The Weekly Screen & Fiction Writers' Tips

Archive for 2014|Yearly archive page

Film… Movie! Movie… Film! It’s the same difference isn’t it?

In Screenwriting Tips & Advice, The Art of Writing, Writing Tips and Advice on 19/10/2014 at 15:16

moviemaking

OR…

FILMMAKING

Whatever…?

The written word versus the visual one?

Well…

both really

I write with a filmmaker’s eyes…

I film with a writer’s structured mind…

Do you see? Do you see?

I see… already!

Hello fellow scribblers, key strokers, filmmakers, scriptwriters, daily creatives etc., etc.

Please tell me life has been kind to you?

Tell me you have met with success no matter how small.

A lifetime or two hundred suns ago.

Oh please don’t exaggerate. Ok.

Right, some time ago, as you know. I made a conscious decision to tinker with scriptwriting. And in a short space of time, I wrote a radio play, a stage play, a two, two-hour film adaptation of one of my novels, a half-hour television script and a number of other film and television scripts. I felt totally satisfied and believed I found my creative niche at long last. Well, at long last was up to that time.

I still craved. Creative minds do that, they crave. Whatever they are doing their minds are craving, yearning. It’s an intellectual drug. They need new experiences, new subjects to learn, new people to meet, new places to visit, new food to taste and so on. Well, for me I wanted to develop my screenwriting to the next level.

And what for heaven’s sake would that be?

Well, I’m glad you asked me, my dear conscious self. It’s like this. I became frustrated trawling through the internet looking for photos of a look alike protagonist or antagonist or love interest for my next screenwriting saga that I can pin on my board, or impatient by writing a short character description before they enter the scene. I wanted the real thing. I wanted people, because in my head, my characters were alive. Their dramas were vivid. Where they lived was real and their emotions, painfully human. There seemed to be only one avenue open for me.

To film my own scripts. To learn filmmaking and its various facets. To spend my time filming, meeting other filmmakers, to watch films, to join filmmaking groups, read filmmaking books and magazines and so on. The last time I felt this thrilled and occupied was when I began to learn how to write. I had to learn a new skill with all its pains, and its ups and downs. Remember the time when your scripts were rejected time and time again. What did Oscar Wilde say? ‘I’ve received enough reject letters to wallpaper my bedroom.’ Ah, the joy of learning.

 

quiet please filming in progress

So guess what I did with my time over those sunlit days and moonlit nights in the last few months? Yup! I became a film apprentice. As I mentioned in my last blog I have amassed my learning equipment, travelled high and low, met a lot of inspirational people and created at first, some outrageously amateurish footage. But it was fun. I learned a lot and wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I filmed new angles with cheap home-made equipment. I had great fun coming up with new filming perspectives. But I was on the way to making my scripts become real. Currently, films similar to ‘The Blake Witch Project’ are masterpieces compared to what I still consider my mediocre efforts. But do you know what?

What?

They are my mediocre films. I am at that perfectionist stage when anything below that level is puerile, kindergarten output. But hey, I’ll get better. And in a coincidental way it has brought me back in touch with how I started as a writer, by writing short stories. I was quite surprised at that outcome. Now I have written several short scripts to create as my calling card. I have even dug up some of my old short stories – YES, NEVER THROW ANYTHING AWAY. As I said, I found these old short stories and am currently adapting them into film shorts.

Film festivals, have always got room for short films. And when I pondered some more about filmmaking, or moviemaking, making your own films is little different to a self-published book, although that is a lot cheaper to reproduce than a film. But the market to being noticed as a filmmaker is far broader than the one for books. You have festivals, the internet and television to spread your visual word.

Films, movies, a well-crafted script, short stories, documentaries, these are forms of expression. Of reaching out with a theme, a visual message. But isn’t that what fiction or non-fiction books, short fiction, articles and poetry is doing. I am still voicing my messages, but now I have increased my chances of being heard. It’s not about me wanting to become famous, far from it, it’s about increasing my audience.

 

lights camera action

 

It really is ‘Lights. Camera. Action.’ And do you know what? No matter how old I’ll get, I will always stop, assess and learn new ways to increase my audience, and my skills. I will never be happy with one medium and that has always been the case from the time I was able to hold a pencil and scribble some indecipherable something on a page and glow with pride, shouting ‘I did that. I did that.’

So until I meet with you again, just sit back and assess yourself and your skills and ask if you can go off into a new direction. And if you want to, then ask yourself what is stopping you and get rid of that hurdle, work your way around it, through it, underneath it, anything. JUST DO IT. Don’t just sit there and wish.

Well… until the next time we cross paths, love you and those around you. Listen, encourage and be patient with you and them. Remember, they will be the first ones there when you want your ass kicked, hand stroked and your cheek kissed.

Keep well. Remove your creative blocks. And be at peace.

