So Julian Fellowes appeared at the recent LondonSWF Launch Event. I unfortunately wasn’t able to make it, but always Team LSF has us covered! LondonSWF videoed Julian’s fascinating and inspiring chat with Nik Powell, as well as the Q&A with the audience.

So, in typical B2W tradition, here’s 10 things I took away from Julian’s chat – you can watch the video yourself, HERE, or click the pics in this post.

Julian Fellowes 1

1) Relationships are KEY

Julian is unequivocal here, when he says his relationships are what got him hired for GOSFORD PARK, which was a game-changer in his career. Not only did he get hired because the producer had seen a spec screenplay of his, but director Robert Altman stood by him when the studio got antsy and wanted to bring in another writer.

SO: Make sure you get out there, like Julian and create those all-important relationships to get AND stay on jobs. MORE: Talent is great BUT relationships get you hired

2) You have to be brave

Julian also states the importance of being brave. He says there’s always a chance of making a fool of yourself … Or perhaps your work is GREAT, but nobody watches it. These things happen and you can’t allow these fears to hold you back.

SO: Stay strong and keep moving forwards! MORE: How To Make It As A Writer (AKA This Shit Ain’t Accidental!) 

3) … BUT self awareness is paramount

At the same time however, being brave should not be on a par as being foolhardy. As Julian rightly says, self awareness – as long as it’s REALISTIC – can help us get stuff done. Nik chimed in here too with a good tidbit of advice: “Have a plan in pencil, but carry a rubber”!

SO: Have a strategy. Doesn’t mean you can’t adapt or even change it as you go along! MORE: 5 Career Strategies For Writers

4) Recognise your opportunities

Julian describes how he “fell randomly” into screenwriting, because they’d spent all the money and needed “six scripts written for nothing” on a project … and this supposedly dubious honour fell to him.  The rest, as they say, is history!

SO: Don’t be afraid of hard work. If it’s worth doing, go for it. MORE: 33 Industry Insiders On Success, Dreams And Failure 

5) Success is for others to define

Lots of new and even seasoned writers think they’ll know when they’ve “made it” as a writer. But what does this REALLY mean? Julian has a great notion here of saying others will define your success, don’t worry about it. I agree!

SO: Keep on moving forwards with your writing. What else is there? MORE: Making It As A Writer: 25 Reasons You Haven’t Yet 

6) Writer’s block? No time for that

I love Julian’s stance on this and it echoes what I’ve thought for a long time. If you BELIEVE writer’s block is possible, it will get you. So keep on writing. Even if it’s rubbish, at least you aren’t doing NOTHING!

SO: Ditto point 5 – keep on going! NO. MATTER. WHAT. MORE: 19 Tips On Overcoming Writer’s Block From Famous Authors 

Julian Fellowes 2

7) Character motivation needs EMPATHY

Julian discussed the idea of character arcs needing change, which he was largely ambivalent about – which, longterm Bang2writers know, B2W is of the same opinion.

He was however very strong on the idea that we need to EMPATHISE with characters – their actions have to be “forgivable”, whatever that means. Note how the term “likeable” didn’t come up!

SO: Forget “likeable”, think EMPATHY when it comes to characters’ motivations. MORE: Is “Good” Characterisation Really About Change? 

8) You have to let go sometimes …

And this is okay! … As Julian rightly says, you have to learn when something is NOT going to happen. But if you let that project go, you can move on. It was when he accepted one project wasn’t going to happen that DOWNTON ABBEY became a possibility.

SO: You can’t move on and grab the next opportunity if you keep hold of the last one. True story! MORE: If You Love Your Story? Let It Go

9) Listen to actors

Being an ex-actor, Julian obviously has a lot of time for them and he was very complimentary about them and how they can actively HELP writers. “Ignore actors at your peril,” he said, “They have a real instinct for what is ‘sayable’ and ‘unsayable’.

SO: spec screenwriters might be thinking “That’s alright for Julian Fellowes, but I don’t have any actors!!” Well, why not stage your a script reading? Here’s 7 Steps To Stage A Script Reading – As Julian says, it can only help you!

10) Drama is conflict

It amused me when Julian said he got loads of letters from Downton fans saying, “Please make X character happy!” Borrowing from the author Graham Greene, Julian asserts that happy characters are boring characters to write AND watch. We NEED conflict – aka unhappiness to *some* degree – otherwise audiences will turn off in their droves!

