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

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.

4 July : Fave Film Character #wpad

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This is one of those answers that will change on a daily basis. Having something as favourite this or favourite that changes depending on how you feel, and being able to remember them all.

Having seen many films over the years, for this blog entry I will mainly recollect those characters that have stood out for me for one thing or another.


“Why is he my friend, because he knows my first name? Roger sold dope to kids. The world is a better place without him. This man was the biggest major violator in Los Angeles. This is the game. I’m playing his ass. That’s my job. That’s your job”.
alonso harris

Why is Alonso Harris possible the greatest villain in a movie? He is driven throughout the film by control. He must control the rules, control his partner, control his friends, control his enemies and even control the odds that he will be caught breaking the law. Anyone, including his rookie partner who refuses to comply with his orders, will be sliding down a slippery slope of self-serving “justice.” Alonso is like a time bomb waiting to explode and the first time I saw this movie I really did not see how Officer Hoyt was going to make it alive from that bath. Harris’s arrogant swagger enforces intimidatation as a distraction when his scheme of swindling his gambling debts look like it is the end for him.<a


“Isn’t it the first cardinal rule of perm maintenance that you are forbidden to wet your hair for at least 24 hours after getting a perm at the risk of deactivating the ammonium thioglycolate”

Elle Woods starts out in the film as naïve, and underestimated even by herself. People around her assume that she is a dumb Pollyanna character, but unknown to them she is tested by fire and change. They presume that being bubbly and sweet means that this is stupid.
elle woods


“Those of you lucky enough to have your lives, take them with you. However, leave the limbs you’ve lost. They belong to me now”.

Anyone who can slay the crazy 88 and still be standing deserves to be recognised as a great movie character. And it’s even sweeter that the character is a strong, kick-ass female who pulled off the fight of her life, while dressed in a replica Bruce Lee “Game of Death” outfit and donning her Hattori Hanzo samurai sword. Avenging the brutal attack on her wedding day which left her in a four-year coma and without child sparked Kiddo on a crazy, rampage of revenge.
kill bill

“If you speak my name, I vanish. What am I? Silence”

Guido is a Jewish waiter who, with his friend, is traveling through the beautiful Italian countryside to a small town . Guido is essentially a bit of a clown, but is a hopeless romantic. He uses light hearted humour to get his son though the days in a nazi death camp, inventing games that his son believes are all part of staying in the camp.
The son is told by Guido that the Germans will award a prize to the winner of the “game.” The courage and determination to make good from a bad situation and in the end sacrificing himself make this character stand out for me. He is the epitome of a good father with strong family values.


“You want it? You gotta work for it”.

So technically not from a movie but I like this character so much that I had to include it. Jackie Peyton is a strong-willed, but spectacularly flawed New York City nurse who juggles her life in a busy hospital with an equally challenging personal life. With an addiction to pain killers and conducting an affair with the hospital pharmacist, I love this character as she depicts normality but will bend the rules to provide justice. I would love to have Jackie as my best friend, she is both interesting, witty and you would want her on your side.
Nurse Jackie


“Yo asshole! This motha’ fucka’s dead. Ain’t no Chris Angel Mindfreak, David Blane trapdoor horse shit jumpin’ off here!”

Kirk Lazarus, is a white A-list actor who undergoes a medical procedure in order to change his skin colour to match his character inside of the movie within this movie. Kirk holds nothing back as the Sergeant and the comedy is that the character then begins to develop black pride which is hilarious. A complex, yet simple character who really makes the film iconic.
Kirk Lazarus


“I find your lack of faith disturbing”

In a nutshell, Darth Vader gave me nightmares as a child. He was the ultimate villain as far as my ten-year old self was concerned. The most disappointing story for me was that the demise of Vader was all down to his obsession with losing his supposed “love” which drove him to the darkside. I wanted it to be something far more sinister than that.<a


“If you’re good at something, never do it for free”

The Joker is the definition of pure evil. Arguably a psychopath but with a brilliant criminal mind. Who can forget the trick with the disappearing pencil which set his character up amazingly during the Dark Knight. The contrast between himself and Batman can cause arguments into which one of them is actually the true villain. Stereotypically we view villains as dressed in black, low voices, menacing and manipulating. The Joker wears clown makeup, is witty, funny and is trying to cause havoc in Gotham. Of course the reason that this character worked so well was also down to the Oscar performance by Heath Ledger.

the joker
There are a few of my favourite movie characters, what about you? Have you any favourites and what is it that you enjoy about them?

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

3 July : Aspirations #wpad

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“When I grow up I want to be a bin-man” I used to say as a four year old. I soon changed my mind after the first time I watched the assistant in Booths, Garstang serve my mum behind the deli counter with luncheon meat.

