Friday, December 29, 2006

Small Update

I'm pondering making one of those new year thinggies where I promise to do all sorts of things in the coming year.

I haven't had much time to write (hence not much activity here), but I feel now that our latest arrival Lucy has started to settle down, I am starting to feel a bit more settled myself.

Anyway, I hope you all had a great Christmas and come back in the new year to see if a list of resolutions appears.

All the best


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Another one for the pile

Whilst trying hard to get to sleep last night but failing big time (the wind outside rather than the baby this time), I came up with a new idea. My head has been so far away from the screenwriting world of late that I thought I was heading for a rather lengthy break.

As I couldn’t sleep I went downstairs for the laptop and rattled off a few pages. At the moment I’ve got an act one, the launch of the climax for act three with an ending that needs work, and a premise for the progression of act two.

I’m in new territory here:
1) I’ve never attempted a black comedy before but it looks like that is what I’ve got here.
2) The script opens with a scene just before the final play out of act three, and then flashes back a period of time to recount the story up to that point (I’ve never done that before and has to be done perfectly to work).
3) I have the main character narrating with a voice over (never been there either).
4) It’s about a hit man (I’m not claiming any knowledge of that area to draw on).

Anyway, I’m happy to know I still have the motivation to come up with new ideas, so I’ll add this one to the pile and see where it goes.

Friday, October 20, 2006


Lucy Rose Parr was born this Sunday at 15:05 almost week early at 7lb 1(quite a shock when our first was a week late).

I am knee deep in nappies and getting by on between 1.5 and 3 hours sleep. Looking after a new born baby came back to me in a flash, but what I wasn't prepared for was making sure a 4 year old doesn't feel neglected at the same time. I am holding my own (so far).

This means nothing writing wise is happening. Nill, zilch, nada. I haven't even had time to think up ideas, not even a crap one and I can usually average 5 of those a day if I try. I'll post piccies when I get them on the computer, but I'm afraid posting may become a little off topic if the time available for things writing stays as it is.

Anyway, I hear a crying baby :)


Monday, October 09, 2006

Life on Mars

Just read on the BBC that Life on Mars will end after series two.

I'm not very shocked as it became clear to me half way through series one that although it was a great concept, it would probably have worked better as a mini series. I do hope they find new life in it for series two and prove me wrong rather than offer a whole series of nostalgic moments.

Robin Hood (BBC1 & BBC3)

I was going to call this post "And Cancel Christmas!" as Alan Rickman stole the show with his acting in the film version, but this is the small screen and nobody stole any show. Anyway .....

I watched the start of the new Robin Hood series last night.

I thought the writing was a bit weak at the very start, but that sorted itself out a little and the same could be said of the directing: What on earth was going on when they were showing off twirling swords around? They missed the mark with that sequence.

There was just enough (and only just) in the 45 minutes to make me want to watch the next episode, so the jury is still out. HOWEVER I may stop watching if they don't get rid of that whizzing arrow sound when they show the title of a location on the screen. After the third time I wanted to punch the TV.

I did think the actors outperformed the writing, apart from Marion who I thought was weak (although that could be down the her limited screen time).

I think I'll give it two more episodes to grab my interest. My last point is that they should have made it an hour long as I think 45 minutes may make episodes look rushed.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It's getting closer!

Can someone please slow life down, or at least put a few extra days in the week?

The free script notes service is on hold for the moment. The baby is due in 2 weeks and I have 2 scripts to review. I think it is safer to leave it at that until we are settled with the new baby before I accept any more submissions. You can picture it as I get home from work.

ME: Honey, I'm home!
My Better Half (MBH): Oh, thank God! They baby has been crying all day and I haven't been able to get a thing done.
ME: Are you okay?
MBH: Yeah, I'm fine, but could you look after the baby for a while or do the house work?
ME: Sorry, I can't. I'm off upstairs to read this script. And I'll be writing the review tomorrow after work.
MBH: ..........

Well I'm sure you know what MBH would say next, so I won't accept any more submissions for a while as I've grown quite accustomed to my man bits over the years.

On top of all that the DIY is taking ages. I'm on the home straight but no one told me the home straight is 3 miles long. Do you have any idea how long it takes to sand a banister down? I didn't but I do now. More sanding tonight.

Friday, September 29, 2006

I'll have mine with a twist please.

Ooooo Look! On the right. Yes, there over on the right. Actual movement on the writing front. And it's a new screenplay!

I started thinking about the superhero genre a month or so ago for a post when I was going to comment about superhero movies always being based on comics. Then I thought of The Incredibles, My Super Ex Girlfriend, and I think two others but they have slipped my mind. Can anyone add more?

Then I thought "Can I write something to add to that list?"

I lost interest in that as a bad idea pretty quickly, but then thought "Well how about a twist on the superhero genre". My Super Ex Girlfriend was a sort of twist, but I wanted more and I think I've hit it! I can't imagine that this concept is brand spanking, right out of the box new, but it hasn't made it to the screen yet (I'm pretty sure it hasn't). I know I'm not giving anything away here but I'm excited about this idea and I'm in paranoid screenwriter mode.

Compared to the other ideas I have mulled over/attempted, I'm treating this one as a bit of a laugh (but I remain serious about writing). I suppose this is good as it's supposed to be at least slightly funny. I've approached every other idea as seriously as possible, so it will be interesting to see how this one turns out.

Time will tell :)

Monday, September 25, 2006

This and that

What a hectic two weeks!

Oh, I should mention this now: This post has nothing to do with screenwriting.