SO: Writers are the ultimate sadists to their characters – even when there’s a happy ever after – otherwise there’s no point to the story! MORE: Top 8 Questions For Kickass Characterisation


It’s never too late!

Bang2writers tell me all the time they fear they’re “running out of time”. But Julian has a brilliant SECOND career as a screenwriter and only started in his middle age. As he says of GOSFORD PARK,  “I was this fat, bald actor nearly fifty, suddenly writing a Hollywood film!” This could be any one of us, IF we keep going and keep ourselves open.

SO: It’s NEVER too late to start writing your masterpiece … here’s why.

B2W Discount for LondonSWF!

global_430821152Three days …
One hundred and fifty speakers …
One thousand delegates …YOUR career!

Use discount code BANG-16X at the checkout in EventbriteTO GET YOUR TICKET NOW, CLICK HERE.

London Screenwriters’ Festival is now 2-4th September 2016 and the biggest gathering of screenwriters anywhere in the world! Over the three days of the London Screenwriters’ Festival, over one hundred seminars, workshops and networking events for professional screenwriters.

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Following on from my Top 5 Social Media Mistakes, today’s tips focus on REAL LIFE networking, both in creating relationships with others (and doing your research), as well as investing in yourself.

This post was written by Alison C. Wroblewski, Script Development Associate at CrowdSource Studios, a new screenwriting competition. Follow them as @Crowdsourcestu and check out their website, HERE.


I hate networking. If there was anything I could change about the film industry, it would be that. But, unfortunately, networking is vital in getting known and recognised. Because I know what it is to be an introvert in an industry of extroverts, here are a couple of tricks for easy networking.

1) Don’t be afraid to talk and ask questions

I finally have accepted that I don’t have all the answers, nor do I know everyone. In order expand my own knowledge and meet people, I have to ask questions no matter how stupid they may seem. They can be as innocuous as, “what is the difference between visual effects (VFX) and special effects (SFX)?” to “how did you get your role at X company?” By starting a conversation, you create a dialogue and; therefore, a professional relationship.

TOP TIP: So, talk! Don’t be afraid to approach people! You never know who you’ll meet. And if you make a complete fool of yourself, the worst that can happen is you’ve made an impression. MOREWhy Writer Luck Is More Than Throwing Spaghetti At The Wall 

2) Never forget business cards

It may come off as pretentious to whip out little pieces of cardboard, but why else did you order them? It doesn’t come across as pretentious. It comes across as prepared, and the person you hand the card to has no excuse to forget you or your name. Just make sure to get their contact information, too.

If you are lucky enough to receive a business card, always email them with a “pleasure to meet you” note or the like to establish a relationship.

TOP TIP: Whip it out! Stock your wallet with business cards and hand them out. At the very least, the sooner you run out, the sooner you can redesign your card. MORE: 7 Writing Reminders

3) Go to any and every event you can

You heard it here first: no one is going to even know to hire you if you stay home and not go out schmoozing. I know it can be quite an undertaking to drag yourself to an event after a long day at work, but I have never regretted meeting someone new even if I have dreaded going out.

If you see a meet up or party for filmmakers, you know that you’ll be surrounded by like-minded people, and even if going out isn’t your thing, events are never short of creative material. As a writer/producer, I have heard countless gems that have weaved their way into scripts, stories, and short films.

TOP TIP: So strap on your party shoes and rub elbows! MORE: The Dos & Don’ts of Networking At Events Like LondonSWF

4) Don’t be afraid of social media, but don’t be reckless!

The world is getting much smaller with the use of social media. If you can effectively maneuver in the labyrinth of the internet, the world is your oyster. Social media has a deep impact when putting together a new project whether it’s collaborating, crowdsourcing, or crowdfunding.

However, always make sure if someone wants to hire you via Twitter/Facebook, etc, you vet them and research the other side. Some people out there use the computer screen as a shield to take advantage of people or manipulate. Trust your gut when this happens.

TOP TIP: Get clicking and researching! MORE3 Quick, Useful And FREE Ways For Writers to Stay Up-To-Date 

5) Be prepared to invest in yourself

The film industry is not a cheap one, and it is a long term investment whether it’s working on set for free, giving your time, or paying for copious amounts of coffee.

