The Weekly Screen & Fiction Writers' Tips

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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





The written word versus the visual one?


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?


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.



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


The battle of age versus interest…

new skills…


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.


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


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


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

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



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.


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


Write Writing Software For The Write Writing People

In Writing Tips and Advice on 26/10/2013 at 10:37

ethnic man on computer


Which Writing Software?

do I need? should I use? for my needs?

My… lots of question marks this week? Why? What? Which? Who? etc., etc., etc.

Hello my Darlings

Had a good week? Keeping well? Done anything exciting? Been anywhere nice? Had anything unusual to eat? Bought anything new? Met anyone nice? Yes… more questions. You see, life is full of questions. More often than not, we don’t know where to look for the answers, or cannot find the answer, or perhaps we aren’t asking the right question(s).

Look, I’ve been involved with writing for almost fifty years and have been involved with computers since 1972 -73. Therefore, it was natural for me to mix the two and come up with a bowl of cherries, or in my case a deep interest into software for writers. This blog isn’t going to be a critique of all the writing software available, and of what part of the writing process, that software applies? Which software I think you should buy and so on? The list appeals to me. Why? ‘Cause writing style, and my writing processes doesn’t necessarily mean it will suit your way of writing. No, it’s going to be a case of if the software interests you, go download a trial version and try it yourself. This is a blog about what I use, why I use it, for which of my writing mediums and a lot more besides.

I am an author and a screenwriter so consequently, I use various writing apps. Now, I also have to say I am a Mac nut, so I aim to synchronise my iMac, Macbook Pro and iPad with the same writing apps. You can use most software with Windows now as well but you’re going to have to check that out. Okay! Now we have that out of the way. Let’s go…

Notes (free with OS X): I use this app for any writing ideas, you know, characters, plots, scenarios etc. Think of it as an artist’s sketchpad. This synchronises instantly through Cloud on all my machines. (I use on all three of my machines)

Scapple (Mac & Win.- $14.99): Once I have a vague idea of what I want to write, I use Scapple. This app, I believe is Mac only, but you’ll have to check. It’s a mind-mapper designed by Keith Blount, who designed Scrivener – THE WRITERS’ TOOL. Scapple is a very fluid app. When it came out in 2012, I was overjoyed. I have used several mind-mappers, but they didn’t work the way I wanted them to work. But Scapple does. A joy when I’m planning a novel, or a script. Easy to use, friendly app with never-ending possibilities. AND you are able to export it to Scrivener. (not on iPad yet)

Aeon Timeline (Mac & Win. $40.00): This Scrivener linked app is what it says – it’s a timeline app. A great way of keeping tabs on involved plots, historical projects, on anything that has a beginning, a middle and an end. Everything in other words. I often use this in conjunction with Excel. And you can export Timelines to Scrivener. (not on iPad yet)

Excel (Mac & Win – Price ?): I use Excel for chapter breakdowns, you can put whatever column you want; Chapter Number, Day, Time, Brief, Emotion, Character, etc. Great for fleshing out your book. This works well with Snowflake Pro and Aeon Timeline, then export the results into Scrivener. (not on iPad yet)

Persona (Mac $49.95): I use this to create rounded 3D characters with life and a history. Since characters are in all types of fiction, then this is the tool for you. (not on iPad yet)

Snowflake Pro (Mac & Win. – $100: I love this way of working. This works on the principle that you take an idea and expand it until you have the whole detailed plot, which I tend to export into Scrivener and write my first draft of a novel. You start with a sentence, turn it into a paragraph, turn that into a page and so on until you have a substantial working outline. You can also design your characters with this. (not on iPad yet)

Scrivener (Mac & Win. – $45): What can you say about this multi-award winning app? I have been using it since it began Then it was Scrivener Gold and free, then it developed into Scrivener 1 and so on. But what high praises you will hear about this app. It is written by a writer for writers. A beautiful, beautiful app. And no matter how many years I’ve been using it, I am always discovering something new it can do. Even as we speak/write, a new version has just come out, with new additions, improvements and fixes. It can do so many things. There is even a ‘Dummies Guide’. A true writer’s app. (not on an iPad yet – I can’t wait Keith)

