What’s In the Spec Pile

Don’t know what to write? It can be difficult to understand what the industry wants, so sometimes it’s easier to work out what they DON’T want!

When human beings prize novelty, standing out from the rest can be half the battle for writers … Equally, so can utilising a tried-and-tested trope or character in a unique way. But what IS unique? I rounded up 20 Industry Pros I know and asked them:

What types of stories, tropes, characters, genres, story worlds (etc) feel stale, cliched or overused to you at the moment?

The Industry Pros below include agents, publishers, producers, script readers and script editors, proof readers, copy editors, writing contests, coverage and other writing service providers. They read our spec screenplays and unpublished novels every day. This means they’re in a good place to see what the spec pile looks like, plus they know what feels samey, cheesy, tired and old.

What Writers Can Learn

Whenever I post anything like this, some writers get irate and say, ‘Don’t tell us what to do!!’ But this is the thing: no one is doing that. You can literally write whatever you want. If you want it published or produced however … That’s a wholly different thing. Then it’s not just for you!

The Industry Pros below have some great pointers on what makes ‘good’ writing in 2019 … Note how many of them say similar things, especially when it comes to diversity and genre. Several also make the point you shouldn’t write stuff that emulates popular works, too.

Remember, it’s NOT about writing *to the market*, or ‘selling out’, but SELLING. It’s what professional writers do … ie. write stuff people actually WANT, in a way that showcases your talent and writer’s voice. Like anything, it doesn’t have to be ‘either/or’ … So, here we go:

 1) ‘Strong women who don’t do much’ – Kate Leys  

Hmm.  Apart from all the obvious clichés and stereotypes, the characters I’m almost done with are ‘strong women’ who are so busy being strong women, and bonding, and marching bravely forwards, that they forget to have a sense of humour or enough to actually do in the plot.  I don’t think I’m fed up with any genre now that the romcom has remembered to shut up and keep quiet for a few years.  Tropes: I’ve definitely had enough caravans, and I have long since banned the overhead shot of a woman lying underwater in the bath.

BIO: Kate Leys is a story editor (this year Pin cushion, American Animals and Benjamin), and can be found at www.kateleys.co.uk

 2) ‘Old-fashioned genre’ – Annabel Wigoder

 Old-fashioned horror scripts are ten a penny – it isn’t enough just to write a story set in a haunted house. I also read a lot of sci-fi scripts where the main child either turns out to be a cyborg or holds the key to saving the world.

BIO: Annabel Wigoder is Head of Development for Salon Pictures, working across film and TV. She has projects in development with Channel 4 and the BFI, and just produced her first feature documentary.

3) ‘Thinly-sketched female characters’ – Hattie Grunewald

I see so many submissions that are coming of age stories from young white men, in the Catcher In The Ryemould, with little discernible plot and thinly sketched female characters – those will never be for me. In women’s fiction, I’m tired of young women inheriting fortunes or property in the countryside from unknown relatives. In crime, I’m really over the women only featuring as corpses or victims of assault while intelligent men solve the mystery.

BIO: Hattie is an agent at Blake Friedmann agency, representing women’s fiction, crime and thriller, YA and Middle grade, and non-fiction. Read more about what she’s looking for, HERE.

 4) ‘Political thriller screenplays feel passé’ – Justine Owens

The POTUS/Washington political action thriller has got to be on this list. Whether it is the moral crusader (Designated Survivor) or dysfunctional insider (Homeland), this world seems saturated and repetitive now.

BIO: Justine Owens is the Director of Contests at Shore Scripts. For six years, Shore Scripts has been working to open industry doors for a greater number of screenwriters; developing their writing skills, providing professional consultation, and most importantly, connecting them with industry professionals. In that time, we’ve helped 50+ writers gain representation, sell, and have their screenplays produced. You can follow Shore Scripts on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

5) ‘Zombies & dystopian without relatable characters’ – Erick Kwashie

I would say the zombie and dystopian future stories/worlds/genres are definitely starting to feel stale and overused. Don’t get me wrong, they’re still entertaining when done well with relatable characters. At the moment it feels like if you’ve seen one then you’ve seen them all. Recently the appeal of horror has broadened because the lead characters and their circumstances have been diversified (with proper attention to detail and relevant storylines).

BIO:Erick Kwashie is a script reader and recent NFTS graduate with a background in film and TV production. He is aiming for a future in script editing and development.

6) ‘Stereotypical characters and language’ – Michelle Goode

My personal bugbear is age representation. Time and time again I see ‘old’ characters that are weak, decrepit or stuck in assisted living homes. Furthermore, ‘old’ and ‘grey’ start as young as 50. WTF?! Then there’s therapist scenes used as easy exposition for psychological issues. Corrupt cops and politicians (yawn). In general, I see a lot of outdated-seeming content that does not challenge viewpoints. Old-school cop mentality, funeral parlours (whatever happened to simply being cremated?) and good old ‘mental asylums’.

BIO: Michelle (@Sofluid) offers help with feedback, development, proofreading and editing via her Writesofluid website, which you can find HERE.

7) ‘Non-differentiated storyworlds’ – Tom Chucas

I would say I’m tired of medieval settings, or at least ones that don’t do much to differentiate themselves. With speculative fiction I also notice a lot of characters, mainly main characters, who are more defined by *what* they are as opposed to WHO they are. You understand their purpose and place within the story world but don’t have much characterisation.

BIO:Tom Chucas is a graduate of Bournemouth University’s Scriptwriting for Film and Television course. Currently working in script reading and copywriting.

8) ‘Supposedly ‘Gripping’ twists’ – Betsy Reavley

The word ‘gripping’ is bandied about far too often, but it still manages to grab the attention of readers … Crime and Thriller fiction, which is what I write and publish, often uses ‘clichés’ within the body of stories but, in my opinion, that is part of the charm of the genre: the overworked policeman; the fragile young woman; the dog walker who discovers a body. These are all things we have come to expect. The question is are such clichés always a bad thing? In my opinion the answer is no, NOT when the writer puts their own unique twist on those expectations.

BIO: Betsy Reavley is an author of eight novels, two collections of poetry and is the publishing director and co-founder of Bloodhound Books. She lives in Cambridge where she works side by side with her husband doing what she loves best bringing stories to market, while trying to juggle being a mother.

9) ‘Outdated angles’ – Annelie Widholm

I think there’s a slight danger that you’ll stifle your own creativity if you think too much about what not to write. I think most of everything has been done already, but narratives can have a premise that feels familiar and still have sincere freshness and originality within it – usually through the character journeys chosen, because though they may be put in a familiar setting, if the characters feel convincingly human, they’ll pull the audience in. Beware of using completely outdated angles, however. We live in a world that’s broadening its views in many ways and representation of every kind needs to be done thoughtfully. Write what you love, but if it’s something you don’t already know: do your research!

