We all have out preferences and personal favourites, but the key to writing a truly great female character craft-wise lies in her complexity.

Wanted: Female Leads

‘Strong female characters’ … Remember when *every* producer, script lead, prodco, scheme, competition, agent and his/her dog wanted one of these? It wasn’t all that long ago.

Sadly, it became clear very quickly it was yet another reductive label. After all, what ‘strong female character’ invariably meant was …

  • As long as she’s hot
  • And she kicks ass (literally or metaphorically, preferably both)
  • Whilst she wears very little clothes
  • Especially whilst she makes out with the mediocre lead male as his ‘prize’ for his super-hard journey
  • (Psssst – she’s super emotionally-literate and helps said male lead with his own emotions)
  • Oh or maybe she’s a wife or girlfriend (WAG) who cries on the phone.

Awww. So strong. Erm NO!

Not ‘Strong’, SIDELINED

Those ‘strong female characters’ were not strong, but SIDELINED. It’s no accident most of those female characters I outline above were secondaries. They literally had less screen-time, so writers gave them fewer layers. But even some female protagonists became sidelined in their own stories, simply because their male secondaries were more complex than them.

We know better now. ‘Strong’ is just one of many elements a female character (in any role function) can be. Here are some …

  • Brave
  • Skilled
  • Clever
  • Accomplished
  • Resourceful
  • Goal-orientated
  • Hot-headed
  • Reflective
  • Pragmatic
  • Witty

But also …

  • Ruthless
  • Anxious
  • Selfish
  • Sneaky
  • Oblivious
  • Superior
  • Desperate
  • Anxious
  • Cowardly
  • Psychopathic

They can be in any combo, in any role function. (Those listed above are just for starters, there’s plenty more where those came from!!).

Best of all, we are seeing more female characters in lead roles, protagonist AND antagonist as well as secondary. Because why the hell not? Audiences want COMPLEXITY, ie. NUANCE and LAYERS. Dependent on the genres and types of story we are engaging with, we are getting this. Writers have picked up the mantle and began writing more complex, nuanced chrs … who just so happen to be female.

You are better off not writing a female character AT ALL than shoe-horning one in like the ‘crying WAG’

‘Why do you write strong male characters?‘ Said No One EVER

Every time someone tries to call forth the BS notion of the ‘strong female character’, I always wonder why no one asks the same of writers’ MALE characters.

Oh that’s right – because there’s waaaaaaaay more variety to male characterisation as standard. Sure, many of them are broad strokes; lots are literally strong, which is obviously fine too. But those male characters are hardly ever defined by that strength. They are brave, clever, resourceful, witty or whatever else I just listed AS WELL. Male characters have histories and problems of their own.

You see, defining female characters by ONE single attributeThat was the problem!

Newsflash: It Ain’t 2009 Anymore

Thankfully, the kickass hotties and the Crying WAGs have more or less died out in 2019. These may include hot women who can indeed kick ass, but they are much MORE than that … Just as WAGs don’t have to be facilitators of male emotion.

Sure, we have ‘a long way to go’ as everyone likes to posit. We need to push for more representation for female characters who are not white, straight or able-bodied for sure. (As great as the progress has been for gender, it is no accident so much of the diversity has been for white women. It is the same-old, same-old on that score. BUT we gotta keep the faith and pushing forwards).

But if you are in the market for a complex female character, you are in MUCH better shape to find a great one overall than you were a decade ago.

Not ‘Strong’, COMPLEX

So, it’s time to call bullshit on ‘strong female characters’. As writers, we need to keep writing COMPLEX female characters. Not hiding behind those reductive labels, or writing BS ‘thinkpieces’ on what’s wrong with screenwriting today, or keep pretending it’s still 2009 and we are some kind of righteous angels. Instead it’s time to …

Get to work people.

Good Luck!

Take Your Writing To The NEXT LEVEL!

We will be putting our characterisation (including our female characters) under the microscope in  the next B2W course, Advanced Fundamentals of Screenwriting at Ealing Studios, London (Oct 19th-20th, 2019). Over two days, we will going through our scripts, outlines, treatments and pitches with a fine tooth comb & you will learn tricks to elevate your writing to the next level. JOIN US!!!

CLICK HERE for full details of the course (or on the pic on the left). We expect it to sell out , so act now to avoid disappointment. See you there!!!

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All About Novel Writing

Writing a novel can be very challenging. Every writer has different struggles, but there are very common mistakes many writers make. Knowing what these mistakes are can be half the battle. Here are some things that you can avoid them from the start. Ready? Let’s go!

1) Doing It All Alone

Novel writing is rewarding and can be amazing, but not if you push yourself too hard. Don’t cut everyone out of your life and chain yourself to your computer’s keyboard. Writing does not require a vow of silence!

