Fast Hell

Whether novelist or screenwriter, Bang2writers are always coming to me with the same two sad laments. These are:

  • ‘I need to get this novel/script written FAST!’
  • ‘I’m in plotting HELL … I don’t know how to get out!’

Two very different problems … but what if I told you the answer to both was THE SAME TIP?

Well it’s true my little grasshoppers, so make sure you’re sitting comfortably so you can pay attention!

The Punchline Approach

Whether you want to get out of Plotting Hell, or you want to get your draft written fast, I advocate what I call ‘The Punchline Approach’. With jokes, it’s the ENDING that is most important, right? Everything else leads to it, via Set Up and Pay Off.

I once talked to a small-time comedian in a pub. I don’t remember his name, but I do remember he was wearing a horrible bow tie and that he loved pork scratchings (he flicked them at people one their way to the loos, which were behind us). I also remember this timeless advice he imparted:

‘You want to write a decent joke? Start with the punchline and work backwards to find the Set Up.’

You can apply this to storytelling generally. Seriously! Check this out:

If you like The 3 Acts, like I do, you can see that going backwards doesn’t really CHANGE the midpoint at all (which is probably the most important bit of your plot, especially in terms of the arc and your characters’ journeys).

On this basis then, starting with the ending means you can ‘find’ your beginning, so you NEVER have the problem of starting ‘too early’ (probably the biggest problem of the spec pile). I’ve become so enamoured of this method, I’ve actually started seeing ENDINGS FIRST when I come up with new stories! Furrealz! And yes, it really has made my life muuuuuuuuch easier.

So, start with your ending and work backwards. I double dare you.

Your Ending Is Everything

This is the thing … If you know where you’re GOING, then you can work out where you should START. It’s simple really when you think about it, but can make ALL THE DIFFERENCE.

Most screenwriters know they shouldn’t start a draft without an ending, but they infrequently work backwards from that ending. Instead, they’ll begin in a linear fashion, which means that very often they will start too early.

Now, novel writing is slightly different in that you *can* start a draft without knowing the end. That said, if plotting is difficult for you, or you want to get your draft written FAST, then I recommend following The Punchline Approach.

It will also mean you have the best chance of writing an ending that has real impact too. Since audiences and readers report that endings REALLY, REALLY MATTER, can you afford not to focus on it?

Good Luck!

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No Spoilers

Goals, Wants & Needs

When it comes to characterisation, most writers know that a protagonist needs to want something – and stuff needs to block the way of him/her getting it. Those same writers will also know the antagonist will be one of those obstacles: perhaps s/he wants the same thing as the protagonist; or to get it first; or to prevent said main character from getting it altogether?

It’s Characterisation 101

From there, however, writers’ notions of characterisation will begin to falter, usually in 2 ways:

i) Comic Book Villains

Look, we live in the age of the superhero movie. The success of movies like the recent THOR RAGNORAK shows this subgenre isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon. Audiences invest in movies that carry the ‘good versus evil’ theme and we like to see heroes like Thor and his mates save the day. End of.

But even comic book villains can’t literally be comic villains anymore. You can’t just say they’re evil and leave it at that. Nor can you say they’re just crazy, which is why their EVIL PLAN makes no sense.

Your antagonist needs to be more rounded, have more overt motivations, even a smattering of back story to make them ‘relatable’. So your own antagonist needs to be the same.

This is non-negotiable.

ii) Secondary Characters That Don’t Pull Their Weight

If main characters like protagonists and antagonists need goals and counter-goals, then secondary characters need to pull their weight and either:

  • a) HELP the protagonist or antagonist or
  • b) HINDER the protagonist or antagonist.

It doesn’t matter if your secondary is the BEST-WRITTEN character in the whole universe. If they don’t have a PURPOSE in the narrative that relates to the above? They are not pulling their weight.