BIO:Annelie Widholm has earned her reader stripes working with well-established production companies in London, where she also lives and writes on her own screenplays, usually with a cup of coffee nearby. And woolly socks on her feet. And sometimes there’s chocolate. (there’s almost always chocolate)

10) ‘LGBTQ stories = downbeat? No thanks!’ – Katie McCullough

So tired of negative LGBTQ narratives – they add nothing to the world and are lazy. Complex 3-dimensional characters come in all shapes, sizes, colours & genders; sexuality doesn’t have to mean downbeat or leading definition.

BIO: Katie McCullough is founder of Festival Formula, a consultancy company that helps filmmakers navigate the worldwide festival circuit. She’s a graduate of Bournemouth Media School and Royal Court London.

 11) ‘Samey stories’ – Alizée Musson

  • Post-apocalyptic story worlds: I’ve found that most of these worlds come with very similar types of storylines and I’ve read so many of the same throughout this year that they feel unoriginal. I’ve also read many with steampunk settings.
  • Street gang stories, especially when the main character is a kid: Most of the stories that I’ve read in this category end up in two distinct ways. The kid either becomes a boss ruling over the crime world or makes it out of the environment that he (it’s rarely a she) grew up in. There is usually a best friend or close relative that dies along the way.
  • Family dramas, especially when the main goal of the story is living “The American Dream”: I’ve come across a lot of household family dramas this year where the goal towards happiness is always the same: having a nice house, a well-off family with a mum, a dad, healthy children, and, if they’re lucky, a dog. We now live in a world where the traditional family structure is no longer the norm, it would be nice to see more stories where different family structures are showcased. For example, split and recomposed families, families with LGBT parents or children characters, and families of multicultural backgrounds.

BIO: Alizée Musson is a script reader/editor and translator working in French and English in the film, animation, and web content sectors. She also writes both screenplays and prose fiction and has previously been long-listed for the “Borders” Short Story Competition organised by Penguin Random House. Follow @beyondiimagine.

12) ‘Stories without a unique take’ – Hayley McKenzie

No story, character, genre or world is cliched if you can find your own unique take on it.

BIO: Hayley McKenzie is the founder of Script Angel and an experienced film and television drama executive. You can find Script Angel on Twitter @scriptangel1 and on their blog.

13) ‘Samey internal character conflicts’ – Tim Berry

I don’t have a personal aversion to any particular type of story but I’ve read a lot of screenplays, of all genres, that are very much plot-led; screenplays which wear their genre influences on their sleeves and which faithfully replicate the same, familiar conflicts and story beats.

These stories often have passive protagonists; their external conflict is clear but their journey towards overcoming them is dramatically limited. Often, while the focus of the conflict itself might be unique, the supporting conflicts are well-worn; for example, a grizzled lawyer working on a ground-breaking court case will inevitably be seen drinking whiskey at the bar while he contemplates his deteriorating family life, or a hard-nosed female detective getting the bottom of a complex crime case will also be juggling the demands of being a caring mother to a rebellious teenager and wife to an emotionally abandoned husband.

As a script editor, the screenplays that stand out the most to me are not those with multiple external conflicts which do little to extensively explore character but those stories with characters who have a strong internal conflict, a seemingly unresolvable gulf between what they want and what they actually need. It’s often the protagonist’s reluctance to overcome their inner conflict that is the most engaging and I would personally like to see more of this.

BIO:Tim Berry is a writer and director, who has developed projects for both stage and screen. After spending seven years working in independent film distribution, he trained as a script editor with NFTS and has most recently worked with Shore Scripts, for their short film fund and their TV/feature contests.

14) ‘Don’t keep writing The X Men’ – Abel Diaz

Dear writers of any medium (but with emphasis on YA authors): please stop using psychic teenagers and/or super schools. You are nakedly writing around the X-Men copyright and basically telling the exact same story about misfits with the exact same ‘everyone is different but special’ message I can already get either by walking into Forbidden Planet, or just popping on Gifted, Legion or Runaways. Also, try to make your ‘hunks’ actually interesting and not either just ‘so broody and dark, emo baby’ or ‘ultra-geeky but totes so random’.

BIO: Abel Diaz worked as a reader for Lime Pictures (Hollyoaks) and Big Light (Medici) after securing an MA in Screenwriting from Met Film School. He has also written for the award-winning CBeebies series, Pablo.Follow his Facebook for more updates and news, as well as well as my blog Abel’s Magic Lantern, for all sorts of writing tips and tricks, including my ‘Screenwriting Advice for BA Students… From a Masters Grad’ series.

15) ‘Don’t emulate’ – Karen Sullivan

I would hesitate to say that a genre is over-used, because in capable hands, any genre can become fresh and exciting. It’s frustrating when ‘industry experts’ pronounce a genre or a sub-genre as being ‘dead’ (for example, domestic noir). There is always scope for bringing something new and pushing boundaries.

On the same note, however, there are far too many books that employ the same methods/plotlines/‘twists’ … emulating hugely successful authors who have done it with much more style. The ‘man is a woman’ or the reverse, has been done to death, and the absence of pronouns in even the first chapters is a dead giveaway. What bothers me more than any of this, however, are the samey, generic titles and jackets. I think sometimes publishers underestimate readers.

BIO: Karen Sullivan is founder and publisher of Orenda Books, a small independent publishing company focussing on literary fiction, with a heavy emphasis on crime/thrillers, and about half in translation. She was a Bookseller Rising Star in 2016, and Orenda Books has been shortlisted twice for the IPG Best Newcomer Award.

16) ‘More Flaws, please!’ – Jenny Kane

Action/adventures where the lead protagonist just happens to be good at every method of fighting required to get out of peril are feeling so tired.  Flaws and a need to build new skills to survive are interesting!

BIO: Jenny Kane is the co-manager of Imagine Creative Writing. An experienced writing tutor, Jenny mentors future novelists, short story authors and audio scriptwriters in the South West of England. Follow @imagine_writingand @JennyKaneAuthor.

17) ‘Antiheroes we can’t empathise with’ – Andrew Oldbury

They don’t have to be sympathetic characters, but if we don’t empathise with them then there’s nothing to draw the audience in. If we didn’t first learn to love Walter White as a man, his descent into becoming Heisenberg would never have been so compelling.

BIO: Andrew Oldbury is a Script Editor and BIFA & RTS nominated Producer, whose credits include: Agatha Raisin, Endeavour, Holby City & Coronation Street. He trained at the National Film & Television School. Twitter: @AndrewOldbury.

