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The Great Writing Myth: How To REALLY Make It As A Writer

Wanted: Great Writing GREAT WRITING (ie. original and well-written) sells, right? That’s logical. So if I focus on ‘great writing’, I figured I would get there in the end. After all, that *had* to be what the AUDIENCE wants, right??? But as a script reader, I was LEFT AGOG when what **I** thought were derivative, crappily-written scripts made their way to screen. But then I decided it was just a freak occurrence and toddled off on my way… … Then it happened again. … And again. … Over And Over … Again. Argh!!! Originality is overrated I started to notice that… Read More »The Great Writing Myth: How To REALLY Make It As A Writer

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How To Write Great Characters

It’s oft-said that it’s *all* about characters, so one thing Bang2writers ask me about over and over again is “how” to write a “great character”. Sorry, but there is no actual *way*. Lots of people advocate various techniques… But most are a variation on that fabled notion of “getting inside a character’s head”. Character questionnaires, talking to/visiting the very people you want to write about and what Dom Carver calls “method writing” are a good start in terms of representing one’s characters… but that’s all they are: a START. I don’t think “getting in the character’s head” is even HALF… Read More »How To Write Great Characters

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USP, PT 2: You, The Writer

So three or four times a year I have a conversation with a writer that goes like this: WRITER: I’ve got this great script and I’m working with some great people, we’re going to take it all the way and get it made. ME: Brilliant, good for you. WRITER: Are you interested in collaborations? ME: Always. WRITER: Well, I’ve got this Science Fiction TV pilot… ME: … Ah. I won’t waste your time. I don’t do Science Fiction. Or TV. WRITER: Why not? ME: Because I haven’t seen a Science Fiction spec in about 5 years that’s sold me on… Read More »USP, PT 2: You, The Writer

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USP, Pt 1: Your Project

DISCLAIMER: If you think screenwriting is all about art or originality, talent or simply “great writing” (whatever that is), then go away. You won’t like this post. Don’t say you weren’t warned. Still here? Right. Here goes. … So, you’ve got a GREAT idea. What’s its USP? USP = Unique. Selling. Point. *This* is the point of screenwriting. It doesn’t matter how arty or original your idea is; it doesn’t matter how talented you are; it doesn’t matter how fabulously written your script is on the page. You could be all three of these things and if producers or financiers… Read More »USP, Pt 1: Your Project

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Relationships & Teamwork

We all know by now it’s not JUST about the writing. We should all be getting “out there” and creating relationships, too. But what does this really mean, bar the obvious, like not hiding away out of sight? I am not a religious person and nor is my family, but I went to a church school when I was a little kid. Obviously much was made then of various tales and parables in the scriptures, particularly ones about teamwork, like: A father takes his son out to a forest and shows him a stick. He gives it to his son… Read More »Relationships & Teamwork

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Don’t Second Guess: Find Your Audience

Writer thinks, “I’ll write a script. It’s gonna be great.” S/he completes the script. Sends it off. Reader gets it at some initiative/contest/literary agent’s/whatever. Reader thinks, “What a mess. This writer hasn’t a clue what he or she is doing. PASS.” Reader sends it back. Writer decides s/he is going to ADVANCE next time – whatever it takes. S/he does a ton of research. Sees where s/he went wrong in the first instance when it comes to format. Thinks, “This must be it now”. Sends it off. Reader gets said script and says, “Craft is OK, but story/structure/character/dialogue/delete as appropriate… Read More »Don’t Second Guess: Find Your Audience

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Oi, Writers No!

Yet again this week I came across the lament, “Oh I had this great idea… But then it turns out it’s quite similar to [this other thing] that’s already been done. Oh no. This means I can’t write it anymore. Oh boooo hoooo….” Yes, I’m looking at YOU, Dodgyjammer!!! : P HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU PEOPLE: 1) It’s execution that counts. 2) Originality is overrated. 3) It’s all been done anyway. And don’t tell me “it’s different for TV/Film/Web series…” – whatever! All start with a PREMISE. And yes, the same premises get recycled OVER AND OVER… Read More »Oi, Writers No!

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How To Become A Script Reader

How I became a script reader One question I get asked all the time is, “How do I become a script reader?” So, once and for all – here is the lowdown on how my consultancy Bang2write started – plus make sure you check out my course, Breaking Into Script Reading, back for its seventh year in 2021! As I’ve said before, I never actually SET OUT to become a script reader. I did the BA (Hons) Scriptwriting for Film & TV course at Bournemouth University and part of the course covered it. As I also detail in this post, when… Read More »How To Become A Script Reader

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Case Study: All About Symbolism in ALIEN (1979)

Symbolism in Screenwriting Many spec writers want to introduce symbolism in their scripts. And why not? Sometimes the best writing we see “hints” at other things; there are multiple ways of “reading” it — and us screenwriterly types can pat ourselves on the back for “seeing” it. So Think LAYERS When it comes to symbolism of any kind, think LAYERS, like an onion. You can do this any way you want: visual metaphors, allusions, motifs, character traits. There are no rules, remember. However, the biggest issue I see when it comes to symbolism: It’s not clear what the screenwriter is… Read More »Case Study: All About Symbolism in ALIEN (1979)

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Swearing: New ****ing Rules! By Eleanor Ball

Beware! The below post is about swearing, so it contains a good deal of norty language. Remember South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut? I was 12 years old when that came out so I could relate to the movie’s plot about a bunch of kids going to see a R-rated movie. But while I was watching it, my aunt was in the background. Ironing. Stony-faced as the song “Uncle Fucka” blared from the TV… I cowered in embarrassment and couldn’t enjoy the movie. And sometimes, these days, I see people I’M watching a film with cower at swearwords! And it’s… Read More »Swearing: New ****ing Rules! By Eleanor Ball

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Genre Vs Drama # 2: Master of None?

Of course, the inevitable lament rose up after yesterday’s post on Right At Your Door (this time on Twitter, in my words) – “We don’t NEED categories, the average viewer/reader is smart, the marketers and producers are talking down to us!” I’ve been script reading so long now that when I started, the *thing* of the moment was – and I quote – “fragmenting the narrative”. I remember hearing about it every five minutes: at uni, at meetings, from colleagues. Basically it boiled down to thus: “Structure’s a load of pants! Pulp Fiction and Memento is the way to go!… Read More »Genre Vs Drama # 2: Master of None?

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Genre And Craft

I hear a lot from writers who say they *can’t* write a particular genre – or that two different genres are MILLIONS OF MILES APART from each other and are thus “different skills”. They’re not. Writing is the SKILL, genre is just a part of craft. Whilst we all probably agree talent cannot be taught – some have it, some don’t, some develop it themselves over time – craft definitely CAN be taught. For one thing, none of us suddenly wake up one day with a knowledge of all the elements of HOW to write a script. We may have… Read More »Genre And Craft

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