Wednesday, June 29, 2016


When I hit middle age I got a tattoo, started working out, took up karate, lost a stone and a half and worried far too much about my future and how little of it there was left. My biggest concern was career progression... would I drop dead before I managed to break into TV?
Oscar winner Julian Fellowes -
Photo copyright of AP

My