18) ‘London-centric stories’ – Rosalie Faithfull

Any story which deliberately tries to depict a “Typical middle class” character or family immediately seems clichéd because I don’t think there is such a thing. Pretty much anything in London feels stale as well; we need more regional stories.

BIO: Rosalie Faithfull is a former short film producer, now a freelance script reader and script editor working in both television and film.

19) Genre that hasn’t subverted our expectations’ – Jim Cirile

  • SERIAL KILLER/COP MOVIES/CIA THRILLERS – All meh. They’ve just been done to death. Unless the cop movie is an adaptation of a hit book, or the CIA thriller is brilliant. Anything terrorism-related is a very tough sell as well, since that stuff is now the purview of the 24-hour news cycle, as the corrupt corporate media crams war propaganda down our throats to justify the permanent war.
  • ZOMBIE/WEREWOLF/VAMPIRE. Just don’t. All tired and there are thousands of them out there. Unless, again, the writer has found some brilliant way to subvert the tropes of the genre. “What We Do in the Shadows” is a great example — playing with all the cliches and expectations and turning it into a “The Real World”-style mockumentary.
  • DRAMAS – Always a tough sell, except on the small, DIY or indie-level. Shoot for under $2 mil, limited cast and locations.

BIO: Jim Cirile is the founder and CEO of Coverage Ink, LLC, the screenplay analysis and development experts since 2002. He writes regularly about the biz for The Wrap and is also a writer/producer/musician. His animated horror film To Your Last Death, starring Morena Baccarin, Ray Wise and William Shatner, premieres in 2019.

20) ‘Enough with samey stories and characters’ – Barry Ryan

Zombies. Enough with the zombies. It’s not fiction anymore it’s real life. Women murdering women. Female serial killers. Women being men. We don’t need the reversals of men.
IT-led stories. Computers. Viruses. Software. No more people becoming USBs. Gangsters. Terrible foreigners … evil Chinese people, Russian infiltration and corruption – seriously – get a grip.
People clinging to collective pasts … schoolyard bullies, school murders, sixth form … grow up people.
BIO: Barry Ryan, Leader of team at Free@Last TV. Showrunner of the Agatha Raisin TV show.

21) ‘No more ‘grim dark’’ – Juliet Mushens

I see a lot of ‘grim dark’ narratives, in crime and fantasy. I think novels where every character is amoral are just as unrealistic as those where everyone is a hero!

BIO: Juliet Mushens is co-founder of Caskie Mushens Ltd. Her client list includes NYT and Sunday Times bestsellers of fiction and non-fiction. You can find more info at caskiemushens.com.

22) ‘Stuff that doesn’t stand out, doesn’t sell’ – Ashley Scott Meyers

Since I deal mainly in lower budget genre movies, my answer is meant in that context. I hear a lot of the same things from producers year after year. Comedies are hard overseas because comedy often doesn’t translate. Drama is always a tough sell because it relies so heavily on star casting. Horror can work, but it’s always over saturated, so you need something that stands out. There are trends that I hear, too, like found footage is no longer “in” and a lot of producers won’t even look at a found footage screenplay. But of course this can change quickly if a found footage breaks out and makes a lot of money.

BIO: Ashley Scott Meyers is a screenwriter and blogger/podcaster at SellingYourScreenplay.com(He has optioned and sold dozens of spec screenplays and had numerous writing assignments from a large array of producers and can be found on IMDb HERE.

Good luck! Want to know what these guys DO want? CLICK HERE.

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Don’t Miss Out

Bang2writers this year have swarmed all over this website … With 35K+ hits per month this year,  they’ve absorbed its delicious writing-tip-goodness like the 1950s version of The Blob. Wow!

But this means NON-regular Bang2writers might be at a disadvantage. You see, this blog has been going for a looooong time now. So if you’ve not read the most popular articles on this site? You are literally missing out on the knowledge your competition already knows!!

But you know B2W will always have you covered. So I’ve rounded up the top 55 articles Bang2writers hit consistently this year, along with some thoughts on why. Just click any of the headlines to read the original article.

Give it a bookmark, have a good read and come back refreshed and ready to kick some writing ass in the new year.

Top Articles On B2W This Year

1) How To Write TV Series Bibles

With over 130K+ unique hits, this post has been number one on B2W for A DECADE! Bang2writers just can’t seem to get enough of this blog post. This year, I gave it a makeover. If you’ve not seen this one before, or recently, make sure you take a look.

2) What’s The Difference Between Thriller And Horror?

With my reputation on genre preceding me thanks to my Thriller Screenplays book, it shouldn’t be a surprise this is also a consistent favourite on the site. Using the 2007 Emily Blunt movie Wind Chill as a case study, it also provides linkage to the script and the multiple reasons why ‘Thriller/Horror’ in pitches simply doesn’t work from a script reader’s POV.

3) 6 Tips On Writing A One Page Pitch For Your Script Or Novel

Novelists have always sent synopses with their submissions, but there can be some issues in selling their stories ‘off the page’. In contrast, screenwriters would send scripts out ‘cold’, with no introduction. In recent years, thanks to events like London Screenwriters Festival, they now realise that sending out a one pager is a good idea too. Here’s how to write yours to pique the script reader’s interest in your screenplay or novel.

4) How To Write Outlines, Beat Sheets And Treatments

Once upon a time, writers would resist any kind of prep material. Thankfully, those days seem to be over. If you’re looking for tips on how to write yours, make sure you check this article out.

5) How To Put Together Your Writer’s Resumé For Submissions

Sending a writing resumé – or CV for British Bang2writers – can be a key part of submissions to agents, funding initiatives, competitions and so on. Don’t know what to put on yours? Then check out this article.

 6) 10 Quick Tips About Writing Thriller Screenplays

Thrillers need to thrill … but how? Find out here, in this short and to-the-point primer.

7) 6 Ways To Annoy The Crap Out Of People Online

NEWSFLASH: too many writers are screwing up their chances in the real world via their behaviour online. Check out the red flags to avoid, here.

8) How To Avoid Killer Errors In Your Screenplay’s Scenes

Structure is one of the main draws of B2W, but it’s not just the overview of your story you need to worry about. How are your scenes ADDING UP to that whole?

9) 5 Visual Representations of Storytelling Structure

Find structure difficult? Then why not ‘draw the story’. Check out how, here.

10) Top 5 Ways Writers Screw Up Their Characters

Characterisation can be hard … but is a whole lot harder when you do these 5 classic things!

11) 13 Questions On Cultural Appropriation You Need To Ask Right Now 

The first genuine surprise of the list … This is not a 2018 article, but came BACK TO LIFE zombie-style this year. If you are concerned about doing your due diligence when it comes to diverse characters, this article is a must-read.

