Saturday, 31 December 2011

Happy 2012

Happy New Year blog readers. 2012 is here and whatever you want from life you had better hurry up because according to the Mayans:

But fear not. Some of you may remember a post I sent direct from the Yucatan Peninsular last summer. I travelled to Chichen Itza to sort it out once and for all with the Mayans. 
They finally saw sense and agreed to call it off on 21.12.12. To be fair to them, they had been looking forward to total world destruction for 5200 years, so I had to let them have a little something. Instead they are going to align all the planets in the solar system, (something that happens every 26,000 years) and the Earth is going to tilt.
But don't panic, the Mayans have promised it is only going to be a little tilt. About a degree and a half. I'm not happy about it. It has taken over 10 years to get the Digital Switchover sorted not to mention what this will do to my Sky+HD dish.

Seriously, I wish anybody who reads this good health, fortune and happiness for 2012 and perhaps a dream or two come true x

Friday, 16 December 2011

2nd draft

I loved watching the British Comedy awards. The high spot for me was to see Sarah Millican collect the Queen of Comedy award. She was 'The People's Choice' and the people chose well.

British Comedy Awards 2011 winners announced - News - British Comedy Guide

I've made some big changes to Henley's Ricotta the novella. The changes reflect the advice I was given at my writer's group who advised that I have more characters and more madcap behaviour if I want Henley's to be a farce.

Second draft Chapter 1 is posted. Please take a look.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Christmas Lights

I was in Oxford Street earlier today. I wasn't shopping, just passing through on my way to my screenwriting group. I thought the Christmas lights were pretty spectacular this year, so I've took some photos to decorate my blog.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Henley's revisited.

It seems I have a lot more work to do on Henley, having been given good sound advice on structure and characterisation within the context of a farce stageplay plus pointing out some more obvious gaffs on my part.
So I have plenty of work ahead of me. Henley's the ebook, may not take the reader in the same direction as Henley the stage play. I'll have to examine the structure of both individually before I dive in feet first. Add to that I have just completed a short story to submit to the Verulam Writer's Circle conference competition. This will be my third VWC conference.  It is complete and I have plenty of time to make it shine as the conference is not until Feb 11th next year. It's at Hatfield University, easily accessible by road and rail. I've booked my ticket today. If you want a three minute pitch to an editor, agent or publisher, book now as places are fast running out. Just make sure you have done your research to ensure you are pitching to the right person for you. All the info can be found on the website. If your going let me know and I'll see you there.
Gym is going well. Lost over a stone in weight so far. I'm hoping my increase in physical agility will improve my mental agility. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

I've got rhythm, I've got... what is it?

I'm enjoying my novella project so much it might even make novel status. I don't know what it is, but by the time I got to writing Chapter 3 I seem to have found what I can only describe as a rhythm. Others may say I have found my mojo, but it's more than that. It's hard to define other than a rhythm that is the pace when everything comes together apparently seamlessly. Chapters 1 & 2 haven't got it. I can tell by looking at them, but I can't describe what it is. What is it?
I'm not saying I have suddenly discovered the key to great writing. That's for a reader to decide. What I mean is  my words are descending gently onto the screen as if the descent of each word is controlled by a parachute instead of splatting them onto the page like they've been thrown from a great height.
At school I wasn't too keen on art lessons, and yet I had to leave school before I could discover that art was to become a big part of my life. Art at school was very controlled, precise and governed by rules. One would hope that times have changed in today's education system. I taught myself to paint, and my style was relaxed and fairly loose. You can easily see the difference between  tight controlled brush strokes and a painting that is free and easy in manner.
I have often used this analogy of comparing writing to painting  to help me understand better what I want to achieve and how I am going to achieve it. There are many similarities in both art forms and I would imagine a musician could probably compare his art to the written word or indeed any other art medium.
Whatever it is, mojo or rhythm, I'll enjoy it while I can and hope I don't lose it whatever it is. What is it?

