Friday, March 22, 2013


On April 4th 2013 the legendary John Yorke will launch his book INTO THE WOODS, a detailed study of the five act structure.

To celebrate this epic event I have been lucky enough to grab a place for one very lucky reader of my blog, for his online course starting in September 2013. Yep you read that right, a place on his sixteen week online course starting September 2013. And yes it is as great an opportunity as it sounds. You can't afford to miss an opportunity like this!

So as of today until the 4th April I will be holding a logline competition for the best TV series logline posted here in the comments section (and only in the comments section, not on Twiter or anywhere else) by your good selves. I will then choose one worthy winner who will be offered to opportunity of a place on the course. How utterly wicked is that? Find out further details about the course HERE.

So start posting those loglines and keep an eye out on the 4th April to see if you've won. Here's an example logline from one of my TV ideas to aid you in thinking up one of your own:

"A career criminal is discovered by police lying injured next to the bloody corpse of a woman. To prove his innocence he is forced to escape and wade through Manchester’s criminal underbelly to find the person responsible."

INTO THE WOODS: A FIVE ACT JOURNEY INTO STORY is an invaluable guide to writing by John Yorke, the Managing Director of Company Pictures and founder of the BBC Writer's Academy. Yorke takes us on a journey into the heart of storytelling, revealing that there truly is a unifying shape to narrative forms - one that echoes the great fairytale journey into the woods and, like any great art, comes from within.
'Even for a convinced sceptic, John Yorke¹s book, with its massive field of reference from Aristotle to Glee, and from Shakespeare to Spooks, is a highly persuasive and hugely enjoyable read. It would be hard to beat for information and wisdom about how and why stories are told.'
Dominic Dromgoole
Artistic Director, The Globe Theatre

Good luck everyone, I'm looking forward to reading your loglines.

The prize has changed. No longer will the winner be given a place on John Yorke's 16 week online course. Instead you will spend a day face to face with the man himself. Yes...I did just say face to face with the man himself. I know, I just came in my pants too.

Whoever the winner is, is one lucky so and so and had better make sure they make the most of the opportunity, because even I don't get the chance to meet the great man himself. So get those loglines in QUICK!!!!!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


So this evening at 6.30pm I will be talking to a gathering of Bournemouth University scriptwriting students (I think they are collectively known as a 'Piss Up'). I will be divulging all the knowledge I have accumulated over the years on how to carve out a successful writing career. That should take all of five minutes least I'll be home early.

When I was asked to give a talk at the university I jumped at the chance. So many people have given me advice over the years, whether they knew it or not, it's good to be able to pass on that knowledge to a new generation of emerging writers. I only wish there had been more people willing to give up their time and their advice when I was on the scriptwriting degree in 1998-2001.

The scriptwriting degree was great but fell short I think because it only taught me about the writing side of a career. Hardly anything at all was mentioned about how to go about getting work and networking. Indeed it took me four years after leaving university to realise I actually knew nothing about the business and another six years to learn all I could while networking like crazy. And I still don't know a lot.

Since I escaped university with my degree, giant leaps have been made on the internet, with things like Skype, Blogger, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, aiding writers to put themselves out there and connect with other like minded individuals. Technology has leapt forward too with phones that can now do all the above where ever the writer might be. No longer is a writer tied to their desk. I never had any of that when I started out....or 'Back In The Day' as I call it.

That's why I'm glad the opportunity arose to give this talk. Emerging writers have it so much better these days with people like myself, Danny Stack, Tim Clague and Lucy Hay giving up our time to pass on our knowledge. You don't know how lucky you are.

Christ, I sound like my dad!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


A few weeks ago a friend phoned me up and asked me to read a short novel he had bought the rights to, with the aim of me writing the screenplay later in the year.

I was told it was an erotic gay novel about a 14-year-old boy and his first love and I knew it wasn't something that really appealed to me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not homophobic, far from it in fact, it's just not a subject matter I have an interest in writing. I've never even attempted a rom-com for goodness sake. Anyone who is familiar with my writing knows I like to write dark character based drama, the dark side of human nature and what we do to others because of our own selfish needs and desires. A romantic story of love and friendship couldn't be further from my comfort zone. But as I'm as good as my word I read the novel so I could at least give my friend my thoughts on it.

The book surprised me! In fact it knocked me for six. So when I'd read about halfway I phoned my friend up and told him I was writing the screenplay. That was all it took, just half the novel, to get me hooked.

What appealed to me was the growth of the relationship and how both boys learnt from each other and grew into men. It wasn't pornographic, it wasn't overly erotic, it was just a wonderful love story of two friends. It reminded me a lot of growing up in the Leicestershire countryside, staying out all day during the summer, exploring, adventuring and climbing trees, days that my parents didn't have to worry about where I was, or what I was up to. Those were the days of true freedom modern children, in our overprotective society, will never know. And reading that novel took me back to a time I long thought I had lost.

I finished the novel yesterday and I still know I've made the right choice to write the screenplay. You might be offered something that isn't your cup of tea at some point in your career. Don't turn it down. Explore the story and see if there is something in it that surprises you, something that grabs your attention and resonates with you so strongly you have no choice but to follow it through. You just never know.

If you are wondering what the book was that grabbed my imagination so, then you should hunt it down and read it. The book is called Cowboys Can Fly by Ken Smith.