12) 8 Mistakes That Will Kill Your Horror Screenplay DEAD

Horror has been a real draw this year for Bang2writers. I predict lots of new Horror scripts and films to come. Can’t wait!

13) The 2 Sentences Your Characters Should NEVER Say

The first article from 2018 to crash into the list. Published in January, this article goes viral every time I share it. Do you know what a ‘Signal From Fred’ is? YOU SHOULD. Click this link now.

14) The Truth About Success: 30 Top Creatives Who Broke In Late

Another zombie post, this one went absolutely bananas in October-November 2018. If you need a dose of inspiration to get you going for 2019, make sure you bookmark this one.

15) How To Plot TV Series: “Story Of The Week” Vs. Serial Element

My first ever viral post back in 2008, this one is still going strong a decade later. It’s had a makeover, so make sure you check it out. More to come on this subject in 2019.

16) 1 Word That Will Kill Your Female Characters DEAD

Female characters have always been a draw on B2W … So has the term ‘kill your X dead’. Combining the two was no-brainer! But what is that word?? Find out, quick cos I STILL see it all the time.

17) No, Your Female Characters Don’t Just Need More Dialogue

My second major viral post of 2018, this one gets BOTH the femcritters and the dudebros gnashing their teeth in tandem. Howzat for irony??

 18) How To Use Plot Devices – Voiceover, Flashback, Montage, Intercut and Dream Sequence

I used this post for a series of videos on the all-new B2W Youtube Channel, using new examples like Bladerunner 2049 and The Handmaid’s Tale.

19) 10 Ways To Conquer Your Scene Description

Despite hating script consultants and quibbling on camera angles in UK spec scripts with me (!), Craig Mazin called this a ‘pretty good list’ on Twitter once. I am honoured. Find out why.

20)  How To Write TV Series Bibles – The Infographic!

Given the runaway success of number 1 on this list, an infographic version had to be done … And yup, it has been consistently popular.

21) How To Get Past ‘No Unsolicited Material’

Bang2writers find this blog all the time by Googling this term. I was only too happy to provide my thoughts on this.

22) 15 Cheesy Writing Fails To Avoid In The First 10 Pages

B2W points out all the time that sameness in stories is cheesy and boring … So it made sense to round up the top fails I see regularly as a script reader. Are you writing any of these?

23) Loglines Are Not Taglines … Here’s Why

Confusing loglines and taglines is probably one of the most common mistakes writers make. I break down the difference and why you shouldn’t, here.

24) 9 Steps To Get Your Spec TV Pilot Written, Edited & Sent Out

So many Bang2writers are writing TV pilots that I kept getting asked for an overview of the process, from writing to submission. So here it is!

25) 12 Amazing Authors Share Their First Draft Top Tips

The most recent 2018 article on B2W to go viral. Expert panels are always popular, but given B2W’s screenwriting bias and the fact ‘author’ was in the headline, I was surprised by this one.  That said, more and more Bang2writers are interested in novel writing, plus a lot of the advice is universal.

 26) How Do I Format An Interruption In My Screenplay Dialogue?

Format can be a real challenge in screenwriting, so often it’s the ‘little things’ that confuse. This article has been massively popular this year.

27) 10 Awesome Writing Tips From Robert McKee

After number 13 on this list, this was the second genuine surprise. Robert McKee’s Story is probably the Bang2writers’ least favourite screenwriting book. But maybe they’re reading this article to avoid it!

28) How Do I Format A Quote At The Beginning Of A Script?

Another Format article, nuff sed!

29) 1 Simple Tip To Help You Get More Writing Done

Productivity tips on B2W are always popular, so are articles on time management.

30) 5 Openers That Make Readers GROAN

Another article from a script reading POV to help writers avoid sameness. Remember, human beings love novelty! Why would you begin your story like everyone else?

31) How To Become A Script Reader

An unintended consequence of this blog was that people became VERY interested in becoming script readers themselves! This is why I ended up created my Breaking Into Script Reading class. More details on script reading in the article.

32) 29 Ways NOT To Submit To An Agent

The late, great Carole Blake of The Blake Friedmann Literary Agency was a legend who took no nonsense on submissions. Avoid all 29 of these, for God’s sake!

33) How To Avoid Plotting Hell And Save Writing Hours

Structural advice is always popular on B2W, as is productivity. So combine these two to get more done – here’s how.

 34) 38 Good Reasons Your Script Might Get Rejected

I revisited an old infographic about script reading … And discovered we might not have progressed as writers as much as we should have. Eeek!

35) Which Screenwriting Software Is The Best? (Paid For & Free)

Every screenwriter needs software. Here’s some of the most popular, according to the Bang2writers.

36) Screenplay Format – The B2W One Stop Shop

So you have screenwriting software, but did you know there’s still lots of format niggles to avoid? Bookmark my epic rundown of all the reader pet peeves I see. You can also download a PDF Reference Guide from the B2W Resources.

37) Infographic: 6 Tips For Writing A Great One Pager

You guys love infographics! Here’s the infographic version of number 3 on this list.

38) 2 Things ALL Writers Get Wrong In Early Drafts

Just because you’re a pro doesn’t mean you’re immune to getting these things wrong … Check this out.

39) How to write better LGBT characters

There’s been a huge increase in searches for LGBT characters on 2018 this year. Some great pointers in this to get you started.

40) How To Write Killer Ideas Like Netflix’s Stranger Things

Erik Bork’s 2018 article set reddit on fire while they all tried to ‘prove’ Stranger Things was no good. Sure it was, guys! Arf.

41) Top 10 Words That Will Kill Your Writing DEAD

Need a checklist of those niggly, pet peeve words that can spoil your description in your spec screenplay or unpublished novel? No problem, here you go.

42) How Do I Get Work As A Script Reader?

If you’re interested in number 31 on this list, you’ll need to check this one out too. See you at my next script reading class at Ealing studios, too?

43) 2 Simple Tips To Spot Structural Problems In Your Writing

Mentoring writers, I find the one writing craft element they ALWAYS find toughest is structure. Over time, I found myself recommending these 2 tips, over and over again. They make a HUGE difference!

44) How To Assign A Character’s Race In A Screenplay

The pendulum has swung a LONG way since I started out … Where once it was assumed screenwriters SHOULDN’T assign a character’s race, now it is generally accepted they SHOULD. Here’s why, plus how to do it.

45) 3 Tips To Get Your Work Solicited Via Email – And Not Blow It In The Very Next Email

Lots of Bang2writers see ‘no unsolicited material’ and think there’s nothing they can do. NEWSFLASH: there totally is! You get your work solicited … Just don’t blow it by doing the things listed in this article.

