Tag Archives: screenwriting

Working for MakeUseOf!

I’m very happy to say that I’ve been working for MakeUseOf, the techie site that helps solve your geeky quandaries and points you to cool stuff on the internet.

Foreign Languages App on MUO

So far, I’ve had six articles published throughout March and April. Please read, enjoy and share – or at least the first two!

Can Dashcams Stop ‘Crash for Cash’ Fraud?

My first article examines the rise in popularity of dashcams across the USA, Australia, New Zealand, the UK and especially Russia in a bid to stop scammers.

Five Free Apps to Help You Learn A Foreign Language

One of my most popular articles. It’s always a great time to learn a new language and there are some great free services out there that’ll help you expand your mind.

10 Interesting Comic Book Writers You Should Follow on Twitter

A real pleasure to write, this feature looks at legends like Stan Lee and lesser-known scribes like Tony Lee.

Could These 3 Social Networks Succeed Facebook?

MUO Social Networks article

I’m not the biggest fan of Facebook, but it certainly has its advantages. This article imagines what will knock it off its perch, and has proven to be very popular too.

Stressful Day? These Alternative Free Apps Will Help!

We all have bad days, but instead of wallowing in apathy, you could always check out these five apps – go on; they’re free!

5 Essential Online Scrip Libraries For Wannabe Screenwriters

If you’ve visited my blog before – thank you! – you’ll know my ambitions to become a screenwriter, and maybe you share them. If so, the best inspiration I know is reading other scripts. Here are some great libraries to eat up all your spare time.

It really is cool to work for MakeUseOf and I want to take this opportunity to thank Tina Sieber, Christian Cawley and all the section editors (particularly Yaara Lancet, Saikat Basu, and Tim Brookes), who have all been very encouraging.

Check out my author’s page for more!

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Posted by on April 29, 2014 in Published work, Television


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Moffat on First Drafts and Honesty

Steven Moffat, showrunner of Doctor Who, has given his tips on getting your script made, including pitch, first drafts and subsequent drafts; as well as dismissing some myths about writing, he also talks about how hard it is to write.

Steven Moffat 3

You know when you talk to someone about your story and you immediately sound like a loon and feel the idea is awful? In Doctor Who Magazine #471, he writes, tongue firmly in cheek, about why that experience is so painful:

“It is not that writers are sensitive beats – I am, but the rest are well hard – it is that writing is humiliating. It is cataloguing in public everything you think is insightful or clever or funny or exciting. Or, in fact, sexy, which is the worst. No writer has ever had sex, so frankly, it’s all guesswork.”

As Shrek says, ogres are like onions, and it’s exposing those layers to the world in a way very few actually do. It’s telling the truth.

He also tackles that first draft and a perceived wisdom passed on from writer to writer which makes very little sense…

“Everyone who ever says ‘It’s only a first draft’ can do to screaming hell and burn. Somehow that has become the norm. Writers say things like, ‘Well, it’s just a discussion document really!’ No it isn’t… The first draft is the real work. It’s when you haul the story out of the mud, and get a look at what you’ve got. The first draft is authorship – everything after that is engineering. So you give it everything. You draft and redraft every tiny moment, until you honestly believe it’s utterly, transcendently perfect. Until you’re tearing up at its golden qualities. The correct mental  state: there will be no other draft necessary past this, because it’s perfect! This is to be held simultaneously with the other, equally true thought: I will write many other drafts.”

I think this hits the nail on the head. Everyone just accepts that “writing is rewriting” and it’s probably just to make that first draft easier to put down on paper. It’s hard to start.

There are plenty more gems of advice in the issue’s Production Notes column and is truly fascinating for any wannabe screenwriter.

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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Television


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Four problems with my script.

I have been toying with four main problems with my current scripting venture, an action-thriller with brushstrokes of politics. Think Spooks meets Exile.

1.       Inferiority.

I’ve written my script in two main chunks so far. On the whole, I’m happy with how the first chunk sits; it has to do the so-called ‘hard work;’ introducing characters, themes, motifs – all that.