Many newbie writers push themselves to the limit and eliminate everything and everyone from their lives. Yes, working quietly and finding your perfect writing spot is important. But, unless you take a break to rewind and refuel, you’ll just kill off your motivation.

What makes a good novel is a writer who’s passionate and motivated. This means you’ll also need help from editors, researchers, not to mention people you’ll interview. Don’t forget some fellow writers for moral support and accountability, too! Join Bang2writers for this, HERE.

2) Not Doing Proper Research

Don’t just sit down and spill your thoughts onto paper. When you write a novel, you need to be certain of what you want to say, even if it is something unreal and made up.

Plan and research before you write. Readers can see right through your words if you are unsure of something you are saying. The best novel writers in the world spend as much time planning for the novels as they do on actually writing them.

3) Not Reading Enough

Stephen King said that if writers don’t read, they ‘don’t have the tools to write’. Reading is the greatest inspiration and tool that builds a writer’s career. You can’t write a novel without reading.

Whether it is for pure interest and love for the books, or it is for research purposes – you must find time to read. Reading is what inspires your ideas, teaches you new things, and broadens your mind.

By reading novels, you’ll learn new writing styles, get new perspectives, and see how bestselling authors became who they are. Bad novels will teach you what not to do and good novels will teach you what to do. They are all worth reading. MORE: Stephen King’s Top 10 Writing Rules

4) Rushing To Publish

Hitting ‘publish’ ASAP is very tempting. But rushing to publish is one of the biggest writing mistakes novel writers make. No one wants to read novels that are not edited properly. While your ideas might be the perfect thing for the target audience, your way of presenting them may be plain wrong. Or, there might just be a better way to say things. In the very least, there will be missed opportunities in your plot and characterisation.

So don’t do it, people! Give yourself and your story time to breathe and edit it BEFORE you publish it.

5) Not Writing For A Target Audience

If you want to be a bestselling author, you can’t write for ‘everyone’. People have different perspectives preferences. If you don’t narrow your focus to a target readers’ audience, your novel won’t have any significance.

Everyone wants to appeal to as many people as possible, but being too general about your target reader is the worst you can do. Learn who your target audience is. Lots of writers believe thinking about target audience is about ‘selling out’, but this is not true. You are writing about the story *you* love, for other people who share the same interests as you. You need to find that emotional truth.

Final Thoughts

Are you ready to become the greatest novelist there ever was? If you want to succeed, you need practice, dedication, and amazing ideas. Mistakes will teach you a lot, but they don’t have to be your own mistakes. Learn from other writers’ mistakes too. This should boost your way toward success.

BIO: Joshua Robinson is a novelist who has published over a dozen novels in the past seven years since he started in the career. Now he shares his experience via his blog and helps beginner writers. As a modern novel writer, Joshua is the perfect person to share the struggles of new writers. In his useful blogs, you’ll learn a lot about those struggles and how to overcome them.

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All About Plot Archetypes

Most writers understand characters have archetypes, but don’t always realise plot does too. Just like characters can be divided into various types, stories have particular ‘templates’. Far from being formulas or tick-the-box exercises, these templates create a foundation on which stories grow from. This is evidenced from what archetype means, as defined in the dictionary and via its etymology:

What’s more, plot and character are inextricably linked. Whilst most writers understand characters need to have a goal (the WHY), they often falter on plot … The HOW, if you like. This is where understanding how plot archetypes work and how they can be applied can be really useful.

I often recommend The 7 Basic Plots by Christopher Booker to Bang2writers. In it, Booker lays down the seven plot archetypes he believes writers can measure their stories against. It’s not the perfect book (for one thing, where is mystery??), but I think it acts as a GREAT starting point for thinking about plotting.

In this article, I will take three iconic female leads and apply how their plot archetypes work. Ready? Then let’s go …

1) The Quest (AKA ‘The Hero’s Journey‘)

  • Definition: The protagonist sets out to defeat an antagonistic force (often evil) which threatens the protagonist and/or protagonist’s homeland.
  • Example: Wonder Woman (2017) 
  • Protagonist: Diana of Themcyscira

I’ve written A LOT about The Quest aka The Hero’s Journey on this blog. It’s the story archetype both writers and audiences alike recognise instinctively, because it’s the one used most often.

As human beings, we are obsessed with the notion of heroism. It fascinates us. The Quest or Hero’s Journey goes all the way back to Homer’s Odyssey (probably before this, too). It is ‘cemented’ in our psyche, so there’s not much wriggle-room in the the plot archetype for the actual journey. Audiences would not accept epic deviations.

However, there’s generally a lack of variety in the TYPE of heroes we see most often. Even in 2019, heroes are most often:

  • White
  • Male
  • Straight
  • Able-bodied

With Diana in mind, just the nature of a female lead in an overt quest archetype was ‘enough’ … in 2017. That’s been done now, plus Wonder Woman herself was pre-sold. It’s unlikely a spec narrative can make ‘just’ a female hero float on its own. To stand out in the spec pile, heroes have to be differentiated (whether they’re super heroes or not).