Y’see. secondary characters ALSO need role functions in stories, otherwise there is literally ‘no point’ to them. Role functions may include Love Interest; Mentor; Comic Relief; Straight Guy/Gal; Magician/Wizard; Care-giver; Expendable Hero and many, many others besides. You may merge them, flip them, or even create whole new looks at the various tropes that have gone before. (Basically, you can do anything you like as long as these characters pull their weight! Fancy that).

My 2 Tips, then?

1) The Antagonist Doesn’t Know S/he’s The Bad One

Who wakes up in the morning and says ‘Today, I shall be as evil as possible.’ No one, that’s who. Yet too many antagonists in spec screenplays and unpublished novels are evil for the sake of it, which impacts negatively on the resonance of their characterisation.

This is not to say every single antagonist needs a specific reason for their bad behaviour (like a traumatic past, such as a dead baby!), but a justification can help. Even in the case of literally evil characters such as Hela in THOR RAGNORAK, she’s the Goddess of Death … Of course she’s going to cause death, destruction and mayhem! That’s literally her job. LE DUH.

Yet even Hela has a strong motivation (besides ‘just’ being the Goddess of Death). After all, Odin was only too happy to use his firstborn as a tool to get what he wants … As soon as he got it, he locked her away and hid her very existence from her brothers, Thor and Loki and the rest of Asgard. No wonder she’s pissed. I would be too! I can relate to that.

So Hela’s quest is righteous, from her point of view: she is the eldest child, she deserves the throne. If that means raining fire down on the whole of Asgard and killing everyone, so be it. Remember, she is the Goddess of Death. Tough luck!

TOP TIP: You don’t need tragic backstories for your antagonists, but understanding WHY they do what they do can really help. Get into their shoes every bit as much as your protagonist.

2) Everyone needs ‘a reason to live’

When it comes to secondary characters, they literally orbit the protagonist and antagonist, HELPING or HINDERING them. That is their dramatic function and how the story is told.

On this basis, they inhabit LESS story space. Again, they have to – even with ensembles, audiences cannot cope with ‘too many’ characters (whatever this means).

But if secondary characters ONLY ‘help or hinder’ the two main characters, then they swiftly end up feeling like cardboard cut-outs. These secondary characters need their own elements to distinguish them from the rest, but not so many they take up too much ‘story space’.

With this in mind, it’s worth thinking about how NONE of these characters knows s/he is a small part in *someone else’s* story. Instead, s/he has a ‘reason to live’ beyond what that protagonist or antagonist wants.

In the case of THOR RAGNORAK then, Loki wants to be treated like a God again (and will do whatever it takes to get it). In contrast, Bruce Banner will do anything to try and avoid being the Hulk (Hulk just wants to SMASH), plus Valkyrie is trying to avoid her painful past.

All will come together to help Thor vanquish Hela, as we’d expect from this type of movie.

TOP TIP: What is the role function of each of your secondary characters? What does each of them want – what is their ‘reason to live’? How does this fit with the story as a whole?

17761123_10154582559506139_691836916590645085_o Want more about characterisation?

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

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‘How do I sell more books??’

This question is something that is always on the mind of the author, self-published or traditionally published; fiction or non fiction. Sales is what unites all of us, because – quite simply – without readers, there really is no point in what we do! Eeek!

Many thanks to Michael Alvear for this illuminating graphic below!I knew about finding #2 about series, but numbers #1 and #3 were completely new to me. I was surprised that Amazon users pay such attention to ads, which means I’ll be looking into this in more detail for 2018.

Most of all though I was interested that people go to the bottom of Amazon pages. This made me think about about my own page viewing of Amazon – and yup, I do read all the way to the bottom! I like to find out who publishes what; what the sales rank is; plus what the reviews say. I think I had figured I do this because I am an author who is also a content marketer, but seems like many people do as standard – and this information is very valuable. To see the rest of Michael’s findings, CLICK HERE or on the pic.

Lastly, you may also remember Micheal wrote a recent, brilliant guest post entitled Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make In Dealing With Rejection recently. If you’ve just been rejected (who hasn’t??), DO make sure you check it out, ASAP! Also, make sure you click on the infographic to see the rest of the study’s conclusions.

