Got Questions About B2W, Writing Craft or Careers?
I get loads of writing questions daily, so I composed a FAQs list for you, Bang2writers! I have also linked to popular B2W articles with more information too.
If you have a question, I can pretty much guarantee someone has asked it before. With this in mind, here’s an epic rundown of the most frequently-asked questions B2W gets. Ready? Let’s go …
How To Use The B2W FAQs List
Check out the Table of Contents at the top of the page for a complete list and click on the question to find your answer. Click on it and it should take you straight there.
If you find any broken links or you can’t see your Q in the list, feel free to email me on Bang2write@gmail.com. (Unfortunately, if the Q is already on the list, I won’t have time to reply individually. Thanks for understanding!).
Here’s answers to some of the most common questions I get asked, plus links to articles that may help.
Where can I get free writing stuff?
There’s loads of free stuff available on the B2W resources page including PDF downloads such as The B2W Structural Worksheet, Logline Cheat Sheet, Submissions Checklist and more.
Is there a B2W mailing list?
Yes, there’s several. If you want a free ebook called Killer Writing Craft, simply JOIN HERE.
If you want a free eBook called How NOT To Write Female Characters, plus a FREE mini course on writing craft, go to THIS PAGE and sign up.
Where can I grab my free online mini course?
B2W is now on Teachable. You can grab your free mini course, ‘The Foundations of Writing Craft’, HERE. It uses video, PDF guides and worksheets to walk you through concept, character and structure. Enjoy!
Where else can I soak up B2W’s writerly goodness?
You can also find B2W on the following platforms …
Does B2W accept guest posts on the main site?
Bang2write is ALWAYS interested in guest post pitches. Unfortunately B2W can’t pay for guest posts, but can promise a platform with 35K+ monthly hits, as well as a super-engaged audience.
This means that if you want to extend your online reach as an individual or for your book or film, crowdfunding campaign, or something more, then B2W can help get your message out there. To see what B2W is interested in, plus its ‘house style’, check out THIS PAGE. Please follow submission guidelines.
What books about writing does B2W recommend?
Obviously, B2W recommends the Bang2write Books on writing first! These are Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays; Writing & Selling Drama Screenplays; and Writing Diverse Characters For Fiction, TV or Film. You can get them HERE, as well as The Book Depository, Waterstones and all good book shops.
B2W also recommends Into The Woods by John Yorke; Teach Yourself Screenwriting by Raymond Frensham; The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker; The Idea by Erik Bork; The 21st Century Screenwriter by Linda Aronson; The Insider’s Guide To Writing for Television by Julian Friedmann; A Professional Approach To Screenwriting And Filmmaking by Farah Abushwesha; Constructing A Story by Yves Lavandier; Jaws In Space: Powerful Pitching For Film & TV Screenwriters by Charles Harris; The Coffee Break Writer by Pilar Alessandra; The Process of Screenwriting by Clive Frayne; That’s Not The Way It Works by Bob Saenz and From Pitch To Publication by Carole Blake. Get more book recommendations HERE.
What writing contests does B2W recommend?
Bang2writers have entered, recommended and even won the following contests: Bluecat, Final Draft Big Break, Shore Scripts, The PAGE Awards, Austin, Nicholl, Script Pipeline, Tracking Board, Finish Line and more. Check out 10 Quick Tips On Entering Screenwriting Competitions.
For novel and short story writers, Bang2writers may be interested in The Bridport Prize; The Bath Novel & Flash Fiction Awards; The Costa Awards; Myslexia and more. For an epic list of these contests (including poetry), CLICK HERE.
What is the best writing software?
Bang2writers have reported good user experiences with the following: Final Draft, Fade In, Scrivener, Writer Duet, Trelby and CeltX. B2W users Final Draft because it is the industry standard. For the lowdown on all of them, paid-for and free, CLICK HERE.
How do I become a script reader?
Questions On Getting Started
I literally don’t know how to begin with my screenplay or novel. Help???
B2W recommends ‘breaking story’ to ensure we know what w’re doing from the very beginning. Working out what our stories really are at foundation level really pays dividends in terms of the premise, characters and plot.
