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Genre or Die, pt 3: Thriller

SPOILER ALERT The Thriller genre is pretty varied: unlike Horror where there are conventions aplenty to pay tribute to (or break), or very specific role functions in Rom-Com that you can use (or not), I would argue that in Thriller the only thing a script really needs to do is be, well, thrilling. Yet so many of the thriller specs I read are NOT thrilling. Sometimes they don’t make sense, especially if they’re conspiracy thrillers – I will end up questioning a character’s particular motivation usually (along the lines of “Why not go to so-and-so and avoid all this? Or… Read More »Genre or Die, pt 3: Thriller

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Genre or Die, pt 2: The Romantic Comedy

SPOILERS PRESENT Having had a good look at Horror under the microscope then, let’s go the other end of the scale and examine the Romantic Comedy… Here’s my take on the types: The Wedding Rom-Com – does exactly what it says on the tin, bringing the protagonist and love interest together usually through a chance meeting as mutual friends of the bride and/or groom of an otherwise unrelated wedding like Four Weddings & A Funeral, though sometimes for other reasons, as in the Wedding Crashers, where the characters’ job is to well… crash weddings, unsurprisingly. The Supernatural Rom-Com – the… Read More »Genre or Die, pt 2: The Romantic Comedy

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Genre Or Die, pt 1: Horror

SPOILERS! So genre movies are what’s-what at the moment: it’s apparently what audiences want, so it’s what prodcos want. Yet so many specs out there have no genre to speak of; yes they have generic elements but they’re not a GENRE FILM in the classic sense. They pay little attention to convention or classic characterisation; they have no set pieces to speak of, nor do they give us something that’s the same….But different. Speaking to writers, it would appear the notion of the genre film gets the thumbs down, big style: some writers seem to think of them as formulaic,… Read More »Genre Or Die, pt 1: Horror

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How To Use Plot Devices – Voiceover, Flashback, Montage, Intercut and Dream Sequence

Plot Devices With A Bad Name … There are lots of plot devices in scriptwriting we hear are “frowned on”. We shouldn’t use voiceover or flashback is the usual (or voiceover WITH flashback!). I’ve also heard montage maligned in a similar fashion, as well as intercut and dream sequence. This is a load of rot as far as I’m concerned. You can use what you like. These accusations we see levied like “flashback is a lazy way of telling a story” is just another generalisation. Flashback can be an amazingly dramatic way to tell a story. … For A REASON!!… Read More »How To Use Plot Devices – Voiceover, Flashback, Montage, Intercut and Dream Sequence

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What’s Interesting About YOUR Character?

Okay, I’ve just about had it with heroes whose wife/children/best friend/dog has been killed and they want vengeance. I’ve had it with the female protagonist who needs to learn something, most often the notion that there’s more to life than money and/or looking good. I’ve had it with the two dumb friends who go on a road trip and get into hilarious capers that usually involve kidnapping someone by accident (how do you kidnaop someone by accident??). I’ve also had it with the loser who can’t get laid and with the drama character who has a few days before they’re… Read More »What’s Interesting About YOUR Character?

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Adaptation, Pt 5: 22 Steps To Adapting For Screen

Now for the last of my posts from The Art And Business of Adaptation: here’s Adrian Mead’s thoughts on how to approach writing an adaptation. Obviously everyone’s different and when you approach your own, you may find your working method/thoughts on this is entirely the opposite, but I still think it’s an interesting insight on how to go about it. I’d be interested to hear from any screenwriters who have adapted stuff what they think of this too – did you do something similar? Not at all? Let us know and enjoy!—————————————————————- BOOK INTO FILM – A CHECKLIST STAGE ONE:… Read More »Adaptation, Pt 5: 22 Steps To Adapting For Screen

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Adaptation, Pt 4: Bye-Child And The Butterfly Tattoo

We’ve heard about what an adaptation entails, adapting true stories and what publishers think of the process, so now is the right time I think to take a look at two specific adaptations. Watch out for spoilers. First up is Bernard MacLaverty’s Bye-Child (2003). An award winning short film (part funded by long term Bang2writer Scottish Screen), Bye-Child is taken from the poem by Seamus Heaney. This was of particular interest, since adapting from poetry – bar the usual suspects like Homer -had not really occurred to me. But why not? Poems are just as rich in visuals and offer… Read More »Adaptation, Pt 4: Bye-Child And The Butterfly Tattoo

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Apostrophes Explained

Since “grammar” and “correct uses of apostrophes” are two of the most searched for terms on this site, I thought I would draw your attention to this rather fabulous resource courtesy of The University of Melbourne. Consistent apostrophe misuse is one of the most common errors I see in spec scripts and it’s a real shame, since it’s easy to put right if you know how. The reason this resource is so cool is because it’s concise and to the point – plus it’s a pdf so you can download it and go back to it later. It also has… Read More »Apostrophes Explained

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The First Person: Your Thoughts, Please…

So I thought I could do with a new challenge, so I’ve decided to write a novel. I’ve written one before (even though it was many years ago, long story what happened to it, move along now), but I figured it would be like riding a bike in that “you never forget” and all that. It so isn’t. Do you know how long the average spec is? I’m not talking page count. That’s 90 – 100 pages if you’re sensible, any more makes script readers want to stab themselves in the leg with a fork (honestly). That extra twenty or… Read More »The First Person: Your Thoughts, Please…

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Scriptwriting Degrees, pt 1: University

Whilst it’s a given that talent can’t be taught – you have it or you don’t – a scriptwriting degree seems to be the latest “must have” if you’re going to get *anywhere* in this biz. This of course is total pants – some of the most successful writers I know of or have met have no piece of paper that SAYS they’re “trained”, yet still people sign up in their droves: I have a BA (Hons) Scriptwriting for Film and TV from Bournemouth University for example, as does Dom and Lianne. I believe Pillock is going for the MA… Read More »Scriptwriting Degrees, pt 1: University

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Q&A, pt2: Yves Lavandier on Script Reading, Gurus & Philosophy

In the book you reference Claude Berri who asks “How many producers know how to read?” What is the “proper” way to read a script in your view and why do you suppose so many scripts are not read this way by producers? Imagine that to create a symphony, you need an awful lot of money. Imagine that composers send their music sheets to decision-makers in order to raise funding. Can you imagine that the “readers” don’t know how to decipher a score? That they don’t know how to read music notes? That they don’t hear music when they read… Read More »Q&A, pt2: Yves Lavandier on Script Reading, Gurus & Philosophy

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Q&A, pt 1: Yves Lavandier On Scriptwriting

Regular readers of this blog will remember this post where I reviewed the book “Writing Drama” by Yves Lavandier. As anyone who knows me knows, I usually have little time for scriptwriting books since their assertions and formulas largely do my nut, but I REALLY enjoyed Writing Drama because it takes away all the guff and explores the nature of what creates good DRAMA (not scripts!). Here’s a Q&A I did with Yves last week. Enjoy!————————————————- When does drama become melodrama in your view? When it accumulates external obstacles and ill-fortune. I agree with George Bernard Shaw when he says… Read More »Q&A, pt 1: Yves Lavandier On Scriptwriting

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