The Weekly Screen & Fiction Writers' Tips

Posts Tagged ‘screenwriting’

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

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

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.

3 images clock

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.

images 3

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.

images-2

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?

images-3

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

Rest in peace, Syd

In Screenwriting Tips & Advice on 23/11/2013 at 11:29

Unknown-1

1935 – 2013

Screenwriting Guru

This week’s blog will not, as many of you will notice, be a long and frivolous affair.

I dedicate this week’s entry to Syd Field who died last Sunday November 17, 2013.

Last weekend, I attended The London Screenwriters’ Summit and Syd was supposed to open the proceedings.  But he told the event’s organisers that ‘he felt a little tired’. The event continued on and missed his presence. The event ended on Sunday when we walked out of the building to face the sad news.

I met Syd some time ago in Los Angeles during another event – Story Expo. He opened that weekend with a sparkling smile and warm greetings. I was lucky enough to experience the Syd charm, warm and genuine humanity and screenwriting wisdom.

Syd is known for his Paradigm and I include a copy of it below:

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I shall not try to explain how it works, this week’s blog is not the place for it, but suggest you find the information on the web, or buy one of Syd’s many books.

Syd’s Paradigm, is a small contribution to screenwriting and he earned the ‘Screenwriting Guru’ label for his bottomless knowledge on the subject. I am honoured to have attended his lectures and he will always be my little ‘Guru’ on my shoulder.

Many films and screenwriters owe their thanks to Syd. So I would personally like to say:

‘Rest in peace Syd. Thank you. You will never be forgotten.’

May I wish all of you a well, loving and peaceful week.

Nev

Write Writing Software For The Write Writing People

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

ethnic man on computer

OR

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.

Right Practice For Your Write Style

In Screenwriting Tips & Advice on 19/10/2013 at 14:49

boy & film

Or

Practice what you preach

Watch what you write

Read what you write

You know what I mean…

Is there any value in knowing how others do it?

So my little devoted, dedicated dears, how has life treated you? Or, how have you been treating life, and others of course. Was it good, or even better, GREAT?

This week?

That little boy is me. It’s not really, but that’s how I felt the first time I saw a film, movie, what have you. I grew up in an environment and time with no television. GOD! Can you believe that? Was there a time before television? WELL… actually, yes. And it wasn’t so long ago either. So the only visual entertainment we had other than reading comics was film. And going to the cinema was a treat. We weren’t dumped in front of a large television, when mum wanted to do the housework.

So yes, that was me, aged about 6. That was the joy I expressed when I saw a movie. Time moved too fast as well and I remember going home frustrated because I wasn’t allowed to watch another. Next time, but not now. I remember quite a few of the films I watched. There was a documentary about wildlife in the desert, with dancing insects. Probably a Disney film. Quite a lot of Mario Lanza films – he sticks in my mind because the posters always had a spear through his surname. Lanza means spear in Maltese. There was a Godzilla film. And one that I cried with and after. An American film called, I still remember it, ‘Escapade In Japan’. It’s about a young boy, who was about my age, he survives a plane crash, makes friends with a Japanese boy, they think they’ve done something wrong and run from the authorities and the little boy’s parents. I have a lump in my throat now.

Moving on… that film had a huge impact on me. What power film has? Now, I’m a screenwriter. I love the medium. It suits me, my imagination, my creativity. Cinema and my other love, books, especially Noir and my world as a creative is complete. I read Noir from around the World, US, UK Scotland etc and watch films. You notice I said films.

Many teachers of creative writing, as I, will always advocate, no, encourage their students to read as much as they write. I believe that to become a great writer, you have to be a great reader. Well, I’ve been there, ate the t-shirt, wore the burger, and still am a great reader. I will read anything. Not just novels. But whatever is put in front of me, or I search for.

But I am a screenwriter, what do I watch if I am a writer of Noir Thriller scripts? You know what… let’s talk about it. My daily diet is two films a day, lots of reading especially film scripts and a great deal of writing. So what sort of films should you watch if you are a screenwriter? The first question you have to ask is what is your chosen genre? Crime. Romance. Drama. Thrillers. Sci-Fi. Fantasy, and so on. You can’t possibly write in every genre, it will show in your writing, weak plots, flat characters, dull dialogue and so on. Let’s take me…

You watch films to learn. I don’t mean only watch great films, but watch films. Yes, even Rotten Tomatoes, Golden Turkey films. I love watching ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space.’ If you haven’t seen it, get hold of a copy. It is the perfect worst movie made and often hailed as such.  I bought a DVD copy, watched it on television, so yes, I’ve seen it quite a few times. Why? Because it  shows you how not to do it; cheap effects, terrible acting, awful characterisations, dreadful plot, diabolical continuity. Honestly, I could go on. By the way, John Travolta’s ‘Battlefield Earth’ is not far behind ‘Plan 9.’ Check out John in platform boots, shiny, aluminium foil costume, high hair wig and a character’s name of Teri. You see how much you learn from mediocre, or bad films. How not to write it? They are the standards you avoid. Then you watch the middle guys and then the top films.

Each level has its pluses and minuses, it’s own standard. So what makes ‘Saving Private Ryan’ a great film? Because it has everything ‘Plan 9 From Outer Space’ hasn’t got. And have you noticed something else? I have just mentioned three films that are not Noir. That is what I mean about watching all films. Lately, I have begun watching films Georges Melies, known as the First Wizard of Cinema, made from 1896 – 1913. Where did the film makers from then get the ideas, techniques and story-lines? They created their own standards because they had nothing as comparison.

I truly enjoy watching films from the great masters like Bunuel, Godard, Fellini as much as recent masters like Almodovar, Scorsese, Spielberg. You have to watch and learn. Learn how story develops. How they build the tension. How we learn what the characters’ personalities are like, about settings, how the camera moves , how natural the dialogue is, emotion, emotion, emotion.

You see what made me still remember ‘Escapade in Japan’ 56 years later is the emotion. I became that little boy. I wanted to help him. I wanted to tell him everything will be all right. Tell him his parents are still alive and he is not alone. I wanted to befriend him and offer him shelter, companionship. You see what happened… I CARED as if he was real. That’s the power of screenwriting, to make people care about what you have to say. You increase the emotional value in the viewer, even many years later.

So what do you watch as a screenwriter? Watch your chosen genre by all means, BUT do not refuse watching other films just because it is a romance, or even a cartoon. Watch, watch, watch and learn your craft. Learn from the masters and the amateurs alike.

Love your craft in all its forms.

Well, that’s it. Gosh that came quick. Have a great week, love your loved ones, tolerate those you don’t like and be patient with everybody. After all, how many people do you know had to tolerate you, be patient with you and love you? Hmmm!

So until next week.

Practice. Watch, Practice. Read. Practice. Practice.

Ta Ta for now.

Much love to you all.

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