John Yorke, Controller of BBC Drama Production, talks of ‘The Curse of the Screenwriting Gurus’ and how decades of ‘how to’ books have destroyed the serious study of structure. On the whole I’m prone to agree; like many I spend at least as much time reading about writing as I do actually writing. However, I’ve recently finished How Not To Write A Screenplay by Denny Martin Flinn, and I was very impressed with its no-nonsense approach. It was easily the best book on screenwriting I’ve read. And one of the topics covered was structure; essentially saying that there were different models.
Flinn essentially stated that there were a multitude of different models for the structure of stories. Which storytelling structural model you are comfortable with or is the best fit, is entirely up to the writer. And by no means are these structural models restricted to screenwriting; all storytelling benefits from structure, whether a novel, roleplaying scenario or an after-dinner anecdote. Here then are the models in question: Continue reading
In advance of London Screenwriter’s Festival 2013, I looked around for a template for writing one page pitches for scripts. I found excellent guides by Bang2Write and Michelle Lipton, but what I wanted was a simple Word template I could just fill in. So I created my own Pitch Template for your use. Simply replace everything in [square brackets] and don’t forget the contact details in the footer and the document properties.
After much agonising, I finally decided to attend this year’s London Screenwriter’s Festival in October. This has mostly been facilitated by them offering a very handy monthly installment plan, as £24 per month is a lot more palatable than £240 in one hit.
Considering the investment in money and time that this involves I need to make sure I’m prepared. That means I need to get my portfolio up to scratch in the next ten months. Based on the advice on Bang2Write, what I’ll need is: 10-15 one page pitches; 2 or 3 microshorts (1-3 pages); 1 ten minute short; 1 TV pilot and series bible; 2-4 feature scripts (each with its own 1 page pitch).
I’m unlikely to manage to get the feature scripts in place in time, but the TV pilot, the shorts and the pitches are entirely manageable in the timeframe.
How was writing for me in 2012? Let me put it this way, I started this draft two weeks ago and have hardly scratched out a word since. But rather than berate myself, I shall bludgeon my way out of this funk. I have a feeling 2013 will be a very good year.
For a start, I still have my rejection letters from the BBC and Channel 4 to look forward to, for their scriptwriting competitions. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean that negatively. But while I have some faith in my writing, or at least its potential, I don’t think I’m there yet. A rejection letter would allow me to finally bury the script I keep sending out to these competitions in the hope that the next draft will be the one to succeed. If, when, the script is rejected by both the BBC and Channel 4, I will have some closure on it and will focus my efforts on newer, fresher, better work.
I have three primary projects left over from last year. One of these requires no further input from me, as it is a comic script for a one page portfolio comic which is still with an artist who assures me the project is not yet dead. My primary focus will be the pilot episode and series bible for a TV series I’m writing. I cruelly left it hanging last year, despite all manner of encouragement and excitement about the project. It is time to finish it and polish it to a mirror-like finish, if darkly. The aim is to finish for the end of BBC’s Spring submission window at the end of March. Finally, there is my fun project, a novelette for friends. Writing it is utterly silly and amazing fun, just like it’s intended audience.
So, writing goal for 2013? Exactly the same as the goal for 2012, get something published, but not self-published and not on a website. Wish me luck! Again!
Yesterday the next submission window for the BBC’s open submission opportunity opened. We now have until the 31st of October to send them our radio plays, films and TV episodes. I intend to send them a radio play I wrote years ago, now that the submission criteria became a little more relaxed with the opening of The Writer’s Prize. And, if I manage to get my act together, the TV pilot I’ve been working on since forever.
I don’t want to mention every competition that comes up, but competitions and open submission opportunities for screenplays are much less common than those for plays or prose.
The London Screenwriter’s Festival 2012 have a filmmaking challenge, called 50 Kisses. It’s broken into two parts, the first for writers and the winning scripts will be made available for filmmakers to produce. The winning films will then get a theatrical release next Valentine’s Day.
The challenge for writers is to write a two page screenplay set on Valentine’s Night that must contain one kiss. The deadline for submitted scripts is June 30th.
I couldn’t resist, I have a submission for this competition. While the romance genre is hardly in my comfort zone, if I can’t fit two pages of screenplay into my schedule, there’s something very wrong with my time management.
The BBC’s Writers Room was always a pretty good resource for script writers, whether film, TV or radio, with its back catalogue of scripts, templates and advice. Furthermore, it was the route to submitting unsolicited scripts to the BBC.
The Writers Room has relaunched now, a much need spruce-up. But the submission system has changed from ad-hoc to a quarterly submissions window. The spring window is now open until May the 21st, so get cracking! Even I might be able to hit that deadline…
The Nick Darke Award is a stage, screen and radio writing award and this year their theme is the environment. This means that I won’t be taking part, as there’s no way I could possibly pretend that my current WIP is anything at all to do with the environment.
However, the competition is a tempting one. They want an outline and 20 sample script pages and the winner receives £6000 to allow them to complete the script to industry standards. The deadline for entry is Monday the 14th of May.
Maybe there’s still time before then to kick off a new project…
The reason I’ve been quiet on here for the last month or so was that I had entered the Red Planet Prize for screenplays. The idea was to submit the logline, synopsis and the first ten minutes of a one hour screenplay. If successful in the first round, you would be contacted to submit the remainder of the script. With hindsight, I really ought to have finished the rest of the script before submitting and then fine-tuned the whole thing, but I didn’t. This is probably part of why I didn’t get around to finishing the rest of the script.
So here I am, unsuccessful in my latest competition entry, sitting on a half-finished script, trying to build up the motivation to finish it. I know I ought to, I have a terrible habit of starting projects and not completing them, but it’s harder now to bring up the enthusiasm.
Here’s a list of projects that were started in 2011 but not completed:
- Novel: Vicious Cycles (Researched but not started)
- Novel: Angels (Working title, still considered ‘current’)
- Screenplay: Music is Magic (Working title. Short Film, in it’s fourth draft. Needs to move on)
- Screenplay: Music is Magic (The extension of the short into something longer. Current project)
- Screenplay: The Proposal (Needs a polish, then submission. Somewhere)
- Comic: Broken Gears (May as well do some more work on it)
- Comic: Ghost Detective (Massively overdue guilt project)