Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Us writers are all one big family and we should always look out for each other.

I'm always grateful for the generosity of others and in turn I always try and pass on what I've learnt to those willing to listen, who wish to improve their writing and careers. I don't profess to know it all, or to have the right answer every time. I just give advice from my past experience, the things I've learnt by making mistakes. It's all I can do.

The last couple of weeks has been a shining example of this. I've been out for drinks with two pairs of new writers. They've bought me drinks and then picked my brains on writing and my career so far. They found it helpful and informative and I got drunk for free; fair swap I think.

Over the last fortnight I've also been advised, encouraged and complimented by professionals who have worked in the TV industry for many years. I emailed one to ask advice and he replied within twenty minutes with words of encouragement, excellent advice and a hearty 'Good Luck". He didn't have to do that, but he was gracious enough to spare me the time out of his busy day to answer my question. Then another writer I've been communicating with read one of my screenplays, complemented me on it, offered her help anytime I might need it and suggested we meet me for a cuppa the next time I'm in London.

There would have been a time a few years ago where I might have been amazed at this, but I've learnt since then that there are a lot of lovely people out there and if you're polite, don't bombard them with your work or questions, they are more than happy to give their advice and encouragement. It gives me a lovely warm feeling of togetherness when this happens, especially as writing is mostly a solitary experience.

That's why I reply to all of my emails, answer any questions I'm asked and give what time I have spare to those seeking advice. It's the least I can do to return the favour of all the advice and time given by those who are more advanced in their career than I am.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Ask The Writer published an online interview with me last week, where they asked in depth questions about my journey as a writer. Two writers have already emailed me and thanked me personally for the interview, calling it insightful and inspirational... well I do like to help out. You can read my interview here.

I've always been very grateful for the advice others have given me in the past, so it feels natural to me to give advice to new writers, to help them avoid the pitfalls - of which there are many - I fell in to along my journey. That's what I love about the writer community, it's all one big love in where we go and share our wealth of knowledge. And I love helping others.

So do you have anything to share with your fellow writers, any hints, tips, or experiences? If so add a link to them in the comments below and let's all influence others to be better writers. Looking forward to reading your links.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013


Writing subtext in dialogue should come automatically to writers, but I still see a lot of on the nose dialogue in the scripts I'm sent to read. So how can you prevent obvious dialogue creeping in and make sure your screenplay is layered with rich subtext?

The way I do it may not work for everyone but at least it will give you an idea of how easy it is to weave subtext in. For me it's like building blocks, you start at the bottom and build up. When I write a first draft I always write the dialogue in plain English so I know exactly what is happening in any particular scene. I don't try and hide what is being thought by the characters, I just write it plain and on the nose.

I was just wondering how are you and Sam getting along, have you patched up your differences yet?

No, I hate him... in fact I wish he was dead.

When I sit down and do another pass on the first draft I will look at the dialogue in every scene and decide how I'm going to get rid of the obvious dialogue and replace it with subtext.

I saw Sam the other day.

I fancy a tea. Want one?

This is why subtext is important. It's not what the characters say, it's what they don't say and what they imply. The first example is too obvious while the second shows how reluctant George is to mention Sam and equally how much Ruth is determined not to talk about him. Ruth's reaction illustrates just how she feels about Sam without stating the obvious.

So if you're stuck on how to write subtext then just write it plain English to start with, then go back and try to hint at what you want to say, without actually saying it in an obvious way. Your screenplays will be richer for it.