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Many thanks to the Bang2writers who’ve been asking various script-related questions over at the Facebook page today… If you have a burning writing-or-industry-related question, “Like” the page here and join in.

I was able to answer most of the questions very quickly on the FB page, but this one from Gail warrants a longer post:

How do you put together a writer’s CV? What should go in, what should be left out, what counts as relevant experience?

First up, the usual disclaimer: this post is based on my experience of writing my own CVs and reading other people’s ONLY. There is no *set* way of doing it. However I’ve seen some very good CVs and I’ve seen some very pants ones, so I think I can offer some help here, however small, especially for those who are having issues knowing where to start.

So, without further ado, my thoughts:

Presentation. We often hear presentation is everything in this biz, which is why CVs sometimes look surprisingly BAD on this front. Supposedly “eye-catching” fonts and colours are the biggest no-nos; jazzy layouts, extra space and justified text can also cause issues. I don’t recommend putting your photo on them either, even if you are hot – you’re not an actor. I recommend the following:

– A sans serif font (Minus that “squiggly” bit, ie. Arial)

– 12 pt size

– Black type on a white page

– One to two pages MAXIMUM

Of course, there is room for personal preference too. I like to put my name and jobs (“Script Editor and Novelist” at the top in larger type, putting my address, website and contact details in a little box on the right hand side. I then seperate each “section” with a line. Basically, lay it out HOWEVER YOU WANT as long as it is a) simple and b) does not affect “readability”.

So that’s the dull stuff out the way. So what else could go on your writer’s CV?

About you. A short intro about you is nearly always MISSING on CVs I see and I think it’s a real shame, since this is a GREAT opportunity to really sell yourself off the page to whomever’s reading. Give them an insight into WHO YOU ARE. Mine reads “Straight-talking, web savvy Script Editor with an eye for structure” as a sub heading and underneath there is a short paragraph about my various interests , such as challenging gender stereotypes, social media and event organising. I prefer to write in the third person because I’m BRITISH and saying it in the first feels like BOASTING to me, but if you’re more sensible and don’t have the same hang-up, either is fine.

Online presence. Do you have one? If so (and you really should), put your website, your LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter idents here too. If you have a particularly popular blog, why not include something like its daily hit rate? Perhaps you’re well known online for things like #scriptchat on Twitter – why not include that. Maybe you have a large FB group or participate in discussions online a lot – why not link to such an example, if appropriate? Basically you just want to show you’re an active part of the online scriptwriting “community” and not afraid to get out there.

Membership. If you belong to The WGGB, here is the place for it. Similarly, list here any other clubs or writing societies and make sure you say you organised the group if you did! You could also link to online profiles here, like your Talent Circle page.

Education. If you have a BA or MA in scriptwriting, obviously that should go on. But so should short courses like Guerilla Filmmakers’ Masterclass and yes, things like London Screenwriters Festival. A couple of lines about the course, listing elements you feel you did well in or have a particular interest in (ie. networking, speed pitching, TV writing, one page pitches, writing for radio, feature writing) and any relevant results (if appropriate) would be good here.

Other Education. With space at a premium, I would recommend not bothering including stuff from school, college or university unless it’s RELEVANT. So, for example – if you did English Literature and Language and got a first class degree? That’s impressive and shows you potentially have mad writing skillz. On the other hand, a degree in IT, whilst very useful, probably could do with being missed out. It is however up to you. BTW: Back in school, I remember the careers guidance people advising us to put our education on our CVs FIRST. This might be good when one is a “newbie” (screenwriter or otherwise), though it’s probably a good idea to list experience first if you’re more “seasoned” and have a few collaborations or credits under your belt.

Agent. Do you have one? Make sure you put it somewhere on your CV. If not, just ignore this bit.

Experience. Again, keep it relevant: this is your WRITER’S CV, not your “normal” CV. So here, I’d say don’t bother listing your seasonal job at the cafe when you were a teenager or the fact you’ve spent the last ten years growing cultures in a lab in Borneo. If you have credits, great – stick ’em down. But equally, even if your collaborations, options, commissions and whatnot have come to nothing… STILL PUT THEM DOWN HERE. Do not hide your light under a bushel. If you worked on them, those projects EXISTED. Don’t pretend they never happened. “Wait a sec… I have no experience of any of that.” I wondered when you’d chime in with that! No problem… We all have to start somewhere. Miss this part out and move straight to the next bit…

Projects. Here, make a list of your specs. I would recommend having at least three here. List title, genre, plus a short logline. If you have had any interest, contest placings/wins or good feedback, list that here too briefly.

