radio drama series

Happy New Year

Posted on Updated on

Image

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged on here, and to be honest I feel a bit bad about that.

A couple of reasons really, I’ve been busy writing two plays and continueing with all the other writing commitments that I have. I’m struggling with an ongoing back problem which has made it just bareable to carry on working, but leaving me exhausted in the evening and just being damn right lazy.

I’m still to blog about my trip to NYC, the saga with my ailing back and my Christmas radio play.

For the person who read a review I did about a certain play that I endured at The Lowry who went on to say that I was a frustrated writer and hadn’t finished anything. Well I have and I had a radio play broadcast four times over Christmas. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Eve. I’m also well on my way to writing two out of six episodes of my comedy drama “The Starr GIrls” – yes you read it here first. Determined to get those finished and hopefully graduate this year with my MA in Television and Radio Scriptwriting, unless my back gets in the way. It would be a fabulous achievement to have completed my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in my thirties.

With the new year comes those awful new years resolutions. What is it that a different day, brings with it a time of reflection and the need to change things about oneself.

I don’t like new years resolutions – I much prefer to set myself targets. That way if I fail miserably I won’t feel like such a failure which I think with resolutions you do. I know, it’s the same thing really isn’t it?

What are yours? I love finding out from people.

I’m going to be joining weightwatchers again on Thursday – along with half of the population I suspect. I don’t know what’s happened to me in the past 18 months but my will power got up and left me, and with it it’s left some extra flab and a horrendous sweet tooth. I managed to lose a couple of stones before I started the job where I am now. But overtime it’s slowly crept back on. Not helped with having to decrease my exercise when my back started giving me hell shortly after returning from holiday in September. So back to fat club I will go, back to counting points, being hungry and if I am a grumpy cow at the moment it will get worse when my belly is screaming out for snickers and custard creams.

Facebook. Oh yes indeed this one rears it’s ugly head as I realise how much time I spend reading posts every day. I have eased myself off posting things on there other than posters, captions etc but I do need to stop reading it before I get up in the morning. It winds me up – full of attention seekers, show offs, baby bores or moaners. I much prefer twitter and have a fondness for a number of my followers, but just love the way I can watch TV and find out the opinion of others who are watching the same show as me. Powerful stuff.

I’ve already mentioned trying to pass my degree this year. I’m also going to try and not be a doormat that certain people in my life only contact when they want something. In future I am going to put myself first, and to stop tieing myself in knots to try and please folk.

Every payday I am going to treat myself to an item of clothing. Over Christmas I have looked through my wardrobe which is full of clothes which I never wear anymore, clothes that are faded and tattered. I have a couple of pairs of shoes and that is all. I realise that I really need to invest in making myself feel better about myself and it starts with clothes. A woman of my age should not live in converse, and work shoes – have no clothes to go shopping in other than jeans and a hoodie. No more, I wouldn’t think twice about spending money on my kids so it’s time to spend a little on myself.

And that’s it. There’s enough there to keep me going in 2014. We’ll see how many I actually achieve by the time I reach the end of this year. But, no matter what I do or don’t achieve this year one thing I did do was finally go to New York City. If I never do anything more with my life at least I have the fabulous memories of that wonderful city.

Advertisements

20 July : What motivates me #wpad

Posted on Updated on

Everybody has varying factors which motivate them each day.

In a work capacity it’s surprising to note that for most people a high salary is not a motivating factor in their job role. During a workshop in my day job I was shown the following video which is worth a look, even if you’re not interested in the content of the discussion, watch it purely for how well the artist can draw.

As a writer I am motivated whenever I am around other like minded people.

I often attend masterclasses, talks or short courses as I find it motivating hearing about other people. I’m not the best networker but I am forcing myself to escape from my introverted shell and try to put myself out there.

The weekend just gone is an example of that. I attended Writing for Radio workshop organised by Euroscript which was a full day’s session in London. Not only did I learn a vast amount about writing for the radio medium but I also made some useful contacts with other writers. A number of them are attending the London Screenwriters Festival in October so at least I will know at least a couple more delegates than I knew last year.

The workshop tutor was also an industry professional so hearing firsthand experience from somebody who has been where I am currently really motivates me too.

This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of July.

13 July : Editing tips #wpad

Posted on Updated on

One thing to have been drummed into me throughout my journey as a student on my scriptwriting MA is about editing, or “rewriting” “redrafting” etc.

It’s probably the main gripe of writers because we feel so precious about our stories to then look at the plot, characters and conflicts and starting to trim the fat from the script is a tough ask.

But, it is an essential part of the process. Writers look at their scripts with rosy coloured tinted glasses on. Those characters are like family to us and of course we don’t want to have to admit that they are not currently perfect, have we pushed our protagonist to the point of them pulling their hair out? Does the theme show in the script?

With all of my scripts whether they be radio, stage or TV there are three things that I ask as I am going through the editing stage.

