Goodbye 2014, Hello 2015

Every year, I write a post about my writing and personal progress over the past twelve months and look forward to next year's goals and challenges. For this New Year's Day, I'm going to look at some awesome things that happened in 2014 and pair them up with where I'm taking them in 2015. In 2014, I became a published author I can't shout about this enough, because it fills me with a giddy joy that I've longed for since I was a child. It's been a very steep learning curve, but the process of taking a raw manuscript and making it into a novel with the help of my fantastic editor Deb Nemeth and the rest of the Carina Press team has had such a profound influence on my writing. And then seeing my books out in the world, receiving praise and reviews - even the gut-wrenching negative ones - has been amazing. People have read my words! They paid money to...
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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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The Writing Blog Tour

Writing is not a mystical process involving tea leaves and libraries of how-to books. At least, not in my (somewhat limited) experience. However, the choices individual writers make about what they write and how they write it can often seem inscrutable. I've always been interested in how other writers go about their business, mostly in the hope that their words of wisdom will somehow improve my own attempts. So, thank you, Mysterious Person Who Began "The Blog Tour". You are the reason why I am writing this post today. Because I am a glutton for punishment, I agreed to be tagged by Phill Barron, screenwriter extraordinary, and become part of The Blog Tour before passing the dubious honour of baring their writing souls to two more unfortunates - I mean highly-privileged writers. But first, let's talk about Phill. Phillip Barron is a UK scriptwriter who's had nine feature films produced. In addition to movies he's written for BBC3's BAFTA and Rose d'Or nominated sketch show,...
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I Have Nothing: Why “The Bodyguard” Musical Needs More Plot and Fewer Songs

Yesterday, I took my parents out to see "The Bodyguard" musical. My mum loved it, my dad suffered it, my husband continues to grumble and I was entertained. Spoilers ahoy for "The Bodyguard" film and, to a lesser extent, the musical - if you haven't seen the film, why not?! Go! Watch! Done? Good. Now I'll begin. First off, I love "The Bodyguard". My mum bought it for me as my first 15-rated DVD for my 15th birthday. I've used it with script editors to discuss the plots of mysteries I've been writing, as it uses some classic diversionary tactics. The musical is, obviously, more musical than the film. There are many more songs. Because they are shoe-horned in to make a film into a musical, they are largely superfluous to the plot. I love the musical format, but I feel musicals that are not full libretto should have songs which enhance and serve the plot. Extraneous scenes are not useful in either musicals...
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2013 in review

So now is the time of year where writers waddle to their blogs, stuffed with Vegetable Wellington, and reflect on how everyone in the industry got the goddamn breaks except them. Or some such thing. My goal for this year was simple: seize my opportunities and write! Here's what happened: - I submitted my Cyber Crime Sleuth novel to Carina Press and it was accepted for publication. It will be published as BINARY WITNESS in May 2014! - I wrote the first draft of the Cyber Crime Sleuth sequel for NaNoWriMo 2013. - I wrote a short film called "A work of art", which was shot under the expert eye of Emma Ashley in August and is now in post-production. - I started work on a Wine and Women feature script with Nicholas John of Changeling Films. - I was a guest of Euro #scriptchat, talking about Multi-Platform writing. - I started a new blog series called Freudian Script about psychology for writers. It's been on hiatus but will...
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Getting Back On The Horse

I've been away from the keyboard for a while due to family things. I was lacking in inspiration and I had no idea where to start. So when an e-mail popped up asking me to meet with a producer to discuss feature film ideas, I thought this might be a good water-testing exercise. Get the creative juices flowing again. He gave me a location brief and I threw together a handful of ideas, condensed them into loglines and character sketches, and set off to London Waterloo for coffee. I come out of that meeting feeling positive. One of the ideas was adapted from an old story that had been brewing for a while but I hadn't found a way to make it work. It had been set aside for a number of months, occasionally pulled out for inspection, and then returned to the virtual drawer. Said producer was also enthusiastic about my percolated idea and, before I knew what was happening, I had...
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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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Writing is 90% Thinking

Getting back on the writing horse after a long hiatus is every bit as difficult as one would expect. It would probably be easier without the tonsillitis and the feeling that my brain is talking a walk on a muggy day in June, but only marginally. I have a one-pager to write before the weekend. I thought it would be relatively simple, as I thought I had a comprehensive set of notes from which to work - but it turns out I thought wrong. It seems that I wrote some notes, and then I wrote a second set of notes, in which I made several leaps of logic, merged two characters and invented a few bits of backstory. Without writing down the intermediate stages of that thought process. But this afternoon, I just about picked up the thrust of my argument and set to work. It was about half an hour later that I zoned back into the room and realised that my cursor...
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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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