crappy sentences appear, and then bash it a few more times until they’re really pretty sentences. Submit to agent. Job done.

(Incidentally, if your schtick is that you’ll never be as good at writing as your writing heroes so really why bother, just think you’ll never be as good at procrastinating as Mr House Builder either, so, you know, just crack on with writing and don’t worry about either of them).

Good luck!!!

————-

BIO: Sarah Lewis is one half of Writers’ HQ, an organisation for badass writers with no time or money. WHQ has just launched a range of online creative writing courses designed specifically to fit around your embarrassing Netflix habit and your crippling debt. Find out more, HERE.

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With the news that the live action Pokémon Go movie has selected its screenwriters, I thought now would be a good time to share this fun piece from Bryony. Enjoy!

Pokemon Go

As someone who grew up with Pokémon I geeked out massively when I heard Niantic were bring-ing out a smartphone app. I downloaded the app first thing that morning and I got absolutely NO writing done in my lunch break – I was too busy catching ‘em all.

Looking back, that’s not the most convincing opening paragraph I could have come up with.

For those of you who’ve had your head buried under a rock these last few weeks, the Pokémon-Go app allows you to discover the world via an augmented reality map. When Pokémon appear on your smartphone screen simply click on them and start throwing Pokéballs at the little monsters to capture them.

1) Gets you outdoors

The day Pokémon-Go was released I walked approximately ten miles looking for Pokémon. The following day I walked seven. Put it together and that’s more than I usually walk in two weeks (I’m lazy, deal with it!).

Niantic has half the population out searching for cute, invisible monsters. It’s kind of lame if you’re looking in from the outside, but on the flip side we’re all walking and isn’t that how the greatest writers came up with their ideas? After all, walking is where creativity is born.

2) Perfect for a little procrastination

It’s pretty obvious that staring at a blank page (something I suggest you never do) is going to get you nowhere. Playing a childish game like Pokémon-Go is just what you need to take your mind off that writing funk you’re stuck in, so if you’re blocked give it a shot.

But at the end of the day, it’s important to remember not to get carried away procrastinating and forget the writing. I’ve been there. It’s not pretty.

3) Explore your local area

If you want to restock on Pokéballs or other items you need to visit a Pokéstop. They are quite of-ten found at landmarks or places of cultural interest. They are littered all over the city and can be found anywhere from museums and churches to popular restaurants and street art.

Depending on how well you know your local area, it is always possible to discover something new, unknown or just approach these places differently. If you’re smart you’ll take advantage of this op-portunity. Some of the Pokéstops you visit will be bland and uninteresting but just one could spark a new concept or become a starring location in your next story…

4) Ideal for meeting like-minded people

Most writers are introverts so we spend most of our time with Final Draft and a cup of coffee. Pokémon-Go gives you the chance to leave your safe place, bathe in some good old vitamin D and geek out. Even if you’re not into ‘geeking out’ you’ll meet people who share a common interest, something that’s difficult to do from the confines of your room.

5) Learn about world-building

Pokêmon-Go has taken the world by storm and one of the many reasons is its universal appeal. It’s a broad enough concept for children to understand and complex enough to keep adults inter-ested.

The game works based on geographic logic: you can’t capture a water Pokémon without being right next to a river or a lake (they only spawn near water). It’s also important to know the strengths and weaknesses of the different Pokémon, because although some of them are obvious (fire types are strong against grass) others are more fantastical and therefore logic cannot be applied (ice types are strong against dragon). For writers just starting out, or unsure of how world-building functions, it’s a great way to experience it first hand.

I recommend Pokémon-Go to writers everywhere, it’s one of the best apps I have on my phone. Not only because it’s creatively inspiring but because it gives us all a break from the real world. If you’ve read this blog and are sitting on the fence I’d recommend you download it. After all, it’s FREE!! You’ve got nothing to lose.

Nothing except ten minutes of your time catching Pokémon!