• Does this scene advance the story?
• Is there conflict in the scene – who wants what, why and who is getting in the way?
• Does the scene add exposition?

Because there is no such thing as the perfect writer, then after the first draft there will be two or three yes’s in there. Time to rewrite the scene and press that delete key.

Another tip for scriptwriting is that each scene needs to start as late as possible and end as soon as possible, even better if there is a cliffhanger which will stop the audience from hitting the change channel button.
notepaper and pen

This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of July.

7 July : Writing fuel #wpad

Posted on Updated on

Like most writers I get my fuel from real life situations.

Conversations between colleagues at work, listening to family members, friends and the most golden fuel is listening to people travelling on public transport. Sometimes it doesn’t need to be between two people, thankfully due to the lack of privacy that people seem to have I have listened to whole conversations between people on a mobile phone. It still amazes me that people don’t end their phone conversations when they are getting on a busy bus or tram, but great for us writers who can use these snippets of dialogue for future works.fuel 3

Facebook is also a fantastic resource when creating characters. There are people whose posts entertain me no end, and they make great characters as their flaws are sometimes exposed in their status updates.

Documentaries are a rich source for potential stories too. One of my ideas which has been shelved for now due to existing projects, came about from watching a documentary about social services last year. One woman in the programme kept having children and because her partner and herself were drug addicts then the babies got taken off them. I didn’t want to write that story but as a character she was so flawed as she couldn’t read, write and had no self confidence. This gave me the idea to use her and write a story about what would happen to that relationship if she did learn to read and write.
fuel
I always have my notebook to hand whenever I hear something that I could use in a script or an idea for a character. Reviewing for theatre is also a great way to not only watch some great plays, but generally it is good to immerse yourself in different stories and characters as you never know when something will stand out intrinsically and could lead to a new idea.

News stories are also a great fuel for writing as these events have already happened either in a newspaper or on TV. The challenge as the writer is to create characters and a storyline to recreate that event. Such as the movie Argo, the story of the film crew pretending to be shooting a movie to smuggle out American diplomats who couldn’t leave Tehran. That really happened but what the writer did was to enhance that experience to create a movie.

I find fuel in having a peaceful, clutter free environment to type in, preferably with no access to the internet so that I cannot be distracted. I work better to music, and even better after a glass of wine. However, due to my no alcohol before 7pm rule this isn’t always the case.

The best fuel a writer can have is just to sit down and write – stop procrastinating and just get on with it. Oh if only I could practice what I preach!
fuel2
This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of July.

1 July : What I write #wpad

Posted on Updated on

Firstly I have decided to take on the http://www.writesofluid.com blog challenge again for the month of July. I participated in the June challenge right up to day twenty-five and then due to what I can only describe as pure exhaustion from not only the busiest month at work, but also a deadline for my MA, I couldn’t force myself to switching on my laptop for a few days.

After a weekend of what can only be described as pure relaxation I am ready to get that brain into gear and those fingers engaged again. Having a daily challenge is just what I need and the prompts for July look rather stimulating. And, of course every new follower that I get for my blog gives me a few minutes of feeling good about myself – and everybody should have something in their lives that makes them feel thankful.

Onto challenge number one What I write? Let me tell you that whatever it is that I write, it’s always a lot easier when I have done some of this – see photograph of me in Florence……….Adventure in Europe 2012 527

What I like to write are scripts, as I enjoy writing dialogue and thinking of ways to show the audience what is going on in a story without having to write dialogue for it. That isn’t always easy. Creating characters is always exciting, as you start out with perfection. A name, age and sex of a character which you then start chipping away with flaws, hang-ups and obstacles until what is left is a fully rounded person who is going to drive a story through those flaws rather than having them happen. It sounds simple, but getting the characters right for the story is taxing.

I wrote a radio script late last year which I really enjoyed as writing for that medium is different from television and stage writing. Radio writing is something that I intend on going back to after I have completed my MA project. I’m attending a one day writing for radio workshop in London in a couple of weeks and am hoping to get some inspiration for a future project from there.

I write plays, although I can’t really call myself a playwright yet as I haven’t actually finished one yet. I have two plays which have been performed in a read through by actors, but finding the time to complete them is another matter.

I write theatre reviews for http://www.publicreviews.com and http://www.thegoodreview.co.uk

Reviewing for theatre has enriched my life more than I could have expected. I’ve been only doing it for six months but I have experienced some wonderful shows, and some not so great. I have met actors, writers and other reviewers through it. It’s a great way to see lots of different shows and not have to be a financial burden. Through this I have discovered the Manchester fringe scene which I wasn’t really aware of before, and it has given me the incentive to firstly try and write a complete play of my own, and to also get it put on in Manchester. Reviewing shows is also gold for a writer as it enables you to see many stories being told and be able to analyse why some work and some don’t. Hearing other writers voices also helps with having your own voice.

Finally the blog http://www.northernscribbler.com although it is often hit and miss whether I post anything.