Contests. If you’re a contest pro with MANY placings, you may want to create a whole section just for this. Things like getting through the second round of the BBC Writers’ Academy, The Red Planet Prize, various rounds of The British Screenplay Competition and placing in US biggies like Bluecat, Scriptapolooza, Final Draft Big Break and Just Effin’ Entertain Me could all go here.

Other. “Normal” CVs say boring stuff like “clean driving licence, excellent telephone speaking voice, computer skills” – YAWN! Think outside the box on this one, give them a flavour of who you are, make them remember you. Have you ever been stuck in a lift with a celebrity? Perhaps you sat in a bath of beans for three days for Comic Relief? Whatever, just put something. Mine at the moment says that I’m related to the guy who pulled the longest tapeworm ever out of a cow (true story). If that doesn’t appeal, maybe you could write about your SPECIAL KNOWLEDGE here… ‘Cos we all have some. If you’re a stay-at-home Mum or Dad of fifteen years’ experience, you “know” kids and how they sound; if you were a policeman on the beat or a nurse in A&E, you *know* conflict; if you work in construction, IT or local government you also have a wealth of knowledge… As does every single person who’s worked in a supermarket, a factory, a school or hair salon. Don’t do yourself down, there’s stuff you know that other people don’t that HELPS your writing – so figure out what it is.

So hope that’s of use, good luck with those CVs!

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20 Responses to How To Put Together A Writer’s CV / Resumé

  1. Scriptpunk says:

    Fab Lucy

    Just the ticket

    What a useful post, I have bookmarked and am defo goig to get mine done in the next month. Bang2write strikes again.



  2. Ben Craib says:

    Thanks so much for this great post! I am really loving setting out my cv, becoming a typographical nerd!

  3. reelcitizen says:

    Thanks Lucy, very useful stuff. I've just put together my CV for a competition and wouldn't have known where to begin!

  4. Angela Ewing says:

    Thank you. Good hints for CV’s. I shall certainly improve mine now. I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned you liked to write in 3rd person rather than 1st. Could that be because I too am a Brit? Perhaps we are just a modest lot!

    • Lucy V Hay says:

      Haha I think you’re probably right! But never hide your light under a bushel I say, however uncomfortable it is – but if you won’t bang your own drum, who will??

  5. Great post, very useful, thanks a lot for posting.

  6. Carolyn says:

    Hi Lucy, I just came across this page when I googled ‘writers cv’. Thanks so much for your tips, I am a corporate writer but needed to put together a more fiction-oriented cv and this was just what I needed. :)

  7. Lauren says:

    Hi Lucy,

    Thanks so much for this. It’s the most useful article on the subject that I’ve found. I’m a visual learner…is there any way to post the final product so I can see how this all gets laid out? (Of course omitting the personal information)

    • Lucy V Hay says:

      Hi Lauren, you’re very welcome – this is a good idea and one I will definitely have a think about including in the Resources section of The Required Reading List when I get chance. Watch this space!

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  10. Morris says:

    This is super helpful. A great big sluice of thanks to you, Lucy.

    I have one question, though (if I’m not taking a mile here): from the screenwriter’s CVs you’ve read, may I ask how much of their non-screenwriting work featured in the CV? If any at all, where would it generally sit from the categories you mentioned? I know you advised leaving out the Borneo lab stints, but perhaps there is something to be said for writing achievements in non-film areas?

    I am reluctant to pollute my modest screenwriting background with mentions of copy writing or freelance journalism; but then, I have had some press releases published in decent places and won a poetry prize once too.

    Oo. Have I answered my own question?

    But any advice and I’ll be full-on Suez with gratitude.

  11. hot news says:

    Though i get some idea about script writing technique. but i need a sample copy of resume.

  12. Brenda Young says:

    Hi Lucy,
    Thanks for this, it’s a wonderful article. I’m re-drafting my screenwriting cv accordingly. I know it’s non-fiction related, but I’ve also had magazine articles and newspaper press releases published, would I put those down too? Years ago I won the first prize in the region in a national competition for schools, does that go down too? Many thanks, Brenda

    • Lucy V Hay says:

      You’re welcome, Brenda! Magazine articles, freelance journalism etc should have its own section, sure. I might give a brief list of the publications you’ve appeared in (that’s what I do, in fact). I probably wouldn’t bother with the school prize if it was a long time ago (5 years+) UNLESS it was a “big” deal, ie. one of those children of courage awards.