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 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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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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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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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 one

As the Kickstarter campaign continues for The Underwater Realm project, I thought I would take you through some of the development from my writer's perspective. When Realm Pictures won the Raindance/Pepsi Max MAX IT competition in 2010 (with this moving short), they were given the opportunity to première a short at Raindance 2012. Initially, we were talking about a ten-minute film concerning this Roman soldier who drowns in battle and wakes up able to breathe underwater. We went through various iterations of the idea, involving everything from a bleak journey across the ocean to that first wondrous glimpse of the city of Atlantis. I have e-mails from Dave, charismatic director (you can see him talk enthusiastically here on a weekly basis). They go: "stuck with where to go - thoughts?" accompanied by beats/outline/script to which I reply: "How about something more like this:" ...with a completely different thing that bears some relation to the original, with a follow-up note like "The major point is that I...
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The Underwater Realm – Kickstarter

The ocean. Vast. Unforgiving. Beautiful. Hostile. Imagine that this untamed place is home to a tribe of people known to the Surface dwellers as Atlanteans. They have touched humanity but five times - this the story of those encounters. Five short films premièring at Raindance 2012. Shot on RED Epic on location from the Egyptian Red sea to Tintagel clifftops, huge water tank sets to dry-for-wet studio wirework. The gateway to a world ripe for exploration in a feature-length fantasy trilogy. I can personally attest to the dedication, talent and perseverance of the guys at Realm Pictures. They're some of my oldest friends and I've watched them make an action-packed Zombies B-movie on a shoestring budget, win the Raindance/Pepsi Max competition with an inspiring, hopeful short, and now embark on an ambitious, revolutionary series of shorts. You can see for yourselves that these guys can deliver and deliver big. So when I heard that they were launching a Kickstarter campaign, I was delighted that...
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The Inaugural Realm Pictures Script Retreat

Anyone who thinks writing is a sedentary occupation should try a script retreat to Dartmoor. While on a quest to the pub, this writer got stuck in a thorn bush, dropped her handbag in a ditch and was unceremoniously fireman's lifted across the marshland by her director. Not my finest hour. In my defence, there had been afternoon wine. So, apart from ill-advised marsh treks, what happened on our script retreat? (For "what's this script retreat business?", check out my previous blog post. For "the story so far", check out The Underwater Realm blog) We had a trilogy of movies to plan based on some rough mythology and a few ideas from our production meeting in May. Also, we had done our homework, as laid out by the producer - protagonists, set pieces, secondary characters, settings and goal/task had all been brainstormed prior to our arrival in our luxury holiday cottage. As an opening gambit, we discussed our favourite movies, with particular attention to...
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Writers’ Tools: The Mind Map

Yes, I vanished again. Let's blame an abundance of both work and holidays - go summer! But I have not been idle. Indeed, friends, I have been knee-deep in preparation for a Script Retreat. Doesn't that sound grand? Basically, it goes like this: See, these guys called Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Lawrence Kasdan decided to go away for a few days in 1978 and work on this thing called Raiders of the Lost Ark. And the guys over at Realm Pictures decided they would emulate their heroes and go away for a weekend to work on The Underwater Realm. Jon Dupont, our producer, then sets us all homework to do prior to this script retreat. It's like going on a Biology Field Trip, seriously. Our first task: characters. I love characters. They're one of my favourite things about films. I grin at their entrances, swoon at their first kisses and cry when they die heroically in a decent-sized explosion. However, most of my...
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Darling Goals of May

Having returned from a relaxing break away from my day job and my tech, it's time to knuckle down and return to work. Script Frenzy and Realm Production Meeting are over. The screnzy script is in a drawer and I've knocked together some audition sides for the Underwater shorts. So, what now? These days away have been great for percolating ideas and five brand new plots sprung fully-formed from my thigh...I mean, brain. But, like fine wine and decent cheese, these ideas need some time to mature. Therefore, my goals for this month are: - Final draft of The Greenwich Project, ready for sending to a comedy prodco - First draft of new children's tv project Origami Stories - Penultimate/final draft of horror short And now I've declared them, so I'm trusting the internet to hold me accountable. Finally, one more May resolution: do not attend production meetings before drying hair. Especially around sneaky DOPs. Evidence in video below: [Also, there are some awesome people talking about a breath-taking...
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