Here’s HOW TO BREAK STORY and here’s breaking story applied to one of my novels, Do No Harm.
How do I format a screenplay?
Good formatting is about not getting ‘busted’ – nothing more, nothing less! Download your free one page Format Guide PDF that will give you the lowdown ( it’s the black one).
Also, bookmark The B2W Format One Stop Shop, which details every single format error B2W sees regularly, plus what to do about them.
How long is a novel? Novella? Short Story?
This is another ‘how long is a piece of string’ question, but generally speaking it depends on genre, whether you’re a debut or experienced author, plus what’s gone before.
- Literary and epic fantasy: 100-120K
- Crime, Romance, Horror, Comedy etc: 70-90K
- YA and Erotica: 50-70K
- Novellas: 20-40K
- Short Stories: Up to approx. 1500-10K
How do I write a logline?
Always remember B2W’s ‘3 Cs – clarity, characters, conflict’. For a model logline to help you, download The Logline Cheat Sheet (it’s the purpleish one in the gallery).
How do I write a synopsis / one page pitch?
There’s no standard for this BUT you should sell your story ‘off the page’ – keep it engaging and interesting. To help you, download The One Page Pitch Reference Guide (PDF) from the gallery on The B2W Resources page (it’s the red one).
Here’s 6 more tips for writing a one page pitch. For an infographic version of the same post, CLICK HERE.
How do I write a treatment or outline?
Like one page pitches, they need to be interesting and engaging, not ‘and then … and then … and then …’ If you find yourself ‘glossing over;’ bits in the plot though, you should spend some time here figuring it out because otherwise you are signing up for a world of pain in your draft.
Generally speaking, treatments are selling documents; outlines are for the writer. More on this, HERE. You can find a handy infographic all about treatments, HERE.
How do I write a TV series bible?
I don’t want to write an outline, why should I?
So you don’t get stuck in what B2W calls ‘The Story Swamp’. Look, I’m pretty sure no one *enjoys* outlining, but its benefits are obvious. You can …
- Spot issues upfront
- Write stronger, more dynamic plots
- Get your draft finished quicker
What’s not to like! Here’s another article – Like It Or Not, You Need To Outline.
Questions on Writing Craft
How do I write a good character?
This is a real ‘how long is a piece of string’ question, since everyone has VERY different ideas on what ‘makes’ a good character! Consider instead two things – your character’s role function and motivation. Here’s Top 10 Links To Help You With Characterisation.
I want to write more diverse characters, but I am scared of getting it wrong. Any advice?
You just need to do your due diligence. This means doing proper research, across a wide cross-section of people who live lives *like* the character you want to write. You also need to listen to people’s lived experiences and reflect on them, not just those people’s who tally with your own. Also, research the history of various toxic writing tropes and characters – START HERE.
Where can I get structure and plotting advice?
Here’s the B2W Ultimate Guide To Structure. If you want to learn more about plotting, B2W recommends visual representations to help with this. Download the free B2W Plotting worksheet from the resources page.
I want to use flashbacks, but apparently they’re ‘lazy’. Is this true?
No, it’s absolutely UNTRUE. Flashbacks can be an amazing storytelling device when done well. The problem is, most spec screenplays do NOT use them well. CLICK HERE to find out why most flashbacks in the spec suck and how to avoid this.
I want to use voiceover, montage, intercut or dream sequence. Should I?
If the story calls for it … YES!!! To consider whether these plot devices are justified in your story, you need to think about these questions:
- What is the PURPOSE of the device – HOW does it advance the story / reveal character?
- What stories **like mine** have used these devices? How did they do it?
DO NOT just stick them in because you think they might look cool! CLICK HERE for a case study of these devices, using classic movie examples.
I want to use non linearity in my novel or screenplay. Any advice?
Yes, loads! All my novels (so far) have been non linear. The key is ensuring your story benefits from being non linear and avoiding the common errors. CLICK HERE for 10 quick tips to consider.
CLICK HERE for some classic errors screenplays make in using non linearity.
I always ‘start too early’ in my plotting … Any tips?