KEY TAKEAWAY: Don’t reinvent the wheel on The Quest itself. That said, heroes themselves have started to become more diversified. If you want to write a hero, make sure you bring something new to the Quest archetype by way of  its central characterisation.

MORE: How Wonder Woman Proves The Power of Untold Stories 

2) Voyage And Return

  • Definition: The protagonist goes to a strange land and, after overcoming the threats it poses to them, they return with experience.
  • Example: Gravity (2013) 
  • Protagonist: Dr. Ryan Stone

In the course of Gravity, Dr. Ryan Stone goes into space and obstacle after obstacle (both literal and metaphorical) is thrown at her. During the course of the movie, she must utilise her formidable skillset as both a scientist and astronaut. In addition, she must draw on reserves of inner strength she did not know she had in order to return to Earth safely. Put simply, the film is about her literal/spiritual journey and  ends with her literal return home.

Sometimes writers reject the notion of Gravity being a very straight-forward ‘voyage and return’ story. They will suggest the movie is about ‘rebirth’ instead because of that ‘spiritual journey’ I mention above. More on this, next.

Why Gravity is NOT A Rebirth Archetype

Yes, Dr. Ryan Stone’s character arc follows her from being depressed about the death of her daughter to embracing life (and thus her survival). However, there are two significant issues with this reading of Gravity as a ‘rebirth’ plot:

  1.  Alfonso Cuaron himself says the ‘point’ of Gravity is overcoming adversity.  Whilst this then leads to a kind of ‘rebirth’ for Ryan Stone, this is thematic.  Now personal response is personal response, BUT there is a logic issue. This is because when dealing with story archetypes, we are not talking about theme, but about plot — ie. literal happenings. 
  2. If we are to assume Gravity is a Rebirth plot, then there’s still a big problem … Dr Ryan Stone does not have to learn to be a ‘better person’. She has to use her new-found knowledge to overcome the adversity she faces and survive. If we think she has to become the ‘better person’ mentioned in the Rebirth archetype definition below, we are judging her for being depressed about the death of her daughter. Not only is that YIKES, that is thematic again. Plot is about what literally happens, not interpretation.

KEY TAKEAWAY:  Characters in ‘Voyage And Return’ plots usually have to fall back on their existing skillsets and inner strength during the story, which they demonstrate overtly.

MORE: How NOT To Write Female Characters 

3) Rebirth

  • Definition: An event forces the main character to change their ways and often become a better person.
  • Example: Captain Marvel (2019) 
  • Protagonist: Carol Danvers

Being the internet, people like to square Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel up against each other. B2W is no different! Diana is a goddess, but does that mean Carol is even cooler cos she’s genetically altered? Our warrior princess Diana is a classic hero, but Carol has to learn the truth and challenge her old worldview. Carol is pragmatic and not easy to anger, but Diana is wrathful and understands vengeance. Diana wears a badass tiara to battle, but Carol has a Nine Inch Nails tee shirt!

But in reality, it’s not fair to compare these two movies … They are actually very different at grass roots level in terms of plotting archetypes.

There’s also a lot written online about how Carol Danvers ‘doesn’t’ have an arc … But this betrays commentators’ lack of understanding about different plotting archetypes.

Here’s Why Carol Danvers DOES Have An Arc

What those commentators really mean is Captain Marvel does not follow the classic ‘Hero’s Journey’ template like Wonder Woman does. Instead Captain Marvel is a ‘rebirth’ story, examining how a hero can be made from finding out the truth and making a stand for what’s right.

This provides THAT twist, which is thematically very different to ‘just’ the ‘Good Vs Evil’ message in Wonder Woman. There is a strong message in Captain Marvel about not believing everything you hear just because it comes from the people in charge. In an age of ‘fake news’, this is especially relevant.

The ‘Rebirth’ archetype provides a shade of grey The Hero’s Journey simply can’t. In contrast, the Quest archetype has to be much more bombastic and simplistic in their worldview … Goodies save the day and the baddies get their just desserts; it is inevitable. Neither is better than they other, but we must recognise they are different plotting archetypes.

As for Danvers having ‘no’ arc – PUHlease! Consider even her name … Carol is know at first as ‘Vers’. She literally sheds her past self. She becomes a hero because of this, that ‘better person’ mentioned in the definition above. Now, this all felt really refreshing to me, though I suspect this could be why some viewers didn’t like it. It wasnt what they expected. (Of course, those same viewers would probably complain about the ‘same-old, same-old’!).

KEY TAKEAWAY: Characters must confront the truth, no matter how horrible, in order to become a ‘better person’ in Rebirth stories.

