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Why Novelists Should Write Outlines Just Like Screenwriters

Outlines: For Or Against?  It seems every writer has an opinion on outlines! But often writers will fall into two camps … Those who do write outlines and those who don’t. Generally speaking, novelists who do outline tend to advocate the practice as the ‘common sense’ approach. Their outlines may be super-detailed or broad strokes.  The uber-organised authors may even use spreadsheets to keep track of every minute detail in their book … or they may use bullet points, notes to self or similar instead. In contrast, novelists who don’t outline are often very loud online. Such writers like Stephen… Read More »Why Novelists Should Write Outlines Just Like Screenwriters

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10 Simple Steps For Revising Your Draft

So, You’ve Finished Your Draft! Congratulations, but you still have work to do: revising it!! But where to start?? If you are feeling overwhelmed, then check out these 10 revision pointers for novels or screenplays. They can act as a handy checklist for revising your draft. Good luck … 1) Wait! First up, do NOTHING. That’s right … Just let that novel sit in a drawer or on your computer’s desktop. Do absolutely zilch with it, for a couple of days (minimum) or weeks (preferred) or months (maximum). Let your subconscious bubble away, revising any of your story’s problems as… Read More »10 Simple Steps For Revising Your Draft

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NEWSFLASH: Like it or Not, You Need To Outline

Oi, You … Yes YOU Look, I’m not saying an outline is an absolute MUST for writers … Except I am and you are utterly bonkers if you don’t outline! (What?? BRING IT!). Anyway, while I head off angry non-outlining writers at the pass, here’s why you SHOULD BE … Ready? Let’s go! 1) The Industry Expects It As screenwriters, we need to get used to outlining, because that’s the way of the industry. No one is going to pay us real money just to dive into a draft head first and ‘see how we go’. If nothing else, what happens… Read More »NEWSFLASH: Like it or Not, You Need To Outline

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How To Structure Your Writing: 9 Top Tips On Acts

All About Acts People have been writing about story structure since the days of Aristotle’s tragedies. Though some of us resist structure in life, for writing screenplays it really serves an important purpose. More often than not, The Three Acts is the one most screenwriters choose to employ in creating the roadmap of their narrative so the reader doesn’t get lost. How does it work and what do these three acts need? Let’s start putting the pieces of the puzzle together. All About Act 1 SHORT VERSION: This sets up the story and hits the who, what, where, why and… Read More »How To Structure Your Writing: 9 Top Tips On Acts

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5 Ways to Power Through Your First Draft

For a long time I had an embarrassing secret: I couldn’t get past the outlining phase. “Writing” was endlessly beating out plot points, charting character arcs, and shuffling notecards, never feeling like the story was quite “there.” Never feeling ready to move on to scenes and pages. Ugh. If you’ve been there, you know how frustrating this is. Really the problem was that I had identified myself as a “plotter.” It happened by default; after all, I knew I wasn’t a “pantser.” But plotters need to nail down every last detail of a story before firing up the screenwriting software,… Read More »5 Ways to Power Through Your First Draft

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Structure Spotlight: 3 Things To Remember For Act 3

All About Act 3 So today we’re talking about Act 3, courtesy of  Bang2writer Craig Howells, who left this question in the B2W Facebook group: I’m really interested in the anatomy of Act 3. What are the Dos & Don’ts? I know you need to pay off, and I’ve got my own ideas (which I’m still working on) but I’d love to know your take on it. I’m not a structure purist. As far as I’m concerned, all stories *just* need a beginning, middle and end (and not necessarily in that order, either!). On this basis then, The Three Acts makes… Read More »Structure Spotlight: 3 Things To Remember For Act 3

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Top 6 Reversals In Movies

FYI – SPOILERS! I’ve said only recently I don’t read enough reversals in spec screenplays, in ANY genre, so I thought it time to offer up some examples of those I’ve watched that I felt were effective. Obviously, if you Google “movie reversals” you’ll find various lists (on which many are duplicated), so I’ve put my thinking cap on to come up with some a little different from the norm. Before we get going however, you may want to read THIS POST, which contains a definition of what a screenplay reversal is, as well as a breakdown of the multiple… Read More »Top 6 Reversals In Movies

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7 Steps To Road Test Your Concept

You MUST road test your concepts BEFORE you start writing. I can’t emphasise this enough. Too many writers conceive half-baked ideas and then try and run with them regardless … Then wonder why they hit roadblocks and go down various insane detours. Don’t spend aeons trying to make a draft work when it’s simply a doomed exercise, because you haven’t done the foundation work. But how to road test your concept? Try these 7 simple steps: 1. Write a logline/ novel pitch 25-60 words, describing the characters and the situation they find themselves in. Remember those all important 3 Cs.… Read More »7 Steps To Road Test Your Concept

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7 Ways Of Developing Writing Ideas

All of us hit setbacks in our writing sometimes. When we do, it can be a good idea to try out techniques other creative people use to keep their work moving. Here are a few techniques I use when I’m stuck at the ideas-developing stage, not sure how to turn ideas into a story. 1. Use The 10-3-1 Method 10-3-1 is used by designers at Apple, and it goes like this. Instead of taking just one initial idea and developing it directly into a product, designers work on 10 different ideas, being as imaginative and impractical as they like. Later… Read More »7 Ways Of Developing Writing Ideas

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Women & Writing # 4: Sally Abbott, TV Screenwriter

Delighted to have the brilliant Sally Abbott on the blog today to tell us about her work as a TV screenwriter in continuing drama – amongst other things! Sally is a real powerhouse and has been involved in all SORTS of things over the years and this summer dips a toe in feature filmmaking too. She offers some fab insights into the industry and writing that I really agree with, but I won’t spoil it for you. Read and enjoy! 1) If you could describe yourself in 3 words, what would they be and why? Obsessive – which is a polite… Read More »Women & Writing # 4: Sally Abbott, TV Screenwriter

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