Saturday 31 January 2009

Update On Second Entry To Alfred Bradley Comp

Well, I've now written 44 pages...and loved every minute of it. For some reason, this radio play has been easier to write than the first one. I like this one better, so whether that's the reason...Anyway, I just need to go through and edit...perhaps a few times, then read it out to check for time length.

Then I'll be sending it off to the BBC comp, and on to the next project, which is going to be a spec for a tv comedy drama, with an outline for possible future episodes.

I sound all confident and knowing, eh? Not at all. I've never written a tv spec script before, but I'm looking forward to trying a few things out. I have the idea. Can I make it work? We'll see, but I'll have a darned good try.

Wil keep you informed.

Sunday 25 January 2009

What To Do When The Muse Vacates the Premises

After reading a post on a friend's Blog, about being in a funk with writing, I thought I'd try to find out what happens to a writer when they can't seem to write any more.

With me, it's when a lack of confidence kicks in and I think that everything I write is totally and utterly rubbish. It does happen, and I don't know why. Usually, it's when I've finished something, that at the time of writing seemed so GREAT! when I go back to it, the doubts start to creep in. Then (as happens with me) it's that time before sleep when all my insecurities kick in and the muse laughs at me, that raucous, mocking laugh, as though to say, "You thought I was feeding you witty dialogue, brilliant description? Well think again you sad witch!"

It's always worse at night, in bed. Then I'll get up, go back to my piece and think, hey, so what? I like it, so there's a chance somebody else will, too.

I tend to just write any old thing when the muse is having one of her off days. I write and write and write. Even if it doesn't make a whole lot of sense, it's still writing, getting over that hurdle, that invisible force that's trying its best to thwart you. It can't do you any harm if you write, can it?

I agree with my friend, who said the winter months have a lot to answer for. I definitely feel better during spring and summer. I keep threatening to get one of those lamps to boost my ailing brain cells. Anyway, the trick, is, I feel, to fight it. Fight the nasty, sarcastic muse. Let her know who's boss! Remember, this feeling won't last for ever. Not if you keep at it.

Don't give in to those negative feelings that creep up, because if you're anything like me, once you become prolific again, you can't remember what it was like not to.

If this sounds like my writing is a dangerous and psychologically damaging exercise, think again. I absolutely love it, warts and all.

I'd be interested to know how others beat the writerly blues.

Tuesday 20 January 2009

Blog Colour Scheme

What do you think of the latest colour scheme? White background, black text and blue and purple headings?

This is the third colour scheme since I started the Blog. I began with a pink background with purple text (I think!), then a black background with white text. And now this.

I don't know what's the matter with me, I rarely decorate at home!

About My First Radio Play Entry For The Alfred Bradley Award

Well, my first entry should be sitting on a mat somewhere, deep in the bowels of the BBC. I wrote a fair few drafts, and quite a few times, when I thought all was finished, squeaky clean and sparkling, I placed the script in the envelope. Funnily enough I didn't seal it, so I must have had an idea I'd be taking it out again.

Yes, I had a few mind-blowing ideas and had to slip out the script, re-do bits and pieces, add on a little, then...finally...I felt I could let the script go.

My play is quite a simple idea, but I think I 've been a bit ambitious with it, too. It has twists and turns and there are a couple of, let's say, unusual elements in there.

I have no idea if this is what they're looking for/any good/playable on radio. That's because I've never written a radio script before, apart from the script I handed in at the Writersroom Roadshow. So it's all trial and error, and in a way that's how it has to be, until somebody sees something good in my work. I'll know, then, if I'm on the right track. I hope it'll be soooooooooooooooooon.

I've started my second comp entry. I did really well, with fifteen pages just flowing from...somewhere. I'm too tired to continue tonight but hope to write at least another fifteen pages tomorrow. It's all here, right inside my head, and completetly different to the first entry.

Picture Prompt For Tuesday 20/01/2009

Computer drawn by eight-year-old GEORGIA

Notes From The Masterclass

I thoroughly enjoyed the masterclass in Manchester. Here are some notes I penned:

They're a bit random, but here goes.


* Don't clone what you hear - try something different.

* What makes a good afternoon play? Story...story...story! Story sells a play, so tell a good one. Look at these pointers to work out if you have a good story:

* What's the concept/premise or hook?

* Is it interesting? Encapsulate in your mind what your story is about.

* Whose story is it? Make sure you know.

* What is the inciting incident that changes the path of your characters' journey?

* How does the lead character change over the course of the script?

* What is the climax/resolution? You need a satisfying ending, or one that fits with the play.

* Is your idea fresh, unique, or an exciting twist on a familiar story genre? Put a spin on it.

* What makes it a play for radio?

* Do we want comedy in drama? YES!

* The first TEN PAGES are crucial.

* Set up your world, your characters, but keep focussed.

* Give us a flavour of what is to come.

* Create a narrative hook to get us listening.

* How do you start the story? Make it ALL story.

* Don't be too expositional.


* Radio is more akin to film - setting stuff up, so think film, not theatre.

* The three act structure tends to work best.

* Think of the story as a series of steps.

* Balance the highs and lows and build to a climax.

* Does each scene earn its place? Is it needed, and what function does each scene have? if it develops character whilst moving the play along, fine.

* Show don't tell. Put your scenes in action rather than telling.


* Make your characters realistic - beware stereotypes.

* Inhabit your characters and develop convincing relationships between them. How do they behave through your eyes?

* Add conflict.

* You can have characters talking to themselves about conflict between each other (internal conflict) - inner voice, inner conflict. But, beware inner voice - people tend to use it to tell the story.

* Don't reveal character in blocks - thread them throughout the play.

* Don't have LOTS of characters - or characters of all the same age/gender.

* Don't put too many characters in one scene.

* No bad language, or it must be very mild. Try not to swear at all.

* No sex or violence for the afternoon play.


* Don't be too obvious (on the nose dialogue). You don't need to explain story points or character points.

* Character comes from the convictions and reactions of the character - character doesn't come in statements.

* The inner voice is all about inner conflict - some things can only be done inside the head. If it can be done without the inner voice, do it without.


* Is the play in the past or future? The afternoon play is about news, features, contemporary Britain. Why would you set it in the past or future, unless there's a strong reason?

* Beware guardian angels - Heaven and Hell.

* Beware too much back-story. Try not to use flash-backs, unless it ADDS to the story.

* Try not to use long time frames. Be careful of moving from the past to the present. clearly signpost.

* Setting can be anywhere.

* Car chases are rubbish - you can't picture them.


* Play to your own voice.

* The BBC looks for original voices that will stand out on radio.

* For the Alfred Bradley comp - NORTHERN VOICE!

* Take risks and be original.

* Be bold! Go for it!

* Write, re-write and re-write again.

* Send them the best draft you can.

* Less is more on direction. You can suggest songs, but the producer usually overrides, unless it's essential for the story.