MORE: What Marvel Can Teach Us About Writing Powerful Villains

Good Luck With Your Own Plot!

Take Your Writing To The NEXT LEVEL!

  https---cdn.evbuc.com-images-29888419-3773478736-1-originalWe all know format is the LEAST of our problems as screenwriters … but *how* do we improve our writing craft?? My course with LondonSWF, Advanced Fundamentals of Screenwriting at Ealing Studios, London (Oct 19th-20th, 2019). Over two days, we will put writing craft under the microscope & you will learn tricks to elevate your writing to the NEXT LEVEL. Don’t miss out!

CLICK HERE for full details of the course (or on the pic above). We expect it to sell out , so act now to avoid disappointment. See you there!!!

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Today’s post is from William R. Leibowitz, author of the bestselling science fiction series, Miracle Man. Whether you’re writing a novel or screenplay, there’s some great tips here on what NOT to do with your science fiction story. Enjoy!

On Writing Science Fiction

So, you want to try your hand at writing science fiction? Readers of science fiction are generally sophisticated. They tend to have real standards which they’ve developed by reading the great writers who developed the genre. They’ve also watched countless good quality science fiction movies and television programmes.

Here are some of the things that I think most first-time writers of science fiction should be conscious of before taking the plunge … My top 5 Mistakes Science Fiction Writers Make!

1) Falling into the fantasy trap too deep

When I wrote my medical/psychological/conspiracy thrillers Miracle Man and The Austin Paradox, I was confronted with quite a few issues.  The protagonist in both novels, Robert James Austin, is the greatest scientific genius in human history.  But I couldn’t just ask the reader to believe this. I had to demonstrate to the reader that Austin did have these remarkable talents from a very young age. When Austin proceeded to cure one disease after another, I had to make his discoveries believable.

This required me to spend a great deal of time doing extensive research in two areas:

  • the nature of human intelligence (particularly genius) and
  • diseases, treatments, attempted cures, as well as the medical/scientific methodology relevant to formulating cures

I didn’t want the plot to become fantastical; I would lose the reader. The above research helped get my target audience on board. MORE: 8 Mistakes That Will Kill Your Sci Fi Screenplay DEAD

2) Losing the balance of good storytelling and credible science

Simply put, if the science  appears to be amateurish or “junk science”, then the author will lose the reader.  Readers who enjoy science fiction books want fiction and good storytelling, it’s true. But they also want science that is credible and that allows them to be swept away into the story.

Good science makes for good science fiction!

3) The science itself is OTT, or implausible

Bad quality science fiction is painfully obvious even to the casual reader.  If a work of science fiction is to be believable and engrossing, the science in it must be plausible. What’s more, the science must be understandable to the reader.

It’s a difficult balancing act. Too much detail easily becomes boring and makes the reader think he or she is back in school.  Too little detail and the author is asking the reader to take giant “leaps of faith”. This undermines the credibility of a science fiction story.

As an example, I researched the lives of actual geniuses. This was so I could understand how genius manifests itself at various ages, plus the behaviors that often goes with genius.  Robert James Austin has an intelligence that is unique in human history (i.e. 10 X that of Einstein), so I  “pumped up” various things about Austin  to reflect his extraordinary abilities.

So, while I magnified elements of Austin’s behaviour and thought processes, they are still grounded in documented realities. This makes his genius credible. In fact, no reader or reviewer ever made a negative comment regarding the “believability” of Austin’s genius. MORE: Top 9 Influential Female Characters In Sci Fi 

4) The story is not realistic

The wonderful thing about science fiction writing is that if the author does the required work on the science, the resultant novels will transcend the fiction aspect. The science element of the story will imbue the books with realism. In turn this will heighten the reader’s immersion in the novel. Put simply, even though it’s science fiction, it FEELS REAL, or possible.

Example: In my books, I knew there had to be sound scientific foundations for the ways in which Austin invented cures and the way that his cures worked.  I didn’t want to bore the reader … But I couldn’t just declare, “And then he cured this disease and then he cured that disease”.  Austin’s cures had too be creative AND plausible. So I was delighted when I received numerous letters from readers who were medical doctors and disease research scientists. They told me that they found these “cures” to be so interesting as to wonder if they would work in the real world!

5) Not Knowing Enough! 

If you think science fiction authors use their creativity to fashion “science” solely from imagination, then do yourself and your reader a favour … Write write a different type of fiction!

Not knowing as much as you can about the mechanics of the topic you might be challenging in your work is an issue. Both Miracle Man and The Austin Paradox are highly critical of Big Pharma. The latter views Austin is its worst nightmare because he seeks to cure diseases rather than merely treat symptoms.  Austin’s discoveries kill off many of Big Pharma’s most profitable “cash cow” treatments. Pharma then devises various draconian plans to destroy Austin.

