There is good reason for the blog silence over the past few months. A real creative surge!
This play has seen a very long, yet incredible journey from concept to the rehearsal room in just under three years. I am currently scribing a separate blog about the birth of this play. It holds very dear in my heart as I feel that ‘Bleeding with Mother‘ has grown in character as much as I’ve grown as a writer over the past three years.
The community radio soap which I co-write Station Road is also back on the airwaves this week after a long break. It is wonderful to hear it again, and reminds me of how much I have developed throughout that incredible experience of being part of a writing team for the past two years. You can listen live on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5.30pm on ALL FM 96.9
And finally I’ve been undertaking an intensive block of script development sessions with Scriptwriting North which resulted in a first draft of a brand new radio drama which was table-red by professional actors last week.
To say 2016 has been a productive year is an understatement. It’s been fuelled by coffee, a new laptop and a great deal of support.
Station Road is a continuing radio drama about life in a fictitious and gritty Manchester street. Not only do the characters work and live on Station Road but there is also a public house, café, urban farm and a corner shop.
Hearing the scripts come alive for the first time on Saturday was quite simply marvellous. A couple of the writers, myself included were interviewed live in the studio at ALL FM prior to the episode being aired.
The episode was played mid-interview, and it was pretty special not only hearing our scripts come to life but we also have a theme tune. An actual catchy theme tune that we’ve since been humming in our script meetings.
A surreal moment yesterday as I left work to drive to the weekly Station Road writers meeting, the pilot was played out again during ALL FM’s Drivetime show and as I sat in traffic, I felt such pride listening to the scene that I wrote
It’s been a while since I wrote about how I am finding being part of the writers group for the radio soap.
Twelve months on and we are a core of six writers, meeting weekly and we have currently written 168 scenes on our brand new community radio soap opera.
It has been an organic process to get to where we are. Twelve months ago there were fifteen writers at the very first session and to be honest it would have been chaos if it had continued to be that number, and I’m not sure that I would have been in it for the long haul either.
As the initial weeks passed by a writer would stop coming to the meetings until we found it to be the same six writers that would turn up each week.
This was a good number of people to have involved in the process. It meant that we were able to really get to grips with the characters that we created, the world that the soap is set in and without a large number of people to get their point across meant that storylining is more of less a discussion rather than a battle.
Within the team there are various expert areas. A stand-up comedian, a short story professional, an actor, a novice and a radio writer/presenter. With our diverse backgrounds I think we get the best from our characters and we all more or less write our scenes with the same tone, and voice.
Our weekly meetings consist of reading through the previous weeks scenes. This is my favourite part as it’s enjoyable hearing the characters come to life and from something that we’d discussed briefly during story lining to actually having full scenes which feed into the overall soap feels like an accomplishment.
The writer of the scene to be read aloud has to talk briefly about the scene, where the conflict is and what is the change from the beginning to the end of the scene. Some scenes are harder than others to do this.
After the read throughs, we then look into the stories for the next week. Where our characters are up to in terms of their story lines and which characters are needed to assist in developing the story further.
We’ve been a writing group for a year now and it has passed really quickly. The actors were cast before Christmas and recordings are made each week. It’ll be really good to finally hear it on air though, something that I am looking forward to.
A number of things that I have learned from my experience of being part of a collaborative group of writers.
• Discussions amongst more than one person can generate a raft of ideas.
• If a character hasn’t got a solid back-story and biog then writers can really struggle when it comes to putting that character under conflict. It’s important that this is nailed down at the very start of introducing this character otherwise it never seems believable.
• Drop-box is a valuable tool for sharing ideas and scripts.
• Being part of a writing team keeps you motivated. We meet on a Monday night and on several occasions when I’ve had a really tough day at work, what I’ve really wanted to do is go home to rest. Knowing that there are five people relying on you means that you have to attend. I’ve never been to a meeting and not come away feeling motivated again.
• Being taught to listen to others and let go of your own great ideas if the group decide that something else works better.
• Learning to compromise and not feel precious about an idea.
I’m sure there will be more to blog about as the year progresses.
Once I get the official airtime date I will ensure I update this site.
I thought it was time to write a brief update to follow on from a series of blog entries that I posted last year about collaborative writing.
I joined a Manchester community radio station exactly a year ago after seeing a call out for writers for a new soap that they were launching.
Initially approximately 15 people were at the first session. Everybody was very keen and enthusiastic to get involved in the project. After all, we’re all human ad our very nature is to want to be part of a group with a common interest.
As the weeks passed by the numbers began to dwindle until after three months it became a core team of six, including myself.
We had a list of characters with their own biogs and back story, we had a map of the road and various areas of interest such as a pub, cafe, bistro, farm and garage. Now to come up with a name.
We settled on the name ‘Station Road’ given that our radio station is next door to a train station and the fictional world that is our soap is meant to be local.
The next part was to now start writing the thing.
The team comprises of various writers from short story experts, comedy, theatre writers, novices and me.
Luckily I’d written a radio drama in a group for one of my modules on my masters degree so I was able to share the tools that we used in terms of
My last post about Collaborative Writing was over 14 weeks ago, and I’m happy to report that I’m still part of the writing team for a new radio continuing drama series for a Manchester community radio station.
We started out five months ago as a team of fourteen writers, of all writing ability and over the weeks have now dwindled down to a regular writing team of six.
