Do Writers Have a Duty to Accuracy?

Do Writers Have a Duty to Accuracy?

When writing about mental health problems, I often emphasise accurate and sensitive portrayals of mental illness. But how important is accuracy in writing? Should the story come first? Last week, controversy surrounded the season finale of BBC One's drama The Syndicate. Amy, a character with Type 1 Diabetes, complained of having low blood sugar and was later administered insulin. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) criticised the episode, as giving insulin to a person with low blood sugar is dangerous. Karen Addington, Chief Executive in the UK of JDRF, said: "Television writers and producers have a responsibility to portray life with a condition such as type 1 diabetes accurately." However, Kay Mellor, writer of The Syndicate hit back. In her statement she made a number of points in her own defence. I would like to examine some of those points. Not A Medical Drama? "The Syndicate is in no way a medical drama or a serious documentary about how to treat diabetes." While I may have watched...
Read More

10 Writing Career Lessons from Disney’s Frozen

Frozen, as the highest grossing animated film of all time, has commanded the attention of filmmakers everywhere. There have been in-depth analyses of what makes a successful animated film and how Frozen hits those buttons. This is not that kind of post. Instead, let's imagine the characters of Frozen have turned writing coach - what words of writing advice can they share? What do their life anecdotes teach us about how to be better writers? How can we learn from their mistakes? Here are 10 writing career lessons out of the mouths of Frozen characters: Don't let them in, don't let them see - be the good girl you always have to be. Most writers start out writing for themselves, for the joy of it. Because they can't not write. However, there will come a point when someone will ask why you spend all your time with a computer screen and may ask to see the finished product... I have always been something of an exhibitionist,...
Read More

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,...
Read More

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...
Read More

Why the London Screenwriters Festival is necessary for London and Screenwriters

It's been one week since I journeyed from deepest, darkest Wales to attend the London Screenwriters Festival. I was nervous, I was anxious - what if I forget my loglines? What if I meet proper writers and clam up? What if nobody likes me? Thankfully, while I did ramble at one poor producer, I did meet proper writers without mishap (they had been drinking) and some people seemed to like me okay, or well enough to chuck their business cards at me. So, why the grandiose title, London and Screenwriters? Am I being absurd to call LSF vital to the hearbeat of the city and the screenwriting community? No, and I'll tell you why. I can honestly say LSF consisted of the three most valuable and positive days of my writing life. I gained practical, insightful advice from writers, producers, agents and readers - from those who attended as speakers and from those who were attendees. I honed my pitch in the sunshine...
Read More

Pitching with Brits

Ahead of the LCWF, I asked Twitter for advice about pitching. Firstly, Lucy Vee has a post with 5 Pitching Tips. Then, we have advice from the wondiferous Phill Barron: Keep a check on your breathing; if it's too fast you're panicking. Force yourself to breathe slower and you'll calm down. Same goes for posture, if you're tense, your shoulders rise. Keep them low and relaxed - it'll help you relax. Eye contact, but not too much. Smile, but not too much. Rehearse, but leave enough space for improv if the mood strikes. Start with basic info, like lead paragraph in a newspaper. Genre, who, where, what ... etc. As interesting as possible. If it's a single, cover ALL the beats. If it's a series, try to make the possibilities seem endless. Most important: believe your story's awesome, only you can tell it and they HAVE to make it Excitement generates excitement Lead character and plot should be as intertwined as possible: it's a story about someone who must...
Read More

The Road To Hard Work

The hardest thing about writing is "breaking in". The main point I'm gathering from my reading on the subject is that it's more like chip-chip-chipping at the door rather than fetching an axe - Shawshank over Shining. In that vein, some excellent comment on these issues from the British industry: Lucy V on how to get read - including querying anyone and everyone, and making your own works. BBC writersroom on their role as the "interface" between writers and the industry. Bottom line: be patient and persistent. Phill Barron's #scriptchat on agents is also worth a read (if you can navigate the transcript - I advise searching the thing for "phillbarron" to skip to the relevant bits) and introduced me to Mandy.com, where one can find work - paid and lo/no fee. And How to Hustle from Michelle Lipton - the guide to getting work, which basically involves putting in the effort to be seen and to be known. All before you land the gigs actually...
Read More

The Writer and The Director

I was thinking earlier on the differences in notoriety between writers and directors. Films are all about the director - as demonstrated by Dale Launer's comments (boosted by Scott at GITS). However, TV shows are a lot more about writers. Obviously, the bigger names are the showrunners - Joss Whedon, Aaron Sorkin, Russell T Davies, Steven Moffat, JJ Abrams etc. etc. However, I also recognise most of the regular Doctor Who episode writers - for example, Euros Lyn and Moffat, when his episodes were the terrifying highlight of a season. Maybe it's because I know TV better, but it genuinely feels that writers get more credit in TV. Then again, movie writers get far bigger paydays. So, is it worth it? Do we want fame or money? Or...do we make the conversion? Aaron Sorkin is a renowned TV writer. Admittedly, he wrote films first, but TV is what he's famous for. 'The Social Network', however, is Aaron Sorkin's movie more than it is David Fincher's. There's...
Read More

Not crazy – just a little unwell

I am on a sick day (night?), so I'm catching up with my blogomarble. Not writing, alas, because I feel like I've been used as a punching bag, but reading about other people writing. Things that have intrigued me: Firstly, Amazon launch a film-making forum - could be very good, could be a vehicle for Warner Bros to screw some people over. If some pros sign on, it might be worth an early look. John August tells us to scratch our own itch - write the films we want to see. I can honestly say, hand on heart, that if I heard about a steampunk assassins movie, I would be there like a shot. Some other projects - well...maybe not so much. While I love my Military Monster project with a passion, there was some part of it that came from "there is a gap in the market that I would like to fill". Except that it appears Jason Arnopp beat me to...
Read More

Good advice comes in threes

The blogosphere is driving me towards less whiny bitch and higher levels of productivity this past week, with three pieces of indispensable advice in as many days! Firstly, my friend shared with me Seanan McGuire's 'Do Research' (adapted from Mary Schmich's 'Wear Sunscreen', popularised by Mr Baz Luhrmann). Then, a list of fail by Phill Barron that proscribes against whinging on the internet, of which I am all in favour, and particularly for writers (ashamedly, like myself) who wait around for an opportunity to dance naked in front of them - and then ignore it anyway. And, finally, a pithy piece of advice from Michael Goldenberg (forwarded by John August) - The protagonist is the character that suffers most. So, I have taken from this these things three: 1) More suffering! 2) Stop complaining and 3) Wear sunscreen Do Research...
Read More