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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Kites and Violence: my head in the wood-chipper

On Tuesday 30th April, I will contemplate my own mortality as I face that most savage of foes: screenwriters. This month's Kites and Violence features a reading from "A Modern Age of Murder", known on this blog as Steampunk Assasins. I am very nervous about this, not least because I've seen what wounds this lunacy of wolves has inflicted on other people with their acid tongues and their copies of Story. I'm also anxious because this is my baby, my first script - the one I've been toiling over for almost four years. And it's about to be eviscerated. But that's how we learn and grow, what doesn't kill you, etc. If you want to join in with this pillory of writerly humiliation, come to the Horse Bar at 7pm on Tuesday!...
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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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2011: My year with writing

This time last year, I reviewed where I was in my writing career. I thought I had written the penultimate draft of Steampunk Assassins. I was writing the first draft of The Greenwich Problem. I was planning to write a romantic comedy termed Baking Lawyer (which I abandoned due to fatal flaws). I determined that Military Monster needed a complete overall (which is still awaited.) And I put everything else on hold. And then 2011 happened. In January, I finished the first draft of The Greenwich Problem for the BBC's Laughing Stock competition. In February, Realm Pictures won the Raindance/Pepsi Max competition. This started them on the road to The Underwater Realm. In March, I was longlisted for Laughing Stock, which caused much excitement. In April, I attended the London Comedy Writers Festival, got some great advice and met some awesome creatives. I also wrote another feature script for Script Frenzy. In May, Realm House hosted the first UWR big production meeting. In July, Dave, Jon...
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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...
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Pitching In Sixty Seconds (without bunnies)

If you're attending the London Screenwriters Festival Speed Pitching and you're not flailing in panic, it's either because you have nerves of steel or are, in fact, an alien robot. Condensing your beloved work of art into one or two pithy sentences and then selling it in five minutes sounds impossible and terrifying (moreso because, until about thirty seconds ago, I thought it was ten minutes. ARGH!). Thankfully, people have done this before and SURVIVED! Some have even SOLD THINGS! The mind boggles. How does one conquer this hill of terror? I asked this same question before the London Comedy Writers Festival earlier this year, and Phill Barron and Laurence Timms provided excellent tips here (also in PDF). But what about Speed Pitching specifically? How does one not die in a five minute conversation with A Really Important Person? Jared Kelly's blog about Speed Pitching at LSWF is a Survival Handbook - and the most important (and scary) thing I gleaned from it is this:...
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The Writer on Holiday

If, like me, a week away from your laptop and constant access to Twitter fills you with dread, here are some tips to appease your creative sensibilities while still getting some much-needed downtime. 1) Scribble on paper and then lock your notes in the safe A paper note can be a refreshing way to examine your ideas and help you make connections you might not have otherwise grasped. As for the safe, this is not because some would-be plagiarist might steal them (see Lucy V's post here), but because the maid might be disturbed by the carefully planned murder laid out on hotel stationery. 2) Mobile apps are your friend I drafted this post in the bar with a cocktail. Evernote, Celtx, Dropbox - make sure they're synced and ready to go. Also, take advantage of any hotel wifi for a quick glance at email (though I dutifully set my auto-responder) - it's particularly good if there's a time limit to the thing, for those...
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A criminal mind

I haven't got the head for crime. Stomach, sure - I've been watching CSI over dinner for years. And the heart, certainly: Castle, The Mentalist, Poirot, Sherlock are amongst my firm favourites. But the brain-juice? Not so much. I just finished Jeffrey Deaver's latest Lincoln Rhyme novel "The Burning Wire". Deaver's a genius and I've loved every single one of this series. But, once again, I couldn't see the twist coming. Or the second twist. Or the final twist. Or the one after that (and that may not look logical but, trust me, it is truth - the man's RELENTLESS with the TWISTS). I NEVER see it coming. I can never get the bad guy. Once or twice, I've guessed it. That's from watching about twelve seasons of CSI: Anyville, the above-mentioned shows, and numerous crime novels. Once. Or twice. Maybe three times tops. Normally, this wouldn't be a problem. Congratulations, you might say, the girl gets the fun and horror of surprise from every...
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