To paint a realistic picture of this dynamic conflict between Big Pharma and Austin, I had to do a lot of research. This included the actual documented workings of the pharmaceutical industry, both in terms of science and also the industry’s political manoeuvering with powerful governmental forces.

This attention to detail brings this aspect of the story to life. Readers of science fiction appreciate the “reality” that science brings to fiction. MORE: Top 5 Tips For Writing Sci-Fi

Good Luck!  

BIO: William Leibowitz is the author of The Miracle Man Series. He practices law internationally and leads a somewhat peripatetic existence, preferring not to spend too much time in any one place. Check his blog out here for more tips and insights on the writing process.

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Gender Divide

Can male writers write female characters? Yes, of course. Some of my favourite female characters have been written by men. I have  also written countless articles on this subject on this very blog. I also draw attention to some great examples in the B2W free eBook, many of which are written by male writers.

That said, there’s an awful lot of crappy female characters out there. This has lead to an explosion of commentary online about this phenomenon … Which in turn has prompted various panels at literary festivals like THIS ONE.

So why are we talking about this? Let’s put it under the microscope.

Not *All* Male Writers

So, before anyone gets their panties in a bunch … Yes, yes some male writers are GREAT at writing female characters. When male writers dominate the industry this is obvious, the evidence is all around us. I have literally already said this at the beginning of the article.

Some writers think this is about male bashing. They will say ANY gender can be a bad writer. Whilst this is true, they are ignoring the fact there’s a proliferation of bad writing coming from male writers. Obviously female writers can be capable of bad writing too, but their poor writing is much more varied.

Male bad writing about female characters appears as …

  • Defining female characters by their breasts or other ‘female-type’ things
  • Inserting author’s own thoughts or preconceptions about women
  • Lack of  research, authenticity and emotional truth

It should also be noted the above can be

  • Written by famous and admired male writers
  • In books that are celebrated as GOOD examples of their craft, or even prize winners

Here are a few infamous examples, below.

Too Many Female Characters Rate Their Own Attractiveness Constantly

Hey, women should absolutely have great self-esteem. But when female characters think about themselves LIKE THIS, then the male author is inserting his own thoughts . That’s not good characterisation. Simples.

 

Apparently Breasts Can Roll In Sync With Eyes

Maybe the below is a joke. But given there is SO MUCH BAD DESCRIPTION out there, female readers aren’t getting it and don’t appreciate it. When it’s been proven time and time again women read more than men, remember your target audience, guys!

This Is Just Bad Research

Apparently, the passage below came from Witches of Eastwick by Pulitzer Prize-winning John Updike. The real kicker? Women literally have shorter urethras than men. Now Updike might be a celebrated author (and I love The Witches of Eastwick as a story), but biologically-speaking, what is written below is just nonsense.

Concluding

So all this ‘not all male writers’ thing is disingenuous bullshit. It’s never been about …

  • Calling out *all* male writers
  • Saying female writers are automatically better writers or more talented
  • Suggesting entire books should be junked on the basis of one bit of description
  • Barring jokes and memes, nor has it ever been suggested men SHOULDN’T or CAN’T write female characters as standard
  • BY THE WAY … Male sexuality is a not a problem either!!! If men want to write about sexy women, in sexy stories? Why not … Please, be my guest. But remember, CONTEXT, fellas.

The problems are:

  • Poor research
  • Lack of authenticity and emotional truth
  • Silly jokes that don’t appeal to target audiences
  • The fetishising of women as objects in stories as standard
  • The sheer number of male writers who do this crap, THE SAME WAYS (so lack of variety!)

The above is just not good writing in 2019. Come on, this is basic. We can do better, so let’s do it.

More On This …

Grab your free B2W eBook, How NOT To Write Female Characters, HERE or by clicking on the pic on the left. Enjoy and don’t fall foul of those female character clangers!

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On Writing, Stephen King Style

School’s out for the Summer! But does that mean we throw away the rule book in favour of creative freedom? After all, we’re writers, aren’t we? Who better to consult than Stephen King.

This prolific author has a reputation for being one of the hardest working and most successful writers in modern history. King has dedicated his life’s work to the craft. Although he admits he doesn’t always follow his own rules, I think  King’s tips are a pretty good place to start for all writers, new or veteran.

Here’s what the master has to say … Enjoy!

1) Remember you are the initial audience, then think about your extended audience

“When you write a story, you’re telling yourself the story. When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story. Your stuff starts out being just for you, but then it goes out.” MORE: Elmore Leonard’s Top 10 Writing Rules 

2) Resist the urge, to adverb!

“While to write adverbs is human, to write ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ is divine.”

3) Be as bold as the characters that inspire you

“I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing. Dumbo got airborne with the help of a magic feather; you may feel the urge to grasp a passive verb or one of those nasty adverbs for the same reason. Just remember before you do that Dumbo didn’t need the feather; the magic was in him.”

