A writer writes. It’s the nature of the beast, the whole point. You write because you have to, because you have a need to communicate a story in some way, whether that’s because you want fame and fortune, respect and security or because you want to give the world a message. Whatever the case, I’m sure you are all aware of what I call THE URGE – that moment where an idea hits and you have no choice but to get it down on paper. You may be in bed, picking raisons off the carpet or going to the post office at the time – THE URGE can strike any time, often when it’s most incovenient (like last night, when I was attending to the cat litter trays. Niiice). But it’s cool. It’s what makes us, us: writers. We see stuff a little differently maybe, we’re on the lookout for ideas and half the time we don’t even realise it. Stuff gets stored in our brains, lays dormant for years at a time, before a small spark lights up your mind: sometimes it’s a slow burn, others a full-blown conflagration. But we always have to give in. Writing our specs is the only way we can put those fires out or at least keep them under control.
The great thing about specs is they’re entirely ours. We can write them however we want them. You want to set it on the moon? Why the hell not. You want to write the wo/man you wish you were or the life you feel you should have had into this piece? Who can know. As long as you keep that spec to yourself, your dreams will come true. You are the best writer in the world. You have written the best story in the world. Wicked.
It takes guts to show others your spec. Not because people will point and laugh like at primary school, we’re all adults here, but because this is not a commissioned work; this is something you have dreamt up, something youbelieve in. When people tell you then it’s “hackneyed” or “trite”, it’s hard not to take it personally. You may have spent hours away from your family to write this supposedly trite and/or hackneyed script. You may have made sacrifices to write it, emotionally or financially, perhaps both. So when someone is insensitive about your work, it smarts.
As a Reader, it’s easy to open a script and groan. All those little phrases, at your fingertips, ready for those “bad” scripts: not enough white on the page. Tells it, doesn’t show it. Too much black on the page. Information inaccessible to an audience. Doesn’t push the story forward. Disjointed/indiscernible structure. No character arc. Extraneous information. Directing from the page…blah blah BLAH.
As Readers, we just pick up those white pages, flick through them or scroll down a screen. It’s not personal to us. Yet it’s personal to the writer. It’s easy to forget that hard work has gone into a spec – yet a writer won’t forget the hundreds of hours they’ve spent on it, feeding the kids fishfinger sandwiches in an attempt to save just twenty minutes to squeeze those few extra pages out. They won’t forget tramping home from work and then staying up into the middle of the night. And they won’t ever forget careless coverage that comes in with those script reading phrases I’ve already outlined, as trite and hackneyed as they are.
A writer – any writer, novice or professional – has The Urge to tell a story. Sometimes a Reader won’t know what that story is, despite a large page count and several acres of prose. We all have to start somewhere. Writing isn’t something you can just “do”, it takes practice and development.
Bang2write* began after I made a posting on Shooting People the first week I joined back in 2004. Someone had made a posting about having to wait a long time for expensive coverage, only for it to be vitriolic and upsetting. Having completed two very long placements with literary agents throughout university, I had been reading for various others for some time as well as TAPs and I enquired if people would be interested in a low-budget, no-frills type of script reading service that promised a quick turnaround with an emphasis for those writers who wanted advice and help in becoming coherent storytellers. I expected a few replies, maybe 4 if I was lucky…
…I got 27. Two were professional writers whose names I recognised; I nearly had a heart attack. But Bang2write was born and has done steady business ever since. Many of my clients return to me and some have even become my friends and colleagues, which is great.
My aim was always clear: to be supportive of writers, without engendering false hopes. It’s a tough market – I know that, I’m a writer too. Perhaps that’s why it works, or perhaps it’s because I actually do really like script reading. By providing notes or reports for writers privately, as a “safe” environment, I feel like I’m helping them. And reading others’ work also helps me, keeps me on my toes if you like. And that’s a must.
*If you want development notes or a script report from me, click here.