BIO: Bryony Quigly is a screenwriter who wears her love for rainbows, sunshine and all things geeky on her sleeve. She has been selected for London Screenwriters Festival Talent Campus and has recently finished working on a short film based on Dartmoor. Follow Bryony on twitter as @dialectofnotes.

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SITCOM STRUCTURE

So, I’m assuming your concept for your spec sitcom ROCKS. But are you structuring it right??

I see a lot of spec sitcoms doing the rounds, but very few pass muster. This is usually because they bear very little resemblance to the sitcoms we see on TV. Usually, they’re what I call ‘COMsits’ – in other words, they’re strings of gags, one after another … All COMEDY and no SITUATION. But it’s called a SITcom. DOH!

So, I thought I’d take a look at sitcom structure, with reference to the grandaddy of comedy, THE SIMPSONS. Like it or loathe it, this is probably one of the longest running sitcoms, enjoyed by adults and children alike. Plenty to learn here!

So, I’m going to look at two episodes from season ten of THE SIMPSONS: Lard Of The Dance and Maximum Homerdrive. Season ten is myabsolute favourite season of THE SIMPSONS, either because it’s pure genius or because my Golden Ager Klaxon needs sounding (possibly both).

NOW OBVIOUSLY before we begin, what I outline below is not the ONLY approach to sitcom structure, but it IS the most ‘traditional’ and easiest to grasp in my experience working with the Bang2writers.

Are you ready? LET’S GO!

1) You need an ‘A’ Story

Now, if you recall class, The B2W Model of structure looks like THIS:

3-acts

Note the lack of page numbers. This model can be applied to ANY length script as far as I am concerned, not just features. This means it can be applied to thirty page spec sitcom scripts. Fancy that!

On this basis then, the above is your ‘A’ or MAJOR story, which in mytwo episodes of THE SIMPSONS are these:

Lard Of The Dance: Lisa has to show new girl Alex (voiced by then-famous Lisa Kudrow) around Springfield Elementary. Alex is sophisticated and cool and Lisa ends up trying to change herself to try and impress her and everyone else. This includes organising a schooldance instead of the usual school annual apple pick. However by the end of the episode, Lisa realises it’s important to act her age and so does everyone else.

lard_of_the_dance_37

Maximum Homerdrive: Homer is in an eating competition with a trucker, Red, who dies as a result. Homer ends up honouring Red’s last delivery, taking Bart with him. They discover a scam: truckers have a special box that drives the truckfor them! Homer promises to keep schtum but of course blows it, bringing the truckers after them. Homer manages to get out of this and wins the truckers’ respect by the end of the episode.

SUMMING UP: Your ‘A’ Story is the MAJOR FOCUS of the episode. It will probably take up something between 60-75% of ‘story space’ in your episode.

The-Simpsons-Season-10-Episode-17-5-0e6d

2) You need a ‘B’ Story

So if you need a MAJOR FOCUS, it stands toreason you need a MINOR as well, right? Yep! This is where the ‘B’ story comes in.

Here’s the ‘B’ stories for my two chosen SIMPSONS episodes:

Lard Of The Dance: Homer and Bart decide to make money by selling grease. They fail at this until Bart suggests one last big score – draining the fryers at Springfield Elementary. Homer agrees and they break in at night, but are foiled byGroundskeeper Willy who has earmarked the grease for his retirement. There is a big fight between Willy and Homer and they end up in the air ducts of the school.

Lard_of_the_Dance_46

Maximum Homerdrive: Whilst Homer and Bart are on the road, Marge and Lisa buy a novelty doorbell from local doorbell salesman Senor DingDong. At first, Marge enjoys the novelty doorbell chime, which sings Close To You by The Carpenters. But she and Lisa – and the entire Springfield neighbourhood – are driven to distraction when the chime won’t stop. This is when the mysterious Senor DingDong turns up and lashes it with his whip, finally stopping it.

SUMMING UP: Your ‘B’ story will take up what’s left of the ‘story space’ in your spec sitcom – anything between 25-40%, usually.