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Henley's Novella (First Draft)

Henley's Ricotta (the novel/novella) is my current work in progress. I'm determined to see this through to the finish despite having so little time at home and too much time at work. 
I've also got back into my gym, and have been very disciplined with my diet.
Anyway the first two chapters are posted for you to look at. If you do go there, please comment, criticise and don't feel you have to be nice. 
Good look to both Nari and HC who have both entered NanoWriMo. Maybe I should try and keep up with them and finish Henley's by the end of the month although I don't think it will make a full novel.
I hope you like Henley :-)

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Writing Networks

The romantic image of a writer shut away in some far-flung retreat miles from civilization, seems more unlikely than ever before during the dawn of a networking age that we are currently living in. Admittedly, there may be an element of secrecy for the closet unpublished writer. It is an odd thing to say within your own social circle 'I'm a writer' if you're not yet the household name you would wish to be. If writing is what you do then a writer is what you are.
But is this really a new age? I attend a screenwriter's group in London as often as I can. It's a small group who meet in a pub where around four scripts per month are critiqued, and valuable feedback is given. This is the best learning resource I have, to try and improve my writing. Collectively there is a wealth of experience and knowledge in a relaxed atmosphere over a couple of pints of bitter in an old London pub. I can't help evoking an image in my mind of writers, artists and philosophers at similar meetings over the years none more famous than the Bloomsbury group. During these whimsical moments, I'm including myself as continuing this long established tradition (dream on). 
Writers need to network with writers for so many different reasons. For one, if you can't cope with rejection, then don't be a writer was said by a publisher speaking at a writer's conference I went to earlier this year.
That's sound advice, but what better support can you get at times like this than the support of other writers to soothe the publisher's or agent's rejective lash marks. There you go WFM, a plug from a grateful  subscriber
Writer's magazines such a Writer's Forum is another resource for making valuable connections, such as workshops, conferences and linking with individual writers like Nari (Postcards From My Mind I also have Nari to thank for Judith ( and HC                       ( and HC to thank for Sam. My own blog introduced me to Deborah ( Living Between the Lines) a regular commenter. I also have xmisty, MikeyW who I know personally. He's a very brave young man who regularly does open mike sessions in Comedy clubs around London. I need to give him a nudge to get his blog going. And a special hi to Matt Alan.
I have a writer's account on Facebook and Twitter. Twitter I find more useful than Facebook, but I have some nice contacts on FB.
My pastime of writing has become the opposite of solitary, which is enough reason for me to continue and never give up.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Narrative and dialogue.

I'm thinking of writing some of my work as novels or novellas and self publishing through Amazon for the Kindle.
Good move? Bad move? I'm undecided.

And what about the POV? First, second or third person narrative? Past or present tense narrative?
I'm a dialogue addict and am prone to getting carried away with it, even for stage plays. What is an
acceptable proportion of dialogue in a book?
I could spend days or even weeks pondering over these questions. But I'm going to do it really soon and post some of it here. With luck, some of you critics out there will give me feedback. Positive or negative, its all good.
Screenscribbler has become more of a Screenwobbler and piled on the pounds, so I've joined a gym. An active body may produce an active mind. Induction tomorrow then its onwards and upwards.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Back from our holiday.

This time we hired a villa as we just wanted to do things at our own pace. No hotel restaurant schedules to adhere to although we did go to a different restaurant every evening as you can see from the above picture of Mrs Scribble and myself.
When we did venture out in our hire car, we were eager to return to our villa, and relax in the garden by or in the pool.
My mission to rewrite Henley's Ricotta as a workable stage play was accomplished and I read four books. Top of my reading list was 'Comedy Rules: From the Cambridge Footlights to Yes Minister' by Jonathan Lynn. Jonathan warns that this is not so much a 'how to' book but more of a memoir. However, through reflecting on his own experiences to illustrate his 'rules' the reader gets to share some of his insight going back to the basic psychology of laughter in the human species.
Stephen King's 'On Writing' has a similar approach and I strongly recommend the audio version read by SK himself.
Completely chilled and relaxed. Back to reality next week when I return to work.

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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Pre-posting from Portugal

I've got the idea from one of my followers to pre-set a posting in advance of my holiday. I've done what she did. (Thanks Deborah).

This is because we haven't got internet where we are staying. And what a blessing in disguise that will be.

No distraction on my laptop. Just pure unadulterated wordism, uninterrupted by Twitter, Facebook, BBC iPlayer, iTunes, eBay, Google, Amazon, YouTube, Yahoo, Linkedin, Blogspot and Wordpress and many many more, the list goes on and on.