Being a production assistant (P.A.) is far from glamorous, but there is no better way to get your feet wet than “learning by doing.” When starting out, don’t shun work just because it’s for free if you can get an education. You’re learning tips, tricks, what to do, and what not to do.

If you’re a writer, screenplay competitions are a great way of getting exposure.

For example, CrowdSource Studios, the company I work for as Script Development Associate, is hosting a screenplay competition through mid-August. Check them out here and take a chance on yourself.

TOP TIP: The more you invest in yourself, the more it will pay off.

I hope these quick tips and tricks help you network in an industry that is all about presence and exposure. Good luck out there, fellow filmmakers.

Thanks Alison and everyone at CrowdSource Studios

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As everyone knows: I love social media, but I also TOTALLYHATEITSOMUCHOMG. Continuing my Top 5 Mistakes Series, here’s where some people online go HIDEOUSLY WRONG …

The key is in the name - SOCIAL media!

1) Pitch people or demand help straight away

The clue is in the name, people! It’s SOCIAL media, which means you need to build relationships with people BEFORE you ask them for their help, time or money. It’s not rocket science – you wouldn’t just wander into a bar and ask a random person to marry you, would you?? (Or if you did, the chances are they’d say a big fat NO!). It’s the same thing. MORE: 13 Ways NOT To Ask For Writing Advice Or Help

2)  Using Multiple Sites Badly

Look, there’s a vast array of social media sites out there. It can seem like a no-brainer being on ALL of them, especially when they’re free, but TRUST ME: it’s far better to be on one or two and do it WELL, then be on multiple sites and do it half-assed. If time is limited, pick one or two – but MAKE SURE that’s where your actual audience is! MORE: 4 Indispensable Social Media Platforms For Writers

2) You talk yourself or your product down

If I see one more status, tweet or message saying “in case you’re interested” or “in case anyone is reading this …” I’m gonna go POSTAL. Own your communication or don’t bother!

While I’m on the subject, what’s with all these newsletters, pages and groups promising “not to spam” their subscribers??? Get this into your head: YOU CANNOT SPAM ACTUAL SUBSCRIBERS. They have signed up for your updates. It really is as simple as that! MORE: Congratulations! You’ve Totally Shot Yourself In The Foot 

4) You’re an asshole

Complainers, whingers, finger-pointers and flamers need not apply … We’re back to point number 1 – it’s SOCIAL media, dickheads! (What??).

Look: we can ALL be whinging, flame-throwing assholes at some time or another on social media. But if you’re gonna do it regularly, you better be controversial enough or funny enough to make others come back, otherwise you’ll be on your own. MORE: How NOT To Do Social Media

5) You don’t LOOK like you know what you’re doing

**No one** expects people in the media to know everything, because frankly, most people haven’t a clue what they’re doing. They’re putting their best foot forward and hoping for the best. And why the hell not, because without these brave souls there would be NO MEDIA!

But human beings love certainty – so if you want people to get on board with your journey? You need to LOOK like you know what you’re doing. A carefully considered remit and plan can go a LONG way on this. Anything else, you can make up by researching the hell out of it.

Of course I’m not saying LIE … Just that a little blagging never hurt as long as you have the skillz and smartz to fill in any gaps ASAP. MORE: 5 Ways Writers Kill Their Credibility Online


You just sell, sell, SELL!

Look, we get it – we have messages we need to get out there, whether it’s selling our screenplays, books, or just OURSELVES. So operate under the 80/20 rule – interacting 80% of the time, talking about yourself 20% of the time. Why? ‘Cos you need to interact as well as sell, otherwise it’s just spam.


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!

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Click on the pic to pre-order

So today I’m off to the movie premiere of TEAR ME APART! A dystopian horror set in the near future, here’s a short blurb:

In the wastelands of post-apocalyptic England, two young brothers turn to cannibalism to survive, only to fall for their prey, a teenage girl … and possibly the last female left alive. WATCH THE TRAILER, HERE.

Follow #LoveKillEat for updates live from the red carpet from moi and others at the event!

Pre-order & Reviews

My new novella, a dystopian action-adventure called SKYJACK is part of the TMA Storyworld – part of the anthology THE FORGOTTEN WOMEN SERIES, the novellas are now available to pre-order on Amazon! Click any of the pix on this post to pre-order your copy to deliver to your Kindle on publication day, Jul 1st 2016, or CLICK HERE.