Believe in you.

Nev

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Tick Tock! Time is not my friend when there are many things to do!

In Writing Tips and Advice on 27/05/2014 at 13:17

dripping clock

OR…

The battle of age versus interest…

new skills…

demand…

not enough time…

Why is my brain so active, alive!

Why am I like that loveable Johnny… ‘More input. Input.’

Hello again key bashers, candle burners, dawn word thumpers, midnight creatives etc. etc.

Mighty jehosophats! Where has time gone?

Do you know, since the last posting, which now seems an aeon ago, but it’s only been a few weeks, life here has been a land speed record. It sort of whooshed by. I’ve been away for a while. Then there is the usual sniffle, but to a man it feels like some major epidemic. I’ve been writing, reading watching films, writing films, tried to keep up with all my social duties, all my online duties, such as Stage 32, Twitter, Facebook, About me, Pinterest and a few others. Yes, I’ve had to keep up with all that, but my biggest reason has been my new found interest of film making.

Some time ago. There, it’s that time again. I made a conscious decision of making films of my own screenplays, rather than let others do them. What prompted this decision are the people I met recently. People within the film industry here in the UK, online and in Los Angeles, such as Dov S-S Simens, Syd Field and many others. But one person has stood out a Canadian who lives in the UK but has a global passion, an international vision and formed Raindance, Elliot Grove. You have to check out Raindance. It’s an indie filmmaker’s Nirvana. The guy is so passionate about film. I can honestly say I have all his books, been to Raindance London, where I attended a course given by Dov. I am a dedicated member of Raindance now and my next natural step had to be… filmmaking.

value your time

My time is valuable in many ways. But I was determined to master the craft of indie filmmaking. Now I won’t go into much detail at this point, since most of my up and down, negative, positive, hair pulling film experiences are kept as a daily journal to be published in book form in the near future. But my learning experiences have been joyous. I am now writing short film scripts, which apparently are like gold dust, and filming them. I decided to start with short films, venture onto a documentary or two and then features. This is my learning plan. Currently, I am amassing my equipment, kit or whatever you young filmmakers call your resources and that in itself is a huge learning curve. Film language has to be learned when I begin working with media students, film crew and professionals, since that is the language they speak and it makes communication more fluent.

Anyway… I have digressed yet again, since the point of this posting is about time, or lack of due to present commitments and new skills. But this learning period is also an investment for the future. It’s about getting my products, skills, talents, ideas and words out there, for others to see, read and absorb. I believe there is only one way of doing that and that is to stop, take stock and invest in those new skills.

If you want to continue life as a writer, in whatever form, that’s fine, but I am the new skills hungry, intellectual ants in the brain kind of guy. I cannot sit still intellectually. Besides, everything I do is related, connected linked to one major core – creativity. And I firmly believe that filming provides me with the opportunity to wrap everything I have done, and doing, all my skills into new directions. It’s an expression. In other words I am not just sitting down waiting for opportunities to happen, I am making them happen. I am increasing my chances of being noticed. Isn’t that what we all are trying to do. To be noticed. Well, adding new feathers in my boa is increasing the odds of being noticed and for my creativity to reach new audiences.

So that’s what I have been doing in my time in the last few weeks. I wish I could have said, I was on some golden beach, sipping on margerhitas,  gazing at some bronzed woman and dreaming of the World Cup. But no! I aint that kind of guy. I am huddled in a room, learning all about Follow Focus, Depth of field, bokeh and so on. And do you know what… I love it.

Well… till the next time I enter your life, you have a good one and love your loved ones. Listen to them. Encourage them. Be patient with them. Because if the you want some truth. Your loved ones have a huge bit of you in them, so love yourself too.

Take care. Stay creative. Stay full of peace.

Believe. Believe. Believe.

Nev

Go left. Go right. Be this. Be that. Write this. Write that.

In The Art of Writing on 23/03/2014 at 15:26

decision 1

OR…

I want to be a writer

BUT

what do I write?

what type of genre?

fiction or what?

books? screenplays? poetry?

Hello again chosen ones! Have you chosen the right keyboard keys for the next phase of your life? Well… it’s your decision.

For as long as you can remember, you’ve wanted to write. Then when the time came you were faced with what some call ‘that blank page of doom’. Do you know how many films have been made from this moment? How many novels have been written? How many radio plays?Well, neither do I. But for some writers that introduction has caused unforgettable pain. The blank page.

But not for us, right. We are made of much sterner stuff. Ok, now what sort of things will go through your mind when you first meet the blanc one? Well, I think that very much depends on what you write about, or rather what you want to write about. Novels, short-stories, poems, films, plays, for television, radio, copy-writing, journalist, essays, non-fiction, school resources… Please ask me to stop?