Sherlock's Mind Palace

But the second part just doesn’t feel right. It does all it has to (maintain characters, while showing development, advance the plot, set up the ‘final act’ of episode one) and yet…

I think I know what the trouble is.

When I watch blindingly good drama, like Sherlock or Doctor Who, my script just pales in comparison. I think it’s quite a good script, just not… Steven Moffat good. I know he’s had many years in the industry – I know he had to learn too – but that’s not how an audience will see it.

I guess I’ve got to remember that I’m not writing Sherlock. I’m not writing Doctor Who. (However much I want to.) My story is wholly different to those. For one, my main character is just a normal guy. He’s not a Time Lord, and he’s no Consulting Detective, either.

I just have to remember that.

2.       Timing

Most people live by the ‘minute-a-page’ rule. But I’m not so sure. Few scripts for an hour-long episode are about 60 pages. It just doesn’t happen like that.

Particularly for me. If a scene is fast and action-packed, I want this to bleed into the script. I like to split paragraphs up, so each main ‘story beat’ is on a separate line. Personally, I think this works better for the production team and the actor.

Sure, in quieter moments, I let this slide. But I still write how I feel is right. And ‘chunking’ is never right.

Because of this, I figure that 40-odd pages of my script is about 30-35 minutes on screen. Yet there’s that nagging feeling that I’m wrong.

And it’s worse than that. I need to work out if I have time to do all I plan to in my synopsis.

Oh, I do workshop. But this isn’t the same either. ‘Action’ has to be read out. It is, in turn, slower and quicker than it might be on screen.

So I just have to guess. I can’t let this stop me. I need to write the whole episode, then figure it out. Things can always be cut. After all, it’s only the first draft.

3.       The Cliffhanger.

2x 1hour episodes. That’s what I aim for. That’s what I’ve planned for.

But I have two cliffhangers battling for the same space.

One is quieter – perhaps more affecting. The other is full of running and darkness and guns. It’s typical action-thriller.

But which is better? And which fits better into the plot?

I mean, both slot nicely into their respective places, but for the ‘running through a forest’ one to take place, I have to have enough time in the first episode without sacrificing any of the emotion or plot development.

It’s all down to timing again…

But I think I have a solution. I’m just not sure it’ll sit nicely until I actually try it out. The first episode can end on the quieter moment – laced with a bit of dramatic irony – then the second can have a shocking pre-titles sequence! Excellent!


4.       Scene transitions.

When I get down to it, it all depends on timing. That’s the root of my problems.

I need the pace to be just right – because if you tune in to see a thriller, that’s exactly what you want. I need fast moments then a come-down; those quieter bits that advance so much in plot and character, and give the audience precious room to breathe.

But all this takes time. I need it to be realistic. It doesn’t feel right to have one guy saying he’s going to the police – then suddenly, he’s chatting to a DI. I need something to separate those two scenes.

Some shows – like Sherlock and Not Going Out – have a cityscape on a time lapse.

Die Hard With A Vengeance does it with style. New York; a busy city bustling with noise and character, and – a huge explosion.

That doesn’t fit in though. Sure, it works on other shows, but mine’s not like that. Tonally, it doesn’t rub shoulders with everything else that’s going on.

This is particularly a problem when all the action follows the main character – all the others are doing ‘boring’ stuff like surveillance or driving. But the main guy is running for his life. Why would the audience want to be sidetracked with a man typing on a computer?

Unless… it builds tension. It alludes to something.

Instead, I’ve got the main antagonists stewing over their next course of action.

Yes, that all takes time, but frankly, I’ve got it.

I have two hours to stretch my legs. And that’s what I’ll do, thank you very much.

When Steven Moffat spoke about getting rid of the two-parters in the next series of Doctor Who, he said that no story is too long for 45 minutes.

I’m sure two hours will do me just fine.

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Posted by on January 30, 2012 in Unpublished work


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