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What’s In a Look? NCI Pt 1

Quite a lot. Especially when your characters “look” at each other all the time in your scene description. Same goes for staring, gazing, glowering, eyeballing, scrutinising or any other synonym for the word “look”. Until I starting script reading on a regular basis, I had no idea how much my characters “looked” at each other and how much of a problem this *can* become for the Reader. Now let me get this straight: “looking” is not a problem per se – until you do it all the time. It’s easy to fall into this trap. You want some actions, you… Read More »What’s In a Look? NCI Pt 1

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Please Leave A Message And I’ll Get Right Back To You

Many thanks to the peeps that emailed to wish me a happy birthday yesterday… 28. Yuk. I was supposed to be a squillionaire by now and have my own TV series like Lynda La Plante. But let’s brush over that bit and concentrate on the good bits – successful reading business, kids, husband, yeah that works for me. But I better be a squillionaire by next year else I’ll have to release said husband and kids back into the wild since they’re obviously the ones distracting me from greatness. Right, I’m off to sunny Bournemouth tomorrow… FOREVER! That’s right, the… Read More »Please Leave A Message And I’ll Get Right Back To You

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Character Sacrifice

WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS!!! Mentioned – Aliens, Severance, Night People, Dog Soldiers, Devil’s Advocate, CSI:NY, Eastenders and Spooks. “Greater love hath no man than this,: that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John, 15:13) David Bishop makes a good point this morning about Dr. Who and two characters that sacrifice themselves to fight a big scary monster while their friends get away. Unfortunately, those two characters don’t do it at the same time, but separately, one after the other, so ultimately the viewer is left bored at the repetition. Whether it’s scary monsters, a terrorist attack… Read More »Character Sacrifice

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The Ten Page Test, Part 2

So I told you that stating your intent was probably the most important part of The Ten Page Test: if a Reader doesn’t know where you’re going with your story by page ten, then chances are they won’t read on. Why? Well – would you? Think about it: you have a veritable stack on your desk, plenty more where that came from and chances are you’ll have plenty to take home with you too. What’s a decent “cut off” point, a place where you can say, “If I don’t know by now what this story is going, chances are I… Read More »The Ten Page Test, Part 2

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The Ten Page Test, Part 1

The BBC Writers’ Room does it. Red Planet will be doing it. The Film Council do it with initiatives like 25WOL. All the literary agents I have read for do it, so do some indie prodcos and screen agencies. What am I talking about? What I call The Ten Page Test: the presentation of ten short pages so intriguing, so well formatted, so full of sparkling dialogue that a Reader will forego the chance of another cinnamon swirl and read your script in full. Hooking a Reader, making them actively WANT to go beyond page 10 of your screenplay is… Read More »The Ten Page Test, Part 1

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The Gospel According to The Reader

We are gathered here today to bathe in the light of The Revelation of script readers’ terms and what they really mean. We The Readers are but seraphim in the heavenly production process and no one really listens to us anyway, but we *may* permit you through the Pearly Gates of options and deals or leave you outside to be devoured by the ravages of Time and perhaps Satan, who will let his evil hounds pick over your skeletal remains. Praise be to the Lords of Screenwriting (Lawrence Kasdan, Bill Martell, Danny Stack and all you other unsung Gods and… Read More »The Gospel According to The Reader

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Don’t Waste My Mutha*$%*^* Time!

Love that line. Al Pacino in HEAT. I forget the mechanics of the scene exactly – I think he was questioning-stroke-threatening an informant – but that’s what good movie moments are made of in my book: you may not remember the whys, you remember the how. And Al Pacino was so manically exhuberant here, repeating the line just enough without becoming irritating, that it stuck in my head and undoubtedly countless other viewers’. We all want these moments in our screenplays – those lines and moments people repeat to each other, out of context. It’s those little bits of movie… Read More »Don’t Waste My Mutha*$%*^* Time!

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Structure and Pace

Yesterday I talked about Story and Plot, how they were ultimately married yet lead very different lives: I’m reminded here of me and my husband, for although we are married (durr) and have some stuff in common like the kids and cats, we couldn’t be more different: I like to write. He likes to run wild on the moors like a savage. Really. So it comes as no surprise then that Story and Plot’s kids, twins Structure and Pace, are also very different. Structure is male and ego-centric; why wouldn’t he be, when people talk about him all the time?… Read More »Structure and Pace

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Story Vs Plot

So Phill Barron has this post about character vs story, with a hilarious (not to mention foul-mouthed) paraphrasing of Tony Jordan’s assertion that it’s character, not story, you should start with when coming up with your ideas for scripts. Yet should you start with character? This is an interesting point. Certainly when I was at university I had a lecturer who was absolutely positive it was character. He would bang on about the fact we had to know EVERYTHING about our characters, even what they “had for breakfast”. We would get character sheets where we would have to write character… Read More »Story Vs Plot

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If It Wasn’t For those Pesky Kids…

This Power of 3 malarkey, how to do it and what constitutes good feedback has got everyone talking, it seems. Since posting on Thursday I’ve had a deluge of emails and IMs and have noticed a variety of conversations on blogs, message boards and forums ranging from concurrence to the faintly bemused to the full-blown attack on amateurs and newbies. The “newer” writer – as in, the writer who has written only a few scripts – will always get a bum deal it seems. Sometimes it would appear that the more experienced a writer becomes, the more they forget what… Read More »If It Wasn’t For those Pesky Kids…

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Power of 3 Ruckus

Even if you have never been to an Adrian Mead class, there’s a good chance you will have heard of the famous Power of 3: it’s bandied about in The Scribosphere as bloggers appeal for each other to help them with their work. And why not? It’s a good way of getting feedback, for free. Whilst I’m never one to do myself out of a job, I do happen to believe that writers should get the best value for their money. Whilst there are always writers who prefer to work with Readers from that very first words-on-paper draft (and why… Read More »Power of 3 Ruckus

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A Dream Within A Dream

Hello to Script Pete, who emailed me the other day with this question: “Character is institutionalized…..deluded into imagining she is a singing star! Do you consider, beginning @ page 49 the next 26 pages are mixed over 60 pages…..too many in dream? Dream scenes I was told is difficult to put on film? 109 pages total ie: 26 dream 83 real…” I find the difference between dream sequence and “reality” in film a bit of a contradiction in terms; whenever people talk about reality or realism in film, I wonder if there is any such thing, philosophically-speaking? Edgar Allen Poe… Read More »A Dream Within A Dream

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