Location, Location, Location: Choosing Settings for Fiction

Location - every writer's delight and every producer's bane: ME: "I've written a thrilling chase scene set in Paddington Station at rush hour!" PRODUCER: "Could it be Gunnersbury at 3am?" In this blog post, I'm going to talk about the use of location in novels, low/no budget screenplays and stageplays - and how to make the right choices for your project. First, what is a location? This may seem like a stupid question, but I want to emphasise that locations are not just externals - fields, castles, deserts, mountains. Locations are office buildings, hotel rooms, toilet cubicles. Anything you would put after EXT/INT in a screenplay. Locations are also towns, countries - or planets. Space, The Final Frontier. A hotel room may look the same in London, Paris and Dubai, but the context of being in that country may determine the action of the scene - in fact, I would argue that it should. Locations are not incidental. Setting your film in Australia for the...
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#scriptchat Multi-Platform transcript

Thank you to everyone who joined us for #scriptchat last night - it was frantic and exhausting, but I really enjoyed blagging my answers to your questions! You can find the Storify transcript of the chat here (because Wordpress won't play nice with Storify code)....
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#scriptchat 30th June – Multi-Platform Writing

I am honoured and delighted to be guesting on #scriptchat this Sunday @ 8pm to talk about Multi-Platform Writing - specifically, my work with Realm Pictures on The Underwater Realm universe. For those unfamiliar with the concept, show up at Twitter on Sunday 30th June @ 20:00 BST and search for #scriptchat. Writerly folks will then appear as if summoned by ancient incantations and bombard me with questions. *gulp* Look forward to seeing you there!...
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The Writer’s ADHD

I was a hyperactive child. My parents are very polite about it, but I suspect I was an absolute nightmare and the surviving video from that era bears out my suspicions. When I discovered reading, I calmed down and learned to channel my energy more creatively. However, I'm still easily influenced by orange juice or a sugar high, and I probably talk more than is strictly necessary or desirable. When it comes to writing, I often struggle to focus. Not on time = words = pages particularly, but more on chasing my next project instead of actually finishing the one I'm meant to be writing. (As evidenced by the fact I'm writing a blog post instead of adding pages to my latest screenplay...). But this even bleeds into those two writing basics: Format and Genre. It's the first words of your pitch - "a half-hour TV sitcom" or "a ninety-minute science fiction feature". More recently, perhaps: "a two-minute horror web series" or "bi-weekly fantasy...
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Things I’ve Been Doing Instead of Updating My Blog

You know that thing where writers leave you hanging for months because they're off having "thinking time" or pioneering the depths of the ocean? You know how much we all hate that? Yeah, I'm that writer. Except without the exciting excuses. I seriously doubt anyone's been waiting on tenderhooks for me to update this blog, but if you have been even the least bit tender or hooked, I apologise. In the meantime, I've been working on a number of things - some of which I'm allowed to share and some which are currently under wraps, alas. Remember that exciting series of short films set underwater? While we work on the feature scripts, the team decided that we would move sideways into graphic novels. We're currently working on the first issue and it's coming along nicely. The Realm Pictures crew are also currently working on a number of projects which fall under the category of Not Talking About It Yet. Suffice to say, the boys...
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2012 in review

This time last year, I looked back at 2011 and made some resolutions: "So, in 2012, I will: - Final FINAL draft Steampunk Assassins and send it to producers - Edit my Cyber Crime Sleuth (NaNoWriMo) novel and send to publishers - Finish my Asylum pilot, enter it in Red Planet Prize, and send it to producers - Make a short film - Get an agent - See Realm Pictures take Raindance 2012 by storm - Get married XD" Let's see how I got on: In January, I was given the opportunity to write for Persona and started developing my story. In February, I started developing a short film (which unfortunately came to nothing) and learned that I can take notes. In April, I adapted a screenplay into a stage play with Jack Ayers for the Brighton Fringe Festival, and I signed my first professional contract (for a project that went nowhere). In May, Persona aired, Small Chances was performed in Brighton, and I heard that Bryn Celli Ddu was being made...
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One Man’s Ceiling

"One man's ceiling is another man's floor." "A fool's paradise is a wise man's Hell." "Never run with scissors?" I've not had much time for Twitter or my blog recently. Alongside planning my wedding, house-hunting and starting a new day job, I've had a number of projects stealing my attention. What's interesting about the recent direction of my writing is that these projects are not my original ideas. So far, I've mostly worked on my spec scripts, occasionally tailored to competition requirements but mostly my own fancy. However, more recently I've been working in collaboration. With The Underwater Realm, we're working as a three-person writing team, passing the script back and forth to wrangle it into shape. We've all been in it since the beginning, so it's been moulded by the three of us. But with Small Chances, I've taken a script by Jack Delaney that was originally intended for film and developed it for the stage (with multimedia elements). Working with someone else's material is...
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Shoulder tension and frown lines

There comes a point where there are so many things on your To-Do List that the only sane option is to curl up into a ball and read a book. Unfortunately, that's what happened to my entire week. If only Naomi Novik wasn't so damn awesome. But the longer you put the list off, the more pressing it becomes. Every minute you're not writing/day jobbing/loading the washing machine is another guilty nail in the coffin of your self-esteem. And getting back on the damn horse becomes all the harder. I've been struggling all week to come back to my writing. And today I've found a solution. Say "screw you all, I'm taking some time" and walk about in the sunshine with an ice cream. Sanctioned time off where guilt is blocked out and the To Do list is momentarily erased. And then I came home and beat my 2A into shape with a shovel. Sometimes, writers, taking time off is the only way to get the...
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Read It. Like It. Note It.

I'm a girl in a digital world. Even as a kid, when I had twenty-plus volumes of Encyclopaedia Brittanica, I only had eyes for Encarta. However, there are just some things books do better. They're better for reading in the bath. And they're better for focussed research. Wikipedia can give you the essence of the thing, but it's not detailed enough. Websites can be tended by experts or fools. A book, as a thing, has gone through some sort of curating process - or so I like to hope. The other excellent thing about books is that you can stick post-it notes to them. (In theory, you can write in them, but I shudder at the thought.) I read 'The Suspicions of Mr Whitcher' in anticipation of writing my first detective novel. For anyone considering the same, it's an excellent primer on how to portray a mystery and provides a lot of useful background information on detective work and the public perception thereof. I...
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Glimpses of The Underwater Realm – part two

Okay, so it's now January (Happy New Year and all that), but I've finally put together some more Underwater Realm backstory. So, Dave sold me on five short scripts and we had a brainmelting session on possible ideas for the stories. I lost track of the project for a bit (my day job unfortunately takes a lot of my attention) while Dave and Jon developed the scripts for the shorts from those five initial ideas. The next milestone in the project was the Production Meeting at the end of April 2011. This brought together the core Realm Pictures team with the talented heads of department needed to make these films a reality. Oh, and I was there. Mostly to drink wine. Alongside the practical business of how to build a Spanish galleon, we spent a great deal of time working through what makes Atlantean culture and how it could fit in with the actual history and mythology of the Mediterranean. A large potion...
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