Doorbell_Fiesta

3) A MacGuffin is not compulsory (but it helps)

A MacGuffin is defined by Wikipedia as ‘an object or device in a film or a book which serves merely as a trigger for the plot.’

In both these episodes of THE SIMPSONS, there is a MacGuffin:

Lard of the Dance: Marge takes the kids Back To School shopping, setting up the fact Alex will be coming to Springfield Elementary as a new pupil. This also prompts Homer to buy a hotdog and discover about grease having value.

Maximum Homerdrive: The Simpsons go to a new beef restaurant,where Homer will undertake the eating contest that will kill Red,the trucker… Meaning Homer will deliver the contents of his truck instead.

MacGuffins don’t HAVE to be comedic (Hitchcock used them to good effect in his thrillers), though THE SIMPSONS are famous for them (I hardly ever see them in spec sitcoms either, so for this reason alone you could differentiate yours from the rest of the pile!).

SUMMING UP: A MacGuffin is a great way of showing your comedy – and structural! – chops as a screenwriter.

Maximum_Homerdrive_50

4) ONE character pushes either story forward!

Sitcoms are frequently ensembles, but generally speaking, ONE character will push the story forward in each thread. In Lard of the Dance, it is Lisa; in Maximum Homerdrive it is (surprise!) Homer.

By the same token then, ANOTHER character pushes the story forward in B – it won’t be the same one as in the ‘A’ story. In Lard of the Dance, Homer is the one pushing the ‘B’ story forward; in Maxmum Homerdrive, it is Marge.

SUMMING UP: Pick one (different) character to push each thread forward, otherwise you’ll tangle your plot – and yourself! – up in knots.

5) You *may* merge the two (but you don’t have to)

In Lard Of The Dance, BOTH the ‘A’ Story and the ‘B’ story merge when Lisa’s dance and Homer’s fight with Groundskeeper Willy over the grease LITERALLY EXPLODES!

Lard_of_the_Dance_113

In Maximum Homerdrive however, once Homer and Bart are out on the road, the ‘A’ story and ‘B’ story remain separate, all the way until the end credits. Homer and Bart deliver the truck and get on a train to come home; whereas Senor DingDong ‘rescues’ Marge and Lisa (and the rest of Springfield) and then FADE OUT.

SUMMING UP: You don’t have to merge your two stories in your spec sitcom … BUT if you want yours to stand out?? DO IT.

6) You need to return to ‘status quo’ at the end

Part of the convention of sitcom states that the story HAS TO return to the ‘status quo’ by the end of the episode. That’s why so many sitcoms start and end up in LITERALLY the same place – ie. round the kitchen table; in a cafe; down a hole where the characters may recap what they’ve ‘learnt’ during the episode.

THE SIMPSONS is no exception in this, though the ‘status quo’ has become impossibly broad over the years, with episodes ending on desert islands; in space; even in Heaven and Hell. After all, the status quo in this sitcom is that BASICALLY ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.

SUMMING UP: Returning to the ‘status quo’ is important to sitcom structure, so make sure you do it – and the reader KNOWS it.

So that’s your crash course to sitcom structure! So, what are you waiting for? GET GOING!

More on Structure & Story on B2W:

5 Visual Representations Of Storytelling Structure

How To Avoid A “B.O.S.H” (‘Bunch Of Stuff Happens’) Screenplay

The Secret Of Writing Great Conflict In Scenes: 3 Examples 

3 Things To Remember For Act 3

2 Things ALL Writers Get Wrong In Early Drafts

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One of the top Google searches to this blog is ‘writing success’. It’s not difficult to see why … Success can seem so random and unattainable. BUT IT’S NOT.

Whilst we won’t be successful in absolutely everything we do – including writing – we can see ensure we are successful. Not by assuming ‘success’ is this mythical place or destination, but by building excellence into our daily lives. Put simply, if we strive to be excellent, we cannot help but BE SUCCESSFUL. I really believe this and have built B2W on this basis.

