p02q6179 Three TV Writers

What do Rachel Flowerday (co-creator & writer of “Father Brown” with Tahsin Guner and writer of The Moonstone”with Sasha Hails), Roland Moore (creator & writer of Land Girls) and Sally Abbott (creator & writer of The Coroner) have in common?

All three of these writers got their big break writing for Doctors. From there on their paths diverged. It took Sally five years to get a second gig writing for Doctors, proving that you should never give up! Eventually she found her way into continuing drama, which is also the route Rachel took. Roland meanwhile continued writing for Doctors, and still does.

There’s more. They’re all now star-writers for the 14:15 slot (or 2.15pm if you prefer) on BBC One – reserved for what the channel calls “Event Daytime Drama”. Being a fan of their work, I got in touch with them and asked them about writing for Daytime.

What is Daytime TV?

Daytime drama has really upped its game in the last few years. What’s going on?

Sally reminded me that quality Daytime drama has been around for years, with Doctors starting in 2000 and Will Trotter, who runs BBC Birmingham Drama, having produced 30 afternoon plays when no one else was making single dramas.

What made everyone sit up and take notice was the first “Event Daytime Drama” in 2009: Roland Moore’s Land Girls. It proved it’s possible to do period drama, with big stories and high production values, on a tiny budget.

The success of the series opened the door to new shows like Father Brown; The Moonstone; The Coroner; WPC 56; Nick Nickleby; Moving On; The Indian Doctor and the import of The Doctor Blake Mysteries from Australia and Red Rock from Ireland.

Roland credits Liam Keelan, former Controller of BBC Daytime, for having the courage to commission dramas. He says, “It was a risky idea at the time, but since the series were watched by large audiences and had good audience appreciation scores, more were commissioned… with longer runs.”

The resurgence of TV drama as a whole has also played a part, and actors who previously might not have considered taking a Daytime role no longer see it as a step down – it’s a showcase for them, a chance to have a meaty role and show their chops.

Rachel says, “We’ve been so lucky with both Father Brown and “The Moonstone to get hugely talented and high-profile actors on board. Perhaps because of this, the British print media have become more open to covering Daytime dramas – to the point where the first series of Father Brown was the Sunday Times’ Pick of the Week.” 

Will Trotter points out that high ratings and the ability to sell these shows in international markets has been key.  Father Brown and The Coroner are 10-episode series with a stand-alone story which can be shown in any order,” he says.  “This makes them attractive to various countries as they’re not reliant on the demands of the serial.”

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What makes good Daytime drama?

All three writers were in agreement: the ingredients of good drama are compelling characters and stories well-told, with an element of escapism.

Event Daytime Drama could almost be interchangeable with Sunday Night Drama, and viewers often ask why the shows don’t have a Prime Time slot. Indeed, Land Girls was eventually repeated on Sunday nights and scored high ratings.

“Beautiful locations and possibly a period element can help sell it beyond the UK,” says Sally. “Daytime drama must also be joyful. You’ve got to want to live in that world with those characters.”

Rachel adds, “Good has to win out – which is why [this slot is] a natural home for crime drama with standalone mysteries that are resolved at the end of each episode: order is restored and the world set to rights each day.” 

Doesn’t Daytime drama have impossibly small budgets?

True, but Rachel is of the opinion that boundaries and limitations can be valuable creatively. She recounts how The Moonstone became a chamber piece inside the Verinders’ house for this reason. “With both Father Brown and The Moonstone, the production teams did an amazing job putting all the money on screen so they look far more expensive then they actually were.” 

There are certain things you have to be cautious about,” says Sally, “Night shoots, children, animals, too many locations, characters coming in with only one line – all of those things have big financial implications, so never have a child at night time with a pet dog!”

Her advice: learn to turn limitations to your advantage. Some of her favourite scenes happen between two people talking in a room…

Roland mentions that audiences are always amazed to discover the budgets are lower, because the end results look lavish and just like Prime Time drama in a lot of respects.

“For me, I was always surprised by the production team saying that I could expand things because they could get – for example – a load of re-enactment societies with their own tanks to come on set. So I’d write with the budget in mind, but often expand things when I realised that we could do that.”

What’s the commissioning process for Daytime drama?

Lower budgets mean approval times are faster and commissioners can afford to take risks. Sally recalls, “Ceri Meyrick approached me and gave me ten words: “Coroner, woman, forty, beautiful location, maybe Cotswolds, maybe South Devon”.

Six days later I pitched what was basically our six regular characters, the backstory for the two leads, a series arc and some stories. A week after that the show was commissioned!

That is exceptional, of course. Roland confirms, however, that the commissioning process is “autonomous” and “cleaner”, while Rachel says that not only does it tend to be weeks rather than months, but the BBC often commissions direct from a three-page pitch to full series.

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How can new writers break into writing for Daytime drama?

