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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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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On Talking: Novels vs Screenplays vs Plays

I love dialogue. Great dialogue can make your heart sing, from the Crispin's Day speech in Henry V to President Bartlet's rant against God in Two Cathedrals. And I've always fancied I'm not half-bad at it. There are fundamental differences between novels, plays and screenplays that I'm not going to delve into here, but the thing that grabbed me tonight is dialogue. I've started attending Kites and Violence in Waterloo, a writers group run by the funny and devastatingly handsome Sandy Nicholson. This evening's readings were from a feature film and a play. Both were very enjoyable, actually (though I had to duck out early because of trains) but wow, they sound so different! I've turned my hand to novels and the thing I hate about them is all the damn describing you have to do. There is a basic expectation of description that is actively avoided in screenplays. I personally feel this can go too far - JRR Tolkien may have been...
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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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Small Chances – Not Just Poker

Are you coming to Small Chances tonight? If not, let me tempt you: It's about poker. How strong is your opponent's hand? Is he bluffing? Or is he manipulating you into crossing every line you've ever drawn? Gnawing away at your morals until you're forced to choose between abject poverty or commiting a heinous crime against someone you love. Why don't you come and find out? Tickets here....
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May: Persona, Small Chances and It’s My Shout

My secret New Year's Resolution for 2012 was simple: Get Something Made. Because, essentially, all your validation as a writer comes from people liking your stuff enough to bother about filming it/performing it/publishing it. It was my birthday on Friday (a belated Happy Star Wars Day to you all). And I could look at the month ahead of me and feel proud for all the work that went into it. And that, y'know, I smashed that resolution in Month 5. Persona Season 4 is currently airing through the smartphone app (get it for iDevice or for Android). As I haven't seen the final footage, I'm excited to see how it turns out. First ep looks better than I could've hoped! In Brighton this weekend? The play I co-wrote with Jack Delaney is premièring at the Brighton Fringe Festival - get your mitts on tickets here! And now for something completely different. While I was on the train to London on Friday, I received a phone call...
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Going Pro

April is an exciting month for me! Persona Season 4 airs on Monday and rehearsals are starting for Small Chances. I also signed a contract for my first paid feature. While I'll admit to being a little nervous, I'm mostly excited. The project is currently under wraps, but I hope to get more information out in the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, I'm getting my teeth into this treatment and seeing where the ride takes me. Of course, unless I'm suddenly inundated with requests for specs and the BBC banging down my door (dream on), I still have the day job and this is just one more step on a very long journey. Still feels awesome, though....
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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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