So, what are you waiting for? Check out the links and the infographic below and BE EXCELLENT! The world needs you …

Links

6 Steps To Writing A Successful Screenplay

6 Ways YOU’RE Stopping Your Own Writing Success 

7 Things You Must Stop Doing If You Want To Be A Professional Writer 

INFOGRAPHIC: The Habits Of Successful Writers

Top 20 Quotes For Writing Success 

33 Industry Insiders On Success, Dreams And Failure

The Foundation of Success: Guiding Words of Wisdom

 From Visually.

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As I mention in my book, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, I frequently see child and teen characters in specscreenplays that ‘feel’ like ‘movie kids’ rather than rounded, three dimensional characters.

So I was delighted to read the excellent WATERBABIES by Writer/Director Andy Simpson, which doesn’t make this basic mistake! When Andy suggested writing a guest post on this subject for B2W,  I jumped at the chance … His script tips are contrasted with his directing experience, so Bang2writers get the ‘full picture’ of going BEYOND the page, too. Invaluable!! Over to you, Andy …

Teenagers at riverbank

Are there children in your script? Maybe it is a film about adults with some kids in it, maybe it has a prominent child role (The Sixth Sense), maybe it’s an ensemble (Little Miss Sunshine), maybe the child is the lead role (E.T: The Extra Terrestial) or maybe it’s a gang of kids (The Goonies, Stand By Me).

I’m soon to be shooting my latest teen drama which also features a lot of younger kids so here are a few quick thoughts I’ve had about writing roles for children and about directing them. Are you listening, class?

1) Design of other characters should be structured around your main character

What do they reveal about your main character? Writers create their characters in relation to their main character- either challenge them or revealing more about them. This should be the same with children. Don’t just have a cardboard child to show that your character is a mother- what kind of mother is she? What does it mean to her to be a mother? Is she careful and over protective? Is their relationship more friendly than motherly?

Lesson 1:

WRITE an ensemble before you can cast an ensemble – write and cast the relationships to make the children reveal who your main character really is.

2) Give them agency and intelligence

In structuring your casting of characters to reveal or challenge your main character, you must also remember that the kids must have their own goals and agency. Give them depth. Director’s can help achieve this by allowing the child actors to bring a lot of themselves to it, by working with the human they have in front of them, not aiming for an exact, abstract, impression of the character.

Lesson 2:

Kids do what they bloody well like half the time – give your child characters goals and depth, they’re not just walking sets or ciphers, and let the actor bring more of themselves into it.

3) Give characters an objective

What are they trying to achieve in the scene? This is something writers should do for all characters but is especially useful for children.

It helps a Director get a natural performance if they can give a clear objective to the child (you want an ice-cream, you want your Dad to leave the room) rather than working on how they should say individual lines. It allows them to listen and respond to the other actors and naturally heightens the emotions if they do or don’t achieve their objective, rather than just pretending to be angry. A useful directing tip is to do an improv scenario around the objectives, just as a warm-up. You’ll find they hit the emotions quicker when the camera rolls.

Should you never to work with children or animals or do children and animals make the best actors because they’re not really acting? Maybe both are true!

To me there are 3 types: Kids who aren’t really acting give good performances; then there are kids who think they can act but can’t (often hindered by over-coaching from parents and ‘project your voice’ school play-syndrome) and then there are kids who really can act, with all the nuances and depth a director wants.

The best course of action for all three types is still for the director, and writer, to know what is driving those characters in the scene (this actually goes for adults as well as kids). An objective gives them something to work, or play, towards.

Lesson 3:

Know what the character’s objective or aim is in the scene. Directors and actors may interpret this slightly differently (that’s their job) but the writer can give them strong suggestions to work with. Directors can allow actors to work towards the objective more naturally.

4) Do your research!

Whatever scenario your characters are in, make sure you have done some research on it, especially if the story calls for difficult issues such as mental health or abusive situations. Do not just guess or rely on things you have seen in other movies. Also, see if you can get to know a few kids (they can be different to when I was young). Luckily I’ve been teaching in between film work so that is several hundred different personalities I can absorb to help in my writing. Again, it will help you avoid clichés.