More on Publishing, Novels & Sales on B2W:

5 Things I Learned Converting My Screenplay Into A Novel

I’ve Written A Book, Now What?

INFOGRAPHIC: DNA Of A Successful Book 

3 Steps To Writing, Editing & Submitting Your Novel

5 Things I Learned Writing My Debut Novel 

How NOT To Write A Novel – 5 Mistakes Writers Make

Top 10 (Normal) Struggles When Writing A Novel

5 Strategies For Self Publishing On A Tight Budget

10 Tips For Authors Promoting Their Books Online

How To Use Social Media To Market Your Novel

More Sites Worth Checking Out About Book Sales:

There’s loads of great sites out there for author advice … In fact, it can be hard to know where to start, there’s that many!! I get asked all the time which ones are good, so here’s the ones I check regularly:

Like this post? Then please pass on to your writer friends and followers. Good luck out there!

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From Writing For A Living

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Inspiring others is surely the dream of just about EVERY writer … And we all have books, movies, TV shows, even quotes that inspire us and keep us going!

I love this from Julie — I was feeling at a loose end, wanting a new challenge, but not really sure what to do … Then I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I enjoyed this book so much and for the first time, took notice of the so-called ‘domestic noir’ subgenre of crime fiction. Suddenly something clicked. That’s what I would write, too! And the rest, as they say, is history … Enjoy!

Have you ever read a book or piece of writing that made you feel you’re not doing enough? It’s not just because you were reading a grandiose piece of literature. You loved that book because it inspired you to act.

When you read such a mesmerising book, you see your vain life and you start thinking: “how can I spend my time here in a more meaningful way?”

That’s where we see the power of a great writer: inspiration.

No, we’re not talking about turning motivational talks into a book. In fact, that might be yet another writing mistake. We’re talking about inspiring people through your stories. Let’s see how you can do that …

1) Recognise Your Passion

What sets your soul on fire? What unlocks your desire to get into fiery discussions? Get in there! The more passionate you are about the theme of your book or screenplay, the more you’ll affect people with it.

You have moments of inspiration, don’t you? You’re watching your favorite TV show and all of the sudden, you feel inspired by something the characters do or say. Capture those moments. Write about the way they inspire you. If you don’t know what your true passions are, this is a good way to discover them.

2) Explore The Frozen Sea Within You

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books. And the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”

With those words, Franz Kafka managed to capture everything a great reader is looking for in a great book. Your book has to keep the reader tossing and turning at night.

How do you do this? First, take that axe and crush the frozen sea you carry inside. Why don’t you try meditation? It’s not just about focus and productivity. Getting deep inside your thoughts and feelings will reveal the things that wrack your body and mind. With that, your writing will be getting more powerful and inspirational by the day.

3) Don’t Think *Just* about Your Reader

Most writing advice will say: Think about the reader. Find out what they want to read and give it to them. This is good advice, but we have to think of ourselves as writers too. We must respect that inner drive to create. We write because it’s the only thing we believe we should be doing. Our voices matter. It’s exactly what makes your work distinct!

4) Ask for Another Writer’s Opinion

Do you have a fellow writer who can read part of your script and tell you how it affected them? If you don’t, it’s time to start making connections.

You can even turn to some of the top essay writing companies for such collaboration. You can hire a writer or editor, who will approach your work from a reader’s point of view. Their feedback will mean a lot. You’ll know what aspects to improve or change before you get that book or screenplay out there.

5) Remember WHY You Write

How long has it been since you last saw Memento? Remember how Leonard was forcing himself to remember? Each tattoo and each photo was supposed to remind him of something important.

Find your memento. Remember why you write! It may be a favourite book, movie or TV show. It may be an old journal that you still keep. It may be a pen that your grandfather gave you. It may not even be an object. It may be just a memory, or feeling.

The reason why you write will keep you pouring your heart and soul into your work. When you start working on a new project, it’s easy to get bogged down in details. That makes you lose your passionate voice. The memento will get you away from that state.

