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· SCRIPT ADVICE WRITING TIP – MIND THE GAP
· GEORGE THE JOBBING WRITER – AGENT AGONY
· INTERESTING STUFF
I love Autumn. It is a season that compliments me. Summer – you will find me grumpy, covered in heat rash and sun factor 50. Spring – more sprightly but rather pasty. Winter – brittle and entirely dependent on moisturizer; so it is in Autumn that I come into my own. I am a natural red-head, (these days augmented by the delights of home colouring – thank you Casting Crème!) and I fancy, as I walk through the woods at the back of our house, picking my way through what I hope are worm casts and not suburban dog poo, that I rather blend in with the golds, coppers and rust colours dancing in the trees above my head. I am not allowed to wax all Nature for too long, as Number One Son, in a burst of curly leaves and stripey wellies, comes hurtling along the path towards me; his voice echoing up the sides of the valley; ‘mummy, my wee is actually coming!’
Onwards and upwards…
SCRIPT ADVICE WRITING TIP – MIND THE GAP
I often come across in my SCRIPT ADVICE script editing and mentoring work, writers who have a tendency to over-write where it is not necessary and to under-explain when it is.
This is a tricky balance to get right in narrative heavy work, but one that is essential to achieve if you want your writing to come off the page with polish and finesse.
One of the most often repeated pit falls when writing dialogue-heavy scenes in, for example EASTENDERS (I mention this soap as opposed to any other because I have script edited this show) is that line of dialogue which is so ‘on the nose’ it’s practically sitting on your face. Never a good look. So – in dialogue, too much obvious explanation is a very bad thing indeed.
In scene setting the same applies. There is nothing worse than reading great long ribbons of scene description, when all you really want to know from the writer at this point is: where we are, who is there and what they are doing in the scene.
The reverse is true when I am reading an exchange of dialogue that is so cryptic it would fox T S Elliot (and we all know how much he depended on footnotes to get his point across!)
Subtext is the life line of any interesting, engaging, emotionally compelling work, but too much subtlety in the text and not enough explanation in the dialogue will result in lots of scratched heads and an over-riding sense of frustration and confusion.
TIP: Think about what you don’t want your characters to say in the scene. What must you leave out in order for the plot to be developed and the characters to grow and learn with the narrative?
The gaps in a plot are just, if not more, important in the true telling of a gripping storyline. Let your characters fill in the gaps for your audience when you chose to give them the information you have been withholding.
Chose your moment. Maximise the impact of that piece of information and write the moment that the penny drops.
GEORGE THE JOBBING WRITER – AGENT AGONY
SC1 – Bar Your Own Bum – Islington – Table by the window – 12 Noon
I like Hope-The-Nice-Script Editor; she’s always so nice about my WESTENDERS scripts, but she should’ve told me Poppocatapetl was boss-eyed. She’s sitting across from me, glass of Oyster Bay in hand, one eye firmly fixed on the door jam and the other on me – I think. She’s telling me she was conceived half way up a Mexican mountain, which is why she’s got that ridiculous name, thank God she answers to Poppy.
I am trying to focus on her face – well, the bit between her eyebrows actually, because I think that way it will look like I am looking at her, and listening, when in actual fact all I can think about is what the hell I am doing here, nodding sagely and trying to look like an accomplished, mature writer when I feel just the opposite.
This club she’s taken me to is full of ‘faces’. I know I am supposed to know who is on the next table, because Poppy did a double take and hissed excitedly behind her menu that ‘Uptown Manor’ was ordering the Moules’. I don’t recognise him – probably because I don’t watch the show – this because I can’t keep my eyes open past 9.30pm since I have taken on a regular writer slot on WESTENDERS and Uptown Manor is on at 10pm. He’s very loud and smells of Patchouli – which I really hate.
Sc 2 – Bar Your Own Bum – Islington – Seats by the fireplace – 1.30pm
We’ve had lunch – it was mainly liquid – and now Poppy is suggesting another bottle of wine which seems like a great idea since now we have these amazing squishy seats to sit in and I can pretend I am one script away from a BAFTA and Poppy is telling me how ‘incisive’ she finds my work and how I seem to ‘hold the zeitgeist in the palm of my hand’. Blimey, even though I am one bottle of wine past sober, I know that what she just said was utter crappola. I don’t hold anything in my hand but a trusty Bic (I do my first script pass in pen) but Poppy, I am realising fast, likes the sound of her own voice and as we sit, me sinking lower in Italian leather upholstery, she perching forward alarmingly in her very tight Teirry Mugler skirt – I am beginning to think that getting an agent was not a good idea after all. She has just told me her percentage of everything I earn – WHAT? Do I have to pay her to write my scripts?