Thank you. You see writing is the basis of modern life. Writers are needed everywhere. The real list is huge. Ok let’s try and break the list down to a munch-able chunk. How about this? Would you like to write fiction, or non-fiction?

decisions 2

Fiction is another list consisting of novels, short-stories, poetry, screenwriting, scriptwriting (the last two are very different by the way; screenwriting is anything for the screen big or small, and scriptwriting can be what someone says, the presenter at the Oscars, news reporter, weather man, Government officials especially at election times, although I believe the last point should fall in the fiction department too, media advertising, that can also be copy-writing etc.).

Non-fiction is anything that isn’t fiction. Duh! I know I can be a real Homer Simpson at times. Of course, we are talking about anything that people can: make, eat, build, repair, swim, wear, ride, drive… Someone please stop me again. Phew! Thanks to that man in the back. It’s a huge list. So we are saying, no works of the imagination. Nothing fictional.

Okay! That was easy. The writing decision is in your writing hand. You either want to write in the genre (what is genre?) you feel you were born to write in, or what is inspiring you, at the moment. So to squeeze the last blood of you the sort of questions you ask when you meet Miss Blanc Le Paige depends if you are writing fiction or non-fiction.

If you have plumped for fiction, then some typical questions might be: what form will my fiction take (novel, poem etc.)?, what is my story?, who is my main character (protagonist)? who is he or she fighting (antagonist)?

And if you are writing a non-fiction book, then the question might be, what is my subject matter? That’s all you have to ask.

decisions 3

That’s it. You have met Miss Paige and you know what you want to write about.

I’d like to end by wishing both of you a wonderful journey and a superb future. Next time, I will tell you what really happens as a result of that meeting.

Enjoy your dreams and your loved ones. And oh yes, do love that person in the mirror, for he or she is a real person and needs your love.

Oh dear, what am I unleashing?

Do let me have your thoughts, or let me know how you are getting on?

Until next week… keep well, loving and full of peace.

Believe. Believe. Believe.

All my loving

Nev

Where have I been? You really don’t want to know…

In Authors and Books on 08/03/2014 at 14:32

missing link 2

OR

sorry to sound mysterious

BUT

sometimes, one loses time doing other things

AND

really I have no excuse

SO

let’s get on with the show…

What’s today’s philosophical question?

‘Do novelists remain novelists all their lives, or do they move to pastures new?’

AND

‘If they do remain novelists, then do they change genre?’

Hmmm… Interesting thought Watson. I just need to play a few notes and have a few smokes from my pipe. Well, I suppose you shouldn’t speak in general, but I’m sure that some novelists move on to new ways of expressing their creativity. It is very possible.

And so, Holmes it is possible to think, that some writers change their style.

Yes, yes, of course. One has to think of the story. Would it be better as a book, poem, film, short story, comic and so on. You cannot assume that because you are a novelist, and you have a story, then it must be suited to a novel. You can make it so, but perhaps it would lose the depth, the emotion, the characterisation.

Then it is settled Holmes. A novelist cannot remain a novelist.

Oh Watson, you are generalising again. How can that be? A novelist who wants to change their style need also consider whether they have the skills to do so. This isn’t some instant decision.

Yes, of course, skills, aptitude. It isn’t some area to rush into. That could lead to disaster. That could destroy your writing confidence, your voice, your creativity.

Absolutely Watson.

missing link 1

So then Holmes, what about genre?

What about genre?

Well, my initial question? Can a novelist change genres, or do they have to remain with the genre they know?

The answer is in your question Watson. You said, ‘with the genre they know’. To change one’s genre requires a tremendous effort. To write about a genre, you have to know the new genre, as well. To know the associated words and expressions, the characters’ mannerisms, speech, the way they dress, the background and so on. If you need to write about it, then you have to have almost lived it. Can a romantic novelist, suddenly become the writer of steam-punk detective novels? I hardly think so. I may be proved wrong here but I believe that you have to spend as much time reading that type of genre as reading romance.

Yes, you’re right Holmes. You can only write about something well if you are familiar with that topic. And write with the same skill set as other writers of that genre.

Bravo Watson. You have answered all your own questions. Excellent.

So, it’s goodbye from me until next week.

Have a positive productive week.

Love one another and be creative.

And this week I ask you to love yourselves.

Ta Ta.

WANTED! Screenwriter needed urgently for Hollywood!

In Screenwriting Tips & Advice on 08/02/2014 at 17:46

hollywood 1

OR…

Hollywood wants you…

Hollywood always wants you…

Hollywood always has vacancies for screenwriters…

That’s convenient. What a stroke of luck!

I’m a screenwriter!

And a LARGE shouty hello to you all dear fellow writers, screenwriters and scribes.

So… what’s the verdict? Are you going to apply? Have you got a suitcase packed already? Are you up and moving to LA LA Land? Have you given notice to leave your job? Well… DON’T! Not yet.