Concluding:

Inspiring people has got to be one of the most important reasons for being a writer. You enjoy expressing yourself, so you better do your best to reach the reader’s soul with that expression of your own.

Good luck!

BIO: Julie Petersen is an English tutor and a freelance writer. She works with top essay writing companies and contributes articles to the number of educational magazines.

More About About Inspiration on B2W

50 Industry Insiders Share Their Filmmaking Secrets

43 Famous Writers Share Their Secrets Of How To Be Happy

33 Industry Insiders On Success, Dreams & Failure

Infographic: 30 Doses Of Inspiration From Fictional Teachers & Mentors

25 Writing Secrets Of Famous Authors

Infographic: 24 Experts On The Foundations Of Success

Top 20 Quotes For Writing Success

Top 10 Tips For Finding Writing Inspiration

7 Inspiring Tips From Outstanding Screenwriters

7 Motivational Quotes From THE Shonda Rhimes Herself

6 Ways YOU’RE Stopping Your Own Writing Success

Good Luck!

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My Number 1 Top Submission Tip?

Bang2writers ask me all the time for my top submission tips … but the thing is, submissions ain’t rocket science! As long as you check and follow the submissions guidelines, you should be fine. (‘Well, DUH!’ you might say, but really, believe me when I say writers are STILL shooting themselves in the foot on this one!).

But following the submissions guidelines is even EASIER in the digital age, since most agents, publishers, producers and filmmakers will have these guideline listed on their websites. Get Googling! Alternatively, check out the submission tip links below.

Key Questions

But okay, I’ve been working with writers long enough to notice common submissions questions they end up agonising over. Here they are:

– Does the title page affect the overall page count?

Nope. ALWAYS include a title page, too (unless asked not to).

– Should I put my name and contact details on the title page?

YES!!! (Unless you are expressly asked not to). While we’re on the subject, make sure you name your files too when you submit stuff digitally (again, unless you are expressly asked not to).

– It doesn’t say what *exactly* to submit. So what do I send?

When it doesn’t say a word or page count, a full draft and a one page pitch is fine.

– Do I HAVE to send a one page pitch?

If says you do, then yes. If not, then you don’t … BUT it is always a good idea to send a (good) one pager. It’s another chance to sell your story/writing skills ‘off the page’. Here’s some tips on writing a great one pager, plus a free PDF download one page pitch reference guide (it’s the red one!).

– The website says ‘no unsolicited material’ — now what do I do???

Simple … This means they don’t want stuff they haven’t expressly asked for, that’s all. So you get them to ASK FOR IT.

– Erm, how do I get people to ASK for my writing???

You query them! This involves writing a short, concise letter or email to the person you want to ask for your stuff. Check out the infographic below and/or the links. What’s the worst that could happen? They may say no, for ignore you altogether … Alternatively, they may just SEND IT! Eeek!

GOOD LUCK!!!

More on B2W About Querying & Submissions:

Can’t get read? Yes You Can! Top 16 Tips 

No Unsolicited Material? So Get It Solicited!

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

5 Tip For Writing Effective Query Letters & Emails 

5 Ways To Impress A Literary Assistant (Or At Least Not Irritate Them)

5 Steps To Writing The Perfect Cover Letter 

Top 5 Submission Mistakes Writers Make 

Download a free Submissions Checklist (PDF) at B2W Resources


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Social media gets a bad rap as a ‘time suck’ for writers, but as any Bang2writer knows, I think social media is BRILLIANT for us … Not only can we get ideas and inspiration, we can use it as a ‘water cooler’ to chat ideas through (either overtly or covertly). We can crowd fund for opinions and answers to our queries, as well as observe debates, talks and even flame wars too. What’s more, we can even find out what our potential audiences are interested in (or conversely, NOT interested in!) too — this is one of the main reasons I ended up penning Writing Diverse Characters For Fiction, TV and Film!

So, when Robert suggested this article, I bit his hand off. Some great tips here, so get searching on social media … and researching that bestseller or blockbuster… But most of all, have fun! 😀

Sometimes, you’ll find yourself short of ideas or inspiration to write. It is normal and happens to everyone. However, you can get GREAT ideas from social networks if you know how to use them properly. Ready? Let’s go!