Lesson 4:

Get to know some real kids and write with them in mind if you’re stuck, rather than kids based on characters in other films or TV. And always do proper research on any tricky subjects you’re putting your child characters into. This works for writers and for directors. Don’t go for the obvious choice, explore the script more deeply.

Wow, thanks Andy!!!

About WATERBABIES:

Director photo6 Portrait WATERBABIES is an upcoming magic realist teen drama short film by award-winning Director Andy Simpson, produced by Gerry Maguire  & Casting Director DJW Talent. Make sure you check the project out, HERE.

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Whether you’re crowdfunding for your movie or short film on Kickstarter; your book on Unbound; a charity on JustGiving – or something else! – you would do well to check out the mahvellous Zee from FNAFilms’ top tips on crowdfunding today.

FNA has run a successful campaign for its debut feature The Stagg Do, plus it’s running another right now so be sure to check it out at the bottom of the article. Over to you, Zee!

CROWDFUNDING 101

Don’t underestimate how much hard work goes into a crowd funding campaign. You can’t set up a campaign and leave it. Build it and they will NOT come, unless they know about it. You need to be pushing it CONSTANTLY.

Research campaigns (similar to yours) both successful AND unsuccessful. Learning from other people’s mistakes is more expedient and less painful that learning from your own.

1) You need a crowd!

Sounds simple, but it’s amazing how many people overlook this. It’s also worth reconnecting with people who you haven’t spoken to in a while, particularly if you think they will back you either financially or by sharing your campaign with their own crowd. A Facebook post does much of that, but it is worth an email to people too. And even if it’s a round-robin – make it personal (ie. in your own voice). MORE: 6 Ways To Annoy The Crap Out Of People Online

2) Think about who you know who will almost certainly contribute

For us it was close friends and family – think how much you might get from them (we assumed about £500-£1000) and quadruple that (or 5x it – is that quintuple?) and make that your goal. Unless what you need is less – then make it the lower figure… The key is then to get those people to contribute early – it creates buzz and critical mass; so contact them personally and individually. If you can raise 20-25% in the first 24-48 hours you should make your goal.

3) Make your campaign match the tone of your project

We went jokey and vulgar because The Stagg Do is jokey and vulgar. Le duh!

4) Think about the CALENDAR

I’d say you don’t want to be doing this too close to Christmas – as people tend to be watching their pennies at that time. Also take into account pay days. We felt a lot of our backers would be public sector workers who get paid the last week of the calendar month – so we made sure we had two pay days in our campaign – one at the start to get that 20% and one at the end for the final burst.

A short (circa 30 days) campaign on Kickstarter is good because it creates a sense of urgency, but it’s all or nothing – so know that if you fall $10 short you get zip.

5) Remember it’s not donations, it’s CONTRIBUTIONS

Remember it’s not ‘help me’ (sounds desperate) … Instead it’s ‘help us build something special’ (tapping into your community).

6) Make a campaign film

It can be done on a phone – just don’t make it too shitty (ie amateurish) and make it an appeal from you. But not just you sitting reading a prepared script. I’m actually REALLY proud of our video – because we watched a Film Courage video the day before we shot ours that advised us to do something totally different to what we had originally decided on; we really followed that advice closely… which totally changed what we had planned – which would’ve been vanilla.

7) Don’t forget the platform’s fees

Ignore what they tell you – it is generally around 10% that they take. You also lose errored pledges (ie if someone’s card is rejected).

8) Don’t forget the cost to produce AND ship your rewards

Be clever with your digital perks – coz they are FREE. Our physical rewards were at lower price points than I’d usually recommend – because I know our audience is poor. Also think about how tech unsavvy your crowd might be. Some people HATE spending online. I had a lot of people who wouldn’t contribute to us because they won’t spend online.

9) BY THE WAY!

Kickstarter doesn’t accept PayPal.