Ok, you’ve heard Hollywood cannot exist without writers and there are producers out there ready to dine and entertain you as if you were the ‘bitch of the night‘. You’ve realised that not all new films are written by established screenwriters. You’ve written your ‘Gone With The Wind’, spent a fortune having your script bound and now… what? You think that’s it. Ha! If only. It doesn’t work like that.

Yes, Hollywood is always looking for screenwriters because new films are always being made and there aren’t enough new ideas, and new scripts to meet demand. Producers have to rehash, remake, reinterpret old films, old ideas, old books and so on. So Hollywood is hungry for scripts.

Is that so? Then tell me why was the script for the ‘Dallas Buyers Club‘ which started its rounds about 20 years ago got turned down by 86 Production companies before it got recently taken up and turned into a critically acclaimed Oscar nominated film? Yes, questions, questions?

And how about ‘The Wolf of Wall Street‘? Leonard De Caprio took the script, written by Terence Winter, one of the writers of the multi-award winning television programme ‘The Sopranos‘ around the production companies for the last six years, got into a bidding war with Brad Pitt before someone said ‘Hey let’s turn that into a film!’hollywood 2

I remember the comments made on Facebook for the ‘Dallas Buyers Club‘, and they all came under the heading ‘Inspired/Depressed‘. And that’s about right. Inspired that no matter how long a script takes to be noticed AND believed in it still got made AND depressed because it did take that long for it to be noticed AND believed in. Those comments also applied to the Leonard De Caprio vehicle ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. Here is a film touted by an internationally acclaimed film star, written by an award-winning screenwriter and even that took six years too long before it drew the crowds in. They are not the first nor will they be the last films to be ignored by the might of the Hollywood Machine.

So what side of the fence are you on, the inspired or the depressed? Half-full? Half-empty? I’ll let you know which side I’m on by the end.

The point I’m trying to make. I’ve been a writer since the late 1960s, had a rich and varied writing background, am an award-winning writer, a published poet, is a busy screenwriter, with a Literature BA and do you think for one minute Hollywood is queuing up to take my work? Wrong! But here’s my answer to that question. Which side am I on? Still inspired. Just because two scripts received that treatment, do you think for one finger-numbing, sweat-soaked head, aching shoulders, sore midnight-pounding eyes am I going to give up. NO!

Hollywood 3

We hear stories of authors (JK Rowling), musical artists (The Beatles), artists (Picasso, many, many others) and what I’ve mentioned today being ignored, had doors slammed, rejected time and time again (Oscar Wilde anyone?). Do you think that deters me? NO! So yes, I fall into the inspired side of the fence and proud of it. I am that long distance runner. You may move my winning post but to me it provides more of a challenge. I will try harder, become more resilient, more believing and see that moving winning post as adding fuel to my fire. WHY? Because I believe in myself. There is only one me, I’m a unique writer and I’m waiting my turn in the queue.

So, until next week, just carry on believing, You will hear stories like these every week. There will always be stories like these, it’s just the way creativity has to exist. Don’t forget, Hollywood, like any other creativity medium is run by humans and we all know how humans are with all their whims, wishes and flavours of the day. Creativity is such a whim. But one day your style will be the flavour everyone wants a slice of.

Next week… dearly beloved, keep well, loving, believing and full of peace.

Believe. Believe. Believe.

All my loving – always

Nev

Theme? Theme? Theme? What is theme? What is my theme? I want to scream…

In Screenwriting Tips & Advice on 01/02/2014 at 12:31

theme 2 images

OR

Is it love?

Is it war?

Is it justice?

Is it about the unfairness of life in giving me another parking ticket when I stopped for a few seconds at my local store to get some apricot jelly/jam for breakfast?

Hello… Pensmiths of the world

So how are you? Please tell me you have had a great week. Have you been kind and loving to everyone? Did you help any old people across the street? Have you stroked any animals and got nipped in the process? What have you written? have you written every day? Great. Remember we have to keep the world going. The rest of the world needs writers. We are their everything: entertainment, news, information, education etc. Do you see how important you are?

Now… while you maniacilly scribble your weekend to do list in your notebooks, allow me to mention this week’s theme. Yup it’s THEME. No matter what you write… from a simple poem to a novel, a film, news article, DIY article, they all need theme. But seeing we are only concerned with the fictitious world, then that’s what we’ll concentrate on.

So what is THEME? This is a blurred area for many new and some established writers. More often than not, many books and films fall prey to that universal theme of LOVE. Yup, there isn’t enough love in this world, so we’ll make sure we’ll promote it in our writing, and in our films. There’s a lot of lonely people out there, so let us tell the rest of the world how lonely they are, how hungry they are for love, how they yearn to be one half of a couple. Then we can write a film script about divorce, how relationships break up, what happens to the kids during this time, how the warring couple will divide their chattels, house and so on. Yes, I’m sure that will make a good film. In fact, I think it will make a great film. ‘War of the Roses’ anyone?