4) Set strict deadlines

“The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.” MORE: How To Set Meaningful Goals And Stick To Them

5) Read, read and read some more!

“You have to read widely, constantly refining (and redefining) your own work as you do so. If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

6) Keep it simple

“A radio talk-show host asked me how I wrote. My reply—’One word at a time’—seemingly left him without a reply. I think he was trying to decide whether or not I was joking. I wasn’t. In the end, it’s always that simple. Whether it’s a vignette of a single page or an epic trilogy like ‘The Lord Of The Rings,’ the work is always accomplished one word at a time.”

7) Focus, focus, focus

“There should be no telephone in your writing room, certainly no TV or videogames for you to fool around with. If there’s a window, draw the curtains or pull down the shades unless it looks out at a blank wall.”

8) Be original

‘One cannot imitate a writer’s approach to a particular genre, no matter how simple what the writer is doing may seem.’

9) Remember the basics

“You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.”

10) Write for the love of writing

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid or making friends. Writing is magic, as much as the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink.” MORE: Top 10 Rules Writers Love To Hate

What Writers Can Learn

Procrastination is a natural and infuriatingly frequent occurrence for writers. King stresses the importance of setting yourself tight deadlines and most importantly, actually meeting them! He has become a master of the craft with many hours committed to studying and perfecting his talent. Start with small goals and build up, as King says. If you write one word at a time, you won’t be overwhelmed. The feeling of satisfaction will spur you on to reach your writing targets.

If the master of writing like King can acknowledge he doesn’t know everything there is to learn, we can swallow our pride and join him in educating ourselves.

So are you a stickler for the rules or a firm believer in following your own creative flow? Maybe you have some rules of your own to share? Let us know in the comments below!

Good Luck!

BIO: Alice Hayden is a scriptwriting student at Bournemouth University, focusing on writing for Film and Television. She is looking forward to seeing two of her scripts made in to animated promotional adverts for charities, and is currently working on a new TV drama and novel. Follow her on insta as @alice_hayden.

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Networking Mistakes

You’ve been counting down for months, excited about the upcoming event you’re going to.  The plan is to network with agents, publishers and fellow writers.  In your head you’re fabulous at networking … Or are you??

In order to survive a networking event without disastrous consequences avoid making the following mistakes as though your life depends on it.  First impressions last a lifetime! Here’s what NOT to do when networking, plus what you should do instead.

1) You Ignore Others

You’ve arrived. You’re milling through the crowds of people and spot someone your desperate to talk to.   However, they are already in the middle of a conversation with a few others.  Do not go in guns blazing and start talking.  Approach the group, smile to all that are there and listen to what’s being said. Be interested.  When the opportune moment arrives, introduce yourself.  Don’t keep thinking about what you want to say either, you may just miss a valuable piece of advice. MORE: 15 Questions To Help You Network Like A Professional

2) You Don’t Gather Intelligence

So, you are engaged in the conversation that’s going on now … Be part of that conversation.  Ask questions to those that are speaking.  S/he could be an author talking about a book release … Or s/he may be an agent talking about a new client who’s up and coming. You may be talking to a publisher who thinks they’ve got the next Da Vinci Code on their hands. Asking questions is how we learn and develop our craft and networking skills.  Everyone has different strengths and experiences, learn from this and it could just help you on your way.

3) Your Ego Hits The Roof

You’re working your way through the room and you’re speaking to everyone that you come to.  Don’t be full of yourself, leave the ego at home. You may think you have the next novel to make the Sunday Times Bestseller list.  However, telling everyone that and being full of your own self-importance is not a trait that people find endearing.  There’s nothing wrong with being confident in how you approach people. Be passionate about your work, just do it in a more subtle way. MORE: THIS Is How You Create Your Writing Career

4) You Get Plastered

Networking events can go on for just a day or a long weekend.  Do not show people your best impression of Liam Gallagher from the Oasis days in the 90’s.  People don’t want to hear swearing every other word.  Nor do they want to be stumbled into whilst they are engaged talking to someone else.

Know your limits and stick to them.  It’s very embarrassing to make a fool of yourself at an event.  Remember you could be sitting opposite them at breakfast the following morning!

5) You Bad Mouth Others

You see an author whose books you don’t enjoy … Or an agent you feel should have paid more attention to you … Or a publisher who you can’t believe didn’t pick up your book.  You tell anyone who’ll listen how you’ve been served a serious injustice. How very dare they!

Stop right there. You never know who you may be talking to. The people you are slagging off might be friends of those that you are talking to. This a bad quality by most people’s standards and will do you no favours when you’re plugging your new book.

If you’ve got nothing nice to say? Say nothing at all! As the saying goes, ‘silence is golden’. This is a networking event and you want people to remember you for the RIGHT reasons.