I watched in awe as she took out a clear sheet of plastic, place it onto the weighing scales, take out her serving tongues and weighed out a quarter of corned beef. As she wrapped the corned beef up, printed out a sticker and sealed the bag I knew that being a bin-man would never be as glamorous as serving corned beef with metal tongues. When I got home I made paper corned beef, and borrowed my mum’s knife and spoon to make serving tongues. If I was going to be doing that job when I was old enough to work – I better get the practice in.

In my teen years I then wanted to be a primary school teacher. I’d always enjoyed primary school and did my work experience in one. Not sure I would ever feel fulfilled looking after a group of thirty kids all day but that was the dream. I also toyed with the idea of being a journalist until a careers advisor told me I would probably have to move to London.

London? That was the other end of the earth as far as I was concerned. I loved to write, but I also loved living in Preston and thought I would stay there forever.

I’ve ended up doing neither of those in my career, and moved to Manchester when I was twenty. However I still remember having those aspirations as a youngster when it feels like it’ll be forever until you are an adult.

As you get older the aspirations that you have change too. You realise that you are at work a long time in the week so it’s best to do something that you enjoy doing. I have had many jobs in the past many of which I detested and would be clock-watching every day and counting the days until the weekend. Without those naff jobs though I wouldn’t know what I will and won’t do in employment.

I’m not in that position now, so the aspirations that I have are personal ones.

In terms of what I would like to achieve creatively, the answer is simple. I’d like to achieve at least one broadcasting credit, hopefully in the medium of radio. I’m fortunate that I enjoy my day job, so a complete career change is not something I am looking at for the moment. However, it’s always good to be prepared and have a back up plan should things change.

The other creative dream is to have a play performed in the Greater Manchester Fringe festival in the next couple of years. With theatre being a passion of mine, I would like nothing better to be able to sit in an audience and see actors come to life in characters created by me, with dialogue which has been typed from my fingers.

One thing for certain, I won’t give up until I achieve at least one of these personal aspirations.

On a personal level, I have only one dream and that is that when my kids are all grown up and have families of their own, they will say that growing up was a happy time for them. I hope they feel that they were given opportunities to develop, experiences that shaped them and are thankful for growing up in such a loving environment.

It’s few years off that, but like any parent you hope that your parenting methods haven’t damaged anybody for life.

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


2 July : Why I write #wpad

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To be honest, the amount of time I spend on social networking sites such as faceache and twatter it’s a wonder I actually ever get any time to write.

The reasons I wrote as a teenager are much different than the reasons I have now. As a teenager it was a form of escapism that I was in control of, which was really important back then. Nowadays, it’s because I enjoy putting words onto paper and I have a real sense of satisfaction each time I complete a piece of writing.

I consulted http://why-i-write.tumblr.com/ for one-liner answers to this challenge and these are the answers that rang to me.

why I write 8

why I write

why I write 1

why I write 2

why I write 3

why I write 4

why I write 5

why I write 6

why I write 7

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

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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.

What makes me cry : Challenge 25

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onions chillies

Onions. Those mother-truckers never fail to make me weep.

Cutting up fresh chillies, not washing my hands properly and then scratching my eyes. Ouch – my eyeballs are twitching just thinking about this one.

Kids. When I used to watch my kids perform in their primary school assemblies. Not sure they believed the “Durr it’s a dusty hall and my eyes are sensitive” line.

Sport. Watching/hearing human emotion in a sporting arena. I cried when I heard Sebastian Vettel being told by Christian Horner on the radio that he had won his first world championship (Formula 1 for any non-fans), Michael Phelps at the past two Olympics and Mo Farrah winning his Olympic gold. And yes the floodworks were in full swing two weeks ago when Rafa Nadal won the French Open. I think I cried twice during that broadcast, when he won and then when he was being interviewed. Oh dear.Michael Phelps


Love Actually. The scene where the dad and his son go chasing through Heathrow Airport to tell the son’s crush that “she’s the one”. Every time I watch that film I have to get myself ready for that scene. I can feel the other family members watching me as I hide my head under a pillow, sniffing away and trying to convince them “I’m not crying – blimey how many times have I watched this film? I’m not a saddo” – cue the blowing of the nose.

love actually

Les Miserables. The song “Bring him Home”. Speaking to Les Miserables I have to see a performance when I haven’t wept like a baby at the end, and I’ve seen it live five times now. Thank goodness I had an empty bucket of popcorn on my lap when I saw the movie as it was snot city on the third row.

les mis

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

Education / Self taught : Challenge 24

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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.