Save The Cat (Mac & Win. – $99.95): I am an advocate of the Three-Act Story and Blake Snyder (who has sadly passed on) believes that the majority of movies follow those acts. He designed his theory, turned the acts into 15 beats which become forty scenes and you have a screenplay with a beginning Act 1, a middle Act 2, Pt 1 & Pt 2, and an end Act 3. This software helps you to construct your entire plot. Now, although I have four large boards for my plotting and note keeping, I love using the board with the app. Another fluid, practical and professional side to a brilliant app. What I tend to do is take my scenes, transfer them to Scrivener, expand each of them into substantial scenes, then I begin using my final app. (I use on all three machines)

Final Draft (Mac & Win. $249.95): With Scrivener open on one side of the screen, and this app on the other side, I am in screenwriters’ heaven. I open up my bloated scenes on Scrivener and begin writing my first screen draft using Final Draft. This is a fairly quick way to get the first screen draft done. Final Draft is the pinnacle of screenwriting software and acknowledged as such by the movie industry. It is a beautiful program and I can’t wait for version 9, which I believe is in beta testing as we speak. (I use on all three machines)

So, that’s it. As promised, now you have an idea of software I use and a brief of how I use them.

Now over to you… what software do you use? What part of your writing process do you use it/them for? Or any other point you wish to make about writing software. Let me know.

Until we cross paths again next week, have a great, even a yummy week.

Love and be loved – it is free (until you get divorced). Put a smile on the face of the world.

Take care and it’s ta ta from me.

Much love and happiness to you all.

Fiction + Passion = Real Fiction

In Writing Tips and Advice on 24/08/2013 at 16:39

Max 2

Once upon a time there was a stand-up comedian, singer, entertainer, game-show host and actor in the UK named Max Bygraves. He was born in 1922 and began performing in the 1940s. At the age of 60, in 1982 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire, performed with Judy Garland, and appeared with many US performers, such as Jack Benny and Jackie Gleason. Then in 2012, at the age of 89, he died.

And the point of this ….

I’m getting there. Patience.

Max’s favourite catchphrase, which usually began his show was ‘I wanna tell you a story!’ This opened his stand-up routine with, would you believe it, a story.

Aaahhh! See where you’re coming from.

Good. Now all fiction writers, whether it is a novel, film, television play, radio and stage play, irrespective of the genre are ‘telling us a story’. But to tell us an effective story you have to be passionate about it. Because your writing will reflect that. If you aren’t, then the lack-lustre passion will be felt and whatever you’ve just written will fall flat on its face. And I can almost guarantee, no matter what you’ve just written – unless you’ve self-published – will not even reach the reader, viewer, et al.

Allow me to elaborate.

Wish you would.

Try to imagine just one of the following: something that makes you stomp, keeps you awake, creeps up in your conversation, research on the internet, forces you to join a group, or a society, or even think of starting one, encourages you to go and buy a magazine, or a book, or search for the topic, any film will do at your local video store. I think you may be getting the point. PASSION. Something that infuriates you enough to write about it.

In the olden golden days, people used to write letters to newspapers, magazines, radio, or television. You know the sort of thing. Dear Sir, I wish to object most strongly, about the dreadful dress sense of the newsreader on the night of the 24th. Blah, blah, blah. Or some other complaint. That is a passion. That is something that moves you to write about it. But the real reason why viewers, readers wrote those complaining letters was to air and point out their grievance to the largest group of people possible in the hope that there were others who felt the same way.


Some fiction writers do that all the time. Their grievance is their theme. Their theme is their passion. However, I word it, it comes out sounding the same. GOOD FICTION NEEDS A THEME. GOOD FICTION NEEDS PASSION. I am not shouting that last phrase, by the way. I am emphasising it.

Now I don’t want to drone on about self-published novels and e-novels and how lacklustre some are because there is no passion. That is another blog. And I don’t mean the passion of two people, or more, in bed, on the beach, romping either. That’s also going to be another blog. We are concerned here about the topics, as I explained earlier, that ‘ruffle your feathers’, which you can turn into a novel, film or a play.