There are many films when the theme is clearly obvious. I was thinking of writing a film around the theme of ‘how unfair it is getting a parking ticket while stopping at a grocery store to get a jar of jelly’. But if I did write a film around that theme then very few people would actually see my theme. So how do you present a theme?

First of all what gets under your skin?, makes you angry? you can’t stop talking about? you have to discuss wherever you go? a topic you would like to share with the world, you feel strongly about? have a strong opinion about? Well my friends, that is a theme. And if you are writing a novel, or writing a film script, then you present both sides of the argument. The protagonist represents your belief and the antagonist highlights the opposing view. Yes, that simple.

It is the theme of an essay, you argue for and against and then reach your conclusions. So a novel and a film is really an essay of an argument you are presenting to the world.

theme 2

Okay, here’s a little exercise, I would like you to write a film around the theme of violence, and the question is are we born aggressive, or are we made aggressive? First of all, what is your point of view? Do you hold an argument for or against? If you believe we are born aggressive then present your facts and proof for as the protagonist and then present your facts and proof against, but this time you are the the antagonist. For every argument for, present an argument against until you reach a conclusion, or not.

You see themes are just that… there are people who would agree with you and there are those who do not. Your film could present facts and proof, those against or for might not have considered and so on.

If your film has no theme, then it is very likely viewers will have anything positive to say about it. A lot of viewers enjoy exploring the images searching for that theme and taking sides. And there is nothing better than watching a film with some friends and then heading off to a pub or club afterwards and discussing it. You see films aren’t just about crashing cars, killing aliens or adultery, films are an intellectual entertainment.

Even if the theme is a simple love theme, there is still the joy of enjoying how the writer, director, actors and crew have portrayed their arguments.

So can you name any films with strong themes, weak themes, no themes, radical themes, controversial themes and so on? Go and look for them. Don’t just watch a film for film’s sake, what’s bubbling underneath, what has really pissed the writer off, what does he or she feel strongly about, what facts and proof has the writer demonstrated.

theme 1 images

So could the themes be any of the above, or was it something new you can add to the list? What have you learned from the film?

Have a great week exploring new films, and novels. Find out which films and novels you tend to ignore and find out why? You can learn a lot about yourself by what you watch and read. And as a writer of both, you can learn a lot about yourself and your attitudes and beliefs.

So really you can have a wonderful week of doing everything. Watch, read and write. Oh joy.

Right my lovely ones, until next week. Enjoy film and read books in all their glory. If you do catch some great films tell us about them and their themes. And your experience, of course.

Have a great week.

Love one another and be creative.

And this week I ask you to love yourselves too.

Ta Ta my little pretties

SO! You ready to tell the world something important? Or do you want to get your facts right first. You’re just thinking about it.

In Writing Tips and Advice on 25/01/2014 at 17:43

copper images

OR…

There isn’t one…

Because you need to find

something new.

Then, and only then you can brag to the world

or better… shout to everyone the following.

 new idea Unknown

Hello again midnight lamp habitants, or early morn bird feeders. You know who you are.

So another week has whooshed past, Saturday transformed into Monday and Friday became Saturday and the cycle repeats and moves on. That’s how time works, right? We can’t slow it down or stop it can we? Nope! So instead of moaning about it, turn things around and bring our thinking in from a different angle. Look at things differently, change our perspectives, right? Yup!

Yo… that’s so heavy man. Any chance we can sort of bring the sun in and lift us up into a brighter disposition man. This is so heavy, doom-like. It’s breaking my spirit.

Point made.

So what is your point man?

My point. Starting from this week I am going to post a step-by-step process from thought to finished screenplay, ready to submit the industry. So how do we start? How does the idea process become a film?

1. How to nurture your thought germ.

Where do we get an idea for a film? This part is no different from any other  story creation. Ideas for films follow the same pattern. Something tickles our cells and it grows. We could find the idea by watching a film or a television programme, or from a book or from real life. Real life provides many opportunities; it could be a writer’s journal, sitting in a cafe observing people, listening to conversation, reading a book, magazine or a newspaper, listening to the radio, a poster catching your eye, a phrase from the internet. Believe me, the opportunities are endless. It could be a combination of many I’ve just listed, for example.

A spark for a story can come from a character you’ve just seen, heard, or met. A phrase someone just said, or read or seen. A place you’ve just visited, would like to visit or someone spoke about. It can come from a note from your journal, a title of a book, a film or a song.

So what do we do with this idea? Usually, I let it germinate, or bounce around my brain either until another idea sparks off a story, or that initial thought has developed into a creditable story. Then I do the same about finding a character, or a name, or a title, or a place, or an antagonist, or an ending.