Rachel, Roland and Sally have some great advice:

  • Watch the shows to get a good understanding of what works;
  • Write a script, then re-write it and re-write it again to make it even better;
  • Write about something you love: it’s hard to get to the emotional truth of a story if you’re not passionate about it;
  • Get an agent by writing a great spec and winning a competition, or by getting your work produced on the radio or in the theatre;
  • Know your slot: tailor your concept to the channel and its audience, and
  • Write as many one-page pitches for guest stories as possible – keep them real and believable as well as filled with a sense of joy.

It’s worth noting that the producers of all of these writer’s shows have drawn on the Doctors pool of talent for additional writers, so it’s clearly an important route into the UK TV industry, as well as being a great show in its own right.

Good luck! 

BIO: KT Parker is an award-winning screenwriter and produced playwright. You can connect with her on social media via her WEBSITE and as @lunaperla for screenwriting stuff and @BeheadedQueens for playwriting stuff.

More on writing for TV on B2W:

9 Steps To Get Your Spec TV Pilot Written, Edited & Sent Out

5 Tips To Become A TV Showrunner

How To Write TV Series Bibles

How To Write TV Series Bibles (Infographic Version)

How To Write Spec 60 Min TV Pilots 

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I LOVE this from Unstoppable Author’s Michael Alvear today! Michael offers some really sage words of advice for that never-ending problem that affects ALL writers – rejection. None of us can escape it, but we can learn how to deal with it effectively. Over to you, Micheal …

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1) Not Having An Effective Coping Strategy For Rejections

It is one thing to be hopeful and optimistic, it’s another to delude yourself with the magical thinking that you and you alone will be spared the slings and arrows of rejection. The truth is you’re going to get cooked like a kipper. I say this not to discourage but to prepare you. Knowing the laws of gravity shouldn’t stop you from jumping out of an airplane; it should cause you to look for a parachute. Knowing that you will face relentless rejection isn’t a reason to avoid publishing or screen writing; it should cause you to look for ways to protect yourself.

Take-away: Studies show that successful writers fail more than unsuccessful writers. They didn’t hope for the best—they expected rejection and developed a coping strategy to deal with it. So should you. MORE: How to deal with rejection – VIDEO with B2W’s Lucy V Hay 

2) Believing That Rejection Is An Indictment Of Your Work

There are a lot of good (and not so good) reasons to reject your work and they have nothing to do with perceived talent. This includes publishers who don’t want to take a chance on something different, producers who feel they’ve done too many similar projects and editors who don’t ‘get’ your work. For example the founder of Grove Press, Barney Rosset, hated J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The New York Times quoted him as saying it ”was not credible…I couldn’t follow it, literally couldn’t finish reading it.”

Publishing is notorious for rejecting its most talented writers. Many publishers rejected Stephen King’s Carrie because they felt it wasn’t scary enough! Imagine if King believed that rejections were an indictment of his work.

Take-away: Because there is no definitive way of knowing whether you have the talent to succeed you have to take what I call The Writer’s Wager: “Because there isn’t enough proof that I’m getting rejected because of talent, I choose to bet on myself and believe that my writing is worthy not only of publishing but of selling well.”

THE WRITER'S WAGER

3) Forgetting Why You Write In The First Place

It’s easy to be derailed by an agent who asks for three revisions and still won’t take you on. Or an editor who championed your first book but passed on the second. Or getting a string of 1-star reviews on Amazon. All of these types of rejections can make you lose touch with your motivating force. If I may be so bold, I’d like to suggest that you don’t write to get published, get good reviews and make a lot of money. You do it Because You Have To Tell Stories. You have a burning need to create. Your car runs on a gasoline called Purpose. Everything else—publishing contracts, reviews, money—may make the ride faster and more comfortable but they are not what propels the car.

Take-away: Get clear on why you write. Understand and then stand on your purpose. An ego-driven reaction to rejection drives you into the arms of despair. A purpose-driven reaction cultivates resiliency. MORE: 7 Ways To Deal With Rejection 

4) Pretending The Rejection Doesn’t Hurt

Forget about putting a brave face on it. Rejection hurts. If I may paraphrase a book, it’s a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad thing. And you should treat it as such. Feelings are like tax collectors—you can pay them now and stick to the principal or pay them later and add the interest. The more you bury your feelings the more they’ll manifest later in undesirable ways.

Take-away: Spend time processing your feelings. I use a “48 Hour Rule” for especially painful rejections. It’s my chocolate and wine phase where I get to howl, kick dirt and rage at God. Then I pick myself up and rarely speak of the rejection again. This allows me to process my feelings without getting stuck in emotional quicksand.

5) Letting Rejection Infect Your Inner Critic

It’s easy to do, especially if you get a steady stream of rejections. Most of us tend to have an inner critic with the soul of a serial killer. To understand why familiarize yourself with the concept of loss aversion which states that we feel more pain from loss than pleasure from winning. Your inner critic is motivated by a fear of loss and therefore believes it must hurt and insult you to get things done.

