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Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make With Low Budget Horror

Low budget horror has been all the rage for YEARS now. But don’t take my word for it  — I’ve drafted in an expert, Samantha Horley, an ex sales agent. Sam used to work at such companies as Salt and Summit Entertainment, so really knows her onions – she even helped make the commercial success that was The Blair Witch Project. Over to you, Sam! Low Budget Mistakes I get approached regularly by investors, sales companies and distributors, directors and producers, looking for low budget horror films. Some of them even  have that rare beast – the cash to fully… Read More »Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make With Low Budget Horror

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Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make With Mental Health

All About Mental Health in Writing Good mental health is key in writing … not just for us as creatives, either! As writers we also need to represent mental health in authentic and meaningful ways in our writing too, as I described in my previous article on How To Challenge Stigma In Your Writing. So I’m delighted to welcome junior psychiatrist and author Rosie Claverton with some big NO-NOs and pitfalls to avoid in your scripts and novels. Over to you, Rosie … Mental Health Representations As we talk more about mental health, depictions of people with mental health problems… Read More »Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make With Mental Health

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How To Challenge Stigma In Your Writing

Stigma Subjects Stigma is defined in the dictionary as ‘a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation’. Sadly, there are many subjects and things that have a stigma attached, even in today’s more enlightened times.  Two such stigma subjects include suicide and rape, especially when it happens to young men. Did you know: That 84 men under the age of forty five in the UK take their lives per week? (Stats HERE). 75,000 men in the UK per year – yes, 75K! – were estimated to be sexual assault survivors, with 9K victims raped (or… Read More »How To Challenge Stigma In Your Writing

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Top 6 Tips On Editing Your Own Writing

Editing is hard work Editing your own writing is a huge undertaking. It’s difficult to edit your own work, so you need to be vigilant. You also have to take into consideration things such as when you edit and who you get to assist you. Identify crutch words, pay attention to technical aspects, and you’ll be left with a polished masterpiece. Well, a polished draft anyway! Check out these top tips:   1) Have your draft read to you It’s much easier to detect errors when you hear your work read aloud. There are two options: have someone read it to you or… Read More »Top 6 Tips On Editing Your Own Writing

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No, Your Female Characters Don’t Just Need More Dialogue

Wanted: More Dialogue More dialogue is something screenwriters always seem to want – chains and chains of it, in fact. I’ve written many, many times that too much dialogue is a HUGE problem in the spec pile. Yet it would appear film researchers and commentators ALSO want more dialogue … especially when it comes to female characters. So, you don’t have to go far online to discover studies and articles galore about how male characters talk more than female characters generally. You may have seen this pic (below) doing the rounds of Facebook recently, which backs this assertion up: Male as… Read More »No, Your Female Characters Don’t Just Need More Dialogue

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3 Absurd Screenwriting Myths To Forget Right Now

Writing Myths Myths are everywhere in screenwriting, but it’s real success that attracts you. First, you watch GET OUT. Then, you watch the Academy Awards 2018 to see GET OUT winning its Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. And you think: ” I’ll become the next big shot Hollywood screenwriter! After all, I write screenplays, don’t I?” Yes, you do. You know all the screenwriting techniques; you understand that a stellar script is the result of hard work; plus you’ve read all the books like Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat! and you know a hero’s journey inside out. And yet, your Oscar… Read More »3 Absurd Screenwriting Myths To Forget Right Now

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Top 5 Tips To Deal With Writer Burn Out

All About Burn Out So with not one, but TWO of my novels to edit recently (not to mention various other deadlines, including my IFS students’ end projects), I have been feeling the BITE of burn out lately. So, when Rachel Jackson got in touch with me to share some ideas on how to combat this feeling, I was all ears!! I particularly like her points 3 and 5. Enjoy! What Is Writer Burn Out? Burn out is silent and sneaky. It creeps up on people when they least expect it. Stress levels slowly begin to rise … Before you… Read More »Top 5 Tips To Deal With Writer Burn Out

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Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make Getting (And Taking!) Notes

1) Not realising that it’s NOT ABOUT YOU One of the most important things I learned about giving notes is to make it about the script and not the writer. This is not personal. This is about a piece of writing. This is about improving that writing and it’s not saying you’re a bad person or a bad parent or a cheating husband or any of that. I once had a client whose pilot was about a husband and wife divorcing and the notes wrote stated that the wife was unlikable and hard to connect to. He was furious and… Read More »Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make Getting (And Taking!) Notes

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How Your Concept Can Kill Your Writing DEAD

What’s The Concept? Concept, premise, controlling idea, seed of the story … Whatever you want to call it, you need that THING at foundation level in your story to be clear and compelling, otherwise your story is SUNK. Put simply, if you don’t have a great concept at the foundation of your screenplay or novel? YOU GOT NUTHIN’! Supersadface. It can’t be true … can it?? How Concepts Kill Spec Scripts & Unpublished Novels YES! It is true. The short version: if your concept STINKS? Your pitch won’t work. You will never get off the starter blocks – no one will like… Read More »How Your Concept Can Kill Your Writing DEAD

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NEWSFLASH: This Is Why Your Flashbacks Suck

This is the thing about flashbacks … Most flashbacks in the spec screenplay pile are DULL at best; DISJOINTED at worst. In fact, it’s incredibly unusual to find a non linear script in the pile that makes sense. Supersadface. Similarly, though time can obviously be more malleable in  a novel, unpublished novelists can still end up tying themselves – and the reader! – up in knots over where we ‘are’ in the timeline. But why is this? Well, it’s actually very simple: Flashbacks are primarily a PLOT device. This means they should relate primarily to how the story works, from… Read More »NEWSFLASH: This Is Why Your Flashbacks Suck

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Top 10 Words That Will Kill Your Writing DEAD

So I read screenplays for a living, plus I spend a huuuuuuge part of my life reading FOR FUN (wtaf!), so I’ve discovered there are certain words that crop up again and again and again which threaten to TORPEDO writers’ narrative efforts. I call these ‘crutch words’ (quiet at the back). Crutch words are those we may rely on in EARLY DRAFTS, which we need to seek out with a torpedo of our own and DESTROY in the edit process. Whether you’re a screenwriter or novelist (trad or self published), look out for these suckers … 1) ‘Suddenly’ The actual… Read More »Top 10 Words That Will Kill Your Writing DEAD

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25 Mistakes That Send Your Screenplay To The Trash

Don’t Get Sent To Trash If you don’t want your spec screenplay moved to trash, you need to read this post. A lot has changed since I became a script reader back in the early 00s … the biggest being PDFs are now the ‘main’ format of spec scripts. Back when I began, they were on PAPER! I would have to stay in all day and wait for the courier to stagger up my driveway with a sackfull of them. Nowadays, I just get sent a link to a Dropbox folder. Aaah progress! I’ll be teaching Breaking Into Script Reading… Read More »25 Mistakes That Send Your Screenplay To The Trash

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