Don’t forget you are a writer. Be imaginative. You have your own voice, your own interests, your own likes and dislikes. All of these facets and more go into that hotpot of ideas and eventually into your stories. Don’t worry about genres at this stage, or genders, or location. We’ll worry about those things and also theme later. What we are creating at this point is a basic story structure. I am not even talking about plot. This is just a basic ‘One day…’ or ‘Once upon a time…’.

Ideas from the world around you can provide you with every facet of your story, then you just piece them together and create a fictional whole. No one will know that the heroine is actually your grandfather, and vice versa. Your interests or hobbies can be a part of the main character, or you may have had secret desires to be the a bad guy. It happens all the time in movies and television. Good guys playing bad guys and vice versa. Or women wanting to play masculine roles and vice versa. It’s no big deal, men have been playing women’s roles since before Shakespeare’s time. In fiction, anything is possible, remember that.

Your story, therefore can be a mishmash of influences from your own life. A snippet here. A phrase from that television programme. A woman you saw at your local beef burger joint. A family member. A house you used to live in. A house you visited as a child. Food you despise. Manners you despise. Interests you love. Clothes you love wearing. Your secret desires. Your secret past. The more real you can make your story from real aspects of your life, notes you’ve written, desires, wants, wishes.

You begin to see that stories are fictional, but constructed from real details. That’s how it is. James Bond was real. So was Jason Bourne. Superman, wasn’t and neither was Batman. The writers used that magic phrase every professional writer uses. ‘What if…?’

What if my mother is really a sleeper. A government agent ready to spring into action. What if those Wednesday afternoons she plays bridge is really her weekly training session at a secret location and that’s why she is always late? Why does she spend so much time on the internet? And are those crochet magazines she receives every week by courier, really crochet magazines? What if your dad is really her section chief and he is in charge of many other highly trained couples in the district? You begin to look at every jogger and cyclist with suspicion. Maybe you should take a look at all the fit people at your local gym? Could they be part of a your dad’s circle or are they part of another circle you haven’t identified yet?

Well, who knows? But there is a story possibility there. And all I did is applied that simple ‘what if…’ phrase. You can apply that to anything and come up with a story. Could two aliens be leaving secret messages for each other by disguising it as graffiti on the back of a bus? And so on? There are no limitations, just opportunities especially when you ask why, and what if?

idea image

Next week, we will go into the next step, story structure.

Get out there and write notes about the world you inhabit and those around you. There’s a story there, I guarantee it. And by the way, don’t blame me for any marital upsets or family revelations.

So… until next week, keep well, loving and full of peace.

Believe. Believe. Believe.

All my loving

Nev

SO! Is you the Good blud, OR is you the Wicked one?

In Writing Tips and Advice on 18/01/2014 at 17:49

images-1

OR…

Whenever you’re writing…

Do you play…

the good guy…

or do you play…

the other one…the bad guy? Boo!

Hello again midnight word thumpers, or early morn creatives, whenever?

So you are all well, had a great week, a wonderful year so far and Christmas was just a nightmare ago.

Well, it’s back to working our way through 2014, reach our dreams, plan our holidays, update your Christmas list, prepare for the spring, bought some extra sand bags, promised to lose weight, promised you wouldn’t buy so many Christmas presents next time and generally broken every single revolution already. Well, you’ll have to stop smoking, drinking and eating next year. You promise. Yeh? Right and Santa is a real person?

This week, Protagonists and Antagonists. Protagonist is the Main Character. The he or she with all the problems, the objective, the one who has to face the enemy, the one with the emotional problems, dodgy partner and problematic background. The MC is the one facing the biggest transformation. The Hero or Heroine the reader or viewer is supposed to be cheering on.

The Protagonist, on the other hand, usually has everything, wants everything you and others own, has all the resources, is evil, cold, ruthless and loves causing pain.

The Good guy versus the Bad guy in a land and a plot created by the writer. Story in it’s simplest form. But where you aware both the Antagonist and the Protagonist are two sides of you – the writer. Most advice given is for the writer to adopt the Protagonist role, the good guy. But the Antagonist requires your role playing too. You have to stand up in your study, bedroom, whatever and play both sides.

‘How dare you hit me, you bad person?’

‘Ha! Because my wife. She. She is in love with you.’

And so on. I have always believed that humans have two sides – a good and a bad. In some, the bad is more prominent than the good and vice versa. So playing a dual role, maybe with a tape recorder capturing your vocal toing and froing, should be fairly easy for most people. Look at this way you can’t lose if you’re bad or good. You just have to get into the person of the opposite quality. If you get stuck then chose a TV or film bad guy, or good guy. But just let the words flow. You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll adapt.