You can mark it as “to read” on Goodreads, HERE. The first reviews are in, too! J.M Hewitt, author of EXCLUSION ZONE, calls it, “A cross between Stephen King’s The Stand, and Orwell’s 1984″. WOW!

Here’s a summary of the anthology:

What if 99% of the female population died out?

This is exactly what happened when The Fall set in motion the mysterious deaths of women. Since then, wars have been waged and civilisation has completely broken down. Feral packs of young men called Raiders scour the land. Violence and disease is rife.

The only way to survive is by dabbling in the black markets – where the highest currency is an increasingly rare commodity:

Women and girls.

But what of the 1% of the women who are left?

What does Φ mean? And who are the Sons of Gaia?

The Forgotten Women is a series of novellas exploring four young women’s journeys through the brutal post-apocalyptic world after The Fall.

Those who are not enslaved might find sanctuary in the Havens and Projects, entreating male allies to help protect them from the threat of Raiders. Or they may band together, distrustful of men, creating female-only colonies, looking for their sisters in arms.

But they’re all out there, waiting for us to join them … Hunted, isolated, it’s not only about staying alive, but discovering who they are in a totally masculine world.

The brutal yet poignant post-apocalyptic world after the Fall plays host to a collective storyworld – TEAR ME APART – that includes a feature film, novellas, animated web comics and more.

For more information, including stills from the feature film, check out


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So, carrying on with my Top 5 Mistakes series, I thought I’d return to what many of you come to B2W – female characterisation! But let’s flip it for a change – rather than, say, 5 Ways To Write A Strong Female Character, let’s look at how NOT to write her … Enjoy!

The definitive guide to NOT writing female

1) Define her by the men in her life

Repeat after me: women have their own lives, thoughts and problems … And very often, we’ll see male characters defined as such in spec screenplays, yet female characters? Forget it. They’ll end up as sounding boards, facilitating male emotion. Le YAWN.

NEWSFLASH: Audiences don’t want this kind of cardboard cut-out characterisation, they want female characters that feel whole, rounded, authentic and fresh. So stop skimping on the wimminz and make ’em 3D! MORE: 5 Ways To Write A Complex Female Character 

2) Make her fly solo just for the sake of it

Yeah, don’t give her a husband or a boyfriend cos this totally weakens her … WHOA! Stop right there. Oh look, we’re at the other end of the scale … Funny, that.

Look, We hear lots about the apparently “sexist” wife and girlfriend character role function. But those commentators who claim being a WAG is automatically sexist are forgetting a helluva lot of women in real life are undertaking these very roles, right bloody now, including moi. BACDEFUCUP!

So no, the character role function of WAG is not sexist … The fact there are so few roles that AREN’T this role function, however? BINGO. Now we’re talking. But that’s an entirely different kettle of fish. Conflating the two is not productive.

So, in the meantime, if your character is a wife, or a girlfriend? It’s not necessarily time for you to sit on the naughty step (unless of course you’ve written her as number 1 on this list, of course). MORE: Stop Saying “Diversity”. Start Writing VARIETY!

3) Use handy short cuts

Look, we’re not reinventing the wheel, here. Just like any other character, your female ones need to have a REASON to be in the story. They need motivations of their own, but more importantly, they need a ROLE FUNCTION. Sticking them in the story – especially on the end of the phone, yuk! – to appease imagined femcrit bloggers and advance audiences on Twitter will NOT work, trust me.

Oh and while we’re on the subject, let’s just retire the rape/revenge motivation and the whole traumatic past / dead relatives / Daddy issues back story, yeah? MORE: Top 5 Ways Writers Screw Up Their Characters

4) Make her a ‘Kick Ass Hottie’

Whether your female character is a bitch and flaming everyone with her scorched tongue, or LITERALLY kicking ass with a boot to the face (or both), the spec script has got this female character DOWN. Same with the female character who floats about in her underwear (again).

In other words: if that’s the ONLY thing your character does? THAT’S WHEN she ends up feeling two dimensional again. DOH!

So, because she IS kick ass, even IN her underwear?? Doesn’t mean she has to be a crappy character either. Remember, Ripley spent the denouement of ALIEN in her scanties, so what! Again, there’s no need to be either/or, dudes! MORE: 5 Modern Kickass Hotties Who Are Also Great Characters

5) Make her POSITIVE!