10) Keep your campaign active and engaging

Back to paydays … Some people want to contribute – but will wait until they have the money.  So, if you don’t remind them (well people generally) they forget. I can think of two campaigns that I wanted to contribute to, but didn’t for cashflow reasons, then I forgot about them. They didn’t remind me and they FAILED! You need to be updating around once a week minimum. Like blogs, you can pre-plan them. We had pre-planned ours but had to redo them on the fly because we hit our target so early. Nice problem to have 😉 ! MORE: 5 Tips On Making Your Crowd Funding Campaign Stand Out

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BIO: After several years in theatre stage management, Zahra Zomorrodian co-founded FNA Films with James DeMarco in 2002. Since then she has produced several short films, plus she has self-released FNA’s first feature film, The Stagg Do. Check out her latest campaign, HERE for her documentary on the Newcastle United Football Team, a love letter to fans worldwide.

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key Qs of queries

One of the easiest ways for screenwriters to establish contact with agents and production companies is by sending query letters and emails. That being said, the process of writing and distributing these letters is not easy at all! This is because your submission has three main goals to achieve:

  • Inform the agent or producer what the story is all about
  • Intrigue them to read the script you’ve completed
  • Provide a written record that the work has been submitted (necessary in case there’s a dispute over copyright)

When you get a response like “I’m interested in your story and I would love to see your script,” you’ll know that the doors to production have been opened.

QUERYINGJOURNEY

Why Are Queries So Challenging To Write?

The query letter is the element that stands between your script and its realization. You’re aware of the fact that you have to make it perfect, but this one-page piece of content can be a strangely overwhelming challenge.

The main challenge is to shift your mindset. You’re no longer thinking about your script as something related to long hours of work, sleepless nights, and ideas that show who you are. You’re treating it like a product from a marketer’s point of view. The producer or agent will want to know how sellable this movie would be.

Since you’re too attached to the work you completed, it’s hard to treat it like a product. Don’t worry; you’ll get there if you follow few simple steps that lead you towards a successful query letter:

1) Make every word count

Agents don’t have much time to spend on queries. The last thing you want to do is make them waste more time than planned with a long, repetitive letter. The usual form of a query letter is consisted of four paragraphs:

  • A brief intro. This is where you grab their attention with the strongest selling point of your work. You can briefly explain how you got the contact of this particular agent or producer, and why you’re interested to work with them.
  • A paragraph about the script synopsis. If someone asked you to describe your work in three sentences, what would you say? First of all, you need to include your logline!! Next, give hints about the main protagonists and their personal and interpersonal conflicts. Then, you’ll mention the major elements of the plot, as well as the setting and time period. This is the part where you explain why your story is unique and different from any other movie that has been produced.
  • A paragraph about your background. In this part, you have to be honest. There is no point in exaggeration; just write about the experience you have with scripts, online publications, or anything else you’ve been working on. Do you have impressive production credits? Maybe you’ve won an award? If you don’t have any impressive background, you can simply be direct and say that this is your first script. Check out The Perfect Screenplay Writer’s Resume: 5 Key Ingredients.
  • A call to action. This is the paragraph where you invite the agent to read the entire script.

TOP TIP: The query will include many details about you and the work you present, but it should still be short and straightforward. MORE: Top 5 Submission Mistakes 

2) Answer the main questions

The most important paragraph of your query letter (the one that presents the script synopsis) needs to answer the main questions the agent has on their mind:

  • What’s the genre of this movie?
  • What’s the story about?
  • What makes it unique?
  • Why should I give it a chance?
  • Who would watch this if produced?

TOP TIP: the query letter is all about marketing. You have to get inside the agent’s mind and tell them everything they need to know about your script. Most of them won’t send email messages with requirements for you to clarify something about the plot. They will give your work a chance only if they get their answers through this letter.

3) Follow the submission guidelines!

Before you start submitting query letters, you have to understand what producers want to see in them. Most agents specify the areas of their focus, so don’t try to send a query letter that presents a history fiction script to an agent interested in science fiction.

Once you locate few agents who are suitable for producing your work, write query letters to all of them. That’s how you’ll increase your chances to get a positive response.