1) Be open and engaged on social networks

First things first. Sometimes, literally all it takes to get inspired is a single post, question or answer! True story. Once it clicks, your floodgate of ideas will open automatically. But you need to be open and engaged. Stay active on social networks till you find the inspiration or ideas you seek. MORE: 3 Quick, Useful And FREE Ways For Writers To Stay Up-To-Date Online 

2) Observe discussions on Twitter

There are Twitter management tools that can help you monitor conversations about a particular topic. These include Tweetdeck, HootSuite or CoTweet. All you need do is to set up your search for the keyword you want.

3) Monitor Industry Leaders on Twitter

You can get inspiration and great ideas from leaders in a particular niche. Find out what they are discussing. The question is how can you conduct this type of search? You can make use of search directory like Twellow or WeFollow. With Twellow, you can search for keywords on Twitter profiles with the more followers.

4) Spend more time in your niche

Don’t be a Jack of all trades. You need ideas or inspiration that is specific to your niche. Follow industry leaders or people in your niche who have built a name for themselves. Read their previous and present posts till you find what you are looking for … Like Bang2write! Join the B2Wers on Facebook and get chatting, find out what’s important in your niche.

5) Keep an eye on discussions on Facebook

Find out the hottest topics people are discussing on Facebook using Kurrently.  With Kurrently, you can monitor updates made by public profiles though it is not as advanced as the search queries for Twitter. TOP TIP: include keyword phrases while searching, like “How do I” then add the keyword thereafter.

6) What is most popular in the community?

You can search social networks for hot topics to get useful ideas. On Twitter, tools like Digg can help you to find hot topics on a particular channel.

You also need to conduct more research to broaden your idea and knowledge of the topic you are writing on – otherwise you could end up with a red face! But this will inspire you, too. You can also get more ideas to add to what you’re working on by reading other people’s comments online. MORE: Top 10 Tips For Finding Writing Inspiration

GOOD LUCK!

BIORobert Mora is a researcher, corporate advisor, and writer at Ezassignmenthelp.  Also, he is a marathon runner and participates in local and world competition. Robert has a passion for blogging, so he likes to share his thoughts with internet users.

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One of the remits of B2W is demystifying script reading, especially screenwriting contests, so I’m DELIGHTED to have Phil Gladwin of UK contest Screenwriting Goldmine back on the site. The contest is currently open for entries, so make sure you utilise Phil’s great insider info here before submitting your script. Don’t miss the extra links at the bottom, either. Good luck!

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1) Miss the early bird entries

A lot of contests, including Screenwriting Goldmine, reward early entries with a discount on entry fees. They do this because it helps them stagger the reading . If you miss out on these windows your entry costs can go up by 50% or more, which, if you’re entering a lot of contests (as you should be), can really add up.

Takeaway: Look out for discounts on script submissions and make sure you take them. If funds are tight this can mean the difference between entering one or several scripts.

2) Submit A Novel

A script and a novel are different beasts entirely, yet new writers often enter something that reads more like a book. . Pages of scene description, with dialogue that goes on for hours. Not good. In fact very bad. And then there are entries that read like bad poetry: all fancy polysyllables and no story. A good screenplay is light, sharp, fast moving and easy to read. It provides a well-structured skeleton that the director, actors and production crew can clothe.

Takeaway: If you’re not sure how dense is too dense, read some current movie scripts from www.script-o-rama.com, or the BBC Writersroom, to see how it’s done.

 3) Send a script that isn’t ready

The scripts that get listed as finalists in the Goldmine contest are all of professional standard. They stand up on craft, concept, and presentation. They feel mature, strong, and sharp. So before you enter, be honest with yourself:  is your script ready?

Takeaway: it’s rare for a first draft to win a good contest. Schedule the time to finish, let it stew for a few days, and then rewrite it at least once. Hiring a good script consultant is never a waste of money.

