Wanted: Great Stories & Fresh Voices What we all want is a ‘good story, well told’. That’s a given. But what does this really mean? In part 2 of my expert panel this week, I asked the industry pros a second question … What types of stories, tropes, characters, genres, story worlds (etc) would you like to see MORE of in 2019? Here’s what they replied with, below. Again, as you will no doubt see, these are not the prescriptive demands many writers believe they need to ‘sell out’ to. As with the previous post, diversity, new takes on genre… Read More »What 22 Industry Pros DO Want From Your Writing
What’s In the Spec Pile Don’t know what to write? It can be difficult to understand what the industry wants, so sometimes it’s easier to work out what they DON’T want! When human beings prize novelty, standing out from the rest can be half the battle for writers … Equally, so can utilising a tried-and-tested trope or character in a unique way. But what IS unique? I rounded up 20 Industry Pros I know and asked them: What types of stories, tropes, characters, genres, story worlds (etc) feel stale, cliched or overused to you at the moment? The Industry Pros… Read More »22 Industry Pros Share Their Advice On What They DON’T Want
Happy Halloween! Halloween is always a great time to start thinking about writing a Horror screenplay, novel or short story. It’s a date on the calendar that never changes, plus Horror is always in demand around this time. So Halloween can act as a brilliant motivator for writing that Horror piece you’ve always meant to … Plus you can use the same date **next year** as your deadline. Perfect! So, without further ado, here’s a starter kit on all things Horror to get you going. Gooooooooood luck! 1) Learn From The Classics (AND The Clangers)! If you want to write… Read More »How to Write Bloodcurdling Horror: Your Halloween Starter Kit
All About Your Idea Your Idea, Premise, Concept, ‘Seed of the story’ … What is this? Why do we need it? How to we make sure our idea kicks ass? So many writers start a project thinking they have a killer concept only to find out it’s a fun idea at best. What’s even more distressing is that they usually find this out halfway through a project. Ouch. Bon Appétit, recycling bin! Here’s a round-up of everything you need to know about concept and ensure your idea kicks ass. Ready? Let’s go … 1) How Your Concept Can Kill Your Writing… Read More »Top 10 Links To Make Sure Your Idea Kicks Ass
All About Ideas Ideas. Every writer has them, but how do you know which ideas are GOOD and WORTH pursuing? In my career as a writer/producer on projects like HBO’s Band of Brothers, I’ve learned the lesson over and over again that “the idea” is what really matters meaning the core idea for a story. Writers tend to not spend enough time on their ideas. All the months and years of great polishing can be wasted if the central concept lacks the elements that producers, agents and managers look for. Killer Ideas So, what are the elements of killer ideas?… Read More »How To Write Killer Ideas Like Netflix’s Stranger Things
Good Writing, Objectively Good writing is what everyone wants. Le duh. No writer starts a project, be it screenplay or novel, actively wanting it to be bad! That would make no sense whatsoever. But the dead reality is, most of the spec pile is NOT good. So, what does ‘good writing’ mean? And how do you KNOW yours is good? Why does your work deserve to be produced or published? Obviously everyone has personal preferences about what makes good writing. Some writers are lauded for stuff like dialogue, epic story worlds, nuanced themes, diverse characterisation, non linear plotting and so on. But what… Read More »Is Your Writing As Good As You Think It Is?
Casting Trouble Casting controversy … It seems hardly a month goes by without some! The same-old arguments and responses get wheeled out every time. Sometimes, writers may have trouble separating their own feelings about various casting troubles from the realities of the industry … Plus other times, the realities of industry actively entrench those same-old problems. Now what?? Well, here’s a round-up of the consistent casting mistakes, misgivings and confusions writers have when diverse characters and the actors who play them intersect. Enjoy! 1) “It should be the ‘best actor for the job’ You’re right, it absolutely should – so… Read More »7 Casting Debates That Need To Die The Death
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
It’s Cultural Diversity Day! It’s May 21, which means we are celebrating cultural diversity today, as set up by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). But what does the term culture mean? Well, that can depend on who is using the term, but one commonly-used definition is: “[Culture] is that complex whole which includes knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, laws, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by [a human] as a member of society.” In other words, culture is a people’s ‘way of life’ meaning HOW they do things in their group. This group may be… Read More »Happy Cultural Diversity Day. Will You Pledge?
Concept IS Story Concept aka ‘premise’, ‘controlling idea’, ‘seed of the story’. Whatever you want to call it, that concept is the FOUNDATION of your story, whether you’re writing a novel or screenplay. Contrary to the popular belief amongst ‘aspiring’ screenwriters on social media that it’s ‘the execution that counts’ (newsflash: it’s NOT), concept is actually the MOST IMPORTANT BIT. Why? Because if your concept does not sound interesting from pitch level UP, then no one will invest their time or money in your work – whether they are agents, producers, publishers, viewers or readers. It’s not rocket science!!! Concept… Read More »Top 5 Concept Mistakes Writers Make
All About Heroes Heroes are the number 1 archetype for any writer … They’re the protagonist ‘everyone’ wants to write. The archetypal hero appears in all religions, mythologies and epics of the world. He is an expression of our personal and collective unconscious, as theorised by Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell and Christopher Vogler. What’s more, all archetypal heroes share certain characteristics. See how many of these you can recognise from your own favourite heroes: Traditionally male (and straight, plus able-bodied; in the world of movies, generally white too) Born into danger, or royalty (or both) Leaves family or land and lives with… Read More »Everything You’ll Ever Need For Writing Great Heroes
Right now, diversity is the name of the game in storytelling, so it’s no accident a movie like THE SHAPE OF WATER won ‘Best Picture’ at The Oscars last week. (Whilst Jordan Peele’s GET OUT was technically more ‘deserving’ of the so-called diverse tag, it is still a genre movie … Whereas historically, The Oscars have always been more appreciative of drama movies, even ones with sci fi elements like TSOW). I won’t pretend THE SHAPE OF WATER was my favourite movie of the year because it wasn’t, but there’s still plenty for writers to learn here. Let’s go: 1)… Read More »6 Important Writing Reminders From THE SHAPE OF WATER