I remember reading an interview with JK Rowling. She played Minesweeper, and claims to have a wicked personal best score. Distraction in moderation I suppose his healthy.

It's amazing how often during a day we so easily say "I'll look it up on the net" or "I'll Google it." I do Google the strangest things when it comes to small detail in the stories I write. Mostly, my ideas for a story are conceived on holiday. I always make sure I have a guidebook but then will go to the library, or bookshop to add more depth to my new found knowledge.

Ushabti came about from a journey down the Nile. I visited the British Museum and The British Library whilst researching ancient Egyptian artefacts. The story is not weighed down by historical facts, indeed in reading it, there appears to be very little evidence that I have researched.

But I know different, as I believe as a result of my investigative studies, my narrative has more depth and is open to question. If I had not bothered to prepare, I would not have felt so comfortable writing it.

I think I'll uninstall my Solitaire before I go.

Catch you later ;-)

Monday, 12 September 2011


I've finished watching Paul Welland's 'Sixty Six', written by Bridget O'Conner and Peter Straughan about a young boy who's bar mitzvah unfortunately clashed with England's celebrated victory over West Germany.
A post-war flag-post that has been handed down a further two generations so today's youngster can revel in that glory if they so wish. Now that's what I call resonance.

It wouldn't be too difficult to pitch a story around a flag-post like the '66 World Cup. In this case it happened to be a Jewish story.
Despite my gentile heredity, I was easily absorbed into the culture of the boy Bernie Ruben's extended family and his dysfunctional father Manny.
However, the film represented my own culture if you count the shared attitudes, values and beliefs that was common amongst the British people during that era. I was 13 in 1966, same as the boy in the film.
Seeing a Fine Fare supermarket open as part of the plot reminded me of the first supermarket to open in Birmingham at the newly built Bull Ring Centre. I was there with my mum for the opening. It was a Fine Fare which was officially opened by the   Brook Bond PG Tips chimps.They were pushed around in a supermarket trolley, the first I've ever seen.

I saw a small  refrigerated display unit, something that I had never seen in our corner shop where you bought loose tea and your butter was cut, patted and weighed.
It was a dedicated to Ski Yoghurt in Four Fruit Flavours. Imagine my sense of wonder, standing in this alien self-service environment of shiny floors and futuristic refrigerators without a door. We didn't even have a fridge at home. I stood there salivating at the  Four Fruit Flavours. Well what do you expect, I was a child looking at something that was sweet and fruity and I imagined it was probably better than any dessert you could possibly have (a real-life Willy Wonka). I asked my mother "mum we take some home?' My mother looked at me in disbelief that I had contemplated such thing, leave alone ask for it. "no son, you can't. You know your father won't have foreign food in the house." 
I had to wait a couple of years more before I got to sample the delights of Scandinavia.

I have digressed away from the film. It wasn't a strong storyline. The boy's hopes of a lavish bar mitzvah were dashed as the World Cup and further mishaps ensured that this was never going to happen.
A complex premise its not, but brilliantly written, directed and played. Guaranteed to tug at the heartstrings of people of a certain age.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Something different

For something different I have posted a sample of some work I did when I was dabbling with the idea of writing a novel With a Song In My Heart. If I continue with this I would want to aim to develop it in a  very dark comedic style.

I apologise in advance for my character Sophie's flowery language. She has a foul mouth that girl.

All comments welcome :-)

Sunday, 28 August 2011


I've just noticed my blog has passed 2000 hits so a special thank you to all that have visited whether it be by accident or design. And a big thank you to those who registered to 'follow': (in no particular order) Mikey W, Matt Alan, HC, Judith, Nari (first follower), Karenxksb and Sam. Also I need to add Deborah and xMistyx who regularly comment on my posts.
2000 hits may seem small to some, but for me its far more than I anticipated and will ensure I will keep this going and support other peoples blogs too. x

Friday, 26 August 2011

Impressionist scriptwriting

I've learned a lot over the past couple of years through some lovely people I've met at writing groups, conferences workshops and of course on-line. And I know I know...too much exposition, maybe my characters carry a little too much cliché...I know...I've been all through that with my painting.

I used to paint for years, mainly for my own pleasure and relaxation, but I have exhibited and had commissions.
When my artwork really started to fall into place for me was when I began to study the work of the French Impressionists. Limited palette of colour and limited brush strokes (not so sure about Georges Seurat if you're counting his dots as brush strokes) was the way forward for me.