For now though, my focus for my writing is for my MA in Television and Radio Scriptwriting. Passing the course is my priority for 2014, after that who knows where the scribbling will take me.

This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of July.

Education / Self taught : Challenge 24

Posted on Updated on

self taughtLast night I logged onto the #scriptchat conversation on twitter and asked the same question to the panel which were @Bang2write and @Julie_Gray. As I anticipated they didn’t favour one over the other, it is entirely a personal choice.

I’m an advocate of education – just as well as I work in a university. Having undertaken many courses over the years to build up my qualifications for work and also as a personal goal. I’m a firm believer that it’s important to have qualifications, but just as important to have relevant experience, skills and knowledge.

I was a late starter when I undertook my degree. It was something that niggled me throughout my twenties as there were many jobs in the public sector that looked like something I could do, but the person specification always requested “educated to degree level”. Early 2005 I did a magazine journalism course, which followed by me signing up for a degree at the Open University.

After I graduated in 2009 I had a burning ambition to then study for a masters, but I was adamant that it would be in something that I felt passionate about. Scriptwriting ticked both those boxes, so I was ecstatic to be offered a place on the course.

Now I am at the end of the postgraduate diploma part of the course, I must admit that although I could have just bought a lot of books about scriptwriting, and if it works for people then that will save them a heap of cash. However, for me attending a class every week, listening to lectures, masterclasses and then receiving feedback from my peers has been invaluable.

I have experienced aspects that I never would have if I was self-taught. The best experience was during my radio drama module where I was present at the drama being recorded in a radio studio with a group of talented performance students. Hearing your words and characters come to life is really valuable. With the medium of radio too, it is easy to spot mistakes that have been made with the script which don’t work in an audible medium.

Being part of a small community of like-minded individuals has kept me motivated during some difficult times over the two years. There are times when you wonder whether you can actually do this, especially when those rejection emails come from the writers room and other script calls. Personally without my class mates I’m not sure I would have got to the end of the course,and I’m hoping that my dissertation will give me the calling card I need. education

I know other writers through twitter who were entirely self-taught, and this goes to show that it is a personal preference. I absorb information if I can hear somebody talk, and for me to take notes. But, it’s also reassuring for any future writers that there are a lot of very good text-books out there that can do the trick as well.

How about yourself? Do you favour education or think that self-taught is just as effective.

This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of June.

Self-promotion : Challenge 23

Posted on Updated on

It’s all well sitting behind a screen and dreaming that one you’d like to see your play on a stage being performed by actors, or listening to a piece of radio that you wrote etc. This will only happen once you get your name out and the internet is a great place to start.

The goal is visibility. Name recognition can lead to industry awareness, respect, paid writing assignments, and greater creative control over your career. That would be a nice goal to aspire to, but I still need to pay the bills and working full time in the day job will be a reality for years to come. Somehow, Hollyoaks or Corrie aren’t going to come knocking, unless I can go to them with some credits to my name.

The first stop was to get some work published online so I sent off my CV and examples of written features. Two e-zines took me on as a features writer so long as I could contribute three articles per month. The first time I saw an article that I had penned published online with my name next to it, well that was a nice feeling. Always great to see your name next to something that you have put heart and soul into.

The next piece of advice I was given was to start a blog. Having no idea what I would write about, the only thing at the time that I felt confident writing about was running. My first blog title Sweaty Betty was born. I wrote in that for approximately nine months. Due to a serious back injury which affected my running, I neglected this and felt that I wasn’t in the position to blog on that subject given the current circumstances with my health.

I don’t know about other people, but thinking of a name for a blog is not the easiest of things to come up with. I rattled my brains for weeks to think of a catchy title, that would not only sum me up, but also be a reference to what my interests were. I wanted the blog to reflect my journey as a struggling writer, and then The Northern Scribbler was born.

The blog has only been live for nine months, but already has over 1800 views, and I’m pretty sure they are not all from my mum and the other half. It’s always a massive compliment when a complete stranger decides to follow my blog, as they don’t know me and they have taken the time to sign up to an email notification everytime I post something. I currently have 42 people who have signed up to following my blog and I appreciate every single one of them.

I’ve been taking part in @sofluid June writing challenge this month. I decided to participate as my entries to the blog were very sporadic and I wanted to spark some life into the site. As a result of doing this challenge the creator of http://www.writesofluid.com wanted to feature me in an interview about the challenge. This was a really nice request, I’ve never been interviewed for anything before – except jobs, and quite a compliment to be featured next to “proper published authors”.scribbler

Finally, in order for me to gain a greater knowledge of stories and structure I decided to become an online theatre reviewer. It’s a great way to see live shows and Manchester is rich in the arts industry, both with our fantastic The Lowry, Opera House and the Royal Exchange Theatre, but also it has a large fringe theatre scene which seems to be growing. Being part of this is such a privilege, and is also a cost effective way to see lots of exciting plays.
This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com’s blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of June.