Bought a new carpet and they said it would take them 3 to 4 weeks to get it from the manufacturer. “Great” I said, “that will give me plenty of time to get the decorating done”. Then it turns up after a week. They will keep it for another week before they have to install it, but curse their efficiency! Now I have to take more time off to get finished before the fitters turn up.

In other news, I was in hospital on Thursday stuck in an MRI machine (and unable to decorate). My God that was a boring, mind numbingly dull experience. Stuck inside a narrow tube for 65 minutes, lying as still as possible. What made it worse was half way through the nurse came in and said the following:

“Now, I would like you to try and not swallow for about six or seven minutes. Okay!”

Now, I’m not sure what she was trying to achieve saying that (well, she was probably trying to have me lay there for six or seven minutes without swallowing), but if I ever had a chance of pulling that task off, my chances reduced to about zero with me stuck in a metal tube having nothing else but that on my mind. Anyway, my MRI results and a number of other test results will be the subject of a meeting in about a month and then I will get the results in layman’s terms (don’t worry, I still plan to live to a ripe old age).

Then to top it all, I was Ikea’d on Sunday! Roughly 3.5 hours after going in, £210 down and with only half of what they said was in stock on my trolley (the other half wasn’t in stock, even though they said it was), I stumbled out of there. Now I have to go back tomorrow morning and fight my way back out with the rest. Actually, I think I’ll ring first and hope they have learned how to read their stock computer.

Oh yeah, and not to forget the baby is due in three weeks!

Did any of that make any sense at all to you? Actually I don’t care as it’s off my chest :)

Ahhhhhhhhhhh, that’s better.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fear of the Rewrite

I was just reading Optimistic Reader's blog and 4 words slapped me in the face:

Fear of the rewrite.

The 3rd draft of Good Guys is a big rewrite. The problem is the progress bar over there on the right has been sitting at 25% for about three weeks now. Act one was taken to with a chain saw and I've got that finished, but act two is going to be brand new. I won't be taking much at all from what exists apart from perhaps one scene and maybe 2 funny situations. Apart from that act two will be rewritten from scratch.

Half of me doesn't want to do this. I already have a complete script from start to finish. Starting this draft means that is no longer true. This half of me wants to undo all the changes and sit there hugging draft number two.

The other half of me is a realist. This half knows it isn't good enough and if I really want any hope of writing for a living, I have to be able to do harsh things like throw 3/4 of a completed script away.

I have to overcome the fear of the rewrite.

Monday, September 18, 2006

It just isn't working!

The Sc-Fi horror outline seems to have hit the buffers at 60% complete :(

I've got the story with a beginning, middle and end, but I can't seem to give the characters anything. However I think of it panning out they just seem to be there to be part of the action. I can't find any depth to them. Perhaps it is time to put this one down and give it some time at the bottom of the pile. I may be able to fix it when I come back to it.

The good news is my other horror idea has gained some good depth. I've had this one in my head for about 8 or 9 months (I think, I'll have to check back in the blog archives to be sure), but couldn't find a way for the one survivor to defeat the evil nasty. Now I have and in the process it has allowed me to add some "shit that was close!" scary moments. Can't wait to write FADE IN: on this one, but I'm determined to get the next draft of Good Guys finished first. I've just got to find the time, which links nicely onto my next point:

Just when I thought I had a break coming in my reading calendar, more scripts land in my inbox. Oh well, I'm not complaining as it is all about educating myself in the art that is writing script notes.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

More DIY

What a week.

I've been off work for the last week doing a bit of Don't Involve Yourself. The living room is now decorated (after pulling the fireplace down 2 months ago) and the dining room isn't far behind. That leaves the hallway, stairs and landing to do before the new carpets arrive. Yes, new carpets. We went out "just to look" at carpets and within 20 minutes had spent £900!

Oh well, it happens. An alarm must sound each time we have money in our savings account that causes shops selling things we need to have a big sale. As a result our logic says we had better buy this while we can afford it and the savings account is emptied.

Bang goes that new shiny MacBook I wanted ;(

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Call that a blockbuster? Pahf!

I’m a bit behind on cinema time lately so the following post is probably old news to most.

Over the last two weeks I have seen 4 movies: 2 B movies and 2 (so called) blockbusters. I have to say that the B movies won any sort of contest easily.

Blockbuster number one: Superman Returns was weak and had such a big plot hole in it that you had to look up, down and side to side to actually see the film.

Blockbuster number two: Pirates 2. The only reason that film didn’t have any plot holes in it was the fact that it didn’t have a plot for any holes to exist. I know it’s a two part film, but there should be some sort of story contained within part one. I won’t dig into their failings because this post would never end (go on, someone tempt me!).

The B movies were Snakes on a Plane and Severance. I went in with an open mind and thought they were fantastic. I wonder how many of those films could be made for the combined budget of Superman and Pirates?

I recall when Judge Dredd came out and there was this interview with Sly saying it was a fantastic film. Fast forward five or six years and another interviewer (can’t remember who) asked Sly about Judge Dredd and he just shook his head and looked at the floor (I know a Judge Dread fan may stop by here, so no offence, I’m just telling it like I saw it).

Anyway, I wonder if the cast of Pirates or Superman will do anything similar when asked about those films in five or six years?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

FADE IN: The act one moment.

How many act ones do you have?

Well I have a ton of them. Some written and some in my head.

I've just created another during what I call "An act one moment". One of those moments when you get a moment of clarity and in a flash an entire act one pops into your head. For me different things can cause this; a thought, a news article, something someone says to me in passing, a dream or a joke. If it is something factual like a news article the act one doesn't usually turn out to be about what was reported, but something was within it to act as a trigger.