Yes! Start at the end and plot BACKWARDS. I call this ‘The Punchline Method’ because I learned it from a comedian. This simple tip means you will ‘find’ the beginning at the ‘right’ place. It also means your ending will be much stronger and dramatically satisfying. MORE HERE.
How do I plot a television pilot episode?
Television pilots traditionally have a ‘story of the week’ and a ‘serial element’. This seems to be changing now Netflix and Amazon has created the ‘binge-watching’ culture, but this can still be a valuable place to start in terms of thinking about plotting. CHECK THIS POST OUT for more on this.
By the way … B2W believes you can plot ANY story ‘the same’ … it’s just some mediums need more ‘story strands’ to them. I go into detail about this works and what we can learn from produced TV episodes, HERE. You may also like the B2W free online mini course which covers structure – ENROLL HERE.
How do I plot a sitcom episode?
This depends. If you want to write a traditional sitcom like The Simpsons, you probably have two ‘story strands’ or A & B story. I break down two episodes of The Simpsons and how this works in THIS POST.
However, modern sitcoms usually have three ‘story strands’ – an A, B, C story. Friends popularised this method of plotting and we see it very frequently now. For a breakdown of the Friends pilot to show how this works, CLICK HERE. You can also see a breakdown of an episode of another sitcom Brooklyn 99, HERE.
How do I write visually?
As a screenwriter, writing visually is about investing in your scene description and understanding it’s about scene action. CLICK HERE to find out why.
Screenwriters also need to understand scripts and scenes need to open well too. CLICK HERE for a case study, with pictures, on how to do that. CLICK HERE for cheesy openers to avoid.
Novelists too can benefit from learning these screenwriting tricks writing visually, ie. ‘show, don’t tell’. For handy infographics explaining ALL of these writing adages, check them out HERE.
Got any tips on how to write great dialogue?
Yup, loads. Start HERE.
I am writing a biopic or true story. Any advice?
Yes. First off, EMOTIONAL TRUTH is more important than literal truth. You will have to sacrifice facts for drama. Here’s 5 top mistakes writers make with true stories. Avoid these issues and you should be fine!
Also, here’s 5 Times it’s okay to sacrifice facts for drama. Good luck!
How do I use feedback effectively?
Weigh up, don’t knee-jerk. If multiple people say the same, then you probably have an issue. Always remember it is YOUR story, no one else’s. Never take it personally, even when the person giving the feedback is a dick. It’s their problem, not yours. Here’s 6 Things To Remember When Dealing With Writing Feedback.
Questions On Submissions & Careers
How do I get an agent?
A favourite question amongst Bang2writers! This will depend on whether you are a novelist or screenwriter.
If you’re the latter, this will be less problematic; if you’re the former, it will be much harder. More on how to do this (and why it’s harder for screenwriters), HERE.
Here’s the Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make Trying To Get Agents. Avoid these mistakes and you will be fine!
What is good submissions practice?
ALWAYS follow the submissions guidelines!!! Check the website and research the people you are submitting to.If it doesn’t say specifically, then it never hurts to send a script, a synopsis and CV/resumé. Here’s how NOT to make submissions, courtesy of uber-agent powerhouse, the late Carole Blake.
When should I follow up on my submission?
Writers tend to either follow up too quickly, or NOT AT ALL. This is bonkers on both counts. Generally speaking, for the first one wait at LEAST 8 weeks. 12 is better. For the second, ENQUIRE about the progress of your submission … it’s your right!! MORE HERE.
How do I put together a writer’s CV / resumé?
Some places and opportunities, including screen agencies and literary agents, want to see writing CVs and resumés now. There’s no industry standard way to do this, but there’s a breakdown and handy infographic at B2W to help you, HERE.
How do I write a good bio online?
A great bio online showcases your talents and creates a powerful ‘call to action’. For a full breakdown on how to do this, CLICK HERE.
How do I ‘make it’ as an author?
Change your mindset! It’s all about what defining what success means to you. Don’t wait to be picked or validated by others. Here’s a chat with top ‘authorpreneur’ Joanna Penn with more detail on how to be a writing success.
How do I break in as a screenwriter?
No writer’s journey is the same, but there ARE things you can do to take your career in your own hands. CLICK HERE for 5 Simple Tips To Help You Break In As A Screenwriter.