Hey, don’t you know that women have to have good intentions on screen, otherwise it’s MISOGYNY?? If you write female antagonists or secondary female characters with less than stellar motivations, you hate women (obvs). Yay equality … Erm no. JUST NO, PEOPLE! MORE33 Experts Share What They Want Next From Female Characters 

So, concluding – REMEMBER:


Want MORE on how NOT to write female characters?

The definitive guide to NOT writing female

Then join the scriptchat by following me on Twitter as @Bang2write, plus you can also join 1000+ writers at varying stages of their careers (new to professional) at the B2W Facebook group, Bang2writers.

Plus you can sign up for B2W email updates HERE (or on any of the pix in this post) and get a FREE 28 page ebook (PDF), The B2W Ultimate Blueprint On How Not To Write Female Characters.  Enjoy!

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It can be tough being a creative, so we frequently need to look actively for inspiration to keep us going on the path to getting our work finished and submitted.

Quotes are particularly popular on B2W. Whether it’s tricks, tips and reminders we need from published and famous writers; or that talent might be good, but it’s hard work that wins out; or various definitions of success and reframing our mindsets, quotes can remind us we’re not alone and that various others trod this path before us.

So, when I saw this great infographic on Quotery, I figured you Bang2writers would like to check it out. Not every quote in the 55 is about writing, but I figure they ALL apply to the life of a creative in some way. Enjoy!


Infographic source: Quotery

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I’m assuming we’re savvy screenwriters who all know loglines are not taglines … So let’s put REAL loglines under the microscope in the next instalment of my Top 5 Mistakes series!

text here

1) The writer forgets 1 (or more) of “The 3 Cs”

Clarity, characters, conflict – in that order, please! Here’s why:

  • Without clarity, we don’t understand what’s going on
  • We need to know who your character/s are to want to get on board the journey
  • We need to know the conflict to understand what your character/s are up against.

EXTRA TIP FOR YOU: I’ve noted writers usually know WHO their character is, but it’s clarity and conflict where they generally fall down in loglines! MORE: All About The 3 Cs In Writing

2) Using Questions

I’ve seen and heard a LOT of loglines over the years … And I can’t think of a time I’ve seen a question in a logline that’s been justified.

By qwuestions, I mean when writers do something like this at the end of their logline:

Will Rachel get home alive?

Will Ben take Olivia back?

Will they be able to destroy the alien? 

It’s not difficult to see why writers do this: they think it makes their stories seem more intriguing. BUT IT’S NOT. Here’s why: the answer is nearly always “YES … otherwise = no story”! MORE: 5 Pitching Tips

3) It’s too vague

Vagueness is a MAJOR pitch killer, because it communicates the following (unfairly or not) to your pitchee:

  • You don’t KNOW your story
  • You’re not passionate about your story
  • You don’t know your audience
  • You don’t know what you’re doing

Yikes! You don’t need to come across as any of those … So GET SPECIFIC. MORE: 7 Things Agents, Producers & Filmmakers Can Tell From Your Pitch

4) It’s too long!

A good logline is 25-60 words long.

Not long at all, eh? There’s worse to come. Generally speaking, the more HIGH CONCEPT an idea, the shorter it should be. So in other words, if you’re writing a Hollywood blockbuster-type idea (high budget or not), your logline should be SHORT.

But the opposite of high concept is NOT “low concept”, but CHARACTER-LED. This means if you’re writing a drama, you can probably get away with a longer logline … BUT you’re not out of the woods yet: it will be a harder sell. Sorry! (Not sorry). MORE: Blue Valentine (2010): A Case Study On Drama Screenplay Loglines

5) Letting Cliché stand in for story

So, tell me: what’s the actual story here:

They have to confront past demons!

Then their lives are shattered!

They have to learn to love and live again!

This is the thing: these old phrases are STALE and TIRED – they’re in dozens and donzens of loglines and frankly I’m sick to death of them.

More importantly though, these phrases could actually refer to JUST ABOUT ANYTHING. Seriously. If you want your story to stand out? Again – you need to GET SPECIFIC, STAT.

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!

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

Continuing in the Top 5 Mistakes series, I’ll be concentrating on screenplay format today. (I’m assuming your layout, spelling, punctuation and grammar are awesome already – but if not, you can check here: 10 Common Errors In Your Writing You Need To Fix Right Now.)