The problem is that flashes of inspiration like this rarely constitute a full three acts, but with luck it will have something that (with work) can make it to a full screenplay. My current "act one moment" has produced an act one that deals with love, death, the afterlife and a personal quest. Normally that would be enough for an entire screenplay, but here is is all contained in act one. That may make it too busy, but I have an ending, or at least an idea for one that my main character has to get to, but the middle is a bit fuzzy. "Isn't that always the case?" I hear you ask. Well you are probably correct, but I'll see what I can do with it.

The problem is that this means I've got too many ideas on the go. I have the third draft of Good Guys, the outline for the Roman time travel thing (that's not as daft as it sounds), the outline for the Sci-Fi horror, and now this. I've also got another horror idea that I've been carefully growing inside my head for the past six months. Usually I find it is the ones that have been in your head for ages that turn out best.

Anyway, I'd better crack on with some script notes I have to write (Lucy, you should get them soon).



Thursday, August 24, 2006


It's been a while since my last post so I thought I'd better make an effort.

I've actually had quite a good week screenwriting/reading wise. I've had a steady flow of scripts to review through my free script notes offer, but the really good news is that I managed to get hold of a copy of Movie Magic Screenwriter. I bought it off EBay for the grand total of £36.01 including postage!

I am shocked the guy let it go so cheap, but I'm glad he did. I suppose an auction is an auction.

I know you can use Microsoft Word or Notepad to write scripts, but this software makes writing much easier. After I let my original copy of the software go I switched to CeltX ( for a while. CeltX It is very good (and free!), but MMS still has an edge on it.

More updates on some actual writing soon :)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Practicing what I preach.

The script reading seems to be taking up a lot of my free time and as a result I'm spending less on my writing (a bad thing).

However, what it is doing is making me practice what I preach and as a result my writing should be of a higher quality (a good thing).

We all know the mechanics of a good script and how they should be presented, but when you are slogging through the process, churning out page after page, it is easy to loose sight of quality (or at least it is easy for me). When reading another person's script, I can pick out what it is doing wrong and what it isn’t doing that it should, but picking those issues with my own work seems to be harder.

While reading and making a note or two about the script, I've found myself thinking about my own work and making notes left, right and centre. So in short, I've got even less time to write, but what I do produce should produce a much tighter and marketable script.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Unique isn't easy

Ok, so I've read a few scripts through my new service (see link on the right), and the last one gave me one of those "I wish I'd thought of that" moments as it had something unique in it. I won't name the writer as I don't want to embarrass, but he (or she) has a blog in my blogroll.

Everything has been done before, be it horror, action (on land, in the air, on the water, under the water), romance, the romcom, mobster, western, the buddy movie (this list went on but I shortened it). It has all been done before.

You can mix them up to an extent (Shaun of the Dead - comedy/horror), but what we have to do as writers is pick one of those and make it unique. Horror seems to be the thing to write at the moment in this country. As a result, if you write bog standard horror and submit it you can probably guarantee that yours will sit in a pile of others that are exactly the same. You have to pull it up out of the pile. Imagine a movie exec dangling a uniqueness magnet over a pile of scripts. Will yours be the one that is fished out?

How do you make it unique? Well I can't do it for you (unless you give me a credit), but just take a look at the 'standard' features of your chosen genre. In horror I guess there are standard (or perhaps famous) situations. The shower scene where you can see through the shower curtain and a shadow is approaching. Take that and give the audience something unexpected with it (I've got a twist on that but I'm not sharing it :p ).

Read your last script and pick out the main points. Have you given the reader something never seen before? Give it some thought and see what you come up with.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Something in a Confined Space

We all know Snakes on a Plane is coming out soon, and we are all kicking ourselves for not coming up with an idea as simple as that. It says action, death, adventure, and suspense. It presents an opportunity for someone to face up to death, fear and destruction, rise above it all and save the day, all within the interior of an aeroplane. It is a pitch, a logline, and a tagline all wrapped up in four words. Will it live up to all the hype? Time will tell.

So I have to ask the question:

If it turns out to be a success, how many “deadly things in a confined space” movies will we see over the next three or four years?

Movies seem to come in genre/concept packs sent out by the studios to capitalise on what is seen as safe money. The cinema goers like that, so they will like our version. I remember as a kid there were disaster movies (The Towering Inferno, The Poseidon Adventure and Earthquake). In recent years we have had a flood of romcoms and teen movies (some good, some bad, and some that look like a bulldog chewing a wasp). Currently we have horror and comic based stuff.

Will Snakes on a Plane become leader of a pack? Well I have copyright on Tarantulas in a Submarine, so there! :)



Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Script notes plus this and that

Well my free script notes offer has gotten off to a good start. So far three people have mailed in their script, so I have some reading ahead of me.

I don’t do this often, but this month I have to recommend Empire Magazine. They have a great article on Snakes on a Plane, a B movie that was famous before filming even started. I’m proud to say I was there at the start when the cult formed after Josh Friedman wrote this post (he’s back online BTW). They also have a mega review of about every film to hit the UK cinemas over the next year.

Also another screenplay has developed into existence inside my head. It is my second horror idea which is strange because I don’t really like horror (I’m sure I’ve said it before).

Anyway, I’ve got some reading to do.



Thursday, July 27, 2006


I've been thinking about posting this for a while and have finally decided to take the plunge:

I will give you script notes on your feature length screenplay for FREE! A4 size. 2, 3 or perhaps even 4 pages.

I will be a lot more constructive than your Mother's review of your latest epic and be totally candid about it. I will point out what is wrong (in my opinion) and perhaps suggest improvements. If I end up tearing it apart then don't hate me as I'm only trying to help (and don't forget this offer is free).