How do I use social media effectively / build my online platform?
There’s no ‘right’ way to use social media effectively as a writer – just multiple wrong ways! The best advice is deciding …
- What the purpose/goal of your online activity as a writer is
- What you WILL and WON’T share online and
- Crafting a persona around a specific remit.
Where can I find screenwriting opportunities/leads?
The great news is, it’s easier than ever to find people to make submissions to, thanks to social media … The bad news is, it’s easier than ever to SCREW THIS RIGHT UP!
For 5 big tips on finding a producer, plus 3 more on why you may be failing, CLICK HERE.
Questions on Goals, Productivity & Rejection
How can I set writing goals and evaluate my progress?
Lots of writers think writing success is purely about luck. IT IS NOT – Bang2write is living proof of that. We need to think like entrepreneurs and decide WHAT our writing goals are, HOW to achieve them and WHEN BY. To learn how to do this, CLICK HERE.
How can I find more time to write?
Change your mindset … It’s not about ‘finding’ time, or ‘making it’. Instead, it’s about utilising the time you already have effectively! Even if you have just five minutes a day, that can add up over a year to get your novel or screenplay done. CLICK HERE for more info and help on how to get writing done.
I have kids / other commitments that take up loads of time. Any tips?
Yup, loads. I was a teen mother, which means I had kids before I started writing too. First things first, you need to believe you can do this … Balancing your family and/or other commitments with writing can be really difficult, but it IS achievable. You also need to appreciate you DESERVE to follow your dreams! CLICK HERE for 5 more simple tips on balancing kids and writing, plus linkage to other articles on productivity.
How do I deal with rejection?
Rejection is tough, but it’s part of the writing life. Even big writers get rejection — FACT! B2W recommends acknowledging the pain of rejection, but NOT wallowing. Instead, feed your ‘growth mindset’.
I’m really down because of all the rejection I’m getting. What do I do?
Remember it is a ‘No’ at the places you have sent your writing to … not every single place on the planet. You WILL find the perfect home for it. Don’t believe me? Check out this pro writer’s rejection and what happened next, HERE.
How do I know if I’m rejected if I don’t hear anything?
Simple. If you don’t hear anything, you have not been successful. It’s not right, but people would rather say nothing than ‘no’. If you have been ghosted like this, then CLICK HERE to find out what to do next.
Questions on Networking & Pitching
How do I network effectively in real life?
By asking questions! A classic fall-back networking question for your writing peers might be, ‘What are you working on at the moment?’ It’s a great ice-breaker. Here’s 15 more questions to help.
Whatever you do though, avoid THESE terrible networking mistakes!
How do I pitch to industry pros effectively?
Being able to deliver your logline conversationally is an absolute MUST when pitching. Getting into the habit of being able to deliver the nuts and bolts of your story at foundation level will give you confidence and mean you are ALWAYS ready to sell both yourself AND your story. Also, always, ALWAYS avoid a vague logline.
What’s An ‘Elevator Pitch’?
This is a very short pitch – between 2 and 5 minutes (the length of an elevator or lift ride). For the lowdown on the things you should be thinking about in yours, CLICK HERE.
Help! I Am Pitching An Industry Pro. Now what??
Pitchfests – especially online events like #pitmad – are becoming increasingly popular. There’s no specific perfect way to pitch, but there are multiple wrong ways! Here’s what NOT to do, whether you’re pitching that pro virtually or in real life.
Questions on Copyright & Other Legal Issues
Should I copyright my writing?
In the UK, copyright of your writing is automatically yours. You don’t need to do anything specific beyond this. MORE ON THIS.
However, copyrighting work by sending it to an outside agency is pretty much mandatory in the USA. If you want to send your work to America, you will have to do this. Bang2writers have reported good user experiences copyrighting work with The Writer’s Guild of America and The Script Vault.
If you want to copyright your writing and it gives you peace of mind, then fine (just avoid using the copyright symbol on your cover – in the UK some readers, agents, producers etc call this ‘the nutter detector’).
CLICK HERE for more on this, written by a legal expert.
What is an option and how does it work?