However, you can’t send the same letter to all of them. Most agents specify the information they want to get in a query letter or email. You have to follow those guidelines strictly if you want them to consider your work.

4) Personalise the query 

When you’re sending a query, you should always address the agent by name. If you make it too generic, the agent will get an impression that you didn’t do your homework and you don’t know what they are looking for.

This query is your first chance to connect with a longterm collaborator. Take it very seriously and personalise the message. You know, like great salespeople do. First they take your name and learn about your interests, and then they use that information to get close to you.

5) Avoid the common mistakes!

There are quite few pitfalls when writing query letters and emails:

  • Long paragraphs that get into too much detail. Make them as brief as possible.
  • Mentioning too many characters. Limit the descriptions to two or three characters.
  • You need to provide a hook, but you don’t have to include the pay off (or ending) in an initial query (NOTE: you do however in longer pitches and one pagers!!).
  • Typos, incorrect punctuation, and grammatical errors. You’re a writer, but you also need to edit well. If you need help with this part, check out some writing companies reviews and find a service that provides affordable editing assistance.
  • Being too obvious with the statements. “The theme of my script is… The target audience is… The main character is…” Avoid these constructions. A great query letter makes these things evident without emphasising them.
  • Including ideas about the way the potential production should be marketed. Don’t try to tell an agent what their job is.

Concluding:

If you already have a great project, then you don’t have to worry too much about the query. Just follow the tips provided above, and it will turn out just fine.

Remember: you must never give up. Keep looking for potential agents and send more queries. Just persevere and change your style from time to time … Then you’ll definitely find the approach that works.

Good luck!

BIO: Louise Coleman is a professional freelance writer with wide experience in covering educational, inspirational, and blogging topics. Apart from writing, reading is her real passion from the very childhood. For more information about her you can email her or visit her profiles at Facebook and Google+.

MORE ABOUT QUERYING ON B2W:

No Unsolicited Material … So Get It Solicited

3 Tips To Get Your Work Solicited Via Email And Not Blow It In The Very Next Email

Can’t Get Read? Yes You Can 

The Script Submission Tip That Nearly ALL Screenwriters Don’t Do

Script Submissions Checklist (PDF) 

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Kurt Vinnegut quote_B2W

Kurt Vonnegut, author and a fierce critic of American politics, once said, “Anything can make me stop and look and wonder, and sometimes learn.” 

So, I hope aspiring and determined Bang2writers (and even the ones feeling lost) will learn something new from the great Kurt Vonnegut! Check out his great advice and tips:

1) Find a subject you care about

Find what you care about and what others care about as well. This way your piece and its writing elements will differ drastically from the one on the topic you don’t give a damn about.

2) Do not ramble, though

Write few lines that openly state what you think, rather than few pages of confusingly incomprehensible stuff!

3) Keep it simple

Writing less but saying more (like Shakespeare or Joyce did) is the art and finding those few words to express the most important things will be a challenge but if you don’t strive to become the next Shakespeare or Joyce, then why are your writing?

4) Have the guts to cut

Long sentences speaking nonsense aren’t going to benefit your piece. They will only bore your readers to death and make them misunderstand you. Well, this tip is quite similar to the one above but if you fail to keep it simple, you should find courage to cross the unnecessary words or paragraphs or even pages out.

5) Sound like yourself

Although, you may want to become the next Shakespeare or Joyce, remember not to simply copycat. Find your own writing style which is unique and represents only you. And when somebody reads your anonymous piece, they could immediately say it is written by you, just like when you listen to a song, though you may not know who is singing it, you can tell by vice who is singing.

6) Say what you mean to say

Surely, the same line can be interpreted differently by various persons but still make it impossible for these persons to misunderstand you.

7) Pity the readers

Define your audience, try to stand in their shoes, and write for them to understand you immediately but not to read your piece with a dictionary in their hands.

8) And for really detailed advice …

“… I commend to your attention The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White…”

Also, I’d love to mention my favorite Vonnegut’s advice to the young:

The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”

So, don’t think too much about muses and stuff, just write what you really want to say to the world and do it as well as you can!!