Conclusion

Follow these guidelines and you’ll make it through the other side of your networking event. Be polite, be kind.  Send them a message saying how nice it was to meet them and look forward to seeing them at future events.  You will bump into lots of these people again, so make sure the impression you leave is a fabulous one. MORE: 5 Quick Tips To Network Effectively 

Good Luck!

BIO: Claire Miles is an avid reader and writer working on her first crime novel. She lives in Devon with her husband and two sons. Follow Claire on instagram at @clairemiles7322

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All About Kirsten Smith

Kirsten Smith and her co-writer Karen McCullah are trailblazers in the Rom-Com genre. They are the screenwriting duo behind classic teen movies Legally Blonde and 10 Things I Hate About You, to name just a few.

But just what is the secret behind their success? What are the rules, tips or best practices they swear by?Smith in particular has been open with her advice for screenwriters. Here’s what she has to share … Enjoy!

1) Conflict is key

“Conflict, conflict, conflict between characters. Although we try to avoid it in life, it’s essential to embrace it in screenplays.”

2) Find The Purpose

“Make sure every scene contains a plot point.”

MORE: How To Write The Perfect Scene 

3) Build anticipation

“Don’t let characters fall in love (or like) too quickly. Sparring makes for good chemistry.”

4) Ask away

“Let your characters ask questions.”

5) DO outline

“Don’t be afraid to extensively outline. Get examples of outlines where you can. Outline your favourite movies and favourite screenplays to teach yourself about structure.”

MORE: How To Write Outlines, Beat Sheets And Treatments 

6) Reign in dialogue

“Don’t indulge yourself with long back and forth statements.”

7) Study your craft

“Read tons and tons of screenplays.”

8) Concise dialogue

“Don’t have multiple monologues throughout the script.”

9) It’s NO big deal

“Embrace rejection and realise that “no’s” are no big deal.”

10) Do LOTS of research

“Be familiar with your form. Watch lots of movies. Read Deadline.”

MORE: 3 Reasons Why LEGALLY BLONDE Is Like, The Best Characterisation, EVER

What Writers Can Learn

Taking Smith’s advice on board, it is clear she values planning and that when she’s writing, she considers every line must have a purpose. If it doesn’t? Cut it out. Particularly when writing for comedy, it is important to hit those lines and hold the audience’s attention.

Any tips to add? Hit us with your best writing advice below!

Good Luck!

BIO: Alice Hayden is a scriptwriting student at Bournemouth University, focusing on writing for Film and Television. She is looking forward to seeing two of her scripts made in to animated promotional adverts for charities, and is currently working on a new TV drama and novel. Follow her on insta as @alice_hayden.

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Loads of you Bang2writers are writing Horror, all year round. So when BAFTA-nommed Stephen Volk suggested a post on this subject, I jumped at the chance. Don’t forget to check out his book, too. Enjoy!

1) Get Your Brain Out of the Way

Thinking doesn’t create monsters. Your unconscious does. Don’t think about recent movie hits. Don’t think of old movie legends. In fact, don’t think of anything. Cultivate a dream-time, a coffee-scape. Think of the worst that can happen. Don’t self-censor before you even dream. Go there and return with ideasAnd trust them.

2) It’s All About Point of View

As I say in my book Coffinmaker’s Blues it’s not about the creature, ghost or alien … It’s about who is seeing it, and why? That’s the key to their inner life and why the hell we should care. POV in the story … In a sequence … Or in a scene.

3) Junk the Jump Scares

The stab of music, the shock reaction, the zombie make-up in the mirror – fuck that shit! It’s dead easy – and dead boring! It gives no depth to your story and doesn’t even make it more frightening a lot of the time. Think of what is going to give your audience nightmares for the rest of their lives, not just spill their popcorn.

4) If You Can’t Explain It – GOOD!

The worst thing for horror is a producer who’s a Logic Nazi. No legendary horror ever got where it is from being bombarded by logic notes. Stand up for what you know makes you shiver and shit your pants. If the producer disagrees, or points to the latest James Wan hit, you’ve got the wrong producer.

5) Push It Till It Squeals Like A Piggie

David Bowie said the best creative work is done when you’re juuuuuust out of your depth. On tippy-toes in the swimming pool, scared of going under. Always aim for this, especially in horror. It’s on the very edge or risking failure that the magic happens, not by playing safe. MORE: What Is the Difference Between Horror And Thriller? 

6) Make it Real

Any idiot can write a ghost train ride about a possessed armchair or a demon in a cellar, lit in blue light and licked to death in the grading. And every idiot is.The more plausible and naturalistic you can make your situation and characters, the more your script will stand out from the crud.

7) Ditch the CAPITALS!!!!

Take the throttle off your writing – calm down and stop SHOUTING at me! No CAPS. No screamers!!! Write horror prose that creep up and taps my shoulder, and even kisses the back of my neck.

