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All About Dramatic Irony And Twists In The Tale

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Dramatic Irony Dramatic irony is a tool I see often in produced and published works, but hardly ever in spec scripts or unpublished novels.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

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Specs I’ve Seen #1: The Woman Who Screamed Butterflies By David Bishop

Often spec screenwriters will ask me to nominate and talk about another spec work with them that I’ve read that I’ve thought particularly good. As a reader however I take confidentiality seriously, so I have to decline. These repeated requests however got me thinking and I’ve approached several writers whose work I’ve admired and asked them if I can write about their work on the blog. This is the first of the series.————————————————————————————-I’ve been a big fan of David Bishop’s work for some time now: originally a Bang2write paying client (oo er), David’s now one of my own trusted circle… Read More »Specs I’ve Seen #1: The Woman Who Screamed Butterflies By David Bishop

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Establishing Your Story’s World

SPOILERS: Monsters Inc There’s a lot of science fiction and fantasy spec scripts out there doing the rounds these days, especially those destined for TV. I would imagine it’s something to do with the increase in high concept television we seen: gone from the slush pile are the 90s Ken Loach-esque kitchen sink stuff and Cracker-style gritty police dramas. Instead the reader can expect to be treated to time travel, monster conspiracies, space continuums, black holes, parallel dimensions, predominantly Catholic visions of Heaven and Hell, vampires and ghosts. And why not? Yet one thing spec SF and fantasy scripts seem… Read More »Establishing Your Story’s World

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Know Your Enemy (But Don’t Know Too Much)

WARNING: EXTREME SPOILERS FOR CLOVERFIELD. Also mentioned: Deep Blue Sea, Pitch Black, Alien, Predator, TremorsI get a lot of creature features through the doors of Bang2write. And that’s good, ‘cos as we all know, I love a bit of gore and general people-eating. But they do generally share one basic flaw in common and it’s this: the writers concerned always try and explain where the creature has come from. So why is this a problem? Well, like all screenwriting stuff, it needn’t be. After all, there have been creature features that tell us exactly how the monsters have come about… Read More »Know Your Enemy (But Don’t Know Too Much)

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Bluecat # 2: 5 Exercises To Get Inspired

Writers often contact me to ask if I have solutions to the problem of so-called Writer’s Block – that supposed condition where you *can’t* write. I’ve always been of the opinion that it’s not that you can’t, it’s that you FEEL you can’t, so addressing whatever problem is in the way of your creativity is your first stop. However I’m a script reader, not a psychologist, so I can’t very well write back and say, “Do you have a problem with your childhood/parents/siblings/some bizarre phobia??” Instead I usually recommend they take time AWAY from writing, stop obsessing on it, stop… Read More »Bluecat # 2: 5 Exercises To Get Inspired

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Script Mistake # 5: The Journey

So here we are again… Structure. Oh, come on. You must have known THIS was coming (oo er). I’ve already written about fatty dialogue, don’t care characters, murkiness and abrupt genre/tone change. It was only a matter of time! ; ) There are many ways bad structure can screw up a script. I’ve covered most of them on here, but the one I see time and time again is meandering structure. In other words, characters do one thing… Or another thing… Or another… For seemingly no particular reason, at least at first; sometimes for no apparent reason at all. This… Read More »Script Mistake # 5: The Journey

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Script Mistake # 4: Fatty Dialogue

We all know the scripts that have dialogue that goes a bit like this: “Who am I? I am your husband, her brother and that kid over there’s father. We’ve been married for fourteen years, but your persistent amnesia dear wife has meant I have secretly been having an affair with your sister (that woman over there) and I fathered all seven of her children without you even having noticed. And by the way, can someone get me some coffee? I only like it black because that’s the way I had in ‘Nam, a place I will never forget: I… Read More »Script Mistake # 4: Fatty Dialogue

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Script Mistakes # 3: Abrupt Genre/Tone Change

SPOILERS: DUSK TIL DAWNImagine you’re a script reader. You’ve just started reading a gritty realist drama about a girl whose family life is pretty rough, maybe somewhere up North or in the boonies down Sarf somewhere. The pace is pretty nice, characterisation’s rounded, dialogue’s okay. Nearly twenty pages in, you’re beginning to understand the focus of this girl: she’s going to run away to London, sure there’s a better life for her there (only you *just know* it’ll be even worse). This is the sort of stuff that would light Ken Loach’s fire, no question. Then you get to the… Read More »Script Mistakes # 3: Abrupt Genre/Tone Change

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Script Mistakes # 2: Don’t Care Characters

SPOILERS: ALIEN TRILOGY Some characters are indelible. They leave their mark, as if they’ve been seared on to our brains lasting even though S/FX, technology, props or sets may end up looking dated. Sometimes it’s because of their integrity and survival instinct, like Ripley. Other times it’s because their self denial reminds us of what WE should really be doing too, like Miles in Sideways. Sometimes it’s because they’re a classic hero, protecting the innocent like John Book in Witness; other times it’s because they are both protagonist AND antagonist like Riddick. Often a memorable character is memorable because they… Read More »Script Mistakes # 2: Don’t Care Characters

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Top 5 Script Mistakes # 1: Murkiness

In response to a variety of emails asking me what mistakes/issues I see most often in spec scripts (TV or Film), here are my thoughts… I’ll try and do another “Research or Die” by the end of the week. Enjoy!—————————————————————————-Sometimes I’ll find myself writing in development notes that I’m not *really* sure what is going on in a story. No doubt this will be extremely odd to a writer who can see the action clearly in his/her head – and indubitably this is most often why a writer will accuse a reader of “not reading properly”. After all, if YOU… Read More »Top 5 Script Mistakes # 1: Murkiness

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BlueCat Comes to London!

You must have been hiding under a rock if you don’t already know that Gordy Hoffman and his excellent BlueCat Workshops are coming to London in August. What you may not know however is that I will be there too! I’ll be at the weekend workshop on August 16th and 17th and can’t wait – if you’re going to be there as well, let me know. For those of you who HAVE been hiding under rocks, here are the full details: Bluecat London Workshops Birkbeck, University of LondonMalet Street, BloomsburyLondon WC1E 7HX Aug 12 – 17th, 2008 Gordy Hoffman, the… Read More »BlueCat Comes to London!

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You Are The Architect

They don’t teach good time management in school. They should: instead of wasting all that time on stuff we will never ever use (Tangent Ratio anyone?? Okay, maybe if you’re an architect or something…), why don’t we get taught specific skills that will help us in our everyday lives? (Please note that I am NOT saying all academic stuff or stuff learned-for-learned’s sake as a discipline is invalid: I’m a trained ENGLISH teacher, that would make no sense… But can we please just have a few more practical skills in the curriculum as well, maybe?? If nothing else it’ll stop… Read More »You Are The Architect

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