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4) Bank On A Golden Ticket

Winning a script contest is not going to lift you into the ranks of the constantly working. Hell, even winning a BAFTA doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily work again. Even if the first prize is an option, the chances of that script making it into production are low, and the odds of one contest win carrying you into a long term career are lower still. The industry just doesn’t work that way. See placing in a contest as a significant addition to a CV.

Takeaway: Never stop playing the long game. Don’t for a minute think winning a contest means you can sit back.

5) Throw Your Toys Out The Pram/Give Up When You Are Not Placed

All contests are just beauty contests. They have hundreds, even thousands of entries. Getting placed or winning depends on the opinion of a very small number of people. Opinion is subjective. The opinion of these people is in no way definitive. Never let not placing in a contest defeat you for long.

Takeaway: No one, two, or ten failures to place should come close to defeating your mighty desire to write. Remember, all it takes in the end is for one influential person to fall in love with your stuff!

Good Luck!

BIO: Phil Gladwin is a British screenwriter / script editor / entrepreneur, and is the founder of www.screenwritinggoldmine.com, a site for British TV writers. The Screenwriting Goldmine Awards is now in its sixth year and attracts significant industry interest for the finalist writers.

Previously On B2W:

Is Your Screenplay Ready? AKA 12 Qs To Ask Of Your Writing by Philip Gladwin

How To Beat The Gatekeepers – TERRIFYING infographic from Screenwriting Goldmine

Top 5 Story Mistakes Even Good Writers Make 

Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make Dealing With Rejection

6 Things Writer Just Don’t Get About Script Readers

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Female characters_Katniss & friends

So, with the recent Hollywood scandal, there’s been a lot of discussion online about how a greater variety of representations of women in fiction, film and TV is more important than ever.

As writers, we can do our bit by rejecting the ‘same-old, same-old’ when it comes to ALL characterisation, but especially female characters who are too often viewed through the male lens. Next time you’re coming up with a female character (protagonist, antagonist or secondary), consider these questions:

1) Does she have to be GOOD?

We’re seeing more and more female antagonists, especially in crime novels but more and more often in movies and TV, too. This is great! Less great is the fact nearly all female antagonists have a ‘good reason’ for being bad (losing babies/children top of the list, especially in films). More variety of bad girls, please! MORE: 5 Problems With Female Leads 

2) Does she have to be WHITE?

We’re seeing BAME characters more and more often now, but most of the time they’ll be MEN. White women shouldn’t stand in for ‘all women’. Not all stories with BAME characters need to be about race, either.

3) Does she have to be a CARE-GIVER?

When we see parents in books, TV and movies, we nearly always see MUMS – rarely Dads. Sisters will frequently be care-givers too to younger siblings and have to rescue them all the time. Why? By the way, ‘Warrior Mom’ was a brilliant representation, especially in the thriller genre — but it’s feeling a bit old now.

4) Does she have to be EXTRAORDINARY?

Very often, women in books, TV and movies are extraordinarily talented in some way. This is great when we’re dealing with *those* kind of characters in *those* kind of stories, but where is ‘EveryWoman’? We have EveryMan. Why do women always have to be ‘extra’??

5) Does she have to live in MAN’S WORLD?

Sometimes a female character will be up against a patriarchal system, so this can work well … But most stories reflect the world we ALL already live in. What if it was flipped and your storyworld was matriarchal, instead? What would you lose/gain? MORE: The 1 Gender Swap That Could Make ALL THE DIFFERENCE In Your Story

6) Does she have to be a WAG?

For the uninitiated, ‘WAG’ stands for ‘wife or girlfriend’. Now, I’m not one of those who says being a WAG automatically weakens a female character (here’s a couple of great ones), but they ARE overrepresented. Where are all the single laydeez? What if your WAG was the main character and your menz were HOBs (husband or boyfriend!) instead??

7) Does she have to be BEAUTIFUL?

DYK? The most common description of a female character in a screenplay (and often books too) is ‘beautiful’, whereas male characters will be described by their non-physical attributes. C’mon writers, this is an easy one.