Some good book and film examples of passionate themes are; Colour Purple, Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, A Suitable Boy. There are thousands of examples and they are usually films or books you want to share, or talk about with other people. Are we getting the point? Yes, films and books with a message. A message that touches peoples’ hearts, minds, souls – their lives. MESSAGE = THEME. THEME = PASSION. PASSION = GREAT FICTION. Move those words around and see what you get. Try any combination. Yes. The answer is always the same. I am not saying, Boy meeting Girl – The End, is not a good book.

Well, it’s a bit plain. A bit boring actually. As a matter of fact I would never read a book like that. It has nothing going for it.

Then we need to do liven it up. How about boy meets girl, and knowing she only has a few months to live, leaves her, but he loves her too much and stays with her until she dies. Now, let me think, I’m sure someone has written a story like that? What I have done is presented you with the theme of true love, how to care for someone, how to truly love someone even if it is for a short while. Maybe it is about how people come into our lives to teach us something, then when we have learned, they move on. In this case, she dies. Maybe it’s a theme I feel passionate about and want to express it in a novel and share my feelings with others, who may learn from the story, the expression, the theme of true love.

That’s what will move your book, not the continual promotion. But the word of mouth of readers who are moved by your work, your theme, your PASSION.

Well, now that I have got you well and truly depressed, I am going to wish a great week.

No, no, no.

Due to my annual break, my next post will be on Sept 21. So until then have a great life. Love each other and be good to each other. Remember, you cannot replace the ones you love, so love them, unconditionally. If you know what I mean.


July 4: My Independent Way

In Writing Tips and Advice on 04/07/2013 at 15:45

hand and pen

When I first started writing in the Sixties – I was only young – I assumed publishers, agents, other writers, filmmakers etc….

Okay … I exaggerated on the etc.

Anyway, I believed that because I’m writing they would come knocking on my front door, ask to buy my work and sign me up for a multi-million pound (dollar) deal.

Nope … my front door remained silent.

They obviously hadn’t heard of me yet. So I decided to increase my options. Write more believing that writing harder will make the magic of my name loud enough to be heard by everyone, including those who didn’t make my wish list. And improve my handwriting, in case they misinterpreted my writing and couldn’t quite figure out who I am and where I lived.

To play safe, I did both, regimentally.

But still nothing … No knocking, no mail, no pigeons, no ponies. In fact, nothing. I was getting older, didn’t they realise that. Time’s moving on.

Then, one fine day in the First Summer of Love. That’s around 1967, for those who were there but can’t quite remember. The proverbial penny dropped.

They have never heard of me, have they? I had to go to them. I had to make myself known. In fact, they didn’t know I exist. They knew nothing about me. Absolutely zilch! Shit. All that time wasted.

Now I had to learn to submit to different magazines, publishers and book agents. Write what I enjoyed writing and send them off. A publisher is a publisher. One magazine is like another. All agents are the same.

Nope! Nope! Nope!

None of my pieces came back. They like my work. In fact, they love my work. I’m going to be rich, rich, rich.

Nope! Nope! Nope!

Then one letter followed another and another and another until a pyramid began forming behind my front door. It started looking like a Disney cartoon with envelopes flying through the letterbox.

Ok … I exaggerate flying. Let’s try gliding to the top of the pyramid.

Many writers since then have told me how fortuitous I was about all those comments I received. Here are some .…

‘Your characters are too flat.’

‘You have not followed our formatting guidelies.’

‘We do not publish this genre, soft porn isn’t suitable for our younger audience.’

‘Where s the plot?’

‘Your prose is far too violent.’

‘Maybe you should consider a driving career.’ Hmmm!

‘Your grammar is atrocious.’

‘I hate saying this, but have you attended school. That is no way to spell sausage.’

‘Your writing is abysmal. It’s incoherent dribble lacking in finesse. You have no idea of the conventions surrounding an or a, it’s or its, or sentences and paragraphs. You sir, are an absolute arse’ole. And that is one word I am positive you understand.’

So … what is the point of this wonderful piece of writing, says I immodestly?

It is what I have been saying to my creative writing pupils for many, many years. When you send a letter, script or manuscript to an agent, a publisher, a magazine editor, in fact, anyone who has not met you before, make an impression.