8) Seen it, Done it . . . NEXT!

Ditto special effects. You know … The crawling across the ceiling, the scabby-face demon make up first seen in The Evil Dead– yawnsville!!

If you want to be the best of the best in this genre ditch anything you’ve seen before in another movie. Tough, I know. But you’ll be surprised what you come up with if you mine and trawl your own personal terrors. It’s the one thing that’s utterly unique to you – use it!

9) Don’t Play With Your Food

If you’re not a born horror writer, and don’t love the genre with every fibre of your being, don’t worry. But fuck off. How dare you screw around trying to write this shit, because we’ll find you out in a heartbeat!! If your passion is romantic comedy, write romantic comedy. Don’t rain on our parade because … what? You think it’s fashionable? You think it’s lucrative, right now? And easy? There’s the fucking door. Don’t slam it on your way out.

10) Remember: You Are Horror

It’s there in your own life, your own experiences and those of the people you know. If you don’t see it, and can’t find it, you’re not a horror writer. Alfred Hitchcock was once asked what scared him. He said “Everything.” I don’t know a horror writer that wouldn’t answer the same way. Join our clan. We’ll welcome you with open arms. Like clowns in a dark, dark forest . . .

BIO: BAFTA-winning screenwriter STEPHEN VOLK has worked in the horror and affiliated genres for over 30 years. His credits include Ghostwatch, Afterlife and Midwinter of the Spirit as well as feature films including Gothic and The Awakening. His latest book is COFFINMAKER’S BLUES– “A masterclass for writers and screenwriters” and “An educational joy to read.”

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All About Jordan Peele

Jordan Peele is one of the hottest writers in Hollywood today following the meteoric success of Get Out and Us. Starting out in comedy and now mastering horror, Peele has an original, distinctive style. But just how does he do it? Check out his tips here. Enjoy!

1) Write For Yourself

“First off, write your favourite movie that you haven’t seen. Don’t worry about whether it is going to get made. Write something for yourself. After you have that draft, then worry about what you need to do to sell it.”

2)   Learn from the classics

“It’s a great way to learn how to reinvent modern ideas. Stylistically, Get Out is a throwback to the ’60s, one of my favourite times for film. They really knew how to wind tension tighter and tighter.” MORE: 8 Steps To Analyse A Successful Story

3)   Be true to yourself

“I think the only way to, the only way I will ever attempt to create anything again is to be vulnerable with my own emotions. In some way it has to be autobiographical. If you’re telling a story and you’re not bearing part of your soul or telling your truth, I think that you’re not doing it right.”

4)   Make it universal

“Every great horror movie comes from a true fear, and ideally it’s a universal fear. The tricky nature of Get Out is that the fear I’m pulling from is very human, but it’s not necessarily a universal experience, so that’s why the first third of the movie is showing, and not in an over-the-top way, in a sort of real, grounded way, just getting everybody to be able to see the world through my protagonist’s eyes and his fears.”

5)   Subvert audience expectations

“If you can predict what and where an audience is going to go, or what they think you’re going to do, you can use that momentum against them. If an audience thinks they know what’s going on and whether they like it or they don’t if you can show them that they’ve been watching something completely different the entire time, I think they have a respect. And there’s a real intellectual catharsis that comes with that and it’s fulfilling for an audience.” MORE: Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make With Low Budget Horror

6)   Pacing is so important

“The similarity between comedy and horror is the importance of pacing. In both genres, you have to build tension and release it very strategically.”

7)   Search for the meaning

“It starts with images and moments that I know are bubbling to the surface, just cinematic instincts. The reason it takes a long time is you have to weave together and find meaning in the images your subconscious is presenting.”

8)    Keep it real

“I’ve noticed that the truth works… If you’re being yourself and you’re just using your own emotions, they can feel it. If you’re doing fake, they can feel it. It took me a while in comedy to realise that your truth is more powerful than your mask.”

9)   Use story as a greater tool

“We can discuss race all day long. But if you see a movie that successfully puts yourself in the shoes of somebody different than yourself, you see the world differently. So I think the power of story is greater than the power of conversation in a way.”

10) Find the fun!

“My advice for dealing with writer’s block: Follow the fun. If I’m not having fun, I’m doing it wrong.” MORE: How To Write Bloodcurdling Horror 

What Writers Can Learn

It has been reported that Peele quit writing Get Out over twenty times. Then he remembered why he started writing in the first place, finished the film AND has an Oscar to show for it.

So perhaps the golden rule of writing is as we always suspected … KEEP WRITING!

BIO: Alice Hayden is a scriptwriting student at Bournemouth University, focusing on writing for Film and Television. She is looking forward to seeing two of her scripts made in to animated promotional adverts for charities, and is currently working on a new TV drama and novel. Follow her on insta as @alice_hayden.

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