#wpad

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.

11 July : Best non-fiction read (aka a social media rant) #wpad

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Social Media
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Like it or love it, social media is going to be round for some time and if you don’t get on board with it then you’ll just get left behind.

Twitter is my favourite online social networking service and I enjoy reading text-based messages of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets” by some of my favourite writers, sports personalities and friends.

Quite rightly Twitter has gained worldwide popularity, with over 500 million registered users as of 2012, generating over 340 million tweets daily and handling over 1.6 billion search queries per day.

Why do I enjoy using twitter and it not annoy me as much as Facebook does?

a) It’s so simple to use. Type in the tweet box and send – the only restriction is trying to limit your thought into 140 characters, but you soon get used to chopping words down.

b) You start to feel special once those followers start flooding through. Twitter is the pinnacle of making a person feel popular, appreciated and thankful that people want to follow you. If anybody dares to deny that they check their number of followers on a weekly basis is lying. Follow me @sarahcassidy

c) You make new friends. I’ve made some great new virtual friends through twitter just by following fellow writers like myself. I am hoping to meet a couple of them this year at the London Screenwriters Festival.

d) Twitter gives you an audience and you feel like people are listening to you. People tweet whatever crosses their mind – opinions, comments, jokes, questions and other people respond to it. Katie Hopkins is currently riding an incredible wave following on her twitter as she continues to upset/empower people through her non political-correctness tweets.

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I have conflicting relationships with FaceBook.

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Thank goodness that facebook wasn’t around when I was spawning out my kids as I am sure I would have become one of those really annoying parents who posts every single baby photograph onto it.

You know the ones – Dexter’s first tooth, Dexter’s first smile, Dexter’s first shitty nappy, Dexter at school, Dexter at sports day, Dexter and his certificate for having his first shitty nappy, Dexter smiling at receiving his first certificate for his first sports day, Dexter asleep, Dexter asleep while holding his certificate etc.

I am no angel and am known to post the odd photo or two if my kids do something amazing, but it will be just the odd photograph or two.

I will post photographs of scrumptious food that is about to consumed in my greedy belly though as that is way more exciting than Dexter’s shitty nappy.

I also will post my holiday photographs though, because firstly I only allow a few people to view them so I won’t annoy the rest of my faceache friends who I don’t know in real life to view them, and secondly given that I lost 7 years of photographs on a hard drive that was irretrievable earlier this year it is always good to have a back up.

I also take holiday photographs specifically for facebook. A photograph a day was last year’s holiday quest and I’ve no doubt I will continue to annoy my friends with it this year too.

And yes, if I am visiting somewhere amazing in the world I will check into it. I really am that annoying.

But, one thing you will never see from me are photos of drunken nights out, being half naked like some people do, bitching about people, feeling sorry for myself, bragging (unless I am checking into a place), bullying others or requesting friends that I don’t speak to in real life (unless they are distant relatives).

The politics around faceache are immense.

A person who ignores me in everyday life will then request me as a friend.

Secondly, the people who are your friends on FB you suddenly find really annoying but you can’t unfriend them because then it gets weird. What would happen if you unfriended a relative? Has anybody actually ever done that? Did they live to update their status the next day?

Thirdly, you end up remaining friends with absolute numpties so that when you are having a bad day a click on their wall makes you feel so much better about yourself. Come on we all have those friends. It’s like watching Jeremy Kyle, you hate it really but you need to watch it every now and again to make you feel glad that you are normal.

Then comes the irritating birthday saga.

The only day you feel popular now is your birthday when everyone will write on your wall. Woah betide that person who didn’t post Happy Birthday on your wall. It’s been noted and don’t think I will be posting a greeting on their wall when it is their birthday.

Then comes the torment you go through on the actual day because the few people who used to telephone you on your birthday don’t anymore.

Back to the rant on how annoying Faceache is. Well it brings out the attention seekers too. You know the ones with the cryptic status’s such as “I am so unhappy” in a desperate bid for people to comment and ask you all about it. Yawn! Then there are those that will write controversial status’s to engage a long conversation on their newsfeed – again maybe they need to feel special?

Facebook seems to attract the racists, sexists, baby bores, stalkers and moany arses. How I would love to go back in time and never sign up for it. I’m no better than most, the only reason I keep it is to play scrabble, candy crush and read the groups that I follow – and of course keep tabs of those status updates for possible characters in any future writing.

The list could go on. On the plus side though it is a great tool for keeping in touch with friends and family overseas. I’ll be staying with in-law relatives soon in USA and Canada and being able to form a relationship prior to meeting them has been beneficial to me. I know a little bit about them before I meet them for the first time which will help with the nerves as I’m not the most talkative person with people that I don’t know.

Rant over folks, I need to update my status and tweet where I will be sunbathing this lunchtime.

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.

8 July : A day in the life of me #wpad

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This prompt a day blog challenge is the one that I have been least looking forward to writing.

Why? Well because my life to most people would be extremely dull and it’s a sure fire way to lose followers on the blog and on twitter. I am still in the “honeymoon” period of feeling grateful every time  a person subscribes to my blog so scaring them off by telling them what happens in a day in the life of me may tip them over the edge.

The way I see it – the people that are supposed to be friends and family aren’t interested in what I do from one day to the next so then I am sure a group of strangers aren’t either.

Plus, each day is different. Yes the day job stays the same, but the tasks that I do vary, the people I deal with vary, the meetings I attend vary etc. Then depending on what day it is will depend on what activities I get up to in the evening. Netball matches, ice hockey training, theatre reviews all keep me busy. I love my life and the people that are close to me but it’s not a television show and my personal life is not about entertaining others.

What I will say is that last week a complete stranger didn’t like a theatre review I had written. I suspect they were a family member of one of the cast or creative of the show. They then used information that I had written in the blog to publically criticise me in a comment attached to the show. The fact that a stranger reacted to a review like that perplexed me, so when I knew that this blog entry was coming up I made a decision then to not personalise myself too much online.

Who needs to read about that?

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

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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.