Sc 3 – Bar Your Own Bum – Islington – Still by the fireplace – 3pm
I love the smell of Patchouli – so sophisticated in a man. GARY WISER – star of Uptown Manor and I are now firm friends. We know each other intimately and are finding each other hilarious. Poppy is now squatting rather than sitting, in the fireplace of this marvellous club she’s brought me too, surrounded by a ton of pumpkins – how clever to put Autumnal fruit in a fireplace instead of wood – so artistic. We can all see Poppy’s knickers but no-one is saying anything – mainly because I have lost the power of speech and am trying not to appear drunk as I try and get up out of this ridiculously squashy chair – it’s like coming out of the birth canal.
Sc 4 – Bar Your Own Bum – Islington – Ladies – 5pm
OMG. I know I am drunk because I have just been talking to myself in the mirror. I saw Sue Johnston do it once in a scene in BROOKSIDE – she knew her hub was having an affair and was scared to blow the whistle because she still loved him – so she looked at herself in the mirror and said over and over to her reflection, ‘just do something – just do something’. And I am about to. I am about to leave. With Dignity. Just have to find Poppy.
Sc 5 – Bar Your Own Bum – Islington – Somewhere On The Stairwell – 5.30pm
Well. That could’ve gone better. I sort of tripped I think. I obviously have fallen down most of the stairs because I find my self throwing a croissant-shape, precariously balanced on this tiny landing and really hoping I can get upright before anyone sees me. Hello – someone has.
Sc 6 – Ollie’s Caff – Islington – 6.30pm
Thank God I met June. She sort of scooped me up in her enormous Pashmina and I got to my feet without too much dignity lost. She found my bag, discovered my shoe, and we waved goodbye to Poppy who appeared to be fast asleep in the fireplace on a pile of orange fruit – we thought it best to leave her to her slumbers.
We didn’t find Gary Wiser. June even paid the bill. Which I am sure was huge. Poppy and I both owe her.
She’s telling me that she admires my work but thinks I need a push up the backside. She’s just called me complacent. She hasn’t mentioned so far, that I am holding anything in my palm and I am pleased about that.
We are downing great mugs of Builder’s Tea and I have just polished off a pile of Bacon Sandwiches doused in HP. I never knew Pig could taste so good.
June is telling me that Poppy is a very good deal clincher and then lists with astonishing memory recall about a million clients that Jarvis Black (the agent Poppy works for) has on it’s books. It is impressive and there’s no doubt that Poppy, given more food and less alchohol, would be dynamite in any contractual meeting. But.
I just like June. I like her warmth, her bright colours, her untidy hair and the way she eats with her spine – she loves her food this woman! She knows her stuff – been around a hundred years and when she showed me the client list of her agency June Pepper Inc. I already felt at home.
So that’s it. Deal done. I know June Pepper lacks the glamour and pazzaz that Poppy and her international conglomerate agency does, but I would much, any day of the week, be represented by someone named after a sunny month than an unstable Mexican volcano.
BBC WRITERSROOM NEWSLETTER
Here below the latest offering from those busy beavers at the BBC Writers Room:
Welcome to the BBC writersroom newsletter.
Face 2 Face with Stephen Butchard
BBC writersroom and the Manchester Literature Festival will be hosting a special Q&A event with award-winning screenwriter Stephen Butchard (Stolen, Five Daughters, House of Saddam) on October 18th at 7pm, in MediaCity, Salford.
Tickets are free and can be reserved on a first-come, first-served basis by emailing email@example.com with Stephen Butchard in the subject line.
Writer Jack Thorne talks about the genesis of his brand new supernatural horror for BBC Three, The Fades, and shares the script from Episode 1 on our blog.
Our scripts are in PDF format – if you can’t read them, download Adobe Reader from https://www.bbc.co.uk/webwise/categories/plug/acrobat/acrobat.shtml?intro
The Fades, Episode 1 by Jack Thorne
Rastamouse, ‘Da Crucial Plan’ by Michael De Souza and Genevieve Webster
The Hour, Episode 1 by Abi Morgan
Don’t forget you can browse through all of the scripts in our script archive.
Submitting your script to BBC writersroom
Want to write for the BBC? Find out what to send us on our script submissions page.
