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,...
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Take note

I was very flattered to read that I'm both ace and adept at taking notes. I blushed a bit and felt the warm fuzzies of a job well done. The giving and receiving of notes is the process by which a script grows into a film. I've enjoyed that experience with a fair few folk now and it's completely different every time. I don't think there's necessarily a right way to do it. With my friends I've know for over a decade, I know I can be brutally honest. And they have the same freedom with me. With a director I'm working with for the first time, we have to learn how to talk with each other - particularly when a lot of our correspondence is by e-mail. However, I think there are some general "good practice" rules: 1) Thank the note giver before you read the notes. Your thanks should be genuine. 2) Read the notes through once and allow yourself to react. Be...
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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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20 Things From LCWF

Well, I'm back from the London Comedy Writers Festival, which was my first excursion as a writer. And I loved every second of it! Here are my festival highlights: The Twenty Best Pieces of Advice from the London Comedy Writers Festival 1) Find a collection of people with social problems and write comedy: THE GANG (Griff Rhys Jones) 2) Character notes should come through in the script, not an outline. If it isn't in the script, it isn't there. (David Tyler) 3) When broadcasters ask for a particular thing, it may be the perfect time to send in something completely different. (Paul Minett) 4) You must print a hard copy. You must have a readthrough. (Paul Minett) 5) When taking advice: Does it make it better or does it make it different? 6) Don't write down jokes while walking. Don't keep a notebook by your bed. If you can't remember it, it wasn't funny. (Brian Leveson) 7) Put as much detail as possible in a physical gag - assume...
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Plays and players

Just got back from seeing The Extraordinary Revelations of Orca the Goldfish and Lunch Hour. Fast, funny and incredible for one-act, one-location plays. Then, my friends wanted to head out for drinks and chips. I am on a diet and wanted to walk home. Suddenly, everyone's afrit for my personal safety but I wander off anyway. Big mistake. Oh, I'm perfectly fine and unmolested. However, I saw monsters in every shadow and kept going over in my head the scene from my short where the heroine walks alone across campus, watched menacingly from the shadows... Turned up at home with my heart pounding a mile a minute and an impatient text from my friend ensuring I'm back safely. Safe and sorry, yeesh. Things more interesting than my inability to walk home without scaring myself silly: A great article on how to be your own script reader - in the face of your own worst critic and glamoriser. Samuel Clemens' idea of a book review Throw money at...
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Sucking, sex and (laughing) stock

(This is actually an exercise in drumming up spam comments) I leave the Internet alone for a couple of days and it vomited up all kinds of interesting and useful things. If only that technique worked with spec scripts. - Maureen Johnson's fabulous "Dare to Suck" video (with transcript by Martin_B, found here): - Lucy V's call to copulation - in scripts, of course (though I'm sure a little more IRL couldn't do any harm...). I admit to a little...er, frigidity in this arena but I'm pushing myself beyond the 'fade to black'. - Laughing Stock Submission Pile - A Behemoth. I actually started scanning the photo for my entry - I like to think it's that slim white one on top of the second pile from the left. *bounces off to the next project*...
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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...
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Pilot signposts

Unfortunately, Real Life has been distracting me from blogging - and my pilot script. Yet John August's brilliant analysis of Premise Pilots dragged me back today. I was having this debate with my director friend about a TV pilot he'd like me to write. Basically, it involves an ordinary guy having his world turned upside down when he realises he's living in a secret dystopia. However, the problem is this: you need a lot of setup. It's therefore difficult to make a pilot that captures the action-adventure spice of the rest of the series because the first episode has to highlight his dull, vanilla life. Another interesting post is Bitter's commentary on capitalisation in action paragraphs. I like to capitalise characters' entrance in every scene - though, in my sit com pilot, it doesn't seem to be working. I also note important props and sound effects, which Bitter identifies as outdated techniques. Then there's Scott's answers on Act One length. This post is...
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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...
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Outlining the outline

Thanks to two train journeys, my first draft of the Military Monster pilot was completed and, after feedback and a bit of hack 'n' slash, draft two is back with my editor. The pressures of the deadline! Last week, Danny Stack, screenwriter and co-creator of the Red Planet Prize, posted a few more tidbits of info. This included highlighting the need for a "short synopsis", which may be for the episode or the series - "whatever you think best sells the idea/script/show". And I haven't the first idea how to write such a thing. In my head, I know the theme of the first season, the general character development and the bad guy(s). I've also jotted down some notes to myself, including potential directions for Season 2 and 3 (because, hey, dream big, right?). Yet, is that what's required? Or does this synopsis require episode outlines? And, if so, how many episode outlines? Six, like Hustle, one of Red Planet's shows? Or Thirteen, like...
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