Tuesday, August 21, 2018


The London Screenwriters Festival. Screenwriting books. One-off writing courses. Script consultancy services. They all cost money and for a new writer not making any, those costs can quickly add up. So how do you balance the need to learn and progress as a writer against the cost of doing so and paying the rent?

The simple answer is to only pay for what you can afford. But how do you decide what is worth spending your precious money on?

THE LONDON SCREENWRITERS FESTIVAL - For new writers, LSWF is a must! Everything you need is there, all packaged up in one convenient weekend with access to fellow writers, directors, producers, the many inspirational speakers and more industry knowledge than you can shake a stick at. However, it can top several hundred pounds when you also take into account travel, accommodation and food. Like last year, I have decided not to return this September as my career has developed enough that the cost of the festival now outways the benefit I get from it. But for new writers, there's nowhere better to submerge yourself in information on all aspects of a writing career.

SCREENWRITING BOOKS - These books hold a wealth of information. Read as many as you can. Absorb all that information. There are some people that argue against such books as SAVE THE CAT as being too formulaic, but I would argue that you should read them all and decide for yourself what you take from each book. The great thing is you don't need to buy first-hand books. You can loan screenwriting books from your local library for free and if they don't have something in, you can always ask if they would order it for you. There are also second-hand booksellers and car boot sales. Hunt down your local ones and see what they have.

PROFESSIONAL SCREENPLAYS - There are loads of websites that allow you to download a screenplay for free. Check them out and read as many as you can. You can't get better than free produced screenplays to improve yourself as a writer.

SCRIPT CONSULTANCY - If you want to improve as a writer then like LSWF these are a must. You could save yourself some money and get your friends or family to read your work but will they be able to give you the valuable feedback you need to improve your work? I doubt it. What about peer review? This is another free option but don't forget their feedback is only going to be as good as where they are as a writer. Pick and choose who you send your work to, you'll soon discover who gives the best notes and who doesn't. I would also aim to pay for at least one professional feedback on each of your screenplays. Research consultants first though. Do they have a good reputation? Do they have good reviews? What exactly are they offering you for your money?

ONE-OFF WRITING COURSES - Always fun and informative, but as above make sure you research them beforehand. Some course will be better than others and the best ones will be taught by people who have actually worked in the industry and don't just talk about it. What is their background? Where have they worked? Again, what are they offering?

Do an internet search for courses available over the next year and script consultancy prices, decide which ones you are interested in, add up how much they will cost you over the year and start saving. Put the money into a separate account and don't touch it until you need it. When you do the money will be there and you won't be scrambling around trying to find the money to go. Here's a tip - you can pay for LSWF in handy monthly instalments. How easy is that?

If you're serious about your career you are going to have to spend some money to get it going and maintain it, whether you like it or not. As long as you plan in advance what training you want to do over the year there shouldn't be any surprises.

Happy writing!

1 comment:

ADiaz said...

Yep, pretty much in agreement with this.