So to summarise:

What: Script notes (2 to 4 pages of A4)
Cost: FREE!
Turnaround: 3 to 5 days
Format: Final Draft, Movie Magic, .pdf, .rtf, or MS Word sent by email (pdf is probably the best as most script software should be able to export to that).

What is in it for me?

Well reading experience for a start. If I want to try my hand as a script reader I have to start somewhere. Also it will allow me to keep my head in the writing world. Don't worry about copyright issues, I'm not the type of guy to steal and your email and my response should be proof enough the ideas are yours.

I can't imagine how I will be, but just in case I am flooded by requests I will keep it down to one script a week (I have a day job too). I will look at expanding once I have a little more experience.

Email me at to take me up on the offer or ask questions.

If you are going to pay someone else, then at least give me a try first. Then compare what I said with what you got when you paid. This won't be free forever. If I get some good experience I may look at charging for this in 2007, but for now, what do you have to loose?

Thanks for reading


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Must be low season

Does blogging come in seasons?

I’m trying to think of something to post and I’m coming up blank. Even though there should be lots of things screenwriting going on at the moment, you can see that the progress bar on the right hasn’t shifted past 10%. Good old DIY is getting in the way (a reader of this blog commented Don’t Involve Yourself, but did I listen?).

Looking around my blogroll tells me that things are quiet elsewhere too. Perhaps it’s the heat? Who knows, but I’m going through one of those dry patches screenwriting wise. Inspiration is not lacking and ideas are flowing, however putting finger to keyboard while my screenwriting software is running is difficult.

Nothing will happen tomorrow as I have to get another coat of pain on the skirting boards before the carpet fitters come, not to mention the fact that I have yet to paint the ceiling.

Anyway, I babble. I’m away visiting the in-laws this coming weekend so starting Monday week...... well, we’ll see :)

Friday, July 21, 2006

I can't write "UK"!

Or can I?

Somewhere in the archives of this blog I posted about where all my screenplay ideas seem to take place. The problem was most of them seem to take place in the good old U. S. of A. I don't seem to be able to write "UK" based screenplays.

It would seem that the media has snared another victim. Most films that hit our movie screens are in the US, and/or star primarily US actors/actresses. Perhaps that is why.

Perhaps it isn't the sole reason. A lot of adverts on TV would be in a typical US location rather than a UK one. A lot of music videos (even from UK artists) seem to be in the US. We have a lot of American high street names (Starbucks, Subway, McDonalds etc…). America also seems to dominate the news most of the time (sadly not for good things). Even my favourite TV shows are American.

HAVE BEEN BRAINWASHED? I think a good attempt has been made!

So, to my point: I am "thinking" about my ideas and they are all set in the US (apart from one which is 50% UK, 50% US), but just because I am thinking that way doesn’t mean that have to be written that way.

Take "Good Guys": Scene number one starts with a guy walking down a New York street (THINK "New York Street" but WRITE "Street"). The story involves the Mafia (THINK "Mafia", but WRITE "West End Gangsters"). See the theme? If I go through my first draft doing things like this, it turns into a UK based screenplay (plus some tweaks). It's a simple tool to use.

In short, it is fine to think your screenplay a certain way, but that doesn't mean it is restricted to that environment. After all, if someone optioned Good Guys and said "but I want it to be UK based", I wouldn't be much of a writer if I couldn't come up with the goods.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Woo Hoo!

I have now had more than 2000 unique visits to this blog!

Actually there will have been more but (as I post this) there have been 2004 since I started my stat counter. I was going to send the referrer a thankyou if the visitor came from another blog but he/she came by way of a google search. Oh well :)



Sunday, July 16, 2006

Hey, I paid for a whole movie! Give me my act three!

I paid good money last night and rented Broken Flowers .

I didn’t know what to expect apart from the fact I had heard it referred to as a “nice movie”. A nice movie was what I was in the mood for so I rented it. My rating: 2/10!

***Spoilers will follow***

It started off slowly, but in a way you could see was being used as a story telling tool. Here was a guy (Bill Murray) getting on in life with nothing to show for it except perhaps a comfortable existence due to previous success in the computing industry. We are left with the plot hook and how he will deal with it (on the instructions and insistence of a friend) early enough to see the slow pace of the film as acceptable and the possibility of it adding to the story.

The plot hook is that the same time his girlfriend/partner leaves him, he finds out that he has a 19 year old son by an old flame (through an anonymous letter), but he doesn’t know who sent it. Now that in itself opens up a box of exciting possibilities for a story, so we set off. Don Johnston (Murray) doesn’t seem to care. It seems his “ladies man” past is behind him and he doesn’t care too much about his current existence so why should he care about a long lost son? His (only?) friend and neighbour seems to add the only colour in his life and he pushes and pushes him into going on a quest to find these old flames and find his son. At this point we seem to be in Lost in Translation mode which was a fantastic film where the slow pace was in itself telling a story.

So Murray half heartedly embarks on his quest meeting up with his old flames. We see some full frontal female nudity from an old flame’s daughter for no reason I can work out other than to scare Murray out of the house to meet old flame number one (don’t know why that *had* to happen outside).

After meeting old flame number one I start to see a hole in the story. We have this dull man, sad with the way his life has turned out, but how on earth this guy could attract any woman yet alone the early 30 something that left him at the start is beyond me. At no point in time do we find out what he used to be like that could attract an endless stream of women. He carries on meeting the women on his list but nothing more is revealed. There is the possibility that he may have found the person who sent the letter, but we are left with just the possibility and no conclusion.