Ready, then? Let’s go …


1) Overly long sluglines (aka ‘scene headers’)

A slugline or scene header in a spec screenplay is simply to “anchor” the reader, so we know *where* we are. They should be as plain as possible and shouldn’t draw the eye too much. That’s it.

However, lots of sluglines are WAY too detailed, sometimes running for two or more lines. They’ll note things like whose house we’re in; which room; what number the house is; which road — you name it! Nooooo! MORE: All about slugline layout and what you can include

2) Too many fillers, plus parentheticals

Fillers happen when screenwriters realise they need to “break up” a chunk of scene description, or a chain of dialogue. As a result, we end up with dull little moments that are there for the sake of it, as they don’t advance the story. Here’s 10 Of The Worst Screenplay “Fillers”.

I’ve often said parentheticals are useless – and that’s because they can too often become fillers as well. Even worse, writers may mistakenly use parentheticals for action, instead of putting it scene description. Ack!!!

3) Chains of dialogue

NEWSFLASH: Too much dialogue in a scene makes it STATIC. This is the last thing any good spec screenplay wants, not only because “what you see is what you get”, but because great screenwriting is about MOVEMENT. Not just *actual* movement either (though that can help), but the movement of the STORY.

Also, think on this: when was the last time you saw a movie or TV show where characters stood around, just talking, for 7 or 8 MINUTES (or pages)? Yet spec screenplays do this all the time. MORE: Are You Making Any Of These 20 Killer Errors In Your Screenplay’s Scenes?

4) Bad scene description

Anything labelled “bad” in screenwriting is nearly always open to interpretation, but I’d venture “bad” scene description does NOT:

  • Move the story forward
  • Reveal character
  • Both of the above

Spec screenwriters forget screenwriting is a VISUAL medium, first and foremost. This means they will probably need to write more scene description than anything else in the script. But they forget that scene description is SCENE ACTION. MORE: 10 Ways To Revitalise Your Scene Description


In a spec screenplay, capital letters are used on a character’s name when we meet them for the first time.

That’s it.


You do not need them for:

  • Sound effects
  • Random objects
  • Animals (that are not actual characters)
  • or anything else. ANYTHING AT ALL (arf).

Oh and while we’re on the subject, in a spec screenplay, you also don’t need:

  • Scene numbers
  • Italics
  • bold
  • underlining
  • bullet points
  • Different colour text
  • Pictures
  • Diagrams

In other words, as plain as possible, please. Save the reader’s eyes!! MORE: Screenplay Format: The B2W One Stop Shop 

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!

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

Children’s books have a lot of complex thoughts and ideas in them, they’re just disguised as child’s play. Once you recognise the complexity of these books, you’ll realise how often they apply your own work as a writer. For more writers’ quotes on B2W, CLICK HERE, or click the pic below.

To prove it, here are a number of quotes from kids’ books that every writer should know — enjoy!


1) “We all can dance,” he said, “if we find the music that we love.” – Giraffes Can’t Dance, Giles Andreae.

This quote embraces the inner desire to follow your passions. It tells children the very thing we tell ourselves – anything is possible with the right motivation.

2) “‘What day is it?’, asked Winnie the Pooh. ‘It’s today,’ squeaked Piglet. ‘My favorite day,’ said Pooh.” —The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne.

Of course. Today is the greatest day. You’re alive. Live in the now.

3) “You’re mad, bonkers, completely off your head. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”—Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

Everyone is unique. Those that feel different in the world are the ones that will make a difference.

4) “Sometimes you have to lie. But to yourself you must always tell the truth.” – Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh.

For a children’s book, this is very profound. When you lie to yourself, you’ll always be living in a state where you never achieve your full potential. You won’t let yourself.

5) “The greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

Not only in life, but in storytelling. Don’t be afraid to go to new places, try new things. You’ll surprise yourself with the things you’ll find!

6) “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – The Lorax, Dr. Seuss.

The modern world can use a whole lot more Dr. Seuss. Everything from political change, to the greatest ideas that will change mankind, passion is what will take us there.

7) “Who knows, my friend? Maybe the sword does have some magic. Personally, I think it’s the warrior who wields it.” —Redwall by Brian Jacques.

We all have the power inside us to do big things. It may take some type of catalyst to get us to realize it, but the power is there.