Knowing when to stop and less is more was a couple of axioms I lived by when it came to my painting...more or less.

Painting for me was a journey, something that gets built on, layer upon layer...light to dark if it's water colour or pastel and dark to light if it's acrylic or oil. The big reveal came with the finished painting and part of the skill of a painter is to decide when it is finished and avoid overworking it.

Writing for me was a natural progression from painting, building layers upon layers as the narrative and my characters develop. Scriptwriting was an absolute joy for me. When I started a painting I couldn't wait to get straight to the colour, and I was no less impatient with writing wanting to get so absorbed in dialogue...I love dialogue. Words, words, words...not exactly applying what I have learned from the impressionists.

Words are the brush strokes of the writer and writing is not so much about words as the imagery the words evoke.

I have been lucky enough to visit the back rooms at the National Gallery. There they have x-rayed many of the old masters. Even great artists like Leonardo and Raphael's final composition may not necessarily have started that way. X-rays have released the secrets that have lay hidden for centuries, the artist's struggle with composition to achieve the effect which would ensure immortality for their creative work.

Just as in the same way, writer's edit until they are certain their work is the best they can possibly achieve.

Hmm, I wander what the first draft of Great Expectations was like?

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Speaking tube

Just enough time left for me to submit a July post. I've been researching for the re-write of 'Ushabti' which as I've said before will be written as a three act/one set play.
My main characters, the Bullocks, have not embraced modern technology. In the absence of a telephone (land-line or mobile), in my capacity as a writer, I am currently installing a Victorian speaking tube into their home.

The only memory I have of speaking tubes was watching old black and white war films. Usually it would be someone like Jack Hawkins in naval uniform and duffel coat trying to make himself heard above the sound of a force ten gale. "Chief, can't you make us go any faster? I'm having a devil of a job trying to outrun jerry here."
On the other end would be a bare-chested actor daubed in black oil with the earpiece pressed against his ear trying to hear above the sound of the engine room.
The chief engineer's standard answer always seemed to be "we're already at full speed ahead, I don't think she'll take any more cap'n." These clichés were used over and over again in Star Trek (What Captain Kirk and Scotty wouldn't have done for an iPhone).

But the history of the speaking tube had wider applications than bridge to engine room intercourse. It was also installed in large homes and business premises, as a means of intra-household communication. They had a removable whistle built into them to alert the receiving person that someone was trying to speak to them. Hence the expression on the blower which carried over into telephone jargon. Incidentally the nautical version was a rigid pipe so the user would have to bend to hear it...bending your ear...more jargon. We're no different now...OMG and LOL.
Pre-telephone era, it must have been considered an ultra-modern gadget to have within a house.
Today technology changes by the minute when the latest smartphone app that does something that a few years ago would have been too far-fetched to believe, raises little more than an eyebrow.
Innovations have little impact today. There are too many to comprehend. People are losing their ability to be amazed.
Imagine the impact for families and servants when speaking tubes were installed. Magic lantern shows would have been truly wondrous.
I have early memories from living in a Victorian house in the 50's in inner-city Birmingham. There were obsolete servant bells and a stable in the backyard which we kept coal in, despite having three gas lit cellars which had been a dumping ground for unwanted bric-a-brac which the house had generated across the decades spanning two world wars.
None of this was photographically recorded. To take a photograph in those days usually signified an important event. Unlike today (going back to phones again) most people only have to reach into their pockets or handbags for that unexpected Kodak moment.
I often look back and lament the fact that my photo album does not reflect my personal cherished memories.
What I really should be doing is to be thankful I still have the memories of my own bygone past. A photo is only a visual reminder. The sight, the sound, the smell, the emotion and the significance are all stored away in the grey matter.
And they can be shared! As writers that's what we do better than your average snapshotter.
I am quite excited about installing my fictitious speaking tube in the Bullocks house. It doesn't have a big part in the story, but its very presence speaks volumes about my central characters and I hope it will inject a little bygone magic into my story.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Two rejections in one week.

Ushabti came back from an agent this week and Fairfax came back from the Beeb. I did however receive positive feedback and really useful criticism from both the agent and the BBC, so I'm not unhappy at all.