I can see where the writer/director attempted many profound moments and they all missed the mark by a mile apart from one when he visits the grave of one of the old flames, sits down in the rain and we see tears welling up in his eyes. We get the feeling of deep regret that their relationship ended. The problem is that I’m doubting this film so much by now that this can’t lift my expectations.

Murray ends his quest without resolution and he finds another letter written on the same paper with similar handwriting. It is from the 30 something at the start of the film (I think but I’ve lost interest by now) and suggests the whole idea of his son was made up by her, BUT it is left at just that; the idea that it may have been made up by her, nothing to confirm of deny it!

He meets up with someone who may be his son looking for him, but he runs away without us finding out for sure one way or the other.

At this point I figure we are at the end of act two and act three will reveal all and save the film. Then the film ends! No act three!


The end?

All I can think the writer/director was trying to leave us with was the fact that his life is dull and it is never going to be anything more than a dull mess, but like the rest of the film, we are never given confirmation of this!

I am trying to find a point in this film to justify the money I spent renting it... but I can't.

If I’m missing something about this film please let me know.

What a week!

Just a quick post to let you know I'm still here.

The week of DIY hasn't exactly gone to plan, mainly because at the last minute I added a big job to the list. We have (or had) a rather large 70's style red brick fireplace. The type that extends all the way up to the ceiling and out to either corner of the room with a ledge each side for a TV etc... and compartments underneath for a video or whatever. Well a lot of hard work later and it was no more. The only problem was what to do with the 350 red bricks piled up on my living room floor (and half a ton of cement chunks). After many back breaking trips into the garden the bricks were piled up beside my shed (does anyone want 350 red bricks?), I then said "sod it!" to myself, pulled up a few floorboards, and shoved the rest of the rubble in the void under the house, job done!

The spare room is now decorated, with a new radiator on the wall and also a new radiator in the dining room.

What remains now is to lay a new carpet in the spare room, decorate where the bricks used to live, and put a new carpet in the living room as with the fireplace gone the carpet no longer fits. Then I will replace the fireplace with a small affair made out of wood and marble substitute.... ok I mean MDF made to look like marble and a new fire (purchased from screwfix direct, fantastic place if you are doing DIY, cheaper than B&Q).

That will be most of the jobs done that need to be complete before baby ukscriptwriter arrives.

Phew, what a week.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

For the love of God, show me quality!

So, a post over at Danny’s blog talks about him getting scripts with a picture on the cover (even I know you shouldn’t do that).

That leads me to the question:

What is the quality of work currently in the hands of studio execs?

I read posts from studio readers (freelance and employed), where they comment on the poor quality of what is passed to them. Now, somehow these scripts have found their way into the hands of someone at a studio and given enough consideration to warrant paying a reader to go over them. I was under the impression that studios would bin any unsolicited submissions, so they must have gone through an official channel like through an agent.

I always thought a newbie writer has more chance of seeing the Queen’s tits than getting an agent that will get their work into the hands of a studio, but from what I’ve read a great deal of poor quality work does get through.

Does this mean that getting stuff to a studio isn’t as hard as people in the know would lead us to believe?

Is getting a good agent easier than I think?

I don’t believe I have anything good enough to submit yet so I haven’t tried for an agent, but am I worrying about nothing?

The waters seem a little muddy to me so please can someone clear this up!?!?

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Saturday, July 08, 2006

Tell me, what do you see?

I've never made any claim what so ever to have an artistic bone in my body, but I wanted to come up with a sketchy logo type thing for a little project I'm working on. I came up with the image you see here.

I was going for a quick sketch effect but on a laptop with just a touch pad to work with (I don't own a mouse), it's the best I could come up with and if you don't see a typewriter then I'm gutted.

I'm not going to tell you more about the project just in case I don't do another thing with it, but with luck I'll present it in a week or two. The problem is it involves more art work and as I’m not blessed in that department (the image may show that), it could turn into a drawn out task.

So what is next?Well I think I’m going to write a good thorough outline for my Roman idea. I do have one, but I want something rock solid before I write fade in. As it’s not your every day story I think it may be a tough one. On the other hand, as it’s not your every day story, perhaps I have a little freedom with what I can present (time will tell).

In other news: We are pregnant, or at least my wife is. Baby Ukscriptwriter is due on the 19th October, 3 days after my daughters 4th birthday. She wants the baby to be called Flower (it isn’t the 60’s is it?).

DIY Alert! I’ve got the coming week off work to decorate the house, so if you see posts appearing here 4 times a day, you’ll have a good idea about how well that is going.

Friday, July 07, 2006

So What Next?

As you can see from the status bar on the right I am 10% into draft three of Good Guys. Everyone else seems to have a status bar so I looked at the HTML on a blog or two and pinched it (I hope no one has copyright!).

I pretty much know where I’m going with it (apart from perhaps three or four pages before the ending), so I’m sure I’ll finish. When it is finished I’ll put it down for a while. It will be getting there but I’m guessing I’ll need two more drafts before I dare enter it in any competitions or attempt to get it in the hands of someone who may make it. However I’m not sure if I can live through another draft without taking a break from it. It’s my first stab at anything near funny and I didn’t know funny could be such hard work (I’ve still no idea if I’ve pulled it off). If you are a comedy writer please tell me how to translate funny into text!

