Friday, March 31, 2006

FM 2006 and other distractions

I made the error of turning on Football Manager 2006 this morning and playing it for most of the day. In fact I played the same match over and over again just so I could win it. You see it was Aston Villa v Man Utd and I bloody hate Man Utd.... with a passion.... with knobs on.... so there! I eventually won 2:1 but yet again it was another day spent writing less than two pages of a script. Bugger!

I also finally succumbed to subscribing to ScriptWriting Magazine, after an expensive few days with my good friend Arne Reidar Mortensen that's another £36 evaporated from my bank account. So I thought, 'Sod it!' and renewed my Shooting People subscription too. There's nothing quite like being overdrawn when you've just been paid.

Maybe I'll spend the weekend writing as I have no money to spend on Guinness. It's a hard life.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Four Things Post

As this is my fourth post on this blog I'll play along with the Four Things Tag just this once.

Here goes.

Four jobs I've had:
  1. Electrician
  2. Salesman
  3. Database Project Manager
  4. Scriptreader

Four films I can watch over and over again:

  1. Leon
  2. High Plains Drifter
  3. Donnie Darko
  4. Withnail And I

Four places I've lived:

  1. Sutton Coldfield
  2. Norris Hill
  3. Chinnor
  4. Bournemouth

Four TV shows I love:

  1. Battlestar Galactica
  2. A Touch Of Frost
  3. Match Of The Day
  4. 24

Four places I've been on holiday:

  1. Stavanger
  2. Warsaw
  3. Gran Canaria
  4. Rome

Four of my favorite dishes:

  1. Spaghetti Bolognase
  2. Tom Yum Soup
  3. Pizza
  4. Shepherd's Pie

Four blogs I visit everyday:

  1. Scriptwriting & Scriptreading In The UK
  2. I Must Be An Idiot Screenwriter
  3. Light & Shade
  4. Writing For Performance

Four places I'd rather be right now:

  1. Stavanger
  2. Warsaw
  3. In Bed
  4. In The Pub

I hope this satisfies the curious.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Drama Series: 60 or 90 Minutes?

I'm currently going through yet another rewrite on Where Angels Fear To Tread to polish it up before I send it out.

It's the first episode of a series of six but the page count is causing me concern. I originally conceived it as a 6 x 90 minute drama series but looking through the Radio Times I've noticed most drama series run at 60 minutes; EG, Hustle, New Tricks, Mayo, The Royal, etc. But there are a few exceptions such as A Touch Of Frost, Agatha Christie's Poirot and Taggart. Most of the 60 minute dramas are on the BBC and the 90 minute ones are on ITV. It seems 90 minutes are mostly reserved for long running shows or two-part 'event' dramas.

So what do I do? Savage the episode to get it down to 60 minutes, or stick to my guns and go with 90 minute episodes?

Your advice would be appreciated.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Go With The Flow

Your characters are clearly defined, your plot carefully constructed, you have a blank page before you and you're ready to write, but the words aren't flowing. Bugger! So what do you do?

Personally I turn my on my MP3 player and listen to Oasis... LOUD! I find that loud guitar music shuts off the part of my brain that tends to wander when I sit in front of the computer to write. Otherwise I'd be getting up every five minutes, making myself a drink, looking out of the window, playing Halo 2 on the X-Box, blogging, reading a book and any number of other things dangerously distracting to the serious writer.

So what works for you?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Software Or Soft Head?

Is it worth spending a few hundred pounds of your hard earned money on scriptwriting software if you haven't yet been commissioned?

As far as I'm concerned if you're going to set out to do something then you might as well do it properly. The first writing software program I bought was Scriptware. It was very basic and to be quite honest it didn't do it for me. It just felt too slow and other than formatting my script it didn't do a lot else. And to top it all the spell checker was American. I was about to go back to using Word when someone suggested I try Final Draft.

I think the first version I bought was version 3, but now I'm using version 7. What a difference Final Draft made to my writing. It's so much easier to see what characters work, or don't work when you can print off a report of their interaction with other characters. In fact there are so many reports you can print off I haven't yet used them all. Another neat touch I can't live with out is the speech facility which reads your script back to you using digital voices, saving you the effort of trying to track down a friend to read your work for the one hundredth time. The computer doesn't start twitching when you ask it to read through your nine hour Napoleonic mini series for the fifth time.

Another piece of software I have been delighted to discover has helped me to improve my writing further is Dramatica Pro. A friend of mine screamed at me, "Why the hell did you spend all that money on a structuring program when you already know how to structure a script?" The answer is a simple one. Dramatica Pro actively questions your decision making when you're putting down your ideas. It forces you to look at your script from all angles and from different character perspectives. In short it's like having a writing buddy with you every step of the way ready to shout at you when you want to your hero to don spandex to fight crime in North Yorkshire.

Two great pieces of software. Check them out.

What does everyone else use?