Newsjack’s Gareth Gwynn gives his advice on submitting sketches for the show, Corey Montague-Sholay talks about his first writing job working on EastEnders: E20, and we get an update on the Get a Squiggle On competition masterclass from Usman at BBC writersroom North.
Deadline: 03 October 2011
Win a budget of up to £10,000 to have your short film developed and produced.
Deadline: 17 October 2011
BBC Radio 4 Extra’s topical sketch show is now open for submissions of sketches and short jokes.
Face 2 Face with Stephen Butchard
Deadline: 18 October 2011
An opportunity to put your questions to Stephen Butchard, one of the leading screenwriters of his generation.
Channel 4 Drama presents….4Screenwriting
Deadline: 01 November 2011
Channel 4 Drama are looking for 12 talented writers who currently have no broadcast credit.
Immersive Writing Lab Competition
Deadline: 21 November 2011
Create a cross-platform storyworld and win a £6k development fund.
Steyning Festival Theatre Trail 2012
Deadline: 02 December 2011
Steyning Festival Theatre Trail 2012 is seeking 6 new plays from playwrights in the South East.
The BBC Writersroom Future Talent Award for Writers
Deadline: 15 December 2011
Opportunity for north-based student/recent graduate drama writers to access development opportunities and mentoring from the BBC.
IDEASTAP– is a great looking website which is useful to tap (obviously!) in to now and again. Here, the marvellous Sam Bain talks about sitcom writing and the essential need for deadlines to keep the brain focused on getting that script finished….
This from SOFLUID – a really good blog written by Michelle Goode – SCRIPT ADVICE WRITERS ROOM member on Facebook and all round good egg….
BAFTA ROCLIFFE NEW WRITING FORUM
(from Jonathon Harvey SAWR member and all round good guy)
SCRIPT WRITING IN THE UK – I love the writing and blogs of Danny Stack and here is his blog focussing on trial ep writing for soaps – really really good info here
SCREENWRITING U – is a great source of tips and analysis about the knotty business of writing screenplays. This blog is great at two things – almost stating the obvious, but definitely highlights the blend of comedy and action in films like GROSSE BLANK and why they are successful
NEXT MOVIE – This is makes for some interesting and amusing reading…
And now a bit of space given over to those hard-working folks at THE LONDON SCREENWRITERS’ FESTIVAL……..
Are you thinking of going to the London Screenwriters’ Festival this year? We think you should.
The festival is a three day event running from October 28th to 30th (Friday through Sunday) for professional screenwriters and filmmakers. There are over seventy sessions and one hundred industry speakers (including some really big players). There will be five hundred people in attendance and the three days promise an intense networking and learning experience that is designed to educate, inspire and connect.
Latest speakers announced today are David Reynolds (writer ‘Finding Nemo’, ‘Mulan’), Ian Brennan (writer and creator of ‘Glee’) and Joe Cornish (‘Attack The Block’, ‘Tin Tin’ for Spielberg).
If you use the discount code PRO-SCREENWRITER you can get a discount of £30 off the ticket price, taking it down to £270. Use the discount code when you buy your ticket. And remember, tell your accountant too as the ticket is tax deductible!
We built the event for you, so what will you get if you attend?
· Improve your writing by learning directly from the biggest and most successful people in the industry. Check out the speakers here. https://tinyurl.com/LSFspeakers
· Increase your chances of success by networking with other professional film makers and screenwriters.
· Tailor the festival to your needs – there are so many sessions to choose from, you can make the whole event unique to you and your project or career. https://tinyurl.com/LSFsessions
· Meet our speakers. You can get face time with our industry experts in intimate Script Chat sessions. https://tinyurl.com/LSFchat
· Pitch your projects to producers and agents in our Speed Pitching sessions. https://tinyurl.com/LSFpitch
· Start right now – get immediate access to our online delegate network where hundreds of other delegates are now networking and watching last years session videos.
· Keep the learning alive, we film most sessions so you can watch the ones you miss or revisit the ones that resonate with you online later.
· Get inspired. More than anything, our delegates report a massive surge in passion and confidence post the festival.
Sign up now.
I hope I can help you with your writing; be it a television script, short (or full length) film or screen play, treatment or outline, novel or radio play, I read and script edit them all and can definitely help improve yours. Drop me an email@ Yvonne.firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get working!
BYE FOR NOW AND HAPPY WRITING.
Copyright Yvonne Grace Script Advice Oct 2011