We have a full cast of characters with their back stories, storylines, real life actors have now been cast to start recording the series in two weeks time and we the writers are all frantically scribbling at an amazing speed to ensure that the scripts are ahead of each recording.
There is finally a name for the radio soap too although not sure if that is being officially launched in the upcoming weeks. Maybe not the best of ideas to publicise it on here in case there is going to be a big PR campaign planned for it in a few weeks time.
It’s great to be part of a writing team. I experienced it as part of my Masters degree in Scriptwriting for the Radio Drama module, but nothing is better than experiencing it in real life.
The best thing about the weekly writers meeting is that we all have our own ideas about how a character should react to a situation etc. However, the collaborative process means that we get to bounce ideas off each other and just having those discussions (sometimes heated) means that what could start off as a good idea can be bounced around and with a few heads getting together can come out as a great idea.
It’s certainly made me think about my future writing and the possibility of trying to find a writing partner to collaborate with.
I’m going to London Screenwriters Festival later in the month so maybe I should be on the look out for a collaborator.
As expected the group of extremely keen writers in week one had dwindled slightly in week two.
Perhaps it wasn’t what they thought it would be, or maybe they didn’t realise it would be a weekly writers meeting. Anyway our large group of writers in week one was reduced by a third in week two.
Not only was it nicer to work in a smaller, more intimate group setting but it also meant that I managed to take a larger share of the Jaffa cakes during the three hour meeting.
The aim of the meeting was to recap what we had covered in week one, come up with more characters for our project and start looking at potential conflicts and stories between the characters.
In week one it was apparent when we shared our characters that our project wasn’t culturally representative of Manchester.
This gave me all the ammunition I needed to create my next character who is of black origin and is the local councillor for the area.
In the next exercise which involved us writing with a partner myself and another writer who had created an MP decided to lock horns and have a bit of fun with our characters and their dialogue.
I really enjoyed this exercise as the gentleman that I was partnered with was very quiet within the session, but once we began writing together he produced some great one-liners and comedic moments.
We really bounced off each other, and it has made me think of finding a writing partner in the future. Having another set of ideas is refreshing and means that the partner may suggest something that leads to me coming up with a different angle on a story. I wouldn’t excuse it in the future.
The lesson of this week for me is never judge a book by it’s cover.
There are so many different ways to consume media these days whether it be through the television, billboards, social media, the internet, newspapers and magazines.
You’d think with the vastness of these mediums that radio would be a thing of the past.
You couldn’t be further from the truth.
Radio is thriving, which is brilliant news to the likes of myself who consumes many hours of radio every day of the week. From Radio 4 dramas to drivetime shows, the thing I love about radio is that you can be doing other things while absorbing it.
Because I’ve been bitten by the radio broadcasting bug.
It’s true what they say about embracing every opportunity that comes along because you never know where it may take you.
Five months ago I went along to a session with Wythenshawe FM in a small community centre in Baguley. I’d seen an advertisement on the noticeboard for my local supermarket asking if anybody was interested in attending training for either writing radio scripts, presenting, editing and features.
So I went along thinking I could help them with the script writing. After all, I was in my final year of a masters degree in TV and Radio Scriptwriting so broadcasting credits are something that I’m looking for. It became apparent early on, that the other aspects that they were looking for were equally as important.
I felt the colour drain from my face when the words “live broadcasting” were mentioned.
It would be rude to get up and walk out at that point so I stayed for the entire session. But, at that point I had no intention of every broadcasting live – were they mad? I could barely talk to groups of people in work without fluffing my words, let alone a radio audience.
Over the next few days I thought about it more and more. If something scares me I tend to do it anyway as I really enjoy the adrenalin of achieving something that terrifies me, “Feel the fear and do it anyway”.
So, why not give it a go. The worst that can happen is that I freeze on air, and they can always fill in the space with a song.
So I did it. On the 9 December 2013, I co-presented a show with another volunteer at Wythenshawe FM and I must admit the adrenaline from being on air live is something else. Once the initial “feeling like I’m going to have a heart attack” as my heart was pounding through my chest as I waited for my half an hour slot to begin, it was fine.
After the live show in December, I carried on training with the radio station. We covered interview techniques, operating a Marantz, features, jingles, editing and then we had a number of sessions in the studio operating the desk.
The studio sessions really baffled me, as it was one thing having to talk on air, but to also operate the desk and ensure that adverts were played, songs were queued and not to leave the microphone on. The other volunteers and myself all took it in turns to broadcast live for twenty or so minutes each week. This was probably the best way to learn, as we had an experienced member of staff with us all the way to make sure that we kept the station on air.
At this point I was approached to see if I was interested in hosting my own radio show. I had to think about this one. It’s one thing to go on air with other people, but on my own and for an hour? What the hell have I possibly got to say for myself that would interest anybody in listening to me?
So, I thought about it for thirty seconds and said yes, why not. I’m sure I could think of things to talk about without anybody saying anything back to me. I live with three males – I’m used to talking to myself.
On 23 February 2014 The Sunday Matinee Show was first aired.
So, thank you Wythenshawe FM for giving me the opportunity to do something so out of my comfort zone that I would never have dreamed six months ago that I would be hosting my own show.
‘The Sunday Matinee Show’ is not only an entertainment show, but I also want to showcase up and coming local Manchester talent, whether it be writers, theatre companies, actors or musicians etc.