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
I’ve just read the 2014 Happy New Year blog post and it made me laugh.
I think I managed to achieve just one of the goals that I set myself this time twelve months ago and that was passing my masters degree.
Weightwatchers – well I joined and I did lose a stone last year but I’ve probably put that back on towards the end of the year with a decrease in exercise and an increase in baked goods for breakfast = no that’s not me below but if I don’t watch myself it might be………..
Buying clothes on payday – I don’t even remember writing that one……haha. Needless to say that it didn’t happen. I’m still happily living in jeans and converse, but after listening to an interview with the uber-cool Mary Anne Hobbs on Womens Hour I am going to embrace the fact that I like feeling comfortable. Hobbs states that she still wears jeans from seventeen years ago because she likes the comfort in them. That’s good enough for super-cool Hobbs then that is good enough for me – I might even get my global hyper-colour t-shirt from the loft and revitalise that.
Therefore for 2015 there shall be no resolutions. Resolutions merely state that there are elements about yourself that you are unhappy with and to be perfectly honest……I’m quite happy in this place that I’ve found myself in.
What about everyone else? Have you made any resolutions?
This month I have gone back in time by three years, as I have purchased a paper moleskin diary in an attempt to get myself more organised.
I’ve been struggling to manage my time and the amount of tasks that I do during the week – and this is not even tasks to do with the day job.
Since beginning high school at the age of twelve I have kept a paper diary. I’ve even still got old diaries hidden away in my cupboards which now and again I’ll have a look at.
Three years ago I decided to embrace technology more, ditch the paper diary and keep everything on my electronic calendar which is on my mobile and on my work Outlook.
It works a treat. Every single appointment for myself, the kids and even the husband are added to the electronic calendar.
I’ve even gone as far as colour coding the various appointments.
It was working a treat until last month I ended up being asked to take on regular online writing, putting together match programmes for my sons sports team, arranging interviews for my weekly radio show and not to mention my own writing deadlines with the radio soap.
A lot of deadlines to remember every week, and I was starting to feel overwhelmed that I couldn’t keep a track on tasks and appointments.
Being organised is one thing that I am really good at in my day job. I can organise as many activities that are thrown my way, multi-task, prioritise and delegate.
Yet in my personal life I always feel like I’m drowning.
So I decided to go back to 2010 and purchase a paper diary so that I could see if it would help me in my aim to organise my private life.
Not that I need much encouraging in purchasing new stationery items. I decided to purchase a small moleskin diary which has the week listed on one side and a lined sheet on the opposite side which I use as a to do list/reminders.
Not to mention the colour-coded stickers.
Amazingly going back to the retro paper based product has worked a treat.
There’s also something really satisfying about crossing off items on a ‘to do list’ as well.
It has also made me realise just how much writing I am actually doing each week.
I may not be making progress on my personal scripts. I am however, writing two scenes per week for my collaborative radio soap, several features for a sports programme per week, online articles and submitting sketches and one-liners for a BBC radio show.
Have you ever ditched paper for paper-less, did it work for you?
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.
The past seventy-two hours has been consumed with discussions, media and posts about A-level results.
Tip-top advice for any A-level student who need to know what to expect next with their achieved results.
But what about us parents? The world seems to discard the anguish and anticipation of what we go through during the lead up and on the day of that all important Thursday during August.
My Wednesday nights sleep was disturbed several times as I lay awake hoping that my son will pass his exams. A last minute change of university meant that he was holding out for clearing at a local university.
I did advise him back in October 2013 to select one university close to home in case he had a change of heart about moving away. As usual, he didn’t listen to me so was left declining all his places and taking his chances in clearing.
I drove him to Sixth Form at 8.00am on Thursday morning and even before we got through the front door I could feel myself getting emotional. I knew I had to keep it together in case the news wasn’t good. Nothing prepares you for that roller-coaster of emotions, it was more nerve-wracking than two months prior when I was waiting to open my results for my Masters degree.
My son’s results were superb but he was a grade away from his first choice of university course. Being adamant that he would resit I left him with his friends and advised him to not completely disregard other courses or universities in the area.
Later in the day he informs me that his chosen university has an even better course that he is interested in and he has the grades to hopefully be offered a place through clearing.
Being laid-back he decides to wait a day to contact them. This is the part that I struggle with. I’m one of these that will get onto things straight away and not chance anything. He’s eighteen though, it’s his future and his life so I had to bite my tongue and offer support when he needed it.
He was offered a place on the course the next day and I was over the moon. The relief I felt was immense as I struggle with anyone having control over members of my family – and yes I know it’s not really strangers having control, but it felt like it.
Again though as a parent you are just thrust into the support role which you have to learn as you go along. Only being able to do so much and hope that your children make the right choices, work hard and succeed in life.
It’s all about the students, quite rightly so but nobody ever asks the parent how they are holding up throughout the stress and strain of exams. For good parents it affects us too so if you’re a young person going through this too – spare a thought for mum and dad.