Take-away: You need your inner critic because it’s the CEO of Quality Control—it stops you from putting out crap. But you can motivate it with the anticipation of winning rather than the hysteria of losing. You can accomplish that by constantly reframing your goals from “If I don’t do this I’ll fail” to “If I do this I’ll succeed.” MORE: When is a rejection a rejection, if I don’t hear anything? 


thebulletproofwriter 400x600BIO:
Michael Alvear is the author of The Bulletproof Writer: How To Overcome Constant Rejection To Become An Unstoppable Author (Woodpecker Media January 2017). He’s been a frequent contributor to National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and his work has appeared in Newsweek, The Washington Post, Reader’s Digest, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Huffington Post.

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For more on format and script convention issues, visit:           The B2W Format One Stop Shop

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Lots of writers include music and/or lyrics in their unpublished novels and spec screenplays. There are lots of reason why this seems like a good idea: sometimes particular songs can add something to the plot, or to the storyworld (especially time period). Other times, that song might have been instrumental (arf) in inspiring the writer to pen the piece in the first place, so they’ll add it to give a ‘feel’ for the story.

STOP! 

9/10, the song will be COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL. In other words, if your novel is published or your screenplay produced, the publisher or prodco will have to actually PAY MONEY for that song. And guess what: they don’t want to pay money for it!!

In terms of using music over credit sequences or montages, etc: don’t, screenwriters. JUST DON’T. This is a production decision. Focus on telling the story, not telling the makers how to make it.

In addition: rightly or wrongly, some script readers have started using the addition of copyrighted material as a ‘marker’ of whether the writer ‘knows’ what s/he is doing. In other words, if you include a copyrighted song in your screenplay? The reader may think you’re clueless about the realities of the industry. Worth the risk? I don’t think so.

Newsflash: it’s the same with novels!!

This advice also applies if you’re a novelist and/or self publishing too, by the way. ANY publisher is supposed to pay for anything you reproduce that is in copyright to someone else. This applies to even small snatches of lyrics. Yes, really! So, my advice:

DON’T use songs, ever

Unless you really have to (ie. the book is ABOUT music!); or the songs are not copyrighted (ie. they’re literally ancient, or you’ve made them up yourself) – in which case, feel free!

Alternatively, think of a way round it

33135198I read a GREAT young adult book, This Beats Perfect by Rebecca Denton recently. This book’s story world is the music industry, so readers would expect some reference to music, right??

But the author DOES this *and* side steps the music rights issue … How?? By making the titles of every chapter a song title, creating a ‘track listing’. This is GENIUS because titles are not copyrighted in the same way as actual song lyrics.

In addition, the author talks about various music celebs in the book, giving the reader a flavour of the music industry, without once needing to pay for it … because writers can write about *people* however they like (as long as they don’t stray into libellous territory, obviously).

Great job!!! You can read my full review for the book, HERE.

More on Format on B2W:

Top 5 Screenplay Format Mistakes

The B2W Format 1 Stop Shop 

All About Scene Headings/Headers

The 5 Biggest Format Mistakes Screenplays Make

Download a 1 page Format Ref Guide (PDF)

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Many thanks to Bang2writer Karen who asked for my thoughts on building a platform/following online. If you’re thinking of launching yourself into the virtual world as a writer, here’s some tips to think on based on my own experiences.

Remember, if you have a burning question for the blog that’s not been covered before, or you want to write a guest post yourself – then contact me via email, post in the Facebook group, or tweet me!

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Building your own online platform is not difficult in terms of set up, but it is difficult to a) know where to start and b) maintain.

In terms of b), maintaining it will depend on many things, not least your own remit and what you want to achieve with it … Most of all however, it will be about TIME. Most people give up. So don’t give up! That’s really all there is to it.

So, when it comes to a), these are the NON-NEGOTIABLES as a writer you need to make a ‘splash’ in the virtual world:

1) Your own website

If you want potential audiences to find you, you MUST have your own website in order to showcase your produced and published content. How you do this is up to you, but here are some top tips from me having been a blogger for over a decade now:

i) Buy your own URL – NEVER have a ridiculously long free website name; make sure you buy your own and make it as no-frills as possible! If it’s for you as an individual, have your OWN NAME in it, maybe what you’re showcasing as well. Here’s mine >> http://www.lucyvhayauthor.com. If it’s something you’re BRANDING, such as a business, then have that name instead, such as the URL here >> http://www.bang2write.com. Boom. It really is as simple as that!

ii) Use WordPress – I have tried just about every blog platform there is. Trust me when I say WordPress is the least hassle, with the most plug ins (i.e. useful stuff) in it. It’s also relatively easy for techno-hopers like moi, plus if you have any problems you can call in the cavalry to fix it easily. ALL tech types know WordPress and can sort any problems for you ASAP.