46) 25 Mistakes That Send Your Screenplay To The Trash

As it says on the tin … More tips from the inside of the spec pile, via B2W’s script reading eagle eye!

47) THIS Is How You Create Your Writing Career

Writers spend a lot of time thinking about ‘breaking in’ … But what if I told you it’s more about CREATING or BUILDING your career? Find out where you are in the process.

48) 5 Important Elements of Writing a Romantic Comedy

Another zombie post that came back to life with a vengeance this year … Proving that amongst all the horror and thriller, the Bang2writers are big softies really! If you’re writing a romantic comedy, you must check this one out.

49) Structure Spotlight: 3 Things To Remember For Act 3

Set Up/ Pay off can present a huge challenge for writers, whether they’re screenwriters or novelists. Here’s B2W’s thoughts on endings and how they hold the key.

50) 10 Top TV Writers Share Their Writing Craft Secrets

As we’ve already seen in this list, TV writing is a goal for many of you, so this post is a no-brainer. But even if you have your sights set on another medium, these pro writers still have some great insights to share.

51) 10 Tips For The Perfect Ten (Pages)

We all know we get 10 pages to impress … So here’s the official B2W rundown on what I look for, from a script reading POV.

52) How To Avoid Stereotypes When Writing Diverse Characters

‘Stereotype’ means ‘simplification’ … 9/10 we don’t want this in our writing, but ESPECIALLY not when we’re writing characters who aren’t like ‘ourselves’.

 53) 7 Ways Of Showcasing Your Writer’s Voice In Your Screenplay

Writers are always told how important ‘voice’ is … But WHAT is it, plus how can we showcase it in our screenplays?? I wrote this article over five years ago, but it’s always popular, so I gave it a makeover. Check it out and bookmark today!

54) The Secret of Writing Great Conflict In Scenes: 3 Examples

Very often Bang2writers believe ‘conflict = arguments’, but this is because they think dialogue stands in for ACTION. Here I break down three VERY different sequences involving extreme conflict, without an argument or even a ‘heated discussion’ in sight. Pass it on!

55) When To Follow Up On Your Submission

Every single day writers ask on social media or Google (and thus B2W), ‘I haven’t heard about my sub mission … what do I do?’ Answer: FOLLOW UP! Just don’t be too hasty … Here’s when is a good time.

Join Us, Bang2writers

So, that’s it for 2018 … B2W will be back and raring to go in 2019.  Don’t forget to check out the B2W Resources page for all your writing needs. If you want to chat to other writers, be sure to join us in the B2W Facebook group. Lastly, did you know there’s now a B2W instagram, new for 2019? Check it out, HERE.

See you there!

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New Year, New Plan

I’m not really into New Year’s resolutions (‘must eat less chocolate’, yawn), but planning your writing for the year ahead is a brilliant thing.

No, wait, come back! I don’t mean the kind of plan that makes you feel bad every time you look at it. I mean the kind that inspires and supports you, that helps you to write a little more and feel better about it. Still not convinced? Here are some reasons to love planning:

1) Planning makes everything feel more manageable

Writing projects can feel overwhelming, leaving you feeling MEH and avoiding writing. A good yearly plan takes all that away by breaking those huge jobs into small, realistic bite-sized pieces. And as a bonus, you then get the satisfaction of being able to see yourself cross those little steps off and feel like you’re making progress.

2) It gives you permission to ignore housework!

Making time for writing is hard for most of us. Life is busy, so it always feels like there’s other stuff you should be doing instead. Sometimes tasks need doing (technically, you do need to feed the kids), but there are lots that push in front of writing just because they feel more urgent.

Urgent and important are not the same though. Writing needs dedicated time and concentration. That doesn’t happen by itself! Planning your writing and breaking it into steps does two things. You are declaring writing is important to you, which in turn helps you to keep focus. This, hopefully, leads to a situation where you are spending more of your precious time writing and less hoovering. Honestly, nobody cares if you hoover a little less.

3) It shows you what needs to change

It’s frustrating when things aren’t happening and you feel stuck. But it’s the things that you do and the action that you take that determines what you create. Basically, you can’t write that screenplay or novel if you’re not… you know… writing…!

Making a good plan can help you work out what steps you’re missing at the moment. It can also show you what routines would work better for you than your current ones. Even small improvements to your writing life can make a huge difference in the long-term. So get planning!

4) It helps you achieve your dream

Everybody has dreams. Creatives are full of them. But while dreaming of going on a journey is great, if you never do anything about it? You’ll still be sitting in the same chair in twenty years wishing you’d gone. A plan connects the dots between your current situation and that far-off dream. It’s the map you need to start on the journey and stay on the right track.

Sure, things might change as you go along, but that plan is the thing you can always come back to. Use it to reassess your situation and work out how to get back to where you want to be.

5) Planning feels goooooooood!

The best plans are the ones that that give you clarity and get you inspired so that you can’t wait to get started. Use that creative energy as a catapult to give your writing a boost, and remember why you love writing.

BIO: Charlie Haynes runs Urban Writers’ Retreat, and is a not-so-secret planning nerd. The 2019 Writer’s Diary and Planner is designed with writers in mind. It helps you figure out what you really want to write next year and break it down into manageable bites. It also helps you work out what works for you, and helps you make writing a priority all year. Check it out!

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Writing And Diversity

LGBT people are part of our diverse world. So, as writers, we must try really hard to avoid stereotypes while writing diverse characters. Happily, it’s the need of the hour in the industry – so if we write better diverse characters, then we have more chance of getting published or produced! Here are the top 3 tips for writing LGBT characters, enjoy!

1) Decide AND Understand Your Characters’ Sexuality

Consider aspects like, have they come out of the closet and how and to whom? This will help you understand how they accept their sexuality and how well adjusted they are to their present. You will gradually be able to set realistic boundaries for your character and be able to stick to them.

Also, not everyone falls into a certain category that’s defined. Some characters can fall into gray areas. It’s best to understand the basics by reading and talking to people who understand it. You can then work on the sexuality and the romantic status of your character. Understand what gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual and asexual (and so on) actually means.

TOP TIP: You don’t have to worry about making your LGBT character ‘normal’, but you do have to do your research! MORE: How To Write Better LGBT Characters

2) Don’t Write Them As An ‘LGBT token’

You don’t necessarily have to have a bitchy gay character … In fact, please don’t! No stereotypes or overly familiar characters, please.

Also, don’t make the stories just about the LGBT character’s identity. Remember, like any straight character, one’s orientation or identity is a part of their life and NOT the entirety. Don’t make your character’s sole purpose to LGBT … Make it just a facet that flows subtly.