So what next? When I say ‘next’ I mean I will probably will write it in parallel with the Good Guys draft. I have the following I could start:

  • Feel-good romance story called ‘3500 Miles from New York’ (I got about 40 pages into this one roughly two years ago, but will probably start again from scratch)

  • Time travel back to Roman times thing

  • Love story drama thing called ‘Only in Dreams’ (I’ve never seen anything like this one before so I don’t really know what category to put it in)

  • American civil war script (I can do history I can! But it will be fiction)

  • World War Two story based on a little known fact about Nazi experiments (I can do factual fiction me!)

  • A type of deep gritty post Balkan war film that then switches location to the USA mid act two and gets a little silly (I think I may forget about this one)

  • Deep thoughts: Something I can only describe as Fargo meets K-Pax

Apart from the Balkan war thing, I’m easy. Does anyone have a preference?

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

I'm finished tinkering now

I'll stick to this format for the blog, so some things to note:

I've uploaded a picture so you can now see my ugly mug. The blog list has been filtered and now contains regularly updated blogs, and I've also found how to set up searching restricted to my own blog (not that I am claiming to have posted anything worth searching for).

A few people have asked me what the movie template was like. I've posted a link in a comment to the last post but here it is again:

Click to see the movie template

This isn't my work, but I've pulled all the style sheets into it from an external location. I also downloaded the images to another of my test blogs so I wasn't dependant on anything external.

Second New Template

Back to one of the standard blogger templates (I'll settle for this white one I think).

I was trying to go for something different to what everyone else has and liked the movie theme, but it didn't resize properly.

DAN - The other template was not one of the standard ones. I found it on the web but it was made for blogger. I'm a bit disappointed it didn't resize well, but if you are a whiz with HTML I'll send you a copy (just drop me a line).

WRITING NEWS - Well, I'm getting into act two of Good Guys (draft 3). I'm resisting setting myself a deadline until I really get back into the writing flow. I'll set one when I'm writing three or four evenings a week.

Doesn't work

Ok, so I tried to be fancy with this new template, but it doesn't work. If you make your browser window small it just doesn't display correctly.

I'll just have to move back to one of the standard templates (and once I have, any new reader won't have a clue what I'm talking about).

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

New template; Comments Please

As promised in my last post, I now have a new template. I think it improves on the horrid orange thing I used to have going on (new readers here seeing a bag of popcorn in the top left corner won't have a clue what I'm on about).

I require your comments:

Do *you* think it improves on the last template?

Does everything work? I spent ages setting this up so I must have missed something.

Does it look okay in your browser? I've checked firefox and IE, but can someone let me know how it looks on a Mac?

I know the title wraps a bit, so I'll reduce the font size when I can spot the setting in the stylesheet. Apart from that I think it may be okay.



Itchy Template Syndrome

I'm falling out with my blog template!

We've been together for a while now (Wednesday, April 28 2004 was my first post), but I really don't like it anymore. We had a big argument this morning when it (It? He? She? Hmmm, I'll call it a she)... she caught me in my blog settings looking at other templates. I tried to change the web page to the news, but my clumsy dash to change the URL made me look even more guilty.

You can now cut the atmosphere between the two of us with a knife. I don't think we'll be able to work it out and right now she is looking for a new blog and says she will leave in a week. That gives me seven days to find a new template. I'm sure I'll find one, but even though it's what I feel I want right now, something tells me I'll miss her.

Sniff... Sob.


Monday, July 03, 2006

Lost is loosing its way

We are into the second season of Lost over here in the UK.

I was on the edge of my seat for the first season and thought it was fantastic, however the second season has really started to piss me off. It would seem that flashbacks are going out of fashion, but the writers have just bought 5 million of them. As a result they are plugging them into random places in the script. They are getting in the way of the story!

I can't see how I will give anything away here, but I'll give a mild spoiler warning just in case. In last night's episode the "Others" showed their faces. There was so much that could have been done with that to pick up the tempo of the story (which has slowed to a snails pace at the moment), but instead it was broken up with about a gazillion flash backs. I must have watched about 10 to 15 minutes of flashbacks focused on Jack, where the only point was to make it clear that Jack always has to have a problem to fix!

I was always told that to blatantly show back-story to get a point like that across was bad writing. After season one I saw one of the writers say that they have about 4 seasons worth of story. I think they probably only have 2 seasons worth, but they are padding it out to 4 with these unnecessary flashbacks.

This show is going to die on its backside soon if they don't sort it out.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I don’t time travel for the sake of it. Honest!

Ok, so my latest idea involves time travel.

It isn’t the first idea to involve it and I’m sure it won’t be the last, but my question is does it have to?

In short, a high powered ruthless business man is dumped back in Roman times. The reason for this is to put him in an alien environment where he is totally out of his depth and where his comfort zone is not just hundreds of miles away, but thousands of years. An environment where his decisions could cost the lives of himself and those around him, rather than a client’s money. If he survives and makes it back to the present-day (it would be a bit naff if he didn’t), he will have learned a life lesson and loose his ruthless and cold personality and become the all round humble good guy. Time travel isn’t the main character’s job and he doesn’t zip back and forth all the time. It will happen only twice in the story, back in time at the start and forward in time at the end.

Will time travel just be seen by others as an attempt to spice up the story? I could just drop him in a war zone half way round the world, but to me he has a direct way back home (plane, car, boat, on foot etc…) because the time is the same. If he walks home in Roman times he will have to sit on his arse for 2000 years while civilisation catches up and ‘home’ arrives. In short there is no home and he has to deal with it.

Any thoughts?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The silly sounding serious concept.

Right, so you have this idea, a serious story and get really excited about it. You write the outline and like it even more. The only problem is you describe it quickly in a blog post (I quote): “High flying business man time travels against his will and gets mixed up in things Roman”.