8) Does she have to be SEXUALISED?

Again, plenty of stories in which sexualised female characters can feature – B2W ain’t no prude. Let’s just see a bit more variety … Plus, do these female characters have to be sexy 24/7??? Even the sexiest female character alive is still supposed to be a holistic character – let’s see her in some other poses too, for crying out loud.

9) Does she have to be a FACILITATOR?

If your female character’s sole role function is to BREAK OPEN a male character’s emotions, act as a sounding board, or simply react to what *he* does (usually by crying at the end of the phone!), then STOP RIGHT NOW. Whilst secondary characters always orbit round the main character, this is an epic fail. Reassess her function ASAP!

10) Does she have to be THE ONLY ONE?

Too many stories have a BUNCH of varied male characters, then what I call ‘the girl character’, creating ‘The Highlander Effect’ (‘There can be only one!’). Too often there’s NO story reason for this, either. Ugh, boring!!! So think about whether you can add more female characters to your group to improve that dynamic — we’re waaaaaay over just the one. MORE: Top 5 Female Character Mistakes

DOWNLOAD THE CHECKLIST AS A PDF:

Simply click on the pic below to download it. Enjoy — and please do share on your profiles and pages with writer friends.

Want more on female characters?

Then check out my new book, Writing Diverse Characters For Fiction, TV and Film. Hailed as ‘A timely guide to creating original characters and reinvigorating tired storylines‘ by Debbie Moon, creator and showrunner, Wolfblood (BBC). If you want to attempt to write a character that’s not ‘the usual’ but are afraid of getting it wrong, then this one is for you! CLICK HERE.

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TV writing is a major interest of the Bang2writers, so many thanks to Drew from FrameYourTV for getting in touch with this fab infographic!

Knowing about budgets – especially what is possible for what money! – is absolutely paramount for screenwriters. Not because they should write ‘for the market’, but because this will aid their story choices at foundation level. Too often a writer will blithely claim their screenplay or idea is ‘low budget’ when the reality is it’s anything but.

So this infographic makes for interesting reading, reminding us that stars are also likely to pick up massive pay packets in addition to the actual MAKING of the show too … Though of course Kevin Spacey might be feeling the pinch nowadays after getting House of Cards cancelled, thanks to the recent Hollywood abuse allegations! (Not Clare Danes though, she’s in Homeland! 😉 )

Which is your favourite of the shows listed below? Let us know in the comments.

More On TV Writing On B2W:

How To Write TV Series Bibles

5 Tips On Becoming A TV Showrunner

How To Write Daytime TV Drama

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

Spotlight On Sitcom Structure: 6 Tips For Writers 

How To Plot TV Series: ‘Story of the Week’ vs. Serial Element


The-Most-Expensive-TV-Shows-of-All-Time

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Male POV

In her Guardian article, Time To Make The Link Between Abuse And Film Content, actress and filmmaker Kate Hardie makes the compelling argument that men continue to hold the power on how women’s bodies are portrayed on screen:

“[Nudity] is nearly always decided upon and filtered through male eyes. Nearly every actress will tell you about scripts that included scenes of female nudity that seem to have no apparent reason for being there and that are often degrading.”

As any longterm Bang2writer knows, I have no problem with nudity on screen – in fact, I’m more likely to argue FOR more of it, especially when it comes (arf) to men and what I call ‘equal opportunities nudity’. Hell, if female characters are to get their kit off, then male characters  should too as far as I’m concerned!

And certainly, in the last fifteen years or so the ‘female gaze’ has been invoked via the likes of muscle-bound, naked men courtesy of Wolverine and his mates (other buff naked guys are available).

But outside the realm of characterisation (theoretical), there’s the PHYSICAL realm – i.e. actors have to *get* naked. So Hardie raises an interesting point about the ‘degrading’ nature of so many instances of female nudity for actresses.

Hugh Jackman let it all hang out at various intervals for nearly two decades as Wolverine

Nakedness and Power

So, what’s the difference? Well, this is the thing. Wolverine might be naked, but he’s still POWERFUL. There’s zero vulnerability there. We see nakedness in male characters in this way as STANDARD on screen.