For example, a real-life lesbian wouldn’t necessarily be masculine in nature. She doesn’t necessarily have to goth-looking either! Focus on something that brings out their personality and does not just talk about their sexuality. Talk about how good a friend or a daughter she is. Or how she performs at work etc.

You don’t necessarily have to have coming out stories or transition stories, either. Those stories are overly represented. Imagine the real thing, in the real world. Not every LGBT individual needs to come out! He/she can still rock at their life.

TOP TIP: Make your LGBT character a person FIRST. Their sexuality is not anyone’s concern but theirs … Unless they want it to be. MORE: How To Avoid Writing Stereotypes

3) Be Diverse!

This might seem like the most obvious advice for writing an LGBT character but is extremely important. Writers like to create curiosity among readers. For example, a character who is devoted stay at mom is also a spy, like in Long Kiss Goodnight. Why not? But we need to do the same with our LGBT characters too!

So your character doesn’t necessarily have to be white, or flamboyant. A gay dude could very easily be a nerd with a 9-5 job. A trans individual doesn’t necessarily have to be flamboyant; he could be a senator. Remember, the audience is already too used to stereotypes. In reality, not every gay man lives in a big mansion and appreciates being a girl’s bitchy BFF. They can have an equally boring job as yours or mine.

TOP TIP: Diversity just means ‘variety’ – so write more of a VARIETY of LGBT characters! MORE: How I Wrote The Other Twin, Set In Diverse Brighton 

Last Words

Be real and give your audience something they connect to, yet do not expect from you. This is as real as it can get, for all our characters.

BIO: Bronte Price is a wedding celebrant at Gay Celebrant Melbourne.. He stands strongly for marriage equality and takes immense pleasure in marrying any couples in love. He has also co-founded The Equality Network to help wedding suppliers create a better wedding experience for LGBTI couples. He is a regular volunteer newsreader at Joy 94.9, and a member of GLOBE (Gay and Lesbian Organization for Business and Enterprise). Beyond this, you will find him either in his organic backyard vegetable garden or taking walks with his fiancée Clint and their four-legged fur baby, Bingo.

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All About Agents

Agents are always in every writer’s sights. With a new year beckoning, NOW is a great time to think about your submissions strategy. But whether you’re a novelist or a screenwriter, do make sure you avoid these epic clangers!

1) Not Following The Submissions Guidelines

First up, the obvious one. I know I always bang on (!) about following submission guidelines, but this is because writers STILL don’t do this!

NEWSFLASH: all legitimate agents will have their submission guidelines listed on their websites. Before you submit ANYTHING, look at their websites and find out what they are. (You should be doing your due diligence, as per point 2 on this list anyway).

By the way, because 2019 is around the corner, it should be noted most submissions are done ONLINE now. Many agents have fancy submissions portals. Familiarise yourself with these portals ahead of the game. This way you don’t make epic mistakes and end up having to phone the agency in a panic!

Oh and while you’re doing all this, don’t forget to name your files properly.

2) Not Sending The RIGHT Stuff …

You want to send a script, a one page pitch/synopsis, a good cover email. THAT IS GENERALLY IT.

Like point 1 on this list, only ever include other stuff if it is expressly asked for in the submission guidelines. I cannot stress this enough. Do not send Spotify playlists or CDs. DO NOT send tea bags, sweets, or a plastic trash can.

3) … To The RIGHT People

Also, agents don’t just want any old client or script. They want a client they can invest their time in to help develop their career. See the difference?

So, agents will want clients who write the kinds of stories, themes, genres, subject matter, styles etc, they feel passionate about, too. That’s why it’s pointless sending your great comedic writing to agents who specialise in Horror. Or your brilliant crime fiction novel to agents who prefer non-fiction and memoir.

Sound obvious? That’s because it IS. But writers send their brilliant writing to the WRONG agents all the time … Then wonder why they fail to get any kind of traction. The good news is, it’s easier than EVER to find who the ‘right people’ are for your style of writing and/or career ambitions.

So, get on social media and search out those agents who tweet about the books, TV shows and movies they like. Make sure you go to agent panels at events like London Screenwriters Festival or London Book Fair. Grab a copy of the Writers & Artistes Yearbook and check out sites like Lit Rejections. Do your research!

4) Being Obnoxious

‘Being obnoxious’ can be up to interpretation, it’s true. However Agents all have horror stories about obnoxious potential clients. One of the most oft-hit articles on this site is the late, great Carole Blake’s from Blake Friedmann, where she details 29 Ways Not To Submit To An Agent. Don’t do any of those things and you should be fine.

Don’t mistake ‘being obnoxious’ with following up. Following up on your submission is absolutely allowed. But you probably do want to wait to between 6-8 weeks MINIMUM. Don’t follow up too fast, because that is obnoxious!

5) Believing Rejection = No More Contact, EVER!

Often writers get rejected by agents, then think they can NEVER darken those doors again. This is absolutely, 100% incorrect. In a business that is all about relationships, getting a read counts. If an agent responds to you with some feedback, however brief, chalk that up as a WIN. The agent was interested in your project *more* than the average one in the pile.

So respond, thank them and ask if you may send another script. They may say no, but in which case you have not lost anything. But if they say yes? You still have everything to play for. MORE: Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make With Rejection

Good Luck!

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Successful Writers

Sometimes, we meet/discover a writer who is super successful.  We think they must have been super lucky, too. Right place, right time and all that. If only we were so lucky!

But what if I told you they’re super successful BECAUSE they failed … A LOT. Seems like an oxymoron, right? Except it isn’t. Many amazing writers are ‘successful failures’.

The above quote is from J K Rowling’s Harvard Commencement Speech, The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination. Being as successful as she is, it’s hard to think of her as a writer who failed. But she did and so have countless other success stories.

Failure Is Not Fatal

Maya Angelou is another amazing writer. She came up against huge obstacles in her life, yet she saw the value of failure. Every time life smacked her down, this courageous woman got right back up. Does failing the most equate with learning the most? Maybe.

I think the key to getting past failure is this … None of us know how long the thorny path is. It could take two years, five years or ten years to become successful. Even then, the thorns are still there … Except now they’re entwined with ‘success flowers’ and the path is a nicer walk!

The Value Of Mentors, Allies & Moral Support

You don’t HAVE to have a mentor, but there’s a reason they play such a big part in The Hero’s Journey. Mentors can be helpers and facilitators in writers’ journeys. Speaking from experience, I can say it definitely helps when dealing with the thorny path. A mentor can guide you and reassure you as you go through your journey:

Creative: The path of thorns leads up a mountain. The prickles are bad enough. I don’t want to fall and hurt myself.

Mentor: You’re not going to see the beautiful view from the ground.

Creative: Okay, I’ll climb a little way … A stone hit me on the head!