Still, if you wonder WHY you should take advice on how you should write? Or WHY you think about improving your writing style? The answer is simple – do this out of respect to your readers. Don’t be one of the empty-headed writers! Think about what Vonnegut advises and take what will work for you.

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BIO: Written by Kim Wells, blogger, passionate reader, and writing expert at AW Essay Writers. She loves literature, writing, and dogs. Feel free to circle her on Google+.

Want more quotes and inspiration?

Then CLICK HERE, or click the pic below.

writing inspiration CLICK HERE

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Shonda Rhimes quote 1

Shonda Rhimes is hardly a new name in the TV industry. As a wickedly successful producer, writer and most importantly, screenwriter, she undoubtedly knows all the tricks of the trade and – lucky for us – continues to share her insights to inspire next generations of followers.

Here are seven motivational quotes from the Shonda Rhimes herself that every budding screenwriter should take to heart and include into their quest to become a seasoned scriptwriter:

1) “I don’t understand why people don’t understand that the world of television should look like the world outside television.”

Before Shonda Rhimes, it could be argued the world of US television was lacking a degree of reality to it. This is what inspired her writing to be so revolutionary for the profession.

For screenwriters that are just emerging, it is crucial to remember that real life viewers have to be able to connect with the reality that you create on the television screen. Adjusting to this standard will accomplish a great deal for your writing.

2) “Writing for television is completely different from manuscript writing. A movie is all about the director’s vision, but television is a writer’s medium.”

Historically speaking, many television writers wrote as if they were writing for a movie. This is a mistake that stands no chance when you’re aiming to create the type of writing necessary to sustain a series that carries on for multiple seasons. A movie is focused on how the director perceives the characters to act; however, television is based on the writer pulling the strings.

3) “I think I’m most proud of the fact that I have figured out how to exist as both a creative person and artist, and a businesswoman and manager. Because those two things do not go together.”

Here, Shonda makes a vital point at the importance of a creative mind balancing both their right and left brain because it is very rare that the two can be managed by one person. Ideally, a screenwriter also has to know how to build their business in order to have the best potential for success in the entertainment industry.

Shonda Rhimes quote 2

4) “I never pay attention to the ratings. I stopped paying attention to the ratings somewhere around season two of Grey’s. It is something I have no control over so I don’t even pay attention.”

Shonda Rhimes did not achieve her success by worrying what every single critic thought of her. The key to becoming a spectacular screenwriter is to believe in yourself and love your characters as if they were your children. This love and dedication will translate into your words and will achieve its own success regardless of what happens next.

5) “Most of the women I saw on television didn’t seem like people I actually knew. They felt like ideas of what women are.”

The issue of gender identity in television is something Shonda has been known to be greatly passionate about. Your characters should not be stereotypes of eras past unless you are writing a historical era television series. Your characters should be something realistic that the modern man or women can relate to.

6) “Everyone’s got some greatness in them. You do. The girl over there does. That guy on the left has some. But in order to really mine it, you have to own it. You have to grab hold of it. You have to believe it.”

Shonda Rhimes did not get where she is today without having faith in herself. She makes it clear that even if you’re new to the screenwriting industry, you must own your greatness and develop your craft to really hit it big. Once you do this, you will blossom into a unique writer in your own right.

7) “I think a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, powerful, engaged people are busy doing.”

If you can dream it, you can do it. While dreaming big certainly opens many doors and helps you build up that inner confidence to go out and fight, you’re only a winner once you finally take that action. Only then can you achieve success.

Ever felt like you were losing hope or motivation to carry on pursuing your screenwriting dream? Now you’ve got the complete Shonda Rhimes-approved power quote guide to refer to in these moments of sorrow and doubt, so fear no more. And trust her, she’s been there!

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BIO: Susanne Loxton is an experienced writer with a passion for learning and education. On a daily basis, Susanne works for Aubiz, a compendium of knowledge about companies in her native Australia. Follow her on Twitter @LoxtonSusanne

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