As a general rule of thumb, having *something* in your plot happen as a coincidence is a bad idea. It’s just not very dramatic and *can* lead to the dreaded Deus Ex Machina, especially if your protagonist needs some help on something, whether that’s escaping jail, a maniac killer or the attentions of an overly-enamoured school teacher (or whatever, stay with me). However, we all know films and TV drama use coincidence all the time and get away with it. So what’s the difference? Well, it seems to me that if your coincidence gets your characters OUT of trouble, then… Read More »What A Coincidence!
Working with lots of writers over the years, I’ve noticed more than once there is a resistance in new writers to going back to Page 1. It seems there is a feeling that, should a writer chuck out the way they’ve executed the story and reimagine it, said writer has somehow wasted their time in writing those previous drafts. But this is patently not true. For one thing, first drafts – whoever they are written by – are always pants. In even a GOOD first draft, there are plot opportunities missed; cliches or stereotypes; characters whose motivations are not clear;… Read More »You Are Not Wasting Your Time
You don’t have to go far on this ol’ interweb to find claims that character and dialogue are the most important things in the *good* spec script. In fact, some places/people say, they are SO important a reader can forgive any other transgression including a non existent or problematic plot, because (apparently), stuff like plot can be “fixed later”. But is this actually true, or a myth? Well, if you look at the blog title, then you know what I think already and I’ll explain why in glorious technicolour, next. But, like all things in this scriptwriting malarkey, it’s hard… Read More »Plot + Easy = Myth
[Kept updated as much as possible] All About Software One question new writers always ask in the B2W Facebook group is whether they should buy screenwriting software. So hello to Michelle who asks: “I’ve heard mixed advice from everyone on the screenwriting software issue… Some advise getting it, others say there’s no need for expensive software, at least not until you’re in the thick of it. What’s your take?” Biiiig question! Ready? Let’s go … There’s lots of software choices now Some people like screenwriting software; others see it as an excuse for a company to make shedloads of cash.… Read More »Which Screenwriting Software Is The Best? (Paid-For & Free)
Thanks to thegodofallbens, I got my first Twitter-induced blog question! Apologies for taking so long, God. Please don’t smite me. The Great One asks: What’s the most common mistake writers make when writing for children’s TV? As you know, I get rather a lot of TV specs these days – and I’d venture at least half of them are aimed at the children/family market – the kind of slot Dr. Who, Primeval and Robin Hood inhabits (the rest is loosely made up of “grown up” sci fi and period drama. Interestingly, I very rarely get medical drama, cop dramas or… Read More »Children’s TV Drama Specs: Common Mistakes
SPOILERS AHOY: Toy Story 1 & 2, A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo It’s weird, but I often find myself talking to different people about the same thing screenwriting-wise, whether I’m writing my own stuff, reading other people’s or having random conversations about writing. For example, this last week and a half I have had no less than six conversations about the problems people have in “keeping it going” in Act 2. Very often in the specs I read, the Set Up may start very well, even catapult us right into in to the story – yet as soon… Read More »Climbing Walls
Updated So, You’ve Written A Screenplay ‘I’ve written a screenplay, now what?’ is one of the top Google searches that leads writers to this blog. Plus Bang2writers write to me, asking me for ideas on what to do / where to send scripts they’ve written, so I thought it was time I put my thoughts on this in one place, once and for all … Enjoy! 1) Get Some Screenplay Feedback i) Getting it – do peer review You don’t have to pay for this, though you can if you want to. Alternatively, you can do peer review aka a… Read More »I’ve Written A Screenplay. Now What?
For the lovely H who asked last week for my thoughts on rewrites. If you have a query for the blog, leave a comment or send me an email and I’ll get to it as soon as I can.————————————————————————–The thing to remember with your spec scripts is: it’s a work in progress. It’s never finished. You may do three billion drafts of a spec before it gets an option, but chances are you’ll end up doing a billion more AFTER the option. I have never heard of a writer optioning a script and a producer or director making it the… Read More »Approaching Rewrites
Rom Com / Real Life Hell Rom Com was always one of those genres I avoided through my teens and early twenties. Being a Goth, I was way too cool for boy-meets-girl, obviously. Besides which, by 18 I was a total cynic … I had after all been the girl who’d met the boy, then got knocked up and ripped off by him! I’d been left with a broken heart, a wailing baby and a man-hating attitude problem for approximately five years. I was also of the (not unreasonable) belief that post-FOUR WEDDINGS in the late 90’s/early noughties that all… Read More »Welcome To Rom Com Hell: 8 Awful Ways To Write Romantic Comedy
I’ve been seeing A LOT of Red Planet Prize Pitch Docs and Pilot Packages. A lot. One thing that is missing from many is just one thing, though it is admittedly a pretty massive part. And what it is may surprise you. It’s not that the characters don’t seem cool or that the central premise isn’t interesting – let’s have Granny lapdancers! (actually I just made that up). It’s not that the ten pages are rubbish or dialogue does my head in or the pitch doc doesn’t seem *even a little bit* intriguing. Instead, what’s missing is the story itself.… Read More »WHO – WHAT – WHERE – WHEN – WHY?
It’s largely accepted that things change – and get better – as you draft and redraft. I’d be a nutter if I didn’t say that feedback helps one’s writing, not only because I am an actual script reader, but because I have seen my portfolio of specs literally grow and improve thanks to the tireless of efforts of other professional readers I go to, plus of course my beloved Po3ers. Yet sometimes one can go off the boil whilst rewriting. Just as it’s possible to be blind to a particular device’s faults in your script, it is possible to reject… Read More »Sometimes Your First Idea Is The Best One
All About Dramatic Irony Dramatic irony is a tool I see often in produced and published works, but hardly ever in spec scripts or unpublished novels. Recently I was talking with Uber-Agent Julian Friedmann and mentioned how much I love Yves Lavender’s book Writing Drama. Segnor Friedmann replied how much he loves the book’s section on dramatic irony, lamenting the fact that so few screenwriters actually use this fantastic device. His comments really struck a chord, so I think I’ll have a good look at what makes dramatic irony so great. What is Dramatic Irony? First off however, what is dramatic irony? Well, this… Read More »All About Dramatic Irony And Twists In The Tale