Characterisation is key in storytelling, whether we are writing screenplays or novels. But what specifically makes great characterisation? More importantly, how do we create authentic characters? Characters who feel so real we hate them with a passion, or develop a crush on them. It should be a surprise to no one that creating amazing characters takes skill!

To help you with yours, here’s a round up of  what you need to know:

1) 5 Simple Tips for Powerful Character Development

Characters are the soul of your story. Take care in naming them. Think about their backstory. Do they have flaws? Of course, they do. What are they? Click HERE to find out how to create them.

2) 5 Simple Ways You Can Source Great Character Ideas

Where do great characters come from? Memorable characters like Annie Wilkes, LeStat or Ellen Ripley. Click HERE to find out where great character ideas come from.

3) How to Avoid Stereotypes When Writing Diverse Characters

If you’re writing diverse characters (and you should be) you definitely don’t want to fall into the trap of relying on stereotypes. B2W got you covered. Click HERE.

4) Top 7 Writing Tips For Great Characterisation 

No one starts off thinking ‘I’m going to write the dullest character ever’. But the sad fact is, some just do not grab the reader when we send them out on submission. To ensure yours does, click HERE 

5) How NOT to Write Female Characters – Grab your free copy! 

She boobed down the stairs, titted into the hallway and bosomed into the kitchen, where she tripped over (probably because she couldn’t see part her humongous breasts) and began to cry. Yep, men write women badly BUT newsflash! Women do too. Click here to grab your FREE EBOOK FROM B2W about this, which has some brilliant tips on what *not* to do.

6) How to write better LGBT characters

Ever written an LGBT character? If not, why not? Okay, so if you’re not part of the LGBT community then writing with them in mind is going to feel tricky. It’s not. Click HERE.

7) Everything You Need to Know About Character Archetypes

What’s the difference between a stereotype and an archetype? All you need to know, RIGHT HERE!

8) 7 Characters That Are Nearly Always A Big Mistake

Make everyone in your story count. There are many seemingly insignificant characters who make a HUGE impact. Take Foxface from The Hunger Games … don’t know who that is? You probably know Katniss but the teens went nuts for Foxface who played a tiny part in the book. CLICK HERE and make sure yours aren’t plot devices or space fillers.

9) 5 Quick Questions to Help You Write Awesome Characters

Knowingthe people you’re writing about is a given, right? Wrong! A lot of the time we think we know them and make them do things without really knowing what makes them tick. HERE are 5 questions to ask your characters.

10) Writing Adages Explained: ‘Characters Are What They Do’

You know that old saying: ‘Actions speak louder than words‘? Well, they do! Find out why dialogue is secondary to action, HERE.

What are you waiting for??

I hope you enjoyed this round-up on characterisation. Now, go PEOPLE WATCHING! Not in a creepy way, of course. Don’t follow people and freak them out. Unless you haven’t had your morning coffee/tea and you’re following them into the coffeeshop. In that case, you’re allowed to spy on them from your table in the name of inspiration. ALL writers do it. Ahem.

Good luck!

BIO: Emma Pullar is a writer of dark fiction and children’s books. She dabbles in screenwriting and has won/been shortlisted for several short story/script competitions. You can find Emma on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook or lurking in the shadows, spying on people in the name of inspiration and creativity. Check out her website HERE and follow her as @emmapullar_storyteller on instagram.

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Iconic Heroes

Heroes are probably the most iconic of all the archetypes. Shaping your characters can be tough, but there is a very easy set of steps which you can follow to help you find the right way to give your characters life.

The Hero’s Journey essentially consists of all the steps the writer needs to follow in order to create a fictional character which is strong, unique and blends in well with the theme of the story.

Using The Hero’s Journey in your stories

The Hero’s Journey is nothing but a recurring pattern of stages which the writer can use to their advantage in order to guide their main characters through the course of their journeys successfully. It is a great framework which will allow you to put things in order and help you create a story which will truly be impactful to your readers.

In order to make that happen though, you should have a better understanding of each and every step, in order to use them to your advantage and craft your own iconic heroes. So here are those 12 steps, translated and ready for use in your story:

1) The ordinary world

This step refers to the hero’s normal life at the start of the story, before the adventure begins. 

This is essentially the beginning of your story where the reader still doesn’t know a lot about your character or their abilities. On the same note, the character won’t be aware of them, or maybe even the problem either.

2) The increased awareness of need for change

The hero is faced with something that makes him begin his adventure. This might be a problem or a challenge he needs to overcome. 

This is the part where the hero is called to adventure and leave the world we first see them in. The hero starts learning a lot more about the problem that is coming their way and the call to adventure becomes evident.

3) The fear and resistance to change

The hero attempts to refuse the adventure because he is afraid. 

Change can be scary and difficult for everyone, heroes included. While yours might refuse the call to adventure at first, in the end they will leave as the problem will be far too big and important to ignore.

4) Overcoming the fear

Meeting with the Mentor: The hero encounters someone who can give him advice and ready him for the journey ahead.  

All heroes need a mentor! This is one of the most important steps in the hero’s journey. The mentor plays a very important role in motivating and guiding the hero towards change and success. This person is the main character’s mentor and will act as will teacher, helper, sidekick or guide throughout the entirety of the story.

5) Committing to change

Crossing the First Threshold: The hero leaves his ordinary world for the first time and crosses the threshold into adventure.  

The hero along with his helper will finally reach a point in the story where there is no going back. This can bring a lot of changes and difficulties. All heroes just have to deal with the problems and obstacles, they have to keep moving forward.

6) Experimenting with new conditions

Tests, Allies, Enemies: The hero learns the rules of his new world. During this time, he endures tests of strength of will, meets friends, and comes face to face with foes.

At this point of the hero’s journey, they will come across all sorts of different situations as well as new people who will either be enemies or allies. The most common thing they will see at this point is many different tests which they will have to pass in order to keep increasing their skills and proving their worth.

7) Preparing for major change

Setbacks occur, sometimes causing the hero to try a new approach or adopt new ideas. 

This is a step before something major that will happen very soon in the story. The hero is starting to sense that things will change and through this process he is getting some time in order to get ready, gather the supplies and advice he might need and just overall prepare for the huge change that is about to take place in his life.

8) Attempting a big change

Ordeal: The hero experiences a major hurdle or obstacle, such as a life or death crisis. 

The major change is finally here and it can happen in all sorts of ways. What’s most likely is that the person will go through a big trial which will test them so harshly that they will either die or be very close to dying. The hero will always be reborn or revived.

9) Consequences of the attempt; accepting the new life

Reward: After surviving death, the hero earns his reward or accomplishes his goal. 

After this difficult situation the heroes will come out as winners and they will be able to start a new life, revived and ready for the next part of their adventures. It’s pretty common for a celebration to take place at this point. At the same time though, there is a great risk of losing this reward that they worked so hard to earn.

10) New challenge and re-dedication

The Road Back: The hero begins his journey back to his ordinary life.

At this point in the hero’s journey, he has probably grown pretty used to all the different tasks and challenged he has to deal with and a new challenge is probably the best way to put him back on track and help him find his dedication.