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Knowingly or unknowingly, every writer has left the good and bad sides of their personality in their writing. How many times have you created problems for yourself because of a way you behaved, or said, or decided.Well, that’s what an Antagonist does to a Protagonist, he or she antagonises the other. We do it to ourselves almost daily. Wishing we hadn’t said this or that. Or behaved like this or that. Or wished you hadn’t behaved the way you did because you drank one too many. Whatever… you have now become a Protagonist in your true reality.

This is a large subject, far too big to write about in one blog. Maybe, I will return to it in the future. But do give it some thought. As kids we have played cowboys and indians, or chose one character above another as in the famous game of Fable – you choose to be bad or good and make all your moral decisions from that perspective.

So to wrap up… everyone has an angel/good and a devil/wicked inside them. If you aren’t in touch with your opposite side, maybe it’s time you did and then your writing can become more real, whole, full of depth and beautifully rounded.

Who knows, you may just discover a new character you can write about, or a new genre, or you could become a completely different person.

Oh dear, what am I unleashing?

Do let me have your thoughts, or let me know how you are getting on?

Until next week… keep well, loving and full of peace.

Believe. Believe. Believe.

All my loving

Nev

Do you know what the time is?

In Authors and Books on 11/01/2014 at 16:50

clock 2

OR…

let’s get our ass in gear

and get down

to some work.

Time’s moving on…

PART 2

So are you bashing the board? Tip-tapping those keys? Scribbling that pad? Pounding that typewriter?

Are you writing?

Now you’re either making excuses for not writing, you don’t know when to write, or you don’t know what to write. You could really be a master liar and use all three reasons.

So do you want to be a writer or not? Do you just want to pose and tell the world you’re a writer, hoping that the world will think you’re some kind of intellectual? Is it something you’re telling a new girlfriend, or boyfriend, so they would be more impressed with you. In other words, are you following up on your own publicity machine? Then write for God’s sake.

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Now another problem with time is tripping you up…

What’s that Nev?

You’re going to ask me how much you should write and when you should write to become a writer?

Well…

Let’s get this point clear from the outset. Ask that question to all the professional writers alive or dead and you will get a different answer. Some like writing early in the morning, some prefer to burn the night light. Some prefer it when the kids are at school. Some write when the kids go to bed instead of watching television. Some prefer to write for a couple of hours in the morning, go to gym in the afternoon, have something to eat and write at night. Get to bed early and wake up early the next day and repeat the sequence. You see? You see?

I have tried most combinations before settling for my preferred way of working. I prefer early morning, or late at night, or to go to some cafe somewhere and spend a few hours there listening and watching the human buzz around me. When I’m at home, it’s usually quiet, so I play music either through a pair of headphones or through speakers. You see that’s another thing… A lot of people cannot write with noise around them, some can only write with music playing, and even the type of music differs. I love music full stop. So you will hear anything playing while I’m typing, usually the more obscure the better. At the moment, I am listening to ‘In the terror of the moment’ by The Doomed Bird of Providence. A track from their ‘Collision/Detection’ Box set. A beautiful guitar and violin instrumental track.

It’s up to you, when you write, if you want music, or the sound of nature, or even how much to write. Some writers are happy writing one sentence per day. Some are only satisfied if they’ve written x number of words (I can’t work that way). I will know instinctively when to stop and it’s usually on a high, so I can be rip roaring rampant to start my next writing session.

There are some weird formulas out there about writing. You know the ones…  Write 3,000 words a day and in 30 days you’ve written a novel. Or write 1,000 words a day and you’ll write a novel in three months. You can follow these formulas if you want, that’s up to you. But remember you’re not going to have a life for three months and you’re likely to suffer a burnout because you’ve been clock and word watching every day. And if you are a dedicated novelist, then you will need to allow yourself some reading time too. Reading in the genre you write in. And me… s a screenwriter, I have to leave time to write, read a few scripts and watch a few films EVERY WEEK. As a writer you need to learn how to manage your time.

But remember, a once a year holiday swimmer is NEVER  going to be an olympic athlete. No! That is for the swimmer who swims a few hours every day. Likewise with writing. If you want to be a professional, then write daily. Treat your writing like a job. Writing needs commitment, dedication and belief. And if you want to become a fluent, respected writer, then you experiment with the time, when to write, how much you need to write, and what sort of environment suits you best. Try all the variables. Remember, you are attempting to write your own working contract. The number of hours, how much productivity and your working environment ares all set by you.

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So, last week we said that 2014 is the year of What If… Keep asking that question as you arrange your working environs. What if you changed those thoughts about you as a writer to more positive ones? What would happen? There’s only one way to find out.

Until next week… keep well, be blessed with love, peace and try to understand others. Try not to judge them. You are you. And they are they. If you want harmony, learn to be accepting.

Peace. Peace. Peace. In your heart and in your lives.

All my loving to you and yours

Nev

2014 – The Year of ‘What If…’

In Authors and Books on 04/01/2014 at 15:32

images-1

OR…

let’s get our ass in gear

and get down

to some work.

