The Weekly Screen & Fiction Writers' Tips

Posts Tagged ‘protagonist’

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

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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.

Unknown-3

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

Where, oh, where is my protagonist?

In The Art of Writing on 17/08/2013 at 11:58

old crowd

When I started writing fiction – at about the time Fred Flintstone was a boy – an old writer passed a tip to me. If you’re stuck on how your main character (we call him or her a protagonist nowadays) looks, then get a magazine, find a photo of who you want, cut it out and stick it on the wall where you’re working. Then you have someone to describe. Then pinch the way Uncle George speaks through his nose, add that to the limp Auntie Dolly has, a little of your Grandad’s twitch and the way your father snorts when he laughs. Put the whole lot into a pot and you have your character. A photo of a stranger with the characteristics you’re familiar with. Your leading man or woman for your epic tale. Rejoice.

Once I stopped bowing on my knees before this wise and learned man. I stood up and grew, and grew, and grew. I was rising high into the sky, until I realised I was on the back of a dinosaur getting up to stretch his legs.

My apologies. Wrong story. Fred Flintstone again.

So that was then, I didn’t have the pleasure of modern day technology and I continued to use that technique for all my fiction writing, short or long. In fact, little has changed in over forty years. We still have scissors, magazines and drawing pins, or thumb tacks if you come from the States. But now we are blessed with a lot more than that. We have the internet. Magazines are pouring out from every news-stand and what we have now which we never had then are cameras, a plethora of them; digital cameras, polaroids, phone cameras, iPad cameras, laptop cameras, video cameras, games console cameras. Oh I’m sure there are many more.

Anyway, before I forget what I am supposed to be writing about. Now while we are in this modern age but before digital cameras, I used the internet. I go and find a photo of Sean Connery or Bridget Bardot (for the much younger amongst us … these were two Hollywood film stars – we used to call them sex symbols then, because everyone wanted to be, look, dress, walk, talk and eat like them), print out the photo, cut it (scissors – very useful tools) and put it on a board in my writing room.

Then the age of the digital cameras.

Now, I have always been a people watcher. Most professional writers are. They sit. They observe. They note in their journal. They eavesdrop. They note in their journal. They smell. They taste. They put notes in their journals. Are you getting the picture? Good. Yes, they note everything in their journal.

When I am watching people, I look at their mannerisms, what they wear, how they eat, drink, what they eat and drink, the combinations of food, people’s reactions to them eating and so on. But what I have brought into my human pot is my other love – street photography. And now I snap away with a purpose, to look for my next male or female protagonist, or antagonist, anyone that catches my eye that I want to immortalise in my writing. I have taken photos of waitresses, taxi drivers, pedestrians, passengers, military, police (shhhh!), in fact, anybody who caught my eye and I was able to photograph discreetly, then I have immortalised. I went everywhere with my camera. People got so used to me and my camera they were asking me to take their photos, street singers, barmen, people sitting on benches. In fact there are too many examples to list.

The joy … I would go home download the photos, delete what I didn’t want and placed the others in a folder ready for my next project. Any characters who attract my attention for my current project, I highlight them, crop them and print on A4 paper. Photography also gave me the opportunity to take in some fresh air and a break from writing.

Simple, pleasurable, active, productive while immortalising society and its individuals. And we call this work? Well it is really. So that’s it. A fun way of inspiring you, your characters and your fiction. Those techniques coupled with the notes in your writing journal and you have the ideal writing package.

So … until the next time. Watch how you cross the road. Keep away from fried food and love one another.

Be good and be happy.

TaTa

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