I'm going to adapt Ushabti for the theatre. One director has already seen the script and thinks it would work on the stage. It will mean my script will have a number 1 haircut, so that I would only need one set and three actors. I want to adapt Henley's Ricotta as a stage play too and again that would be one set and three actors.

Fairfax, also needs a rewrite, perhaps a little less clichéd and exposition, but I still maintain it would be best as a radio play. I will have a look what's going out on Radio 7 and find producers to target.

Midnight is just a project which will have to go on the back burner for now. With the feedback I have been given, I would be foolish not to put it to  good use.

Thank you Blogger for the new mobile phone widget. My site looks really neat on my phone now that it fits perfectly.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Writers Need Readers.

I took Midnight to my screenwriter's group and received some useful feedback. As always I have got carried away with my dialogue. Too much and too long and maybe at times just a little too much exposition. Action was a little too long and failed to reflect the alien Texan environment through the eyes of my young English-man from the West Midlands.
I was asked if I wanted to put Americans in a bad light. Nothing could be further than the truth. Yes there is a sub-culture of ne'er do well youngsters, but the SHERIFF turn's out to be a great support to my protagonist NORMAN. I need to be careful of that, because my own personal experience of Texans was that I was overwhelmed by their warmth, hospitality and good manners.
Overall they thought it was an original premise, so I'm going to stick with it. It's only the first
ten pages, and I wanted to know if from this first draft there was enough in there to engage an audience.
A useful evening and I'm grateful for their expert help.
I had Ushabti critiqued by a professional script reader who attends our group. She has encouraged me to approach theatre producers as she believes I would do well to pursue a career as a playwright.
Lots to think about. My dream would be to see my work performed. Give me some actors and give me an audience and the venue could be a scout hut and I would be happy.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Midnight At the Alhambra Opening scenes.

At last Midnight is underway. I have posted the first 10 pages. Please feel free to criticise.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Buenos dias from Mexico

Ola. Nothing inspires me to write more than travel. I'm a little too old to make my own way around the world backpacking. Besides I have bills to pay and need to keep my job. But even on a package I soak in the regional history while others soak in the sun.

I went to Chichen Itza which is home to one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. It wasn't a sight-seeing trip (you can see sights in books and the web). It was, for me, more of a sight-feeling trip.
Speaking to the Mayan indians and learning about the culture and the left me almost breathless. I will never claim to be an expert on the indiginous people of the Yucatan peninsular. Indeed I could spend several years at university studying the Mayans and still not achieve expert status. Perhaps expert status should be reserved for the Mayans.  But a little bit of Mayan has entered my soul. Now I can write from the heart.
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Monday, 9 May 2011

Another grand day out.

I have been on my travels again this weekend and this time I went to a TV screenwriters event at De Montfort  University Leicester. An excellent day with successful writers and producers giving us an insight on how to apply good structured  drama that suits the needs of today's broadcasting market.
The event was entitled 'Elements of Drama' with guest speakers covering the core elements of a drama series, the 'Drama Landscape' points towards the current commissioners and developing executives at the centre of drama commissioning, horror writing, and sit-com writing. With lunch and drinks available at the end of the day there was plenty of opportunity to network and speak to the people who know.
Watch out for this event next year. Its not to be missed I assure you.
I've had to put 'Midnight at the Alhambra' on the back burner for a while for two reasons.
The day job has been rather hectic lately, and I've written a final draft of Ushabti and submitted to an agent.
Only one agent? Yes well its a start.
I'm off on my hols this coming weekend for two weeks. I might just send this blog a postcard.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

A Grand Day Out

Twelve miles west of Central London lies the beautiful leafy suburb of Sunbury-on-Thames, home to the Riverside Arts Centre the venue for  Jan Etherington's Comedy Writing Course - Spring Workshop (click on the link for details).
Jan, a successful comedy screenwriter who has penned many sit-coms for ITV and BBC, and her associates Frankie and Heather ensured everybody had a warm welcome and was made completely at ease in what was an intentionally small group.
Small is beautiful and because each one of us were able to get personal attention from Jan and her invited guests,  television actor John Bowler and Comedy Screenwriting agent Dominic Lord.
Jan gave us a useful talk on the ingredients necessary to construct a successful situation comedy.
I had submitted part of my script Ushabti prior to the course and this was superbly brought to life by a reading from members of the group. I can't describe how it felt to see my main characters brought to life for the first time, an experience I will never forget. This was followed up by a critique from members of the group and from the people who know, Jan and Dominic.
I found the day inspiring motivational and most of all enlightening for me in how to pitch and who to pitch to.
A grand day out and I most certainly will return. The next spring workshop is on May 15th for anyone who is interested.