An option basically means someone (usually a producer) has bought the rights to your writing for a specified amount of time. During this time, the producer will work to raise the money to make the film or TV series. This is most often a screenplay, but novels can be optioned too. Here’s more details, plus a sample screenplay option (PDF).
What is a release form? Is it the same as NDA?
A release form is a just a ‘permission to read’ document. These are pretty standard in the USA, though you generally won’t find them in the UK.
NDAs or Non-Disclosure Agreements are generally for COMPANIES and/pr producers or publishers, not individual writers. Never, ever, ever send an NDA out with your writing.
If worried about ANY form, Google a bunch of templates and see how they differ. Generally, they will all be the same. (If yours differs wildly, avoid that company or person). More on release forms and NDAs, HERE.
What are the legalities of adaptations, true stories & mentioning copyrighted work?
In short, there’s a ton of stuff you need to consider about all of the above.
- Adapting work –something is only in the ‘public domain’ (ie. non copyright) 70 years AFTER its creator dies … and that’s just the UK. You need to check your own country.
- True stories – you may need permission from the person you’re writing about, or their family. Check!
- Copyrighted work – mention REAL stuff can be problematic in both screenplays and novels. This is especially true of song lyrics and quotes.
CLICK HERE for a post written by a solicitor on all this.
How can I tell if a producer, publisher, agent, writing contest or service etc is legit??
You need to do your due diligence. That involves asking around, seeing if multiple independent people recommend them or say stay away. Don’t just rely on one or two people either. CLICK HERE for more on how to do your due diligence.
Someone did me over. Can I tell everyone???
It depends. Since the media is built on relationships, airing your dirty laundry in public can be a bad idea … However, that notion must be tempered with rejecting complicity with scumbags, scammers, abusers and exploiters. So this is something that needs weighing up carefully. HOW you tell people is just as important as WHY. If in doubt, speak to legal experts. MORE HERE.
Questions On Self Belief, Deadlines & Time Management
How do I advance as a writer?? It seems overwhelming and I’m scared.
We are all scared … that’s the bad news. It’s also the good news, it keeps you fresh! So you might as well quit stalling and make that jump!
I’m feeling very unhappy about writing. How do I get through this?
Recognise that writing is hard work and it won’t all be sunshine. The rejection and toil gets all of us down from time to time. Take stock and consider your options … If you don’t want to do it anymore, that’s okay too. You didn’t ‘waste’ your time. MORE ADVICE.
How do I cure writer’s block?
First off, you are not alone. Every writer gets some kind of ‘writer’s block’ where they don’t know what to write or don’t want to write (even those who say it does not exist!). CLICK HERE for a handy infographic on how to get through this.
Why shouldn’t I use the word ‘aspiring writer’ to describe myself? I haven’t been paid yet.
Doesn’t matter. If you’re writing, then you’re a writer! Make this commitment to believing in yourself. MORE HERE.
Argh, deadlines are freaking me out!!! Any advice?
Yes, reframe your mindset … Deadlines can be your FRIEND. Yes, really! I am also a big believer in utilising all the time available by breaking it down in to incremental chunks. So use a calendar app or diary for this! Check out THIS ARTICLE for some more great thoughts on crushing your writing deadlines.
I need waaaaaay more time to write. What do I do??
No problem, B2W’s got you covered! CLICK HERE for the B2W ultimate guide to getting stuff done.
Got kids? B2W was built AROUND my 3 kids! CLICK HERE for 5 Simple Tips For Balancing Kids And Writing.
Still need more time?? No problem – here’s 7 Ways To Find More Time To Write.
I am [insert age here] – is it too late for me??
In short – IT’S NEVER TOO LATE! If you’re still breathing, then go for it. If you’re still feeling despondent, to check out these famous creatives who all broke in ‘late’, CLICK HERE.
Grab Your Free Online Course
I am offering Bang2writers a free mini course called The Foundations of Writing Craft. Using video, worksheets and PDF guides, I walk you through what I call ‘The B2W Holy Trinity’ … Concept, Characters and Structure.
So, if you want proven methodologies for working on your writing craft (including developing your structural toolbox), this course will provide the know-how and the resources you need. To grab your free mini course from B2W then, CLICK HERE.