Now I could change the “gets mixed up in things Roman” to “has to fight for the survival of himself, his love, and those he comes to call brothers in arms”.

Now to me that sounds a little more exciting, but something in me says “A guy from the year 2006 travelling back to Roman times? Hmmm, a little out there”.

Then I see a trailer for a new film with that Bollocks, ahem I mean Bullock actress (sorry, but I don’t rate her). It seems that her and Keanu Reeves have a love affair through mail sent through time. How on earth did someone describe that one without sounding corny?

I guess it's all in the pitch.

Ok I'll change that to a lower case grrrrr

I'm half back online at home.

It seems my charger isn't sure if it wants to fail or not. It seems to only charge every now and then. At least I've got a fully charged battery, so if I start to use it and notice it is no longer getting power, I can shut it down knowing I have enough power to get all my files off there.

I've had a look and the cheapest laptop I can find is about £370. Not much for a laptop, but it is still money I don't have spare.

Oh yeah, I cycle to work a few days a week. 12 miles each way over some great big hills (anyone living in West Yorkshire will have sympathy for me). This morning about 20 minutes into my 1 hour and 10 minute journey through the wind and rain, my back tyre failed (two inch rip in the side). It sounded like a gun going off and scared the crap out of me. Luckily I was only doing about 6mph up hill at the time. If it happened when I was going fast down the other side of the hill I doubt I would be able to type this as I don't think they give you internet connections in intensive care. Anyway, that added a one hour walk back home (plus a shower), and a 20 minute car journey to the start of my day. Happens to the best of us I suppose :)


Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Aww crap!

My laptop's power supply has just crapped out :(

Until I can sort that out my writing must halt. As I write this I have 1.5 hours of power left in the battery, so I must now find some way of backing up my data. That isn't helped by the fact my CD-R drive is also bust (and that's about £200 to replace)!

I guess I'm going to find a way to pay for a new laptop to replace this one.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

I love it when it happens (and really hate it)!

So I’m sitting there watching Australia run rings round Brazil in the world cup (shame they lost 2 – 0), when my muse said hello. I tried to ignore him/her (does a Muse have a gender? I’ll make mine female), but she wouldn’t go away.

With one eye on the football and one eye on the laptop, I wrote an outline for a “high flying business man time travels against his will and gets mixed up in things Roman” script (not sure which genre to put that one in). Sounds corny I know, but the outline paints a pretty serious story.

I really love it when I come up with ideas.

What’s that? Why do I also hate it?

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. I hate it because I’m in the middle of another project. The next draft of Good Guys is underway and I’m pretty sure I’ll get that through to the end without hitch. Now I have this idea flying round my head getting in the way. I really hate that.


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Saturday, June 17, 2006

Sometimes you live where you live

Warren over at The Screenwriting Life has a good post about the “to LA or not to LA” debate, so I thought I’d write about that from my point of view.

I live in the UK with a wife, kid, a big mortgage and not much money in the bank, so that rules out jumping on the next plane to LA to go house hunting. If I’m going to look for a market as a stepping stone to Hollywood (let’s assume that’s where I’m aiming), I guess it is in London. Hmm, well I live in West Yorkshire (for those who don’t know, that’s about in the middle. London is down near the bottom right hand corner), so am I in the same boat as someone who lives in Minnesota trying to network with people in LA?

Well, thankfully not. If I send out my current script and people show interest and want to meet, I have the advantage of living on a tiny little island. If I get the call, I can be on a train and in London somewhere between two and three hours later. I’ve done the trip on business many times before.

Now saying that I’ve got to ask the question "is there much of a market in London?" James Moran sold a spec in London, but that was a horror and I see that as something that will sell in the UK (not trying to make light of the achievement there, nice one James). The other genres? I have no idea. I guess I'll have to put some scripts out there and find out :)

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Friday, June 16, 2006

The Dreaded Deadline

So, as predicted the World Cup is stepping on my writing time. I'm not bothered as I know this isn't an excuse to avoid writing, it's just something I want to follow.

I'm glad I'm not in this 14 day screenwriting challenge, as (a) I would have started it late, and (b) I'm watching too much football. What I am curious to find out is how many starters actually finish. Not so I can point fingers and go "Ha, ha!", but to find out if deadlines do more harm than good. Often they can't be avoided and some people say they will thrive on them, but often they are something that just kick us in the ass to remind us that the writing process isn't going like it should, after all if it were you wouldn't be worried by them. If there is a deadline there with no pay cheque, do we just give up when we know the story isn't going well?

For me from a writing point of view the jury is out on deadlines. I'll probably never avoid them all, but I prefer to let things go at their own pace, and if I am serious enough to put the effort in I shouldn't be pushed for time. I said I would get my last script out in a month (I think). I didn't pay too much attention to that and let things go at their own pace. It turned out I was only two days over (okay, I know a month isn't 14 days).

All that said, I would love to have a deadline with a pay cheque at the end :)



Wednesday, June 14, 2006

World Cup and Free Writing Software

Even though I have just restarted this blog, I must now apologise in advance if posting is light over the next 4 weeks as the World Cup is in full swing (but I'll still do my best). It's kind of a big thing to anyone who even remotely follows football.

FYI: Football is the game where you play by using your 'foot' to kick a 'ball'; 'foot-ball', not the version of rugby you sometimes see where the players wear armour to protect themselves :)

Anyway, that said Piers Beckley left a comment on a previous post suggesting I give CeltX a try as a free scriptwriting tool. I've installed it and only had a very brief play with it (I'm at work at the moment, naughty me), however it looks very good and has lots of features like character development (you can enter motivation, background etc…). The writing process doesn't seem as smooth and effortless as Movie Magic Screenwriter, but don't forget it is free (a big plus point in my book).