Monday, 14 March 2011

More on Structure and Motivation.

The 'journey' I used to have, until recently, during my unstructured writing days, which I firmly believed was an exciting mystery trip has not been lost. It has been enhanced by the use of my beat sheet and story board. 
I said all this already, in my previous post on this subject. However, I feel I must update my blog now that I am a little further down the line with my new project "Midnight at the Alhambra".

The feeling of waking up in the morning wandering what is going to happen next? in my story is stronger still. Why? Because I can see my scenes at a glance. Answers to what happens next are more evident now I do not have to backtrack though huge clumps of text. My creative momentum is maintained and does not drift off into limbo for days on end like it used to.

I have rewritten my beat sheet since the earlier post. Its no big deal. The beat sheet totals 6 pages, and yet it is the whole story for a 90 minute feature. The index cards are in place...all forty of them each representing a scene. If the scene does not arc and there is no emotional change then the scene will be taken out because there is no point to it. 

My characters are now clearly defined. I feel like a concert pianist having shuffled my sheet music, I am poised at the keyboard ready to play my heart out.


Wish me luck x

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Back from Conference

What a day at my 2nd Get Writing conference at Hatfield University, organised by the good people of Verulam Writer's Circle. So now my creative batteries have been recharged for another year, filled with inspirational and motivational speaking from publishers, agents, buyers and of course the writers.
The difference between last years and this years is the rapid growth of technology. I cannot recall Twitter being mentioned at all last year and yet this year it was not just mentioned but indeed promoted. One speaker went so far to say "if you're a writer and you don't use Twitter...why?" Personally I don't get it. I haven't got to grips with how to use Twitter in a functional way in terms of networking with people within the literary world and having to do this within 140 characters. When it comes to words I can't see myself being that economic. I have a Twitter account, and I use it to promote this blog, but I'm not reaching the right Twitterers.

Kindle has taken the book world by storm, with millions of people giving them as presents to their loved ones at Christmas. I was no exception. Indeed I received my Kindle in November for my birthday. Today,I came away from the conference with mixed feelings about my newfound boy toy. As I have said in a previous post, I have been on a massive binge-read since November, but I now share the guilt that our beloved bookstores are seriously under threat.
I have not turned my back on P-books or tree books as they are now described, and have purchased real books since having my Kindle. I think readers, writers and booksellers have to think seriously about how we can all benefit from this change. Waterstones, WHSmiths and other retail outlets need to look at how they can    compete with Amazon. One delegate suggested bookstores need to remain in the High Street so readers can browse and handle the books physically and then decide whether to purchase the paper book or download to a flash drive in store. I for one would prefer to do that than online.
It has been suggested that there could be an alternate market for writers who may want to think about writing specifically for the e-book  market, with shorter 'Kindle-sized paragraphs, short stories, novelettes and perhaps serialized stories. Instead of waiting for the Tsunami, the booksellers should by all means embrace the change and go with it, but not without finding a way to preserve the printed page.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Get Writing 2011

I forgot to mention, I am going to Get Writing 2011 conference on 19/02/11 (this Saturday). I went to this event last year and got to meet crimewriter Mark Billingham. Interestingly enough, crime is a favourite genre of book reading for me, and I don't generally read comedy although I write it. Mark Billingham said, "don't write comedy, it is too difficult," but although he's an award winning crimewriter, when he's not writing he does stand-up comedy on the comedy club circuit.

This years keynote speaker is writer/broadcaster Sue Cook. There will also be publishers and agents addressing the conference and some handy workshops too.

I know its late in the day but there are a limited number of spaces left..

Structure and motivation.