iii) Use a NO-FRILLS Theme (and keep it that way) – Blogs have design templates called themes that you can download and tweak to your own specifications. Pick the least fancy, most MINIMAL one. Pick a colour scheme for stuff like links, but make sure the background is white (never, ever, EVER pick black background with white type). And go easy on the additional stuff in your sidebars. DO NOT MAKE IT LOOK TOO BUSY.

iv) Get decent hosting that will show up on the important search engines like Google. I don’t know much about this ‘cos I don’t care. So I get someone else to sort out it for me. If you’re daunted or would rather pluck your own eyes out than deal with tech stuff, you can do the same. However, if you Google this shit, there’s a lot of info out there. It’s what the internet was invented for after all!!

Those are the blogging basics … Here’s 10 Reasons Your Blog Sucks when it comes to content and getting the word out about it. Be afraid, be very afraid!!!

2) Sort Your Social Media

Now, this advice will depend according to your niche — if you’re into alligator wrestling or extreme ironing, you may find this differs wildly. However, if you’re a writer like me, here is what I’ve discovered:

 Use FACEBOOK predominantly, with a chunk of Twitter and a pinch of Instagram!

I’ve consistently found those interested in writing, authors, books, movies, celebrities, reviews, publishing, adaptation and other writing-related news such as representation will come from these four sites:

  • FACEBOOK – USES: GENERAL DISCUSSION (especially questions). I think users like Facebook for these topics because it’s the one social media platform that allows users to indulge in epic-long threads about subjects they feel passionate about, with them able to find the threads with ease and follow them for days at a time without losing them. It’s also a good mix of written and visual, something that has to appeal to writers, especially screenwriters. I get a LOT of clickthru from Facebook to my sites and profiles.
  • TWITTER – USES: DISCUSSION (especially opinions). I think users like Twitter for keeping up with writing NEWS – it feels fresh, with posts daily on favourite books and movies, not to mention the inevitable OUTRAGE surrounding various industry-related topics. What’s more, with the new tagging functions, hashtags and photos no longer taking up any of the 140 characters, there’s more ‘room’ to explore than Facebook – literally. This means Twitter is a great platform for discovering new and challenging opinions, or finding someone with a different worldview to your own. I get decent clickthru from Twitter, but it’s about a third of what I get from Facebook. Check me out as both @Bang2write and @LucyVHayAuthor. Notice the difference between the two!
  • INSTAGRAM – USES: VISUAL BRANDING. Instagram is a predominantly visual platform, so I find chat is at a minimum on my stream, despite the fact my followers are highly engaged, ‘liking’ my posts regularly and within momnents of me posting. Instagram has no real ‘clickthru’ facility, but I do get messages all the time from people who tell me they ‘saw me’ – or rather, my websites – on Instagram. If you’re not sure what I mean by this, here are I am: @LucyVHayAuthor.

i) Want to appeal to your fellow writers? You need to be on FACEBOOK and you need to have a GROUP and create a community there. I did this with and create a community there. I did this with the ‘Bang2writers’ FB group, that is nearly 2K strong & very lively indeed, with lots of writing chat going on daily, whether I am personally present or not. This is the dream when it comes to groups. Most groups are much smaller, usually between 150-500 members, though there are lots of ways admins can aid participation in their groups, which is the key element.

ii) Want people to know about your work? You need a PAGE and to cross post its content to Facebook groups. I did this first via my Bang2write FB page, but now do it also with LucyVHayAuthor page and also my Crime, Ink page.

Of course, you CAN be on other social media sites … And certainly, if being on more than one does your head in, then it’s better to stick to ONE and do it well, than do half a dozen, half-assed! MORE: 4 Indispensable Social Media Platforms For Writers 

A note on Linkedin

I don’t get much ‘click thru’ from my Linkedin profile, BUT it still delivers for me in terms of paying work and contact-building via its CV/Resumé function. Writers are typically very ‘down’ on Linkedin, saying they don’t really know what it’s for or why anyone bothers with it. In contrast, I’ve found Linkedin an absolute godsend. As a writer, it’s helped me literally earn money, plus I’ve been able to contact countless industry pros I would have had trouble tracking down otherwise. What’s not to like! That said, STAY AWAY from Linkedin writing groups – I’m sure there are some good ones, but many are full of actual full-on trolls!!! MORE: How To Put Together A Writer’s CV/Resumé

Once you’ve got all this

You need to decide what the following you want to build is FOR. Sounds easy enough, but is actually harder than it sounds.

Simply writing about ‘anything’ online as the mood takes you is fine, but if you want to create a brand or get known QUICKLY, it’s a good idea to decide on a remit … aka unique selling point … aka that je ne se quois that marks you out in the sea of other writers!

For example, does this (below) remind you of anyone???