This could very well be the part where the hero starts heading back to his known and ordinary world as he believes that the biggest problem of his journey has been solved. This is the natural completion of the adventure. This stage can also be called the “resurrections or atonement”.

11) Final attempts; last-minute danger

Resurrection Hero – The hero faces a final test where everything is at stake and he must use everything he has learned.

As the hero starts heading from the outside world back to their ordinary world, the reader finally arrives at the climax of this journey. This is where the hero will have to deal with yet another difficult test which will attempt to undo all his previous achievements and make him lose all the things he earned.

12) Mastery of the problem

Return with Elixir:  The hero brings his knowledge or the “elixir” back to the ordinary world, where he applies it to help all who remain there.  


As the hero successfully overcomes this last, strenuous test, the major conflict at the beginning of his journey is finally resolved and in his return home, the main character will finally go back with his hands full of experiences and possibly any items that might have been essential for him to find during the journey. Things are now going back to normal.

What we have learnt through this journey

The Hero’s Journey might seem like a lot but when broken down into steps it is actually quite easy to understand. These 12 steps are as follows:

  1. The ordinary world
  2. The increased awareness of need for change
  3. The fear and resistance to change
  4. Overcoming the fear
  5. Committing to change
  6. Experimenting with new conditions
  7. Preparing for major change
  8. Attempting a big change
  9. Consequences of the attempt; accepting the new life
  10. New challenge and rededication
  11. Final attempts; last-minute danger
  12. Mastery of the problem

If you use these steps correctly, you will easily be able to create a strong character and a storyline which will truly be captivating to the reader MORE: 39 Animated Heroes Offer their Advice To Writers

BIO: At a relatively young age, Donald Fomby has already amassed impressive experience as a freelance writer. Currently, he is a valued member of the writing team at Pick Writers. Donald studied Computer Science at Texas A&M and is a loyal Aggies football fan to this day. In his spare time, Donald writes Sci-Fi short stories. He’s active on the convention scene as well. He also enjoys local music, and has a soft spot for authentic Texas BBQ. He has a passion for technology, social media and travel.

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Good Writing, Objectively

Good writing is what everyone wants. Le duh. No writer starts a project, be it screenplay or novel, actively wanting it to be bad! That would make no sense whatsoever.

But the dead reality is, most of the spec pile is NOT good. So, what does ‘good writing’ mean? And how do you KNOW yours is good? Why does your work deserve to be produced or published?

Obviously everyone has personal preferences about what makes good writing. Some writers are lauded for stuff like dialogue, epic story worlds, nuanced themes, diverse characterisation, non linear plotting and so on.

But what if I told there were OBJECTIVE elements all writers can strive for in the journey towards good writing?

The ‘Good Writing’ Trinity

I’ve been working with writers a LOOOOOOOONG time now. Over the years I have started to notice patterns in the projects that tend to get notice from agents, producers, filmmakers and publishers. These projects that get notice have just THREE elements that tend to mark them out as a good bet for development (and hopefully, production or publishing):

That’s right! Just 3 Elements:

1) Concept

Not so long ago, writers were insistent it was ‘the execution that counts’. Thankfully, those days seem to be fading away. More and more writers know their stories have to be ROCK SOLID at concept level … This is not only because pitching is so important, but because without a bombproof concept, your draft will go wrong.

But writers are not out of the woods yet. Too often, writers’ concepts are just not good enough. But what does THAT mean … Well, a good concept is ‘the same, but different’ to what has gone before it. Unfortunately, too many writers concentrate on the SAME and not enough on the DIFFERENT, leading to samey stories that feel generic or worse, completely rehashed.

HOW TO AVOID THIS: Totally immerse yourself in stories LIKE your concept. Don’t just check out your medium – look at all of them: movies, TV shows, novels. Identify the threats versus and the opportunities, by working out what is the SAME as yours and how yours can DIFFER. Read who is making what, plus find out what the ‘buzz’ is. Talk to any pro writers, agents, publishers, filmmakers etc you know, or follow them on social media.

2) Characters

It’s said that good characterisation is the most important thing in any script or novel. (To be honest I think good plotting is just as important, but you certainly do not want to skimp here). Your target audience needs to connect with your characters, but this does NOT mean going overboard with backstory or obsessing over what your characters had for breakfast.

Craft-wise, there are just 2 things that count when it comes to good characterisation. The first is motivation, ie. what characters need or want. Writers tend to understand  ‘motivation’, but forget about the second important thing: role functions. If writers don’t know these two things inside out, their characters run the risk of being dull at best and even offensive at worst.

HOW TO AVOID THIS: Research! Role function covers WHO the character is; WHAT they do in the story and WHY. Key role functions are protagonist and antagonist, as well as secondary role functions like mentor, love interest, henchman, ally and so on. (Note: role functions should not be confused with tropes, which are recurring motifs such as Kickass Hottie, who may or may not be a protagonist or antagonist. More in my writing books, especially the one on Diverse Characters).

3) Structure

This is probably the one that ‘kills off’ most interest, the quickest. It’s also the element I find writers do the least work on in terms of honing their craft. They may start off with good intentions and read books, do courses etc … Or they may try to wing it! Alternatively, they may learn one medium’s style really well, but then try to cram it into stories that need a different approach. As a result, this means writers may fall into ‘obvious’ structure-related pitfalls. These include starting too early; ‘running on the spot’; overly long scenes and page-counts; meandering drafts and overly hasty or contrived resolutions.

HOW TO AVOID THIS: Whatever the case, it boils down to this: writers NEED to do more work on structure. You need to develop a vocabulary for how YOU see structure working. This means – you guessed it – more research. Read more than one book. Check out more than one visual or worksheet. Check out plot breakdowns. Plus you also NEED to ensure they stay up-to-date and keep adding to their knowledge base all the time. You might find it boring, but it’s 100% necessary. Sorry!

Last Points

So, good writing is the (obvious) end point here. So be honest with yourself:

  • How good is your concept? Is it REALLY ‘the same but different’? How’s your logline?
  • Do we know what your characters want (motivation) AND what they’re doing AND why (role function)?
  • Do you REALLY know how your structure works and why the story works out the way it does, or are you just hoping for the best?

If you can’t answer the above questions honestly, without glossing over anything, then you need to do more before your script or novel is that considered fabled ‘good writing’. Best of luck with your pitches and submissions!

More On This:

Top 5 Craft Mistakes Writers Make

An Epic Rant On Why You NEED Writing Craft

No, Writing Craft Is Not A ‘Rule’ … HERE’S WHY

Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make Getting (And Taking!) Notes 

2 things ALL Writers Get Wrong In Early Drafts

Take Your Screenplay To The Next Level

***Use discount code ‘B2W’ at the checkout to get £40 off***

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

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

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Casting Trouble

Casting controversy … It seems hardly a month goes by without some! What’s more, the same-old arguments and responses get wheeled out every time. Sometimes, writers may have trouble separating their own feelings about various casting troubles from the realities of the industry … Plus other times, the realities of industry actively entrench those same-old problems. Now what??

