If you haven’t heard the name John Yorke or his book Into the Woods, then you NEED to listen up because you’re missing out! Not only is he an author of an Amazon bestseller (a FANTASTIC read, you can buy your copy HERE), but he’s worked as a script editor, story consultant and producer on shows such as EastEnders, Casualty, Shameless, Skins, The Archers, Life on Mars and Robin Hood to name a few.
John has made a career out of writing great drama and creating interesting characters. He’s the man who created the iconic Kat Slater, and has been kind enough to share with me how WE can create compelling TV drama and characters too.
So Bang2writers, here are the 5 Things I Learned from John Yorke, rounded up for you! You’re welcome 😉
1) You NEED a strong concept
- Keep it SIMPLE – boil it down to the core, what is it REALLY about?
- Believe in your concept – WHY should people want to watch this? How can you hook their interest?
- Make it STAND OUT – Offer a FRESH take/idea/ twist on something familiar
TOP TIP: If you can’t sum up your concept easily in a sentence, then you have some work to do before you even think about pitching or your concept won’t sell. MORE: 4 Reasons Your Concept Counts Above All Else
2) Create characters we CARE about
- Embody the characteristics/desire the audience wish to have.
- Internal conflict/human flaws create believable characters even in a fantasy world.
- Not all characters need to be liked, but need a human element that hooks the audience in.
TOP TIP: The heart of your story is with your central character. Make the audience want to experience the journey this character goes on, if they don’t care your script won’t sell. MORE: Top 7 Writing Tips For Great Characterisation
3) It’s all about STRUCTURE
- Structure needs to frame your script – How can you produce it with the BEST emotional impact.
- Don’t stress over the 3-Act structure vs 5-Act structure debate – the 5 Act structure is just a more refined version. Write in whichever way is natural to you as a writer.
TOP TIP: With structure, it’s all about what works for you. You write a script twice, the first time is getting it on the paper and the second is when you should start editing. MORE: 5 Visual Representations of Storytelling Structure
4) The first 10 pages can MAKE or BREAK
- Drive the narrative, make the reader care about what happens next
- Every line should make you want to continue to the next
- Watch the openings of your favourite TV shows (and movies!), find the scripts and use them as a masterclass. How and WHAT do they do to hook the audience from the first scene?
TOP TIP: The end of the first page is the most crucial. You need to make the reader want to turn the page, it’s that simple but is no easy feat. MORE: 10 Tips For The Perfect 10 (Pages)
5) Be PRO-ACTIVE
- Networking is key – build relationships, talk to people, be bold.
- Rejection is guaranteed but it takes one person to say yes so keep pushing on. Enter competitions, apply for internships, do anything that gets your name out there.
- Practice makes perfect – write every single day and learn from your mistakes. Get your work out there and read. Read scripts from your favourite shows or films and learn from them.
TOP TIPS: There is no one way to make it in this industry, and don’t listen to the scaremongers – there is no conspiracy to keep great writers away from creating great content! MORE: Connecting With Writers, Filmmakers And Agents Online
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So, if you want to know more about John and his advice then you know what to do! His book, Into the Woods is just a GOLDMINE of information and in-depth advice on screenwriting and story structure, and as a writer if you haven’t got this book on your bookshelf, then you’re cheating yourself out of some great knowledge and insights. BUY IT NOW.
BIO: Hello, my name is Olivia Brennan, a 27 year old who was first inspired by the power of film when I cowered behind a cushion watching JAWS, aged 6. I work as a Freelance Writer, Blogger & Assistant Script Editor. Check out my blog HERE or Facebook Page The Final Frontier. Follow me on twitter as @LivSFB and say hi!