From time to time I do correspond and meet with other writers. Whenever people mention structure and planning to me I go quiet. When forced into a corner I will mutter something about my writing being a journey, and that the journey is a mystery tour because sometimes even I don't know where it's going. I have come to believe if it's a good trip for me then it will be a good trip for my reader or audience.
Editing this somewhat haphazard modus operandi of writing can be an arduous task, because I am trying to establish some structure, shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
A screenwriting friend recently Skyped me from NY and recommended "Save the Cat" by Blake Snyder, which is supposed to be the last word on screenwriting.
I got my book delivered from Amazon with 3 days and within 3 days more I had read it. Snyder's book left me so motivated I felt like an athlete poised at the starting blocks.
I rushed out to Ryman Stationery and bought a large notice board, index cards and coloured pens. I then produced a template for my 'Beat Sheet' and wrote the story divided into 15 specific beats which were so specific they reserve in advance what page number they will be on.
I'm at the 'Board' stage now, that's Board and not Bored, which I have sectioned off into Acts 1, 2 and 3, (2 being sub-divided into two parts) and then commence to write my Scenes on the index cards. When they are all on the board, all 40 of them, then I can adjust my structure at this stage, a bit like a jigsaw puzzle, which is a whole lot better than rearranging whole chunks of writing, as you cannot see a whole script in one glance.
Blake Snyder says a lot more about scene writing and character development, but you'll need to buy the book to find out more.
I haven't lost that 'journey' experience I previously had in my writing. The journey happens for me in putting my beat sheet together and then on the storyboard.
None of this is writing, but boy the writing will flow so much better when I know where I am going. I hope my fingers can keep up.
My partner read my beat sheet, and said "It's not your usual style of writing, and there is no comedy there." I pointed out to her that it isn't my writing at all until I go to the laptop and  bring the story to life by adding richness and depth to the characters, location and storyline.
Comedy is absent from my story at the planning stage, because story is paramount, and comedy is my preferred style of presenting my characters as the story unfolds. I don't plan comedy.
I'm writing a film script this time. I don't expect it will ever go into production because it involves location expenses and no producer would do that for a new writer. It is a story I have wanted to tell and for me it's a worthwhile project in my mission to develop into a writer in my latter years.
Its called Midnight at the Alhambra, and I will post a sample in the near future.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Finding a balance.

I have spoken about my experiences of constructive criticism from the screenwriters group I go to once a month.  I have sent another post to this blog about editing. Well I have had  good criticism from my group. There are some good writers there who really know what they're talking about, which sent me on my way back to my computer to edit, then edit and edit.
Hey I think I've found another condition to rival Writer's Block. I'm going to call it Writer's Locked-In Syndrome. It is when you are thinking about what you want to say and keep changing it, until it reaches a point that unless you release those words soon you're never going to be heard. Does that make sense?
So I've had my proof reading, and I think I've polished my script so much that any more polishing and I am likely to rub it away. It's time to submit.
I am so agonisingly slow. Goodness knows how I'd cope should I ever become an established writer and have to work to deadlines. But then I could give up the day job which would unburden me of a major distraction.
I know you shouldn't rely too much on friends for criticism, because friends have difficulty with pointing out errors or anything that as a reader they do not understand. The tendency being they only want to tell you what they assume you want to hear. But last week I thought, what the heck, and passed my electronic reader (which I had uploaded my script on) to two co-workers. The first reader, (Daspikster, one of my followers on this blog) is a young man who does stand up comedy in the Comedy Clubs around London, and also is writing some comedy himself. My second reader, Omesh has written a self help book, so as you can see I have chosen my readers carefully.
The upshot of all this was, I can honestly say is, from the feedback that was given was that they had been entertained. "I was laughing out loud" was one of the comments which helped convince me, my script is now ready.
I have now printed the final draft and will be sending it to the BBC Writersroom, in the hope that I can avoid the slush pile. Having had Henley's Ricotta rejected by them without any feedback, I have since improved that script enormously, but, alas, the rules of the BBC are that I can never send the same script to them twice. This is probably the reason I have sat on Fairfax Goes to Ephesus for so long, because you only get one shot at it.
The reality of the situation is that the BBC Writersroom receive, on average, 10,000 scripts per year, most of which only have the first 10 pages read, so I have to expect rejection.
My rejection plan this time will be to see if I can get myself an agent, who will advocate for me and try and get in that way. There again, I'm up against it as like the BBC, agents  also handle thousands of scripts and manuscripts per year.
Oh, why can't I be normal and do something else with my spare time like grow vegetables.