Well, here’s a round up of the consistent casting mistakes, misgivings and confusions writers have when diverse characters and the actors who play them intersect. Enjoy!

1) “It should be the ‘best actor for the job’

You’re right, it absolutely should – so how come the SAME actors get all the roles? We’re not even talking about stars either (though if we are, see number 7 on this list!). Instead, we see the same actors in the same roles these ways:

  • White actors in historical pieces (and the majority of stuff generally!)
  • Able-bodied actors playing disabled characters
  • Straight actors playing gay characters
  • Trans characters played by cis* actors (*not transgender)
  • white-centric story worlds
  • male-centric story-worlds

In fact, this is SO normalised, that every single time anyone complains about this, it becomes a big row. The idea of an actor like Dev Patel as David Copperfield is seen as ‘political correctness gone mad’, but why? Dev Patel is British, he’s a great actor and David Copperfield is a fictional character. Why the hell CAN’T he be David Copperfield? Because it’s an historical piece? Seriously??

But also, why can’t disabled people play disabled roles for once? Actor Adam Pearson was not even considered for an audition for the new film about Joseph Merrick, aka ‘The Elephant Man’. This was despite the facts Adam was known to the producers AND has a similar facial aesthetic to Merrick’s. So Adam makes a great point when he says, ‘If a disabled actor can’t get a look in at playing a disabled character what chance do they have of getting anything else?’ Check out the video and thread, HERE.

In A Nutshell

Life is not a meritocracy and neither is acting. We live in a hierarchal society where the odds are against some more than others. Besides, all marginalised creatives want is that ‘look in’ Adam Pearson speaks off, they don’t want a free pass. They just want the chance.

2) The IDEA is what ‘they’ ARE?

It’s true that movies and TV shows are primarily about entertainment, not education. Creatives’ ‘primary responsibility’ is not to be BORING. Yup, completely. BUT …

why then are writers and other creatives RECYCLING the ‘same-old, same-old’??

We can’t know what we don’t know by MAGIC. It takes empathy and research. Every writer knows this. Yet too often, what research means is just not good enough. We end up recycling the same old tropes and character role functions because we have not identified what we don’t know.

Now the good news is, when it comes to the CRAFT of writing, finding out what we don’t know is fairly straightforward. We can read the books, do the courses and buckle down.

We can do the same when it comes to diverse characters (**coughREADMYBOOKcough**), but we should ALWAYS LISTEN to real marginalised people and what they have to go through. If we don’t, then we run into the issue of what Chimanda Ngozi Adichie calls ‘The Single Story‘:

‘The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete.’

Stereotyping

Such stereotypes that are exacerbated by writing and casting the ‘single story’ way may include (but are not limited to):

  • Trans women = men. As Laverne Cox posits here, every time a non trans actor plays a trans woman, the belief that being trans is somehow a ‘costume’ (at best) is exacerbated.
  • Reductive disability. When the only disabled characters on screen are evil scientists trying to cure themselves or characters who have accidents and become wheelchair-users, then non-disabled actors are the standard. But when 1 in 5 people in both the UK and USA have a disability, there’s countless untold stories here.
  • BAME people are bad OR good, never in-between. Casting BAME actors as hoodlums, ninjas, terrorists or in positions of authority like teachers, police captains and doctors too often means BAME actors have a very narrow pool to draw from. They are also most likely to be supporting characters. This also adds to the notion that actors like Idris Elba ‘can’t’ be James Bond, even though Elba is every bit as British as say, Daniel Craig or Sean Connery.

In A Nutshell:

Reject the ‘single story’ at page level. Here’s what you can do as a screenwriter to help with diversity and inclusion in terms of casting in your spec screenplays.

3) Casting = ‘Either/Or’

Too often casting arguments online revert to binary choices of ‘either/or’ … There’s this assumption that you have a so-called ‘diverse’ actor playing a marginalised character … Or you don’t. And that’s it. Nope!

We see this response most often lamented by the Dudebros who insist ‘every’ character ‘has’ to be ‘different’ now (and that white male characters will soon be a minority!) … But in real terms just about everyone will fall for this response at some point. Hell, I’ve been there myself.

But what if I told you it can be BOTH???

Consider Furiosa, in Mad Max Fury Road. Played by Charlize Theron, she obviously does not have a bionic arm. But where was the epic backlash online against an able-bodied actress playing a disabled heroine? Oh, that’s right … Nowhere. Here is why:

The entire storyworld of the Mad Max Fury Road is inclusive of disability.

Good AND Evil

Whether good OR evil, just about every character (bar the wives) in the movie is disabled in some way. These disabilities make no difference to how the characters negotiate their circumstances, nor do these disabilities dictate how they behave. When Hollywood movies usually make disabled people antagonists (if they are represented at all!). This makes a refreshing change.

In the course of my research for my Diverse Characters book, disabled people consistently praised the Mad Max franchise for its depiction of disability. They loved that Furiosa’s arm was an ‘upgrade’ (she could never have caught Max with her flesh arm when he falls from the rig). They also loved that Furiosa removed her arm when she was resting (it would be heavy! This is realistic and shows good research — many able-bodied people do not realise disabled people need ‘breaks’ from those artefacts that help them, such as prosthetics and wheelchairs). What’s more, Furiosa didn’t need her arm to beat the crap out of Max (see pic), she is still strong without it. Best of all, they said, there were many shots of real disabled people throughout the movie such as wheelchair users, little people and amputees.

In A Nutshell:

Too often people think you need just ONE character who is marginalised in some way … But what if it was nearly all of them, as part of the story world? This opens up opportunities in terms of casting and closes down criticism of how diverse characters are ‘usually’ represented.

4) ‘It’s Called Acting’

Every single time a non-trans star is cast as a trans person, there is uproar online. The most recent that grabbed the headlines was of course Scarlett Johannson who recently withdrew from Rub And Tug, the story of Dante ‘Tex’ Gill, a crime kingpin and trans man who used his massage parlour as a front for prostitution in the ’70s and ’80s.

When this happens, there is always a queue of pundits, commentators, bloggers and people on sites and social media queuing up with the ‘It’s called acting’ defence. They will posit that trans people are overreacting. They will say that gay people play both straight AND gay roles now, so what’s the problem? Trans actors can surely do the same?

Well for starters, gay actors have their own casting issues (see number 5 on this list).  But the sad fact is, for the moment at least, trans actors DON’T get cast as non-trans characters as standard. This is the reality. So why shouldn’t trans actors get ‘first dibs’ on trans roles? As Jen Richards, an actress, writer, CMT’s Nashville points out:

‘The argument that provokes my ire the most is people who keep responding to any critique about casting cis people in trans parts with, “It’s called acting.” Every one of them says this with this kind of glee, like we had never thought of that. Of course it’s acting. And of course, in an ideal world I would like anyone to be able to play any kind of part. That’s the kind of freedom I want for myself and the kind of freedom I want for others.’

In A Nutshell:

Acting is like writing – if actors have EXPERIENCE of something, they will bring authenticity to a role. What’s not to like? That doesn’t mean ONLY  trans actors should be hired, just that they should get the same chances – but to do this, they have to be SEEN to be working.