They don’t know who you are. They don’t know anything about you. You may be an award-winning, Amazon bestseller who is currently writing the next ground-breaking film in Hollywood’s history. But don’t mean shit, if you are going to pepper your letter, script or whatever with grammatical mistakes, bad spelling, incorrect formatting and whatever else they receive. Your first contact with them is your post. It’s your photograph. Your fingerprint. Their impression of you as a writer.

Gulp! Don’t give up your day job or night job dependent on your sleeping pattern.

I have personally seen some atrocious writing being passed off as creative art. As soon as the envelope is opened, they look and your work makes an Olympic leap straight into the trash can/dustbin.Yep, the agent, publisher or editor doesn’t even get a whiff of your scribbling. It doesn’t reach him or her.

So be diligent, check your writing, make sure it is going where it is supposed to go, follow all formatting. You see no matter what a genius you are when it comes to writing. No one is going to look at your content’s storyline, in-depth characterisations, sublime dialogue or creative description, if you can’t write that introductory envelope label and letter.

So the moral of the story: if you want independence to write to your heart’s content, be financially independent, without having to work those two or three jobs, or shifts to make ends meet, and become an aspiring (I HATE THAT WORD – either you’re a writer or not. Being published doesn’t qualify you in becoming a qualified writer and being able to drop the ‘aspiring’ bit. See one of my earlier blogs. I think I’ll come back to this subject.). If you want independence, you’ve got to get your foot through the door and become noticed, then you’ll learn how to write. And that can only happen if somebody opens your envelope.

Good luck until that happens and then even greater luck in developing as a writer with an independent voice. But as they say … that is another story.

Good and Bad writing advice

In Writing Tips and Advice on 10/06/2013 at 20:15

quill and candlelight

Listen; there is a lot of writing advice out there. Some of it good. Some crap. Some worse than crap. I mean really bad. Some of it better than good. I mean so good, you could feel your blood bubbling and your hair being vacuumed off your head.

As a writer…. Please don’t say aspiring writer (duh! – how can you aspire to write, either you write or you don’t. Period. Full stop.), I have read each of those levels. Some of them turned me psycho and some made me want to commit authoricide. Is that a word? Oh well, it is now.

Anyway, all writers go through an apprenticeship. Yes, even the bad ones. Take note, you authors out there. You know who you are and you won’t find your books on my shelves.


Are you waiting for me to name a few?

Pleazzzzzze ….

Do you want to know the easiest way of becoming a published writer?

Well, go and walk into a volcano, ‘cause there isn’t one.

It’s all down to blood-sucking, finger-numbing, wrist-aching, head-aching fucking hard work. It’s down to being kicked in the balls a few times. Sometimes a tear pops out in public or quite often when you pretend to be sleeping, tears soak through into your mattress. It’s being told you’re shit. It’s when you dread the postman/mailman/Sven The Postee/whoever delivers your mail, walking towards your door/box carrying an A4 sized brown envelope and then hearing it drop. Now’s the time you wish you had some brown-envelope-hating-dog to rip the fucking thing to shreds before you get to look at it. Now’s the time when you’re one step closer to working at the big red M and serve other writers.

Yup! Welcome to writing.

And do you know when all this starts? Well it did for me. When I was a pasty-faced kid who preferred to write rather than end up a mangled ball of flesh playing rugby. I so loved to write. Mind you, I still had to go and get bludgeoned, have a ball kicked in my face, or go for a run on some God-forsaken monsoon of a day, lose my trainers in knee-deep mud and get towel-whipped in the changing rooms experience. But do you know what?


Thanks for responding.

Anyway, never mind what I was doing last week.

Where was I? Yes, while I was enduring those ‘man-making’ activities, I secretly dreamed of my next poem, or my next clever piece of prose, or my next plot and so on. I was mentally writing. I figured what the hell. I am writing. I wanted to jump for joy. This is an out of body experience and I made it happen. I’d put on my clothes, ignore the laughter of the other kids and their pointy, horrible pointy fingers and wanted to run to the nearest paper and pen. Ah the joy. But there was a major problem.