Mentor: It’s just a stone.

Creative: Okay, I’ll climb a little more. Hey, a flower! Pretty. I’ll climb some more … ten stones hit me on the head! That’s it! I’m done. Everyone else is lucky. Look how far they’ve climbed. They’re not getting pelted with stones.

Mentor: You can’t see their injuries from down here. I guarantee most of the people up there have not only had stones hit them on the head but have also been smacked in the face with rocks, boulders have almost flattened them, while a flock of angry seagulls pecked at their faces! You have to take what’s thrown at you, all of it, in order to walk the path of success.

So much of the creative life is about being brave and confident. The value of mentors is they can  help you achieve this and facilitate your career. They can also console you when you have failed. Most importantly, they can remnind you to get back off your arse and try again!

But you don’t have a mentor? That’s okay. Surround yourself with allies … Writer friends who really ‘get it’. Moral support is so important. Why not join the B2W Facebook group today!

So … how do we succeed?

Yep! By failing. This means you must not fear failure. Embrace it. Small fails. Big fails. Fail at as much as you can because each opportunity needs to be taken. If you don’t take it, there is neither failure or success.

So, keep failing Bang2writers. Before long, like a caterpillar turns into a butterfly. Failure has no choice but to become success. Here’s some more links on what it takes:

33 Industry Insiders on Success, Dreams & Failure

Failure Is not Fatal. How To Succeed, No Matter What

The Truth About Success: 30 Creatives Who Broke In Late

24 Experts On The Foundation Of Success

6 Ways YOU’RE Stopping Your Own Writing Success

Good Luck!

BIO: Emma Pullar is a writer of dark fiction and children’s books. She also dabbles in screenwriting and has won/been shortlisted for several short story/script competitions. Follow Emma as @Emma_Storyteller as she lurks in the shadows, spying on people in the name of inspiration and creativity.

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Ghostly Goings On

Ever been ghosted as a writer? If so, you know how it goes: you make contact with an agent, producer or publisher and submit some work to them. Then you wait … Then chase them … Wait … Then chase them again.

And so it goes on. You begin to despair and question yourself. Sound familiar?

You’ve been ghosted!

It hurts. We get it. Now here’s how to get over it and get back on track with your writing…

1) Check – have you *really* been ghosted?

Producers and agents are busy, and it can take time to get back to people. If you’re approaching a large company, you may have to wait a number of weeks, or even months. Smaller companies may take less time to get back to you.

If you’ve waited more than two or three months to hear back from someone, then it’s pretty safe to assume that you’re not going to. MORE: When To Follow Up On Your Submission

2) Knock three times – then move on

It’s your right to chase up producers and agents if you’ve not heard back – but always remember to be polite and don’t hassle them. Not sure how many times, or which ways to chase? Everyone is different, but a good rule of thumb is a couple of emails and a call (over a few months), then leave it. If you haven’t heard back by then, you’re probably not going to.

3) Move on – straight away

Don’t let your ghosting haunt you. The minute you get the sense you may have been ignored, you should move on by putting another query out there straight away. It’s a good idea to have a list of people you’re approaching with your work, with a ‘notes’ column. Make a note of the ghoster so you’ll remember them for next time. Is there someone else you can contact at their firm next time around?

4) Don’t drive yourself mad

You can spend hours agonising over why the person has ghosted you, but the truth is you’ll probably never know. Don’t worked up or angry either – it won’t do you any good, and only slows you down more and distracts you from your goals. Instead, start working on another project or see point 2 above.

5) Check your approach

An occasional ghosting happens to many of us, but if you’re consistently being spooked by silent rejection, it might be worth checking your approach to see if you’re doing anything wrong. There’s a handy list of how to turn your queries into dazzling gems here.

6) Don’t hit back

They have chosen not to contact you for whatever reason – and you’ll probably never know why. It’s a crappy thing to do, but you’ve no recourse to hit back at them. There’s still a chance – however slim – that there’s a genuine reason they’ve not replied. If you send them an angry note or talk badly about them on social media, you’re killing your future chances.

7) Remember what it feels like

You’ll probably get ghosted again. When you do, you’ll know that like rejection, the pain DOES go away. In years to come you may find yourself in the position where you can ghost someone. Don’t. Just remember what it feels like now.

Be polite, professional and friendly – always. If someone has ghosted you it’s very likely they’ve done the same to others. It may come back to bite them eventually, but this revenge isn’t your dish to serve.

Last words

We increasingly live in a swipe-left world, where unfortunately it can be easier for people to ignore you than just say ‘no’.

You can’t change how someone deals with you, but can change how you react to them. Getting ghosted isn’t nice, but it won’t kill you or your career. Move on. MORE: When Is A Rejection A Rejection, If I Don’t Hear Anything? 

Good luck!

BIO: TR Guest writes screenplays, plays and prose. He currently has an optioned screenplay in pre-production, a short film in development and is halfway through a novel, adapted from one of his screenplays.

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Blocked City

Welcome to Blocked City. Population: you. And the rest of us writers. This place is very busy!!!

You may have heard that ‘there’s no such thing’ as Writer’s Block. I beg to differ.  I hear from Bang2writers all the time about how they feel blocked … And if that is how they feel, then it’s real to them! I have also felt the anxiety and pressure of deadlines, which in turn has made me feel less creative. It can be a vicious circle.

This is why I like the infographic below, which puts the whole problem under the microscope and considers WHY writers feel blocked. This got me thinking about my top tips for getting out of Blocked City, which I managed to narrow down to 3 main tips below. There’s also a bunch of linkage to help you blast through as well. Good luck!

B2W’s Top 3 Strategies For Getting Unblocked

3) Outline or plan

Most writers get blocked because they are attempting to write with only a portion of the story in their head. This means as soon as they come across an issue, they get stuck in what I call ‘The Story Swamp’. An outline is like a map, helping you get out again. It doesn’t have to be mega-detailed! Your story map could be index cards or post-its, or just  bullet points. It could even be a drawing. Just as long as you have that ‘story map’, you are far less likely to get stuck.

2) Stop and reflect

Writers often don’t have enough time to write … So when they finally get to sit down in front of their computer, they ‘can’t’ write. This is due to putting so much pressure on themselves. The worst thing you can do is sit there in front of ther screen, freaking out. Turn off the computer, go for a walk, reflect on WHY you feel so anxious, down, or not confident about writing. Think about the interventions you can put in place to stop this happening. Instead of writing only at specific times, perhaps keeping a notebook handy and writing in five-minute bursts longhand would help (or vice versa!). Perhaps explaining to your partner and getting them on board with your dream would help. Whatever it is stopping you, deep down, work out what it is and what you can do about it. There’s always something.

3) Believe!!