5) ‘Gay People Can Play Straight Roles’

So, it’s often posited online that gay actors are well represented, plus they play straight roles ‘all the time’. Certainly, gay stars do exist, such as Jodie Foster, Ellen Page, Ian McKellen, Stephen Fry, Neil Patrick Harris and Kristen Stewart (though it should be noted most were in the closet when they began their careers).

All of these stars have indeed played straight roles, so it may seem bemusing to some that ‘gay for pay’ is still an issue. After all, no one is bothered that British or Australian actors frequently play Americans, or that working class actors play royalty, or anything like that. So what gives?

CONTEXT. Basically, just like the trans roles, too often straight actors are given gay roles. This is particularly the case when it comes to so-called ‘Oscar Bait’ movies and mainstream movies. When this happens, not only are gay actors ‘locked out’ of roles they could have brought that authenticity to, they are often penalised FOR that authenticity!! This tweet from comedian James Barr nails it, regarding the recent casting of Jack Whitehall in Disney’s ‘first ever’ openly gay character:

In A Nutshell:

Why can’t gay and queer actors portray characters LIKE themselves in their OWN stories for once? Straight people do this all the time and no one thinks is strange. Plus, why can only ONE type of actor portray marginalised people? The industry doesn’t have to be either/or on this, just – you guessed it! – more inclusive. 

6) False Equivalency (aka misses the point)

Ah, Scarlet Johansson again: this time, in Hollywood’s remake of Ghost In The Shell, there was controversy in the West due to the ‘white-washing’ of iconic female lead The Major by placing Johansson at the helm.

Writers who don’t agree with the notion of ‘white-washing’ will often cite this film as evidence that it’s not a thing because apparently, Japanese fans of the original were very happy with the remake. They liked the fact Johansson was in it especially, because they enjoyed her character Black Widow
Avengers Assemble. In addition, those writers will also mention the director of the original film Mamoru Oshii apparently has no issue with Scarlet Johansson’s casting in the remake either.

But by focusing on Japanese people’s responses, this argument misses the point spectacularly. The white-washing controversy surrounding Ghost in the Shell is about the fact AMERICAN and EUROPEAN actors (who just so happen to have Asian heritage) missed out yet again due to Johannson’s casting.

Iron Fisted

After all, Hollywood has form for going with white actors as standard. Consider Marvel’s Iron Fist, a critical disappointment and an epic let-down for the fans alike. This is apparently mostly due to the tepid lead Danny Rand, whom viewers AND critics labelled, ‘frustrating and ferociously boring’ and ‘laughably bad’.

Now it turns out the series’ villain Lewis Tan could have been Iron Fist instead. Could he have saved the series? No one knows because it never happened, but when so many fans actively wanted an Asian Hero for once, it certainly could not have hurt. Instead, we get yet another action series with a white lead and BAME bad guy. Yawn.

BUT WAIT!!!

Wouldn’t changing Danny Rand (white in the comics) to Asian-American in the TV Series be an example of ‘BAME-washing’?

No, ‘BAME-washing’ or ‘black-washing’ (or whatever you want to call changing a white character’s race from white to black, Asian or minority ethnic) is NOT a thing. This is because MOST lead characters – yes, even now when you see more ‘diverse’ leads – are white. So changing characters white to BAME does not have the same loaded expectations.

In short, white actors can AFFORD to ‘lose’ a character to BAME actors, white people have a veritable stack of them. (Still confused? Check out this great explanatory post about major characters with the use of chocolate raisins).

In A Nutshell:

When ‘white-washing’ comes up in relation to casting, don’t derail the conversation by talking about how the ‘original’ creatives or fans think it’s fine, or suggest ‘black-washing’ is a thing. Neither are relevant. Actors of colour from America and Europe deserve major character roles too and to be thought of as heroes as well as villains.

7) ‘It’s About Star Power’

At last, one of the TRUE arguments regarding casting … but how people cite it is too often incorrect.

As I mention in my Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays book, star is power is REAL. Whilst writers and other creatives may choose a movie or TV show based on its story, or even who has made it (favourite writers and directors in particular), this is the reality:

The average audience member will choose on the basis of WHO is in it, in terms of actor.

This is why stars – as opposed to ‘character actors’ – are a ‘thing’. That doesn’t mean stars can’t be great actors as well, but it also explains why some stars are terrible actors, but audiences still want to see them in stuff. What’s more, nearly everyone on Earth has favourite stars. These actors are a DRAW, which means KERCHING.  So it may seem reasonable to defend stars in certain roles on the basis the star’s name will sell more tickets.

Another Way?

But now consider the rampant success of Twelve Years A Slave. Made by Film4, Regency Enterprises and Brad Pitt’s company, Plan B. (Whether you liked it or not is another matter).

Obviously Brad Pitt would want a cameo in the piece; he is an actor and his money/expertise was going into the movie. Fair enough. But OF COURSE Pitt portraying Solomon Northup would be ridiculous (he’s also too old). What’s more, love him or loathe him, Brad Pitt is A List and has been for over two decades. His presence in Twelve Years A Slave – even though he is only in the movie for about 5 minutes! – will have helped sell tickets.

Even better, his character Bass literally existed in the real story and was not invented for the sole reason of inserting Brad Pitt into the movie. For those who have read the book, you will know Northup actually devotes more time to him than the movie. Though why not create a cameo or even a supporting role for a star, if it helps get a movie off the ground with a diverse actor in the lead!

So, in real terms, Brad Pitt’s influence as a star literally helped Twelve Years A Slave on multiple levels. There’s absolutely no reason that the likes of say, Scarlet Johansson could do something similar with the likes of Rub And Tug with her own production company, just with a trans actor in the role of Tex.

In A Nutshell:

It’s true, star power is real. But the days of ‘having to have’ a star in the LEAD role of a marginalised character to get audiences through the door are fading fast. What’s more, stars can help get diverse character movies and TV shows greenlit in other ways, especially via their production companies. They will still get the acclaim they want, not to mention money, plus their fanbase. Again, what is not to like? The whole point of being progressive is changing with the times … But even if stars don’t care about that, if they want the audiences, then they need to give them what they want, which research has shown is more diversity as standard.

Last Points

Too long, didn’t read? Here you go:

  • YES, the ‘best actor for the job’ should be picked (but that doesn’t happen NOW!)
  • NO, this doesn’t mean bad actors should get a ‘free run’ by virtue of ‘being’ marginalised
  • YES, literal casting is not always desirable, or necessary, especially regarding race
  • NO, that doesn’t mean trans and disabled actors don’t deserve some literal casting
  • YES, literally everyone knows ‘acting = pretending’
  • NO, ‘acting = pretending’ is not a ‘get out of jail free’ card, so shush
  • YES, we CAN change casting practices by discussing this
  • NO, it does not have to be ‘either/or’
  • YES, writers can make a difference from the page upwards 
  • NO, diverse actors don’t want to take over, they just want the SAME CHANCES
  • YES, star power is real – but there’s more than one way of utilising this
  • NO, acting is not a level playing field!!! Until it is, these points need examining.