What happened?

I knew you cared.

Well go on ….

Well, I would find that quiet place and my paper and pen. And then, as the nib of my pen touched my paper ….

What … for God’s sake? What happened?

Well, I … sob, sob. I … I … forgot everything. My mind went blank. All I could think of was how much my ass hurt from that bloody towel. My genius gone. My next story, poem, all my future novels, gone, because of a towel.

So the moral until my next blog is … write it down straight away. Don’t rely on your memory.

Grab anything, within reason and write it down. Carry a pen with you. I know some clothes, jeans, tight shirts, whatever your attire; will show the pen outline through your clothes. What the fuck? I am sure you can find somewhere where you can hide one. Get a chain and attach a pen to it. Get some elastic bands, wrap them around your wrists and slide a pen through them. Call it a fashion accessory.

You see, if you really want to write. If you really want to get humiliated, lose your self-esteem, become depressed and laughed at, then get a pen.

In the next instalment … how a typewriter saved my life.

DON’T write what you know

In Writing Tips and Advice on 24/05/2013 at 17:45

old typewriter

Don’t write what you know because that is only a fraction of what you can put into your writing.

I firmly believe there are many other ways of improving the power of your writing and breath of your storytelling and it will not cost you a penny.

By the way I am not selling anything, or exposing you to some five thousand-year-old secret handed down to some wise fast-food retailer in Baloneyland whilst meditating over a vegetarian Tofu burger and hoping it would turn into a skyscraper slab of salivating saucy sausages.

No, I’m just offering advice.

Right, back to the plot, before I lose mine. As I said, writing what you know is just that proverbial ‘tip’. That minuscule 1/8th of life and effort.

So let us start.

About time.

Quiet please. Serious head now.

Write what you feel

Write how you feel

Write what you smell

Write what you see

Write what you eat

Write what you taste

Write what you hear

Write what you wear

Write what you wish to wear

Write what you read

Write in what genre you read

Write what you watch on TV

Write what you watch in the cinema

Write your dreams

Write your wishes

Write what it’s like washing the dishes

Write what it’s like cleaning the fishes

Write the life you live

Write how others walk

Write how others talk

This is a ‘tip’ again. Think of some more. Sit quietly in a corner somewhere and create your own list. When you have done that, then write about the experience and make me understand your thought process.

To be able to write what you know, you would need to be able to convince me, as a reader, you know how that list above and your list resonates with you.

Do you understand it? Can you describe it? Can you write it in such a way that I can feel everything, every step of the way? Can I feel your pain? Can you make me cry?

Now you are beginning to understand what the phrase ‘Write what you know.’ means. It is NOT talking about the capital city of France, when the Declaration was signed and who Descartes was. It is however, talking about emotions, how you feel them, how you write them and how you have helped me go through them.

Writing is emotions. It is emotional. It is emotive. It is that wave that sends humans up and down. You, my dear friend, are the wave maker.

So go make me some emotional waves.

The word is you

In Writing Tips and Advice on 20/05/2013 at 10:15


Dear pen smiths ….

In my life, writing has followed me around.

From an early age, I have relished my roles as a poet, journalist, columnist, fiction writer, non-fiction writer, college course designer, teacher of Creative Writing and English, and screenwriter.

Writing, that dimension shifting quality sucking you and your readers into a world you are creating. Your world. Your likes, dislikes. Your hates, loves. Your opinions. The people you meet. The people you do not want to meet. Your romantic experience. Your fantasies. Your dreams. Your failures. Your emotions. Your past, present and future. Your what if? Your why? Your who?

Writing is you. There is always a percentage of you in your writing. Whether deliberate or not, you will leak everywhere in your writing. Consciously or otherwise you have crept into and between those written lines.

But that is the joy of writing. You are offering your opinion, your world, your history, you, behind your real name or nom de plume.

I want to end this section contradicting a great writer’s words, as seen below.

Mr. Hemingway, I say to you Sir, I am a first-born and I’m far from being shit.

It was a joke. I know what he meant.

‘The first draft of anything is shit.’ – Ernest Hemingway

*Positive Provocations*

~Healing with Positivity, Love & Happiness!~

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