8) “There is no place like home.” – The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

Such a simple message, with so much meaning. There’s not enough room to go over all the connotations of this one quote, but many literary works have shown is there really is no place like home.

9) “Now I see! We are all just dots, together!”—Not Just a Dot by Loryn Brantz.

Such a complex theory for a child’s book. Humanity is complex. Your fellow human and you are on this shared planet doing all we can to survive. Be nice to your neighbor. They’re in this with you.

10) “Don’t you know that everybody’s got a Fairyland of their own?” —Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers.

It’s true, you know. Everyone has a happy place. We all like to visit it from time to time.

11) “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.” – Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie.

The powerful belief in yourself. Once your negativity takes over and you convince yourself you’ll never be able to do it, you won’t be able to.

12) “Believing takes practice.” – A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle.

This is a very complex issue that pops up in many narratives for people of all ages. Nothing is easy, and it all takes practice and hard work. To be able to achieve the unachievable, you must work at it.

13) “And Max, the king of all wild things, was lonely and wanted to be where someone loved him best of all.” —Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak.

Deep down, even the worst of us, just feel lonely and want to be loved. Love can change an entire outlook on life.

14) “And so for a time it looked as if all the adventures were coming to an end; but that was not to be.” – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis.

Every end is just a new beginning. For every adventure you complete, a new one is just around the corner.

15) “It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. My mom says some days are like that. Even in Australia.” – Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst.

Even though some things appear to be rosy, they’re not always what they seem.


If you go back and look at some of your previous work now, you might be surprised how many of these concepts have popped up in your work before, without knowing it was there. Happy writing!


clW8kdBzBIO: This quotes post was compiled by Luisa Brenton at The Educational Blogger. She was born in Italy, graduated from The St. Louis School of Milan and went to Chicago to pursue higher education at the Chicago’s Public Research University. Luisa is interested in modern literature and new films. She is interested in journalism as well. You can follow her as @LuBrenton and contact her via Facebook.

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Shakespeare was The Don when it came to inventing words, so we tend to think writers and filmmakers contribute to language a lot more than they do. It’s actually rather unusual for a writer or filmmaker’s words to get assimilated wholesale by popular culture – here’s my top 10. Enjoy!

1) Do not talk about …

An easy one to start. FIGHT CLUB (1999) is an iconic book and film, so whenever anyone says, “Do not talk about [whatever]” they’re usually invoking this particular scene from the movie. Over the last two decades, this phrase has been repurposed for a stack of posters, to refer to all kinds of things, clubs or not!

DID YOU KNOW? Russell Crowe was initially up for the role of Tyler Durden. See Jim Uhls, writer of FIGHT CLUB at this year’s London Screenwriters’ Festival.

2) Rainman

Love it loathe it, 1988’s RAINMAN broke open the subject of autism (in particular) for many people who’d never even heard of it. Like many characters in so-called “Oscar bait” movies, Raymond is a change agent, capable of changing the characters around him by virtue of being himself (not unlike Forrest in FORREST GUMP).

The characterisation of Raymond was based on real people: Kim Peek and Bill Sackter, real life savants who were also autistic. Though the term appears to have died off (finally!), for an extended period autistic people might have found themselves called “Rainman” by those who assumed autism might also mean extraordinary abilities like Raymond’s in the film.

DID YOU KNOW? The movie’s story is actually one of redemption for the greedy and cynical Charlie, not his autistic brother Raymond. This is signified in the title and word “Rainman” (Charlie’s childhood pronunciation of “Raymond”). MORE: Writing & Selling Drama Screenplays

3) Follow The White Rabbit

Who doesn’t know this phrase??? The notion of following a white rabbit (and/or going “down a rabbithole”) relates, of course, to Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland.

DID YOU KNOW? Carroll’s idea of descending down a black hole into a wonderous, yet scary and uncertain world has become a well-established literary allusion, but it is massively overused by screenwriters and filmmakers. Most notable in recent times? Probably THE MATRIX(1999).

4) Lolita

Considered a classic by many scholars and writers alike, this novel is notable for its controversial subject: the protagonist and unreliable narrator, a middle-aged literature professor called Humbert Humbert. A grown man, Humbert is obsessed with the 12-year-old Dolores (“Lolita”) Haze, with whom he becomes sexually involved after he becomes her stepfather (serious ugh).