Of course, screenwriters have limited powers. We might feel passionately for diversity in all levels of our work, but unless we’re making the film or show and have the final say, sometimes this stuff WILL be out of our hands. But in addition to the page, there’s one other small thing we can do. So …

What if we all made a list of marginalised actors in our heads, for when we’re asked by producers, directors etc for our casting ‘wish lists’? 

Because we WILL be asked.

So be ready!

17761123_10154582559506139_691836916590645085_o Want to write that diverse character that causes the casting row further down the line?

Then check out my book, Writing Diverse Characters For Fiction, TV & Film, out now from Creative Essentials. Available in paperback and ebook, from Amazon and all good book stores. Click on the link or the pic for more info.

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Marketing is one of the biggest challenges to writers … It’s also something I ended up discussing with Bang2writers A LOT last weekend at LondonSWF. I’ve long said the power of email is EVERYTHING, but a lot of you just don’t know where to start. That’s why I am delighted to welcome Jeda to B2W today! Make sure you download her brilliant email marketing checklist. Good luck!

If email marketing sounds like a heinous, impossible and uncomfortable puzzle, fear not! It can actually be a simple and incrediblly effective way to create a thriving communityof readers, fans and potential clients and customers.

As an newbie, though, it’s easy to stumble and get confused. To help you avoid those rookie blunders here are the top 5 mistakes to avoid (and how you can escape them):

1) Not having an email list

Seems obvious, but I come across site after site where writers and even magazinesdon’t have a way to become an email subscriber.

It’s your job to do some marketing and, while social media is a great tool, having subscribers gives you a much more receptive group of people to build your readership and ultimately sell to.

Look, your website is getting traffic. However small that is, once people come through to your site, you have a prime opportunity to stay in touch with them but, when they leave, they may never come back!

Get yourself set up with an email marketing provider – MailChimp is free up to 2,000 contacts, has anti-spam & data protection built in, integrates with most platforms and it’s really easy to use.

Frankly, you’ve got no excuse.

Set aside some time for the small learning curve, and get your email provider set up.

2) Having no freebie (or an unsuitable freebie)

“Subscribe for updates” – BORING! Get creative. Come on, you’re a writer. There are many more interesting ways you can invite people onto your email list. And, when you offer something free in return, people are much more inclined to give up their email.

Here are some ideas of what counts as a freebie (aka lead magnet):

  • Checklist
  • How-to Guide
  • Book extract
  • Workbook
  • Email mini-course (eg 5 days)
  • Discount voucher
  • Video series
  • Webinar (video training)
  • Audio reading
  • Short consultation

Think about who you want on your list. Do you want people who’ll buy your next novel? Or potential clients? Do you write non-fiction, scripts or screenplays?

Lead magnet options are truly endless. You can build your own unique list of people who ‘get’ you, by offering the kind of freebie they’ll love – the more effort you put in now to build a readership, the more successful you’ll be in your writing career.

3) Not giving people bold and easy ways to subscribe

There’s no shortage of areas to place your subscriber forms and call-outs:

  • Your header
  • Plus your blog sidebar
  • Your footer
  • On a top-bar using free apps like Hello Bar
  • In a pop-up using a free app like Sumo
  • On a landing page*

You can use image links or create forms with free apps and create simple landing pages either on your site or with MailChimp(free) or LeadPages(paid).

*A landing page (below) is a stand-alone page, ideally with no header, footer or any other links. People either sign-up or leave (sounds harsh, but it’s very effective – you don’t want people on your list who aren’t that bothered or interested). 

4) Not emailing your list enough

I’m so guilty of this one! I manage to keep my clients regular (ahem!) but I must confess, I’ve not prioritised this for my own list. #beinghuman

Try to be realistic. Unless you’ve got an asisstant or freelancer helping you with your email marketing, then sending out weekly emails is probably a little too optimistic!

At the end of the day, quality over quantity is what matters most.

Maybe aim for fortnightly, or even monthly. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter if you’re sporadic. Your loyal readers will be pleased to hear from you. When possible, try to plan out topics in advance.

The great thing about using an email marketing provider like MailChimp, is that you can set up email sequences and automate them, whether that’s welcome emails, sales sequences or newsletters. Once they’re set up, they run on autopilot.

5) Only talking about yourself

Your subscribers are interested in you and your work, but if you’re only broadcasting your latest achivements and activities or selling your wares, people will get fed up and you’ll lose engaged subscribers fast.

Brainstorm sub-topics around or linked to your current activities that you can share.

  • Can you give tips or share lessons you’re learning as you go along?
  • What topics can you talk about on the lead up to your next book, product or service launch?
  • Can you share other people’s work (this will go down a treat with your writer friends)?
  • What’s happening in your industry?
  • What are you struggling with in your script writing just now?
  • What events are you going to (or would love to go to)?
  • How can you help or give value to your subscribers?

Bang2Write’s blog is a fantastic example of thinking about your ideal readers needs’ before your own. Take this same approach to your email newsletters and marketing, especially before you start selling.

Bonus! Not standing out in their inbox

Industry figures can show that approximately 20 – 30% of your list will actually open your emails.

But don’t let this dissuade you!

The numbers do vary widely from 15 – 60% or higher and people who are opening your emails are your most ideal readers.

So, how can you increase your email open rates?

You need to stand our in their inbox with tempting email Subject lines.

Our inboxes are overflowing – you need to give people a good reason to open your emails. We can look to copywriting to help us out… A key ingrediant for writing persuasive Subject lines is to pique people’s curiosity by giving just a hint of what your email is about. Don’t give everything away. For example:

  • What my main character is teaching me about [topic]
  • I can’t believe I’m enjoying writing this nasty antagonist 😖
  • How to write diverse characters without offending BAME people
  • I didn’t expect this post to go viral
  • How to stop social media eating up all your time
  • Must-see authors at [event]
  • Are you making these 5 mistakes with your email marketing?

Once you get the hang of it, email marketing is great fun. If you loved (or still love) writing letters then writing emails is not that big a leap. Just imagine you’re writing to one person: your ideal reader.

BIO: Jeda Pearl writes fiction, non-fiction and poetry and, as an intuitive copywriter and strategy collaborator, she helps entrepreneurs navigate their stories. Jeda loves piercing through confusion, frustration and fear with compelling words – magnetic language grounded in empathy, honesty and clarity – and building expansive frameworks for creatives who want to DIY their own content. Get her checklist: 7 Vital ingredients to get your email marketing off to a flying start+ access all her freebies in The Vault.

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The Handmaid’s Tale, Adapted

The Handmaid’s Tale is that rare beast, both critically acclaimed and commercially successful. Just two series in and it’s obvious it will go down in television history. More importantly, countless Bang2writers tell me they want to write something ‘just like it’, that ‘says something’ … But how?

At London Screenwriters’ Festival last weekend, I lead a talk titled What Writers Can Learn From The Handmaid’s Tale. It was a brilliant session, with some great questions and observations from the switched-on delegates. Obviously I can’t cover all everything we talked about in one blog post, sadly. But here’s 6 things I think bear consideration if you want to write a highly political, thematic work like The Handmaid’s Tale, be it TV pilot, movie, or novel.

The adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale is rather different from its source material (I make a detailed comparison of the book and the TV show, HERE). But let’s agree, the adaptation is the gold standard: it builds on and adds to the story world, whilst still remaining true to the original.

Ready? Then here we go …

1) Themes change with the times

In the TV show, the story does not take place only via Offred’s eyes (as in the book). This means other characters must be ‘fleshed out’. We know much more about the motives of Serena Joy, Moira, Janine, The Commander, Rita and Nick. Emily occupies a whole story strand of her own (in the book she appears very briefly). In the book, Luke is only remembered by Offred, never seen at all. Other characters such as Eden, Offred’s mother Holly, or various Commanders, Aunts, Marthas or ‘Econopeople’ are created for the TV series.

But with all these extra characters, an interesting element is added: we see much more clearly how men, just like women, are subjugated according to status in Gilead. Though Offred mentions this in the book, she spends so much time in her room we never really appreciate or see what goes on outside.

An iconic feminist text and ‘modern classic’, nearly thirty five years have passed since Offred’s vision of the hellish Gilead and its inhabitants. Feminist discourse has changed a lot in the past three and half decades, especially with reference to both class/status and LGBT rights. So it is no accident then that we discover how bad it is for men too in Gilead, or that there is such a focus on ‘gender treachery’ (aka homosexuality) in the series.

Race does not seem to play a part in that idea of status in this story world. Audiences used to more diversity as standard may expect this, plus prioritising status will always come at the expense of something else. Offred’s daughter is black, like her husband Luke. Mixed race marriages are common in this story world. There are BAME handmaids, who are just as desirable as white handmaids (even though this means the wives will not have white sons and daughters, though this does not appear to be a concern). We are just as likely to see black Guardians and Commanders as Marthas and Econopeople. What’s important is ‘knowing your place’: were you a sinner before the old world fell?

2) Relevancy draws from the real world

Offred and the other handmaids are in sexual servitude. A lot of them were once educated women before Gilead, but now are ‘walking wombs’ (not that being an ill-educated woman means such a fate is any better!). Gilead sees itself as a protector, signified in the Aunts and the Guardians. It says women must embrace their ‘biological destiny’. It is thought God has called these women to a higher purpose, now the human race is in danger.

The parallels between the handmaids and slavery are clear. Some people believe slavery is consigned to the past, but this is not true. The Handmaid’s Tale reminds us this terrible practice is ongoing and waiting in the sidelines to take even more people. There is iconography of various utilitarian states and dictatorships in the TV show, as well as abuses of power from the ‘free’ world. From The Killing Fields and The Third Reich through to the plantations of old in the deep South, we can see moments of the worst bits of history woven together. But we can also see the best bits of human endurance, defiance and heroism too, such as the The Underground Railroad, The French Resistance, The Tenko camps, refugees fleeing war zones and defectors escaping utilitarian states in modern times.

3) Female-centric pieces NEED large female casts

This is not rocket science. The main characters of The Handmaid’s Tale are women, because it is predominantly June’s story, contrasted with Offred’s. This is a major difference from the source material, since June’s ‘shining name’ is never confirmed there. Instead we meet her and leave her as Offred, with very few glimpses of her previous life, in contrast with the TV show.

But June versus a Gilead made up of men would be a considerably different story. The sense of competition between Offred and head of household Serena Joy in the book (youth versus age; beauty versus crone) is dispensed with in the TV show. The competition is still there, but in a fully realised and three-dimensional Serena Joy, who is much younger and much more complicated.

The sheer number of women in the frame is fantastic, but it’s their variety that is truly stunning. Emily is capable and cunning, even a murderer. Janine is optimistic and child-like, but also naive and batshit crazy. Moira was childish and impulsive in the old world, but now has to take control and grow up. In the past June was content to ‘see how it goes’ … No more. A hibernating dragon has awoken inside her and she will stop at NOTHING to ensure her daughters do not grow up under Gilead rule.

These are complex, flawed and three-dimensional women … with male characters who will do all they can to help them, or stop them. More, please!

4) Antagonists must not be ALL evil

Lots of antagonists in spec screenplays are quite two-dimensional. They may have nonsensical plans for world domination, or just be ‘crazy’ (!) or ‘evil’, just because. In comparison, the main antagonists of The Handmaid’s Tale are completely understandable (even though we do not condone them):

i) Serena Joy

Serena is possibly my favourite character in the series! She has sold The Sisterhood down the river, including herself. This is due to her desire for a baby. She will not only subjugate other women like Offred, she will subjugate herself. Serena is willing to give up her career, her morality, even her sense of self, to achieve this. She is a monster, but she is also desperate … And because of this, we even feel sorry for her.

ii) Aunt Lydia

Aunt Lydia is the classic ‘for your own good’ kind of antagonist. She is a true believer in Gilead. Even as she handcuffs handmaids’ arms to burning stoves, she thinks she is protecting them from the evils of the old world. But she is not all bad, for she truly loves babies. She also has privileges in Gilead, such as writing and vetoing the Waterfords in their own home. This is why Offred appeals to Aunt Lydia to look out for baby Holly when Offred is ejected from the commander’s home.

iii) The Commander

Mild-mannered and self-effacing on the surface, he seems harmless enough. It would appear Serena Joy wears the trousers in the Waterford home – at first. The fact is, The Commander is so entrenched in Gilead ideals, he doesn’t NEED to be a dick-swinger about it. He knows full well he has all the cards. Offred intrigues him because she can’t be cowed, swayed or blackmailed like Serena Joy.

So if Offred wants to survive and get out of Gilead, these are the people who will get in her way … But intriguingly, over the course of two series, we have seen the antagonists’ change before our eyes and become something quite different from we first assume.

5) Jeopardy is everything

Sometimes TV shows suffer because audiences can’t believe anything ‘that’ bad will happen to the characters. After all, not many shows are committed to killing off their cast! But literally anything can happen in The Handmaid’s Tale … with much of it a fate WORSE than death.

One way of doing this is by killing off peripheral characters, like Eden and Isaac. Eden is present for only a few episodes, with Isaac afforded even less ‘story space’. When they are tried for infidelity and choose love (and certain death), we invest in their fates and rail against the horror of Gilead.

So when Emily and Janine get sent to the colonies; or Nick gets taken by the Guardians; or Aunt Lydia gets stabbed by Emily and thrown down the stairs?? We can’t be sure any of them will make it back. Of course they do, but we can’t imagine HOW this will happen. This is because the writers have taken our expectations and thrown them all away.

This impacts on the main characters, too. It means Offred can end up in peril, even with a noose around her neck, or facing down a wolf … and we just don’t know how she will survive. That’s great writing.