It’s this automatic strength that’s missing in terms of female characters. Instead, we’ll see them naked/scantily-clad and:

  • Sexysee representations of sex workers, but also just women in general. (Women are far more likely to be represented as sexy as standard, clothed or unclothed for that matter).
  • Vulnerable – cue lots of female characters in the shower for no real reason, especially if they’re VERY SAD about something that happened in the story.
  • Dead – whilst it’s true many murder victims IRL turn up naked, the overrepresentation of female bodies (especially white female bodies that are somehow still beautiful and poised and even, ugh, sexy) on screen is waaaay OTT. (See the sexy, vulnerable girl who winds up dead, posed in an objectifying way for the UNholy trinity on this one!).

Note that I’m NOT being a ‘feminist killjoy’, calling for a veto on sexy, vulnerable or dead naked female characters by the way. There’s been plenty of stories in which the above have worked (at least for the first two, anyway). As ever, it’s not that anything *exists*, but that there’s not enough variety.

Atomic Nudity

Consider Charlize Theron’s character in ATOMIC BLONDE. The lead Lorraine IS impossibly sexy, but she’s also vulnerable *and* incredibly powerful. We see her naked in a myriad of ways in the story and none of this is a problem, because we’re seeing  hfer clothed and unclothed in various contexts, rather than just the one.

We see Lorraine bathing and tending her wounds in ice baths (to show what a badass fighter she is); plus she spends a lot of time in her underwear smoking and listening to tapped phones (what woman hasn’t done that?? That’s my whole weekend, right there).

Plus, as Theron herself says of *that* sex scene with her co-star Sofia Boutella: ‘I’m a dancer … She’s a dancer … Being naked is nothing‘.

Of course, Theron is a big star. She can presumably tell filmmakers to F right off if she feels the nudity is gratuitous, degrading or humiliating.

Many other – especially younger – characters don’t have this privilege and never will. So it’s up to the (predominantly male) creators to consider instead whether nudity is justified in their projects, as Hardie alludes to here:

“I wonder whether the powerful creative men making it so clear that they know that Harvey Weinstein is a sexual predator – and that sexual predators are wrong – will also take time to truly look at all the other ways, overt and subtle, in which their male power dominates our industry.”

It doesn’t have to be either/or on this one, either. Again, no ‘feminist killjoy’ stuff here, saying  no one deserves to get their rocks off. I know I did during ATOMIC BLONDE – the fact Lorraine isn’t *just* hot is the icing on the cake.

Aaah, internet. You’re always there for me. Love you, Charlize. (And Sophia! WOW!)

What Writers Can Do

Obviously there are limits to what screenwriters can do. 9/10 we don’t get to decide what even movies and TV *we’ve* written LOOK like. Despite our best efforts to the contrary, we may end up with something we don’t like in our stuff. Shit happens.

But there ARE story decisions we can make in approaching female characters that can at least HELP AVOID the obvious exploitative, male lens stuff like I’ve outlined above. In other words:

Don’t JUST write sexy, vulnerable or dead naked women please!!!

Oh and before anyone says it … This doesn’t mean *never ever* writing nudity, either. If it fits the story, write it. But for God’s sake actually make it count and remove that *automatic* male lens.

Politics aside, it’s dull seeing the same thing all the time! Let’s have a little more variety, yeah?

Want more on this?

Want more on writing a story that’s not the ‘usual’ or the ‘same-old, same-old’? Check out my latest writing book, Writing Diverse Characters For Fiction, TV & Film – I put gender, race, ability and LGBT characters under the microscope in probably the first book of its kind! ‘Lucy Hay nails it’ says BAFTA-nominated screenwriter and author Stephen Volk (Ghostwatch; Afterlife; The Awakening); ‘A timely guide to creating original characters and reinvigorating tired storylines’Debbie Moon, creator and showrunner, Wolfblood (BBC). GET IT HERE, or click on the cover pic for details.

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