If you don’t believe you can do this, no one will. When you feel blocked, tell yourself – YOU GOT THIS. Then what do you know … It will come true! GOGOGO.

More On This:

25 Proven Strategies To Beat Writer’s Block 

19 Tips On Overcoming Writer’s Block From Famous Authors

Top 7 Brain Boosters To Increase Focus For Better Writing

Top 5 Ways To Crush Self Doubt Like A Boss 

How Free Writing Can Get You Started

9 Beverages That Improve Your Brain Power Right Now 

How To Deal With Writer’s Block – Top 6 DON’Ts

How To Boost Your Writing Confidence To New Levels

Good Luck!

Breaking Down Writer’s Block

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All About Productivity

Productivity is a key concern of Bang2writers. It’s not difficult to see why: procrastination is a huge problem for writers. It’s easy to get stuck in a non-productive rut. We are daydreamers after all!

So, if you’re a hobby writer wanting to turn pro, or a pro wanting to get more done, you need to learn how to boost your productivity. Luckily, we at B2W Headquarters have put together this handy round-up to help you make the most of your writing time.

1) 11 Habits That Can Transform Your Productivity

Create good habits. Sounds easy, doesn’t it?? Yet it’s something many creatives struggle with. Working for yourself, sometimes with little to zero pay, can damage productivity and good habits. HERE are some tips to help stay on track.

2) The Weird and Wonderful Habits of 20 Famous Writers

Want to know which famous writer you are most like when it comes to crazy writing habits? Maybe you want to adopt the habits of a writer you admire to help increase productivity? CLICK HERE.

3) 6 Tips for Boosting Writing Productivity

HERE are some more ideas for improving productivity. The key? Work smarter not harder!

4) 1 Simple Tip to Help You Get More Writing Done

What is ‘dead time’? How can you use it to get more writing done? Don’t let time control you, control time. You might not have a Tardis or a Time-Turner but you do have control over a lot more of your time than you think. Find out HERE.

5) 5 Steps to Beat Procrastination and Stay Focused

Here are some great procrastination busters. No one EVER said ‘I wish I had procrastinated more’! HERE are the steps you need to make sure you won’t regret *not* making the time to create that wonderful work bubbling inside you.

6) How to Get Writing Done, According To 20 Famous Authors

The best way to get stuff done? Learn from the masters – and mistresses! – in the know. Check out these tips, HERE.

7) How to Stop Wasting Writing Time Procrastinating Online

 Did you watch last night’s episode? Yeah, there was a huge argument in an online writing group about that show, did you see it? Blah, blah, CONCENTRATE! To learn how to avoid getting distracted during times allocated for writing, CLICK HERE.

8) How to Improve Your Focus as A Writer

With so many distractions it can be difficult to focus. HERE are some great tips for keeping your eyes on the prize.

9) 12 Unusual and Achievable Productivity Hacks for Writers

Turn an old tennis ball into a car key holder, use your cat as a winter hat. We all love a fun life hack. HERE are some cool productivity hacks to try out today.

10) How To Set Meaningful Goals And Stick To Them

Productivity isn’t about just throwing spaghetti at the wall. Creating meaningful goals means you’re much more likely to stick to them! Find out why, HERE.

Last Words

I hope you enjoyed this round-up on productivity. No more excuses. Get that wonderful work finished and out in the world for others to enjoy. Laser focus!

BIO: Emma Pullar is a writer of dark fiction and children’s books. She also dabbles in screenwriting and has won/been shortlisted for several short story/script competitions. Follow Emma as @Emma_Storyteller as she lurks in the shadows, spying on people in the name of inspiration and creativity.

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Be Unstoppable

I am an unstoppable writer. People ask me all the time if I can bend time, or have some kind of special secret. As I always write on this blog, the answer is NO. Not on your nelly.

Unstoppable writers are not some kind of higher beings. Here is how I get stuff done:

  • I decide to do something.
  • I will stop at nothing until I get it done.

But okay, you want more details. Fine. Here’s two things that really help you become unstoppable:

1) Laser Focus

I’ve written before about the importance of setting and evaluating meaningful goals. What I haven’t written about is how crucial LASER FOCUS is to achieving those goals.

But what is ‘laser focus’? Well, if ‘focus’ is defined as a ‘centre of interest or activity’, then applying a ‘laser’ to that ups the ante. Lasers burn, so I like to think of ‘laser focus’ as being a BURNING INTEREST.

So first, identify your goal, ie. get better at plotting within the next six months. Then think:

  • Motivation. Think about WHY you are doing this – in advance. If someone has recommended you work on your plotting, identify those areas of plotting you feel most uncomfortable with. Is it the beginning? The end? The middle? What is it you don’t understand, or find hard? Try and articulate it, so you can come back to it later.
  • Lists and Plans. It’s very easy to try and work on something like craft, but end up with nothing to show for it. Which books and blogs are you going to read about plotting? Which worksheets will you download? What novels and movies are you watch that have great plotting? How about the ones with bad plotting, then comparing them? What about interviewing professional writers for their thoughts on what makes good plotting? Make a list/plan.

Top Tip:

Laser Focus is deciding on a goal, then throwing everything at it. Be methodical. Make a calendar, plan and/or To Do list to refer to as you go. You’re MUCH more likely to achieve what you set out to. MORE: How To Set Meaning Goals & Stick To Them

2) Bitesize Chunks

I hear writers saying ‘I don’t have time’ constantly. But unstoppable writers don’t have the MOST time, they MAKE THE MOST of their available time. Crucial difference.

But look, I get it. If we have day jobs, health challenges, families or other commitments, then ‘finding the time’ to write can seem an impossible challenge. We need to change our mindsets. It’s NOT about finding time, or even about making it.

Instead, it’s about BELIEVING we have the time … Because we do! Time stops for no wo/man, so use it to your advantage. Don’t let it run away from you:

  • Spend too much on social media? Install an app to block it after a certain amount of time.
  • Break your tasks down into ‘bitesize chunks’.
  • Take a pen and paper everywhere you go.
  • Got even just five minutes? USE IT.
  • Make notes. Write sentences. Plan. Spidergrams. Whatever works for you!

So, think about your goal again … and break it down into bitesize chunks.

If you have decided you want to get better at plotting ‘within six months’, how many weeks is that? Days? Hours? How much of that time are you going to give to this task? What is the ideal? What about things you can’t plan for advance (ie. sick kids, sick spouses, sick you). Be realistic.

Top Tip:

Set a target number of hours for each week for working on your goal. Maybe you can only manage 1 hour a week, set into twelve 5 minute increments? That is fine! Whatever it takes, remember!!! MORE: 7 Ways To Find More Time To Write

Good Luck!

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