One thing that I am never sure about and trusted Movie Magic to get right are margins. There are lots of places on the web stating what they should be, but they also say I should use Letter size paper. Over here in the UK we use A4 paper. Does this make the margins different? I have no idea. If there is a UK Pro Monkey reading this, perhaps you could clear this point up for me.

I'm going to use CeltX for my second draft of Good Guys and post a review here when I am done. If you can't wait for that then download it your self and give it a try (let me know if you do).

The CeltX web site
The CeltX wiki manual



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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Stupid, stupid, stupid me!


I need to get some screenwriting software. Before you say it, I know I can use Notepad or Word, and I have downloaded the templates, but it is a bit like going back to dialup after using broadband every day for a year. They just don’t compare, therefore I am sending a call out to anyone reading this:

“If you are selling your copy of MMS or Final Draft please let me know”.

I was going to buy Hollywood Screenwriter which is nice and cheap, but you have to have the CD in the drive every time you use it and my CD drive is temperamental at best.

You live and learn I suppose. The good news is I found the print out of Good Guys with my draft two notes on it (I thought it was lost for ever), so at least I’m not starting the second draft from scratch.


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Let me have another go.



Moonlight shining through a window provides the only light. A padlocked door with the words "Tales of a screenwriter with no time to write" is only just visible. CHRIS, an average spec monkey, takes a key out of his pocket and unlocks the padlock. He opens the door a crack and hesitates, but with a shake of his head swings the door wide open. He steps into his office and stands there with a smile on his face.

               I'm back! I just wish I hadn't sold my software.


Crikey it's dusty in here! I'll have to call the maid.

Well here I am again, putting the jump leads back on my screenwriting battery. I think one of the reasons I put down my quill 4 months ago was the 'what next factor'. I had my first complete first draft under my belt with a clear idea of what draft two would look like. I was sitting there one night and had the following conversation with myself:

ME: Draft two should flow off the keyboard.
ANGEL ON MY RIGHT SHOULDER (AOMRS): Fantastic, keep it up.
ME & AOMRS: What?
DOMLS: I mean what are you going to do after you have finished?
AOMRS: He'll get an agent!
ME: Yeah, I'll get an agent!
DOMLS: Do you know how many people finish a screenplay every year and try to get an agent?
ME: I dunno... five or six.
DOMLS: HA! You wish. Try thousands.
ME: That can't be right, I'm great at this, I can't go wrong.
DOMLS: You don't know shit!
ME: I kno.....
DOMLS: I said you don't know shit.
ME (to AOMRS): Don't you have anything to say?
AOMRS: You'd think I would, but I'm drawing a blank.
ME: Fine help you are!
AOMRS: Hey, it's not my fault the guy in red makes a good point.
DOMLS: I thank you.
ME: Humph!

So I went into dejected spec monkey mode and after a while I sold my Movie Magic software to buy an XBox 360. After all what use is a Muse when he/she can't take you anywhere?

Well I was walking out of the supermarket about a week ago with the weekly shop looking at a lottery ticket I had just bought when someone threw a brick at the back of my head. After picking myself up I turned and:

ME: Hey! Who the hell threw that?
MY MUSE: It was me you dick!
ME: What the hell are you doing here?
MY MUSE: What's that in your hand?
ME: My lottery ticket.
MY MUSE: And what are the odds of winning the jackpot?
ME: I dunno.
MY MUSE: Probably less than your chance of selling a screenplay
ME: I thought you were supposed to make the ideas flow, not lecture me. Anyway where have you been lately?
MY MUSE: Listen dipshit, I've seen your list of screenplay ideas you have and they are good. I should know, I came up with them. If you are going to buy one of those tickets every week expecting to win, I'm not going to accept that "I'll never sell a screenplay" cry-baby shit any more. Now get back to your writing, and while you are at it, blow the cobwebs off that blog of yours!

Like a good spec monkey should, I've taken my Muse's advice :)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Screenwriting inspiration gone.

Hello all (if anyone still stops by here).

It would seem that my muse has left me :(

I have many ideas, but no desire to turn them into a script. I have even lost the will to blog. I am now selling my copy of Movie Magic Screenwriter on eBay, click here. Now that shameless plug is over, time for another:


Well plugs over. I was thinking about deleting this blog, but I'm going to hold on to it for now. My fickle mind may have me cursing the decision to sell my copy of moviemagic, when I jump back into writing feet first next month.

To all other writers who have not made it: Don't follow my lead, stick at it! I've got as much direction as a blind man on a galloping horse, and will find another thing to keep me occupied next week.

Until I pick up the quill again:

Be excellent to each other!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy New Year

Well, another year has passed. At least this time I have a completed screenplay to show for it.

Moving house really has built a wall across my screenwriting path. A bit of a crapper that, as I was on a role right up to the move. I'm sure unpacking boxes can zap the best person's creative streak.

I'm not sure if anyone is still stopping by here, but if they are, I hope the new year finds you well.

So, let me get round to the resolutions (writing wise):

1) Get 'Good Guys' through at least two more drafts (I'm not going to kid myself into thinking one more draft will make it worth six figures).

2) Complete a first draft of at least one more screenplay. I have a stack of ideas, so I should really get them out there.

3) Post to this blog at least twice a week.

4) Keep up with my oversized blogroll.

Well there they are, I hope I keep them. Number one is going to be a little harder than I hoped. I did have a first draft printed out covered in red pen mapping out draft number two, however after the move, I have no idea where it is. Oh well :)