scriptwriting

15 July : Worthy writery website #wpad

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My favourite website for scriptwriters is Yvonne Grace’s facebook group Script Advice Writers Room.

I’ve been a member of the group for the past couple of years and it really is a wealth of knowledge and advice for scriptwriters.

Writing is such a solitary activity and I have found that having online support which is active on a daily basis has been a valuable part of my learning journey.

Yvonne set up the facebook group as a companion to her main website http://www.scriptadvice.co.uk. It is not only to promote the work that she does but it really is a place for writers to chat, post links and discuss anything script related.
I know if I have a burning question to ask about which is story related that I could post it on the facebook group and somebody would answer it in no time at all.

That in itself is a valuable lifeline to be part of.

Anybody else have some worthy writery websites that can help me out?

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

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A mascot is : A person or thing that is supposed to bring good luck or that is used to symbolize a particular event or organization.

One thing I enjoy about taking part in the #wpad challenge is that some of the prompts make me start to think about things in a different manner.

I’ve never contemplated having a writing mascot before; does a bottle of wine count as one? Because when that bottle is by the side of my laptop and I’ve consumed a glass or two then for some bizarre reason my fingers and brain come alive. I guess the alcohol from the bottle symbolizes a sudden rush of creativity – therefore would be classed as a mascot?

Maybe not then.

It’s something I will definitely consider for the future. It’ll also be a good excuse to trawl through the writer websites which I adore but never purchase from such as

http://www.theliterarygiftcompany.com/
http://www.somethingliterary.co.uk/gifts-for-writers

As I embark on my final masters project in September which will hopefully produce not only two exciting episodes of television, a calling card script and some confidence in my ability. Perhaps it would be a worthwhile investment in purchasing a writing mascot that accompany me to my graduation ceremony if I pass the script-writing degree.

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

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

12 July : Stationery – friend or foe #wpad

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September in the 80s and 90s was my favourite time of the year. Not because it was back to school as I didn’t particularly enjoy high school, but it meant that I could buy new pencil cases, pens and notebooks.

I used to be a stationery geek.

There was nothing more satisfying than purchasing new coloured files and writing my name on them, buying a new bag and pens etc.pencil case

This excitement is probably a thing of the past to us stationery geeks and children in twenty years probably won’t have to use bags to carry anything.

2013 should be another year where we progress to paper-less working environments.

My place of work has made significant changes to our working practices in introducing many processes which were originally a paper-based form and now have been adopted to online forms.

I’m not afraid of change in this respect and prefer for processes to be quick, efficient and for there to be better audit trails in place. But in my personal life change is something that takes a while sometimes.

In 2012 I finally decided to embrace the electronic calendar and didn’t buy my usual academic A5 paper diary which I have done for the past 12 years. This was a big step for me as I prefer to write reminders in the diary, so I can flick through and keep on top of my schedule. I decided to try and keep this online with my outlook calendar which is synced to my mobile and tablet.
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It took a while to get used to. I missed being able to flick to the relevant week and see what meetings, tasks that I had to do. However, I find having an electronic diary a godsend now. I can set reminders, email appointments to the other half so that he can remember things such as parents evenings etc. Plus the geek in me likes to colour code every entry in my calendar.

I was also one of these who wouldn’t embrace the kindle at first either, “I like to be able to smell the pages and physically turn the pages” was my response every time I was asked about the kindle. It was only when I moved locations in my day job and had to commute by two trams that I decided to try the kindle out. Being crushed in rush hour tram hell, not able to put a hand in my bag to get the book out, let alone turn a page gave me the kick I needed to try out the kindle. I’ve never looked back. It’s such a genius device if you are in a crush and need to read in order to save some sort of sanity.

Finally, I do still carry round my moleskin notebook which I use to write notes during theatre reviews, write down snippets of conversations that I have overheard and any general bits and pieces that I want to remember in written form.

Stationery – is it your friend or foe?

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

10 July : Where I write #wpad

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Every writer needs their own space in order to get their bum on a seat and put words onto a screen.

I’m no exception.

I’m fortunate enough to have a converted loft room which houses my desk, chair, music and book shelves. There are two sofa beds and a TV too, as I am frequently joined by my youngest wee boy when I am up there.

Not one to normally brag about things, but I do have the best desk ever. It is designed specifically for people with back conditions which I have suffered with in the past. The desk is a hydraulic powered one (I think that is what it is called anyway), so when the back is playing up I can just press a switch and it will rise high enough that I can write while standing up.

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Computer

The best venue that I have written at is Gladstone Library http://www.gladstoneslibrary.org I spent a couple of days there last year when I was working on my script for the end of my first year masters.

Walking into the library, I felt like I had walked into Hogwarts. Single desks with lamps are scattered across the library and there is a real sense of creativity being made in the one space. I’ll be booking a few days there again when I start work on my final project in the next academic year.

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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

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

6 July : Self evaluation #wpad

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As part of my masters degree in scriptwriting, a part of the assessment criteria is to provide a self-assessment report after each script.

It is a really helpful way of stepping back and recollecting the process that was undertaken from coming up with a pitch, writing a treatment and all the other steps that are undertaken before the final script is handed in.

For each script that I’ve written there has been something that has resonated with me which has changed the process that I have undertaken for the next one. Some things which I know if I did differently would assist me such as not leaving the script until the last minute, although I am aware of this, I still manage to carry on with the same sloppy behaviour.

Perhaps I just work to a deadline, and I react to pressure better when there are not many hours to go until the script is due.

A short but sweet blog entry for challenge six.
This is a post for http://www.writesofluid.com blog writing challenge. One blog post a day for all of July.

5 July : Planned or spontaneous

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Before I even start on this blog post please refer to the following paragraph.spontaneous

THE VIRGO WOMAN
Governed by Earth, the Virgo woman is inherently practical, basing her thoughts on reality, not imagination. Sensation and experience are more important than emotion and fantasy to the Virgo woman. The Maiden walks with feet firmly on the ground, stepping gracefully and gently in her sensible reality. Detail oriented, she will be the only person to have brought a tin-opener to a camping cookout, and then offer the china plates – that no one else thought to bring – to serve dinner on. This is a dynamite of a woman, who literally does think of everything. And where would you be without her, is the supporting refrain. Virgo women like systematic approaches and planned routines.

Don’t tell anyone but I am a huge control freak. I totally am, a massive controller of freaky behaviour.

It would please me no end to just drop everything and whisk myself off into an adventure on the spur of the moment, but unfortunately I would suffer with anxiety if I didn’t have a plan of action to follow. Not only will a plan be in place, but there will also be a back up plan in case the plan A’s go tits up.

Writing is the same. As I have mentioned several times in this blog, I love to write dialogue. For me, that is the idea of heaven. But I find that I can’t just start writing dialogue for a character without a structure in place. I therefore begin with a treatment, plot, longer treatment, character biogs and then step outlines for each scene.

Only at that point when I have the step-outline (which I dislike doing) will I then start to write dialogue.

Everything in my life is exactly like my writing and it frustrates the hell out of me. Always planning, then planning for if the plan fails.

I hate to admit it but I am the token Virgo woman, and yes it means there are elements in my life which are slightly mundane. Would I have it any other way? Mmmmm

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