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That’s right … it sounds just like B2W!!! This tagcloud was created from the most often used words on the site. BECAUSE THIS IS B2W’S REMIT.

What’s more, don’t forget people follow B2W not because I am personally so interesting and awesome (though I am), but because I can GIVE THEM SOMETHING too (ie. writing help).

In the same way, people are interested in me as Lucy V Hay Author because they’re interested in reading and potentially enjoying my work. So I give them insights into creating that work, plus I will offer giveaways, competitions and so on.

When it comes to building platforms, it’s always a two way street!!

Concluding:

Get the tools to shine, focus on what you’re doing (and why), plus offer them something, then people WILL follow you … but don’t forget that remit! Oh, and be awesome. Easy, huh?? Good luck!!

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Ah, Valentine’s Day – the one day of the year most of us DREAD. Yep, you read that right. It’s not about love, it’s about companies using our emotions against us in order to cash in!

Perhaps we should celebrate the day of love as was intended? I researched the murky origins of Valentine’s Day and then thought about couples who might prefer the traditional Roman way of celebrating, rather than the card-giving we do these days. We’ve gone from this …

“From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain. The Romans were drunk and naked. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them. They believed this would make them fertile. The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would be together for the duration of the festival —or longer, if the match was right.” YIKES!

To this:

‘William Shakespeare helped romanticise Valentine’s Day in his work, and thus it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe. Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular card-sending holiday after Christmas.’

Hmm … what a choice! Do I want a romantic Valentine’s Day of kisses and card-giving, or a good ol’whipping with the hide of an animal???

I think I know what my Top 5 Lunatic Lovers would choose — just watch out, cuz here there be spoilers …

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1) Mickey and Mallory Knox, NATURAL BORN KILLERS

When people first think of crazy lovers they go one of two ways: The Joker and Harlequin or Mickey and Mallory. These two are seriously screwed in the head. Both from abusive backgrounds, they hook up and go on a killing spree. They get off on killing people together. Taking lives brings them closer. They play sadistic games; not like cat and mouse, more like two wolves provoking each other. Deeply in love and deeply disturbed.

Tarantino’s screenplay was heavily revised by writer David Veloz, the producer and the director Oliver Stone. Though I like the film the way it is, I would love to see the original script. MORE: The Secret Of Writing Great Conflict In Scenes – 3 Examples

703d2dee48d4a648ba33e2e3ea6a6a922) Spike and Drusilla, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER

It’s no secret I’m a Buffy fan. A female slayer with super strength is a neat concept and the show has a great cast of characters. Two that I love are Spike and Drusilla. A vampire couple who’ve been together since forever. They love to torment their victims and although Dru is utterly insane, Spike worships her. The couple tease each other, plot together and kill for one another. Sadly, it doesn’t last. Though they can live forever, their love for each other dies.

8838_53) Chucky and Tiffany, BRIDE OF CHUCKY

Comedy couple of the bunch. Plastic fantastic, passionate and psychotic. This couple enjoy being abusive to each other. Insults, physical abuse, they even try to kill one another. Dysfunctional and delightful. Once human, their consciousness is now trapped inside two dolls. Chucky was a serial killer and his bride shares his passion for murder and mayhem.

Tiffany: [after Chucky stabs her] My mother always told me love would set me free.

Chucky: [pushes her back] Get off my knife.

MORE: 7 Dark Loves of Cinema

Jaime_and_Cersei_1x034) Cersei and Jamie Lannister, GAME OF THRONES

These two are uber-sick puppies. Not only brother and sister but twins!

Cersei: Jaime and I are more than brother and sister. We shared a womb. We came into this world together, we belong together.

Cersei is a power-hungry tyrant who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Jamie pushes a ten-year-old boy out of a window in order to keep their dirty secret and preserve their love. The boy doesn’t die. Naturally, Cersei then tries to kill him. Jamie rapes Cersei in a room with their dead son, but still they remain together.

Heavenly_Creatures5) Pauline and Juliet – HEAVENLY CREATURES

This movie is based on a true story and filmed in my home from home, Christchurch, New Zealand. I moved from London to New Zealand when I was sixteen years old and that’s when I met my own lunatic lover. (Well, minus the lunatic part!)

In the opening credits of Heavenly Creatures, Peter Jackson depicts a safe, conservative Christchurch and then a sinister story unfolds. The two girls are aspiring writers, and they create their own fantasy world to live in. When the couple are faced with being split up (society was not accepting of homosexuality back in 1950s) they plot to kill Pauline’s mother in order to stay together.

I’ve actually walked the path Pauline and Juliet took before committing the murder. It’s creepy. The girls tried to convince the authorities that the mother’s death was a terrible accident, but Pauline’s diaries were found and the lover’s worst fears realised. They were split up forever. MORE: Top 7 Killer Couples of Cinema

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

BIO: Emma Pullar is a writer and book reviewer. Her picture book, Curly from Shirley went to number four on the bestseller list and was named best opening lines but NZ Post. As well as picture books, Emma writes horror, dystopian, sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal fiction. You can read her short horror story, London’s Crawling, in the Dark Minds charity collection. Follow Emma on Twitter, HERE.