Time’s moving on…

Welcome back Happy Key Bashers.

Hope you’ve all had a great holiday.

Ate and drank well, I suppose? Yup! Opened your presents and  tried to hide your groan. Argued with your family. Swore you will never invite your in-laws again. Couldn’t get back to work quick enough.

Kids, have you done your homework? Revised for your mock exams? Got your satchel ready for Monday. Washed your sports kit. Oh no, forgot that’s Mum’s job. So no new resolutions then?

And my dear writers, what resolutions have you made. Promised you will write every day. Read a new film script every week, ready to watch to or three films a week? And what about you fiction writers? Have you started reading your new or old book list? Joined a writer’s only Facebook?

You see…

A new year is time to sweep out old ideas, old ways, old thinking and old attitudes. You can only move up and on in life with new attitudes, new thinking, new ideas which will lead you on to new ways. So let’s add to that. Using those four points write out 10 new writing resolutions. You can do it. There are many ways you can polish up your writing life.

This only applies if you want to get published, or see your work on screen or TV. If you are writing for fun, then I’m sorry but this site is not for you. I will only support workers not shirkers. What is the point of writing if you don’t have an objective? So you can go around and tell people you are a writer, because that’s all you are a writer. Anybody can be a writer and say so. But writing is a job and should be respected as such. You are creating a product, not just saying you are.

So for the serious writer amongst us, have you received any writing books? I have and I get them in the form of a book token, because people around me KNOW I am a writer. Nothing gives me greater joy then running off to the bookshops after the New Year and grabbing some writing books to polish some area of my writing, or read a new perspective on some aspect. With writing, you never sit still.

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So what books would you recommend for screenwriters at all levels this coming year Nev?

Why, thanks for asking?

My top ten loved books which I should urge you to get, and are in no particular order by the way, are these?

1.  Story Design by SEAM (Shared Experience Art Machine): Great book, suggesting a novel way for screenwriters to think about film, screenplays and screenwriting. This book is written by a Social Studio that unites Artists and Audiences to create a meaningful entertainment with a positive social impact.

2.  Your Screenplay Sucks or 100 Ways to Make it Great by William M. Akers: This book will guarantee to find faults in your scripts and how to rectify them. Find those errors before a producer, agent or creative executive finds them.

3.  How Not to Write a Screenplay by Denny Martin Flint: This book is subtitled the ‘101 Common Mistakes Most Screenwriters Make.’ And it is true, most of them are subconscious and Denny believes that all bad screenplays are the same. This book will show you how to avoid those horrible amateurish disasters.

4.  Developing Story Ideas by Michael Rabiger: Where do you get story ideas from, and what do you do with them once you’ve got them? Stories are always around us but we are often ignorant to them. This book and the suggested ideas raises your awareness.

5.  Psychology for Screenwriters – Building Conflict in Your Script by William Indick, Ph .D.: Not it’s not a book on how to cure screenwriters who have just suffered a breakdown. It’s being able to be consistent and accurate about about your character’s psychology.

6. Save The Cat! by Blake Snyder: The first in a three book set on Blake Snyder’s phenomenally successful 15 Beats. Great books for new screenwriters, or those leaping from novels to screens. I often pop into this book annually since it was released in 2005 and I always pick up something I missed or needed to learn.

7.  Writer’s Guide to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph. D.:  A great book novelists and screenwriters, or anyone connected with fiction. I always keep this book beside me when I’m writing. The title is self-explanatory and it’s usefulness is also very obvious. Another book to keep.

8.  Writing for Emotional Impact by Karl Iglesias: The book is subtitled ‘Advanced dramatic techniques to attract, engage, and fascinate the reader from beginning to end. Another book for novelists and screenwriters. Writing is a journey of emotion, character and conflict and you need to know how to handle it.

9.  20 Master Plots and how to build them by Ronald B. Tobias: All stories, films and television programmes are based on only a handful of original plots. Anywhere from three to this book but the real secret is how you build on them. This book cleverly shows you how and you need to know how otherwise you will only have one story or film in you. Not a long career is it.

10.  The 101 Habits of Highly Successful Screenwriters by Karl Iglesias: Another book by Mr Iglesias and another goodie. This book is often found on the top ten books of screenwriters. It gives you a wonderful insight into the mind of successful screenwriters. Great book.

These books are all available from Amazon, or ordered through your local book shop.

Well that’s it. A few gems from my personal library and they are just a few gems. To get better you have to read other writers’ ideas and thoughts. So what writing books have you got in your collection?

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So 2014 is the year of What If… You have to ask yourself that same question. What if you changed those thoughts about you as a writer to more positive ones? What would happen? There’s only one way to find out.

Until next week… keep well, loving and full of peace.

Believe. Believe. Believe.

All my loving

Nev

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