6) Don’t forget your TOOLS

Lots of TV shows invest in style over substance. The Handmaid’s Tale, in contrast, uses all the flashy tools at its disposal … AND makes them pull their weight in the story:

  • Non linearity is a TOOL. Flashback is used extensively in The Handmaid’s Tale. This could have been boring, breaking characters’ motivations open in an overly expositional way. But instead the flashbacks form an important plotting function, contrasting the time ‘before;’ and how it is ‘now’, PLUS how this will impact. More on flashback, HERE.
  • Voiceover is a TOOL. Offred’s voiceover again could have been dull or on-the-nose. Instead, the contrast between what Offred *actually* says with what she *thinks* are masterly, especially in the first season. As June reappears, Offred recedes, meaning her voiceover is less important in season 2. More on voiceover, HERE.
  • Silence is a TOOL. B2W is (in)famous for saying there’s ‘too much’ dialogue in the average spec screenplay … But The Handmaid’s Tale proves my point. It is fierce and visual storytelling at its finest, showing more than telling. Every moment of dialogue is forced to count, with much of the worst moments in the story played out with none, or even in complete silence.

Last Points

B2W gets a lot of spec screenplays with female-centric and/or dystopian story worlds. So if you want to write something similar, I urge you to start here and make notes. Regardless of whether you actively liked/enjoyed The Handmaid’s Tale series, it is a masterclass in screenwriting.

Take Your Screenplay To The Next Level

***Use discount code ‘B2W’ at the checkout to get £40 off***

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

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

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Starting out as a writer, it’s easy to think success comes solely from talent. Nope! No matter how good some of the most famous literary works are, EVERY writer had their peaks and troughs creating them.

So, in order to save your time and refine your writing, take a look at top 5 mistakes commonly made by writers starting out:

1) Forgetting ‘Show, Don’t Tell’

The purpose of any work is to trigger the reader’s’ imagination. Simply telling a story via narration or dialogue is not eye-grabbing enough. You must make sure you are writing visually! It takes skills to create an interesting story and trick the reader into thinking that every aspect of it is a real-life narrative to which people can relate on various levels. MORE: 7 Unusual Tricks To Reveal Your Writing Talent

 2) Not editing properly

Understanding proofreading is just ONE aspect of editing makes a big difference in refining your work. Grammar and punctuation errors make up a big chunk of the quality of the text but definitely are not enough to give the audience a grasp of a bigger picture. The condition of work lies in your sentence structure and reasonable word choice. Also, when you are starting out you must keep in mind that your first draft will not be perfect. To be a good writer, you must comprehend the key concepts of editing. Check out more about this important subject in this article.

3) Lack of inspiration

The standards for creative writing are usually set very high. Lack of inspiration is one of the biggest milestones for writers starting out. Metaphorically speaking, an athlete cannot perform well without getting enough rest. The same concept can be applied to writing, too. No creator will generate a fantastic idea if he is bored. The best way to overcome boredom is to prevent it. Procrastination may sound like a great option, but diamonds are made under pressure!

4) Being Repetitive

Okay, the struggle of being repetitive is not only a beginner’s mistake. Famous writers face this problem on a daily basis. It is probably one of the main causes of boredom when people read your novel or spec screenplay! Using the same word in two consecutive sentences is a dead-end. It’s said synonyms are a writer’s best friend, so use different, but equivalent words. It will help you diversify your vocabulary, which in turn will make your work more engaging.

5) Quitting!!!

Don’t quit!!! Sure, you will have a few questionable for even plain bad works to start off with, but rest assured: you WILL get better. No person should fear failure. The most important part is to keep improving. Re-read what you write, but remember not to rush yourself. Double-check your work a couple times after finishing it, and preferably do it with a fresh mind. Practice makes perfect and should never be seen as something to be worried about. Whether you’re just starting out, or an old hand – keep going! MORE: Lots of other writing mistakes to avoid 

BIO: Piers Golden is a freelance blogger who has been writing professionally since 2013. Find Piers on Facebook.

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Which Stage Are You In Your Writing Career?

Career writers are different to hobby writers. Whilst hobby writers write for the sake of writing (and why not!), career writers do this AND know there are certain things they must do if they want to sell their work and carve a place for themselves in the industry. But how to do we do this, if we don’t know ‘where’ we are on the ladder?

I have mentored lots of writers now, not just in their writing but their careers too. So I sat down and worked out how I see the different ‘camps’ of writers and where they are at … Check this out:

4) New Writers

New writers are often the most idealistic, but also the most enthusiastic of us writers. Anything is possible and they’re eager to learn. They know they are at the beginning of their careers. They may have written a few drafts of a single project, or they may have written *a* draft of several projects.

On the flip side, they usually completely underestimate the amount of work involved on writing craft. They may also not know much *about* writing craft. They may also have trouble visualising WHAT they need to do, or how to go about it. For this reason, many new writers will give up.

IS THIS YOU? WHAT NEXT: Then make sure invest in your writing craft FIRST. Take a course, read some books, consult with your peers. The two things you should start with are character and structure. HERE’S WHY.

3) Seasoned Writers

Seasoned writers are no longer newbies. They have probably been around a good few years. They may have placed in contests or even won them;  or perhaps even got a (free) option or two or had a short film made; or they may have self-published a book or have a popular social media presence or blog.

That said, seasoned writers tend to be a little less optimistic than new writers. Most seasoned writers will express frustration about not advancing in their career as quickly as they would like. They may be prone to bouts of ‘is this all worth it?’, though they tend to recover quickly (especially with the aid of their peers online).

Seasoned writers also tend to be the most overtly critical of produced and published works. They will be incredulous ‘such crap’ gets made or published when theirs has not. They may also profess that said produced and published content breaks ‘the rules’ of writing and that it’s ‘not fair’.

IS THIS YOU? WHAT NEXT: Then your real frustrations may be three-fold. First off, if you feel your work is not getting the recognition it deserves, ask yourself these questions:

  •  Is my work ‘misfiring’ at concept / pitch level?
  • Is my writing craft as good as I think it is?
  • Do I know ‘enough’ about the industry and how it works?

Discovering the answers to these questions will help get your writing career on track … As long as you don’t tell yourself what you want to hear!

2) Breaking Writers

These writers have made some kind of breakthrough. This might include getting an agent, making their first sale (for actual money) and/or getting a lot of critical acclaim.

In other words, eyes are on the ‘breaking’ writer and their work at last. Unfortunately this does NOT mean everything is automatic for these writers. They may be ‘on the ladder’, but they could be considered a ‘one trick pony’, or their projects may get pulled or collapse.

Coming up with a name for these writers was difficult! At first I rejected ‘breaking’ (even though it has it has a pleasing notion of ‘breaking the water’) but then realised it was actually appropriate. As a script editor, I have seen this stage of the journey literally BREAK many writers. Though they are perilously close to their dream AT LAST, they will give up. The reasons for this may vary, but usually it is because the slog becomes too much. Years of being pipped at the post and rejection may just feel overwhelming. Supersadface.

IS THIS YOU? WHAT NEXT: Then keep going. Do NOT give up. I know it’s hard, but it really DOES get worse before it gets better. Keep on honing your craft and keep on learning everything you can about the industry. Every ‘no’ brings you closer to a ‘yes’!!

1) Pro Writers

The Holy Grail of writing. Pro writers have contracts and work is EXPECTED from them, it’s not just speculative. They can make things happen with their pitches and sometimes, even just their names.

Sometimes this can feel overwhelming and more than one pro writer has told me over the years they feel ‘trapped’ by their pro work! They may wish they had ‘more time’ for spec work, or to try a different medium altogether.

Pro writers have also told me they feel like ‘frauds’, especially when it comes to finances. Back when they were new writers (and even beyond), they dreamed of the days they could pay ALL their bills with ‘just’ writing. But this is rare.

IS THIS YOU? WHAT NEXT: When writing becomes your literal job, it’s normal to feel as if some of the joy has gone from it. Focus instead on those aspects you DO still enjoy, or even your downtime … Whatever gets you through. You would also be surprised how many pro writers you look up to have to supplement their writing incomes with day jobs, related work or teaching. Besides, being a professional is more than money. So enjoy it. What’s the alternative!

So … where are you on the pyramid?

More On Your Writing Career:

THIS Is The Difference Between Amateur And Pro Writers

How To Make Your Writing Breakthrough

10 Things You Can Do With Zero Talent 

It’s Time To Quit Stalling And Make That Jump

My Simple Writing Breakthrough That Kicked It All Off 

Good Luck!

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B2W Mentoring & Coaching – new for 2018/9!

Stuck in a rut with your writing career? Can’t seem to ‘break through’, no matter how hard you try? Or maybe you have come to a dead end with your writing craft – you’re not sure *what* you need to ensure your writing is the best it can possibly be? Or maybe a combo of both of these things?

B2W is no-BS writing advice and coaching. B2W will motivate you and help you keep it real, but in a supportive manner. So, if you are looking for:

  • Career coaching and advice that will take you to the next level
  • Guidance and tools to radically improve your writing craft
  • Robust, achievable deadlines and goal-setting to motivate you
  • Moral support that will keep you buoyant, not despondent
  • A timetable to suit you and your existing commitments

Then you have come to the right place!

B2W has had the pleasure to mentor and coach writers on a number of schemes, initiatives, university MAs and other training. For the first time, B2W will be offering this service to private clients via this website. GET IN TOUCH NOW to chat about what you need and prices, or use the direct email: bang2write@gmail.com.

Who is Lucy V Hay?

Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers. Lucy is the producer of two Brit Thrillers, Deviation (2012) and Assassin (2015), as well as the script editor and advisor on numerous other produced features and shorts. View her imdb page, HERE and a selection of produced projects, HERE.

As a non fiction author, Lucy wrote the bestselling Writing Diverse Characters for Fiction, TV & Film  for Kamera Books’ Creative Essentials range, as well as Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow up Writing & Selling Drama Screenplays.  All three books are based on her experiences of reading 20K+ spec screenplays and unpublished novels over the last 15 years as a script reader and script editor.

Publishing as LV Hay, Lucy’s debut crime novel, The Other Twin, is now out with Orenda Books and has been featured in The Sun and Sunday Express Newspapers, plus Heatworld and Closer Magazine. Her latest crime novel, the bestselling ebook Do No Harm and book 1 in her Intersection Series, Proof Positive, are also out now.

Why Hire Lucy V Hay As A Mentor?

It’s true, there are lots of mentoring services for writers out there … but very few are headed by a mentor with both the experience AND industry experience of Lucy V Hay! Over the past fifteen years, Lucy has run and been involved in a plethora of writers’ initiatives, mentoring schemes, workshops, talks and training.

But most importantly: as a writer just like you, Lucy knows what it’s like to be on BOTH sides of the table!

Whether you’re a screenwriter or novelist, Lucy V Hay can help. She has both the craft skills and insider knowledge to help you with your writing and your career. But don’t take her word for it, here’s what a selection of previous B2W clients have to say:

‘Lucy is an incredible mentor who provides constructive advice which transforms your understanding of the craft and how to utilise it to convey your story in the best way possible.’ – Hina Malik

‘I would not have five published works, and another two on the way, if it were not for Lucy V Hay. My career took off shortly after I met her and this was 100% because I listened to Lucy’s advice and followed Bang2write religiously. If you want to succeed, Lucy can help.’ – Emma Pullar

‘Lucy is invariably my first stop when I’m looking for script analysis. I can recommend her most highly.’ – Pete Spencer

‘I got to know Lucy V Hay through LondonSWF’s Talent Campus, where she was my mentor. I soon realised that not only is she a brilliant writer and blogger, but a fantastic mentor as well. I soaked in her advice, listened to her suggestions and read/ watched all the books/ movies that she recommended. And what a difference it has made, not just to my writing but also to how I perceive myself as a writer … Talent Campus may have ended, but I know I’m going to look up to her as my mentor all my life.’ – Hansa Dasgupta

‘I worked with Lucy during my second semester at the IFS International Film School, Cologne. Lucy helped me brainstorm for ideas for my episode and worked with me to polish the idea further. During the process Lucy provided me with thorough and detailed feedback to improve my spec script all across the way from structure, character development, and content. I enjoyed working with Lucy, her contribution has reminded me how essential structure is in the storytelling process and how important it is to plan your work ahead of time to come up with great stories. I look forward to working with Lucy in the near future.’ – Motaz H. Motar 

‘Lucy is a very thorough script editor and offers the right things to be considered in taking a screenplay to the next stage. She makes observations of relevance and has a good eye for assisting with the unravelling of story, characters and plot.’ – Will Dingli

‘Lucy is witty, conscientious and brilliant at script analysis.’ – Mark Morris

‘Lucy helped me to get the best out of my project, pointing out where improvements might be made in an expert, guiding and supportive manner. I highly recommend her script reading and feedback services. She is also a shining example to follow as a communicator and organiser.’ – Dee Chilton

GET IN TOUCH NOW to discuss your needs, or enquire about prices for this service. Direct email: bang2write@gmail.com.

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Quotes From Fictional Women

Both ‘quotes’ and ‘female characters’ are often sought-after Google topics on this site, so when I saw this graphic combined BOTH, I couldn’t resist! For more quotes and insights from pro writers and fictional people, check these out:

7 Motivational Quotes From THE Shonda Rhimes Herself

10 Rocky Quotes To Inspire You As A Writer

55 Quotes For Writers to Live By 

15 Quotes From Children’s Books Every Writer Should Know

Top 20 Quotes On Writing Success

30 Doses of Inspiration From Fictional Teachers And Mentors

I think my favourite of the quotes below is Kitty Pryde’s, especially this bit:

“You keep waiting for the dust to settle … then you realise, this is it. This is your life going on.”

It reminds me of one of my fave Doris Lessing quotes:

“Whatever you’re meant to do, do it now. The conditions are always impossible.”

What’s your favourite in the list? Share in the comments or on social media and let the Bang2writers know!

By the Way …

B2W is taking a short break. But fear not! You can still get your daily dose of writerly goodness over at @Bang2write on Twitter, or via the Bang2writers Group over on Facebook. You can also now found me as @lucyvhayauthor on instagram.

See you there!

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

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