The word’s assimilation into popular culture is such that the name “Lolita” is now often used to describe a sexually precocious girl.

DID YOU KNOW? Some feminists deplore the word “Lolita” (and thus the novel because of it), but I personally think it’s rather telling society should have latched on to the word, rather than remembering it’s Humbert Humbert who should be held to account. Before the phrase “victim blame” even existed, it would seem Lolita’s writer Vladimir Nabokov was nearly six decades ahead of his time.

5) Kryptonite

Even those not interested in comic books or superheroes will know this one: the established premise is that Superman (and other Kryptonian characters are susceptible to Kryptonite’s radiation). This has created usage of the term as a reference to an individual’s perceived weakness, irrespective of its nature, ie. “I have to stay away from you. You’re like Kryptonite to me”.

DID YOU KNOW? Some movie producers and publishers use this term and call certain stories “Kryptonite” – ie. the notion there are certain stories that seem like a good idea, but don’t sell for various reasons.


Shakespeare contributed HUNDREDS of words to the English Language, but he was unusual

6) Bucket List

Derived from the English idiom, “kick the bucket” meaning “die”,  the term “Bucket List” has been fully assimilated into our culture. It’s not difficult to see why. This 2007 movie followed the fates of two terminally ill men (played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) who have a list of things they want to do before they die, which they call their “bucket list”.

DID YOU KNOW? Search the term “bucket list” online and you will find a whopping 44,500,000 results – it seems everyone has one!! The top result is where you can log your life goals. The reason this term has been adopted wholesale by just about everyone on the planet is because of its emotional truth — who doesn’t have goals before they die? Not many people, I bet

7) Doh!

This word is most frequently used as an interjection to express dismay when one has said or done something stupid or when something has gone wrong … This means it’s the perfect expression for a certain Homer Simpson! As we all know, pretty much everything he says or does is stupid, plus things go wrong around him CONSTANTLY. As a result, “doh!” has become part of the worldwide lexicon.

DID YOU KNOW? “Doh!” should not be confused with “Duh” – the latter is used to express annoyance at banality, obviousness, or stupidity, a subtle but crucial difference.

8) Nemo / Dory

If you’ve ever visited an aquarium with a toddler, you’ll know small children call clownfish “Nemos”, after the protagonist in the Pixar movie. But “clownfish” is not a difficult word to remember – plus Marlin even talks about being one in the movie – so it’s not long before younger kids ditch this word and start calling them that, instead.

But WTF is Dory?? I always thought she was a yellowtail tang, or maybe her name was a reference to a John Dory, but turns out she’s a – wait for it – Pacific Regal Blue Tang. Blimey.

Yeah, let’s just keep calling these blue fish “Dories”, much simpler.

DID YOU KNOW? According to the Pixar Wiki, even the Disney website gets Dory’s species wrong, referring to her as a Yellowtail Tang.

9) Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day is a traditional holiday celebrated in the USA on February 2nd. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then the spring season will arrive early; if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its den, meaning winter weather will persist for six more weeks.

However, when we say, “It was like Groundhog Day” what we mean is, we FEEL like we’re experiencing the same [thing], over and over, just like Phil does in the 1993 movie of the same name. Basically, it’s a phrase that’s come to signify frustration and feeling trapped in a cycle beyond our control.

DID YOU KNOW? We don’t get groundhogs in the UK, which are also known as woodchucks or whistlepigs.

10) Sliding Doors

Not to be confused with “Gorundhog Day” aka number 9 on this list, this story deals with parallell universes (as opposed to the SAME day, replayed, over and over).

In the movie SLIDING DOORS (1998), our protagonist Helen has two VERY different days – all because she does AND doesn’t catch a train (the “sliding doors” of the title). So when people talk about having a “Sliding Doors moment”, they usually mean they’ve isolated a time in their lives where they feel a situation could go (or has gone) either way.

Again, like number 6 on this list, the genius of SLIDING DOORS is its emotional truth. Just about everyone has had a realisation in their lives where they feel something happening (or not happening) has made a huge IMPACT on their lives.

DID YOU KNOW? Sometimes producers and publishers talk about “Sliding Doors stories” – a story in which a character is faced with a choice of some kind. My novel, THE DECISION: LIZZIE’S STORY is a “Sliding Doors” story.

Can you think of any other words or phrases storytellers have given us?

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