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Bang2writers ask me all the time what writing books I recommend to get them started. So, it’s many thanks to Livia today who’s made this GREAT infographic on the writing books!

I recommend most of these on a regular basis, as they are comprehensive and have many useful insights in them. Check out the links after the jump for places to buy them.

Also – sextra special thanks though to Livia for including MY book, Writing & Selling Drama Screenplays! If you’re keen on writing a story about an emotive subject or theme for your short film, feature screenplay or TV pilot,  do be sure to check it out.

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Image attribute: www.lifesaveressays.com

The thought of screenplay writing is not easy. It’s an extremely difficult process to get things right. Every element of a script like scene headings, action, character, parentheticals, dialogue and transitions must be prominent to make audience feel, laugh and cry.

The rules and formatting might daunt you in crafting your first script. But, in order to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader! Here are 10 essential screenplays for the aspiring screenwriter. These books help you understand and build strong and creative foundation and offers insights and inspiration for your draft.

Good luck!

  1. William Goldman, Adventures In The Screen Trade
  2. Lajos Egri, The Art Of Dramatic Writing
  3. Karol Griffiths, The Art of Script Editing
  4. David Mamet, On Directing Film
  5. David Trottier, The Screenwriter’s Bible
  6. Syd Field, The Foundations of Screenwriting
  7. Christopher Vogler, The Writer’s Journey
  8. Linda Seger, Making A Good Script Great
  9. Robert McKee, Story: Substance, Structure, Style And The Principles of Screenwriting
  10. Lucy V. Hay, Writing & Selling Drama Screenplays

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When writing is your passion but you just don’t have that inspiration coming through, it’s time to look around. There are many things surrounding us every day that could inspire and motivate us.

If you are stressed out, it may be difficult to see. Even the best writers sometimes find themselves without an idea to write about. But we live in a world full of information and inspiration. Let’s look at some tips for finding it and getting you inspired!

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 1) Look at blogs

I love blogs because they are personal and intimate. You are able to get into the mind of the blogger and live a story with them. If you are looking for inspiration, go to your favorite blogs. You need those blogs you can relate to; the ones that make you happy. You will be surprised how motivated you feel to write after this. MORE: Inspired By A Small Seed: 6 Writers’ Stories 

2) Veg out

Chill in front of the television or just lay down on your bed. Sometimes it is okay to just veg out and do nothing. When your mind is in a relaxed state, you are open to new ideas. Stressing about it won’t help you at all. Taking time to unwind is the key to finding your inspiration.

3) Read an actual book

Sure, we live in a world full of screens but sometimes there is nothing like paper between your fingers. Read something you enjoy. It should be something you can get totally lost in. Pick up some tips for your writing in your choice of books. Look at things like sentences using semicolons. These books have been edited and writing is usually pretty good.

4) Practice your writing skills

Sometimes we lose inspiration because we think that we are not good enough. How about you silence those voices by taking a spelling or grammar course. Write a one page article and put it through a paraphrase tool or a semicolon checker. You might learn some important skills which will help you become a better writer.

5) Listen to music

You might be asking, what does music have to do with writing? Music is always necessary in times of doubt. Play your music in the background or plug in some earphones with your favorite tunes on. Either way, music sets us free from the bondages in our heads. Let the music take you to another place, another time and give you the inspiration you need for your next piece. MORE: 6 Writing Prompt Tips To Get You Started

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6) Spend time outside

Go for a walk outside and get some fresh air. Nothing inspires you more than spending time in nature. Look at the beauty around you and absorb every little whisper of the wind. Look at the sun rising or setting. Have a picnic in the park and listen to the laughter of children.

7) Invite a friend

Many writers live a very isolated life. If you live a life that’s filled with words and a computer screen, it’s time to call a friend. In fact, call one of your funniest friends. The one who makes you laugh until you can’t laugh anymore. There is nothing more rewarding than spending some quality time with good friends. A friend with a good sense of humour will help you release some of the tension and help you find your inspiration. MORE: 8 Reasons Why Writers Make Brilliant Friends

8) Exercise

If you still haven’t released all the tension that is curbing your inspiration flow, go workout. You will be able to free all those happiness inducing endorphins and free up some space in your mind. My best ideas come on a long run. When there is nothing but you and the road, it is the most freeing feeling.

9) Look at images

Go onto the internet and look at picture that inspire you. For me it’s strangely pictures of beautifully created meals. I can go on Instagram, scan through some really yummy meals and I am often inspired. Of course this works for me because I love to cook and to eat. Look at what inspires you. We are visual creatures and looking at something beautiful can inspire you beyond your expectations.

10) Just write!

When you are feeling stuck in your writing, sometimes it’s best to just start writing anyway. Write a lot of nonsense if you must. Have no topic or structure but just don’t stop until you find your flow. The hardest part is always to start. MORE: 10 (More) Tips For Finding Writing Inspiration

Remember …

At the end of the day, we all have days when we feel less inspired. You will get through it and maybe you just need to wake up the next day to your inspiration. Be kind to yourself and give yourself some grace in these moments. This too shall pass.

BIO: Michael Nix works as a content manager and writing is his hobby. He also writes poems and short stories and dreams of publishing his own book. Michael travels a lot and enjoys his life.

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As every writer knows, we ALL need help from time to time. There’s no RIGHT way to ask for help … but there are MULTIPLE wrong ways. Feast your eyes on these 5 super-clangers!

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1) Cyberstalk People

I love social media. But I also hate it, because every single day I get cyber-stalked by well-meaning, but let’s just say DESPERATE writers.

I get a plethora of emails, private messages, tags and tweets from writers every day. I try and respond to all of them, but some inevitably slip through the net. Other times, these messages, especially emails, never arrive thanks to cyber gremlins. Shit happens. It is what it is.

Now, I never mind writers SENSIBLY following up on their messages to me. However, if you’re sending me a DELUGE of messages, in a very short timeframe? Then you need to bacdefucup! MORE: 6 Ways To Annoy The Crap Out Of People Online

2) Get Narky

This one is often linked to number 1 on this list. A writer will send a message, tweet or email and perhaps I don’t reply. A second message may then come, in a very narky tone, asking why I haven’t responded!

Sometimes, I barely get time any time at all to respond, either – I remember one writer emailing me at approximately 7am one day. When I hadn’t responded by 3pm (I usually respond to my unsolicited emails daily about 5pm), I was sent a harsh rebuke via a second message. Blimey!

Other times – and this is largely a Facebook issue – a writer will accuse me of ‘ignoring’ them. You see, on the FB private message function, it will note whether a message has been ‘seen’. However, this doesn’t mean a) I’ve ACTUALLY seen it (because sometimes messenger on your phone can say ‘seen’ automatically) and b) I’ve got time to answer at that given moment.

In other words, be fair. No one OWES you help or advice; they’re giving up their time and expertise to respond. Don’t isolate those who will give it by being an arsehole.

3) Being Clueless

You don’t have to know everything, obviously. But it is wise top keep your eyes and ears open and do your own research BEFORE asking someone else for help or advice.

There’s so much online now too about writing, that a lot of the time there are MULTIPLE POVs on the subject you’re curious about. Now, that has its own issues, but it it will be a MUCH more worthwhile exchange if you can have a proper conversation with an expert, instead of saying, ‘Tell me about [whatever]”.  MORE: Top 10 Writing Misconceptions

4) Asking Pointless Questions

‘Have you got any writing tips for me?’ has to be the question I get most, believe it or not. My answer is always: ‘YES, JUST A FEW!!!‘ 😉

C’mon guys and gals, you can do better than that!

5) Not keeping to the point

This is how you keep on point when you want someone’s help:

  • Introduce yourself
  • Say where you saw said person/person’s work
  • Why you’re getting in touch

The above works equally well for online interactions and real life meetings I find. In other words, recognise people’s time is at a premium.

Now, I’m not suggesting you never tell anyone in detail about yourself. However, DO try and keep interactions focused on THE OTHER PERSON if you want their help.

You could do the above any number of ways, but the two ‘oldies but goodies’ are a) complimenting them or their work (in a non-icky way) and/or b) offering them something*, either then or in the future sometime (ie.  *a coffee; help with social media; your undying devotion/ nymph-like body, etc). IT WORKS! MORE13 Ways NOT To Ask For Writing Advice Or Help

Good luck!

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B2W tries to shine a light on marginalised characters wherever possible, so I’m thrilled to welcome Owen Kent to the blog today with some GREAT thoughts on writing disabled characters.

What I love about his insights is they are so simple and easy to implement in our research and writing, whether we’re writing screenplays or books. Be sure to check out Owen’s work via in the links at the end of the post. Enjoy …

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Writing a character with a disability is something that anyone can do, but doing it right is another question. These are my 4 tips to consider when you’re fleshing out your disabled characters:

1) Focus on the person, not the disability

I can’t tell you how many movies there are about the disability. I know of one book where the main character is actually the person’s wheelchair (let’s look at this as an example of what not to do). Find the humanity in the person, instead. Like in THE ELEPHANT MAN: “I am not an elephant! I am not an animal! I am a human being! I am… a MAN!”

2) Acknowledge the disability

After dwelling on a disability, the next most frustrating thing is to ignore it completely. If you’re writing a character with a disability, make it authentic: people with disabilities know they have disabilities and don’t need to be sheltered from them. In the disability movement, the battle for equality has shifted spheres; no longer are the battles (mainly) legal, they are societal. MORE: 12 Character Archetypes And How To Use Them

3) Be real

Do some research. Hang out with people with disabilities. Learn what their day to day is like. Let real life influence your character. Good storytellers find the humanity in all people. People with disabilities have interesting and sometimes quirky lives. There’s an ocean of stories that have gone under the radar, it’s the job of the writer to unearth such stories. MORE: 3 Key Elements Of A Compelling Character

4) Have a disabled MAIN character 

Just like in real life, people with disabilities lead full and fulfilling lives. That message can only be fully communicated by having a disabled character as the main character. Being an able body’s sidekick doesn’t show the agency of people with disabilities, being the main character does. MORE: 4 Disabled Characters Writers Can Learn From

There you have it – it really is as simple as that!

From this day forward, whenever you’re brainstorming characters, developing them – or just thinking about characters, remember to ask yourself:

“Are they disabled?”

OR make an abled character of yours disabled and see how that changes things. What significance does that make?

I think you’ll be quite surprised 😉

BIOOwen Kent is a producer, writer and actor whose projects focus on issues of disability justice and various other social justice and educational goals. His latest project, Angels of Mercy, tells the story of a disabled hacker pitted against a gang of cultists trying to invade his home. It is one of a few films that is written, produced by and starring a person with a disability. To find out more about the project, check out our Indiegogo campaign, HERE or click on the pic at the top of the article.

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CHECK YOUR WORK 2

Proofreading is an essential practice when it comes to writing. It’s that final check to make sure spelling and grammar are correct because misspelled and misused words can destroy the quality of your work. Even the best writers need to edit and proofread.

Often, when we proofread our own work, the mind does not catch the little mistakes because it was that same mind that wrote them in the first place. This is why it is important to find a second party to read your writing. However, not all of us have proofreaders on hand, which is why we must learn how to properly proofread ourselves. If you want to learn how to proofread, here are the top 5 proofing mistakes to avoid …

1) Relying on Spell Check

Nothing is 100% perfect, and this applies to writing software as well! Spell check is great at locating misspelled words, but it does not catch words that are spelled correctly, but accidentally used. For instance, if you mean to write “friend”, but type “fiend” instead, spell-check will not notify you of this mistake. For all it knows, you meant to use “fiend”.

Also, spell check is terrible at correcting commonly confused words. Homophones are words that have the same pronunciation, but are spelled differently. A few examples are ant/aunt, bear/bare and are/our. Though these are quite common mistakes, spell checker has difficulty detecting these because the words are  spelled correctly, but used in the wrong context. MORE: 10 Common Errors In Your Writing You Need To Fix Right Now

2) Proofreading Immediately

Once you are finished writing a text, it can be tempting to proofread right away. A desperate need to complete a project can ruin the important proofreading process. Your minds play tricks on you by skipping over words that are wrong because it reads it as right. To overcome this problem, you need to step away from a piece of work. Give yourself some time away from the computer and come back when you are less familiar with what you just wrote. Your brain will read it as something new and you are more likely to catch the mistakes.

3) Forgetting Grammar

When your focus is entirely on spelling mistakes, you may miss common grammatical errors. There is a constant struggle of knowing when to use I or me and who or whom. Other examples include your/you’re, their/they’re and it/it’s. Of course, confusing who and whom is not as embarrassing as misusing your and you’re, but learning about using the correct words in all situations is still important. MORE: 5 Killer Grammar And Punctuation Errors – And Ways You Can Fix Them!

4) Not Reading Out Loud

One of the best proofreading tips is to read the content out loud. If you scan your writing without speaking, you will neglect to hear how it actually sounds. As we read, a little voice in our head narrates what is written. To obtain a better understanding of what another person will hear as they read your writing, you must read it out loud yourself. This will give you a feel of the rhythm and pace of words, which will help you polish the flow.

5) Editing AFTER Proofreading!

These are separate practices and should remain that way. Proofreading is a final check, whereas editing is a complete overhaul. Often, the editing process involves adding new sentences or restructuring current ones. With all of these changes, you are still writing and could potentially make additional spelling and grammar mistakes. Therefore, proofreading must be the absolute last thing you do. If you edit after proofreading, you are basically undoing all of the corrections you have already done. MORE: 3 Killer Typos That Blow Writers Out Of The Water

Concluding:

The more you write, the better your writing will be. This is also the case with proofreading. As you proofread more, you will learn about the common mistakes you make yourself, and will be less likely to make them again the next time you write. The worst thing you can do is rush through the proofreading process. If you take the time and read over your work more than once, you will be much happier with the results, plus your readers will be too.

BIO: Piers Golden is a freelance blogger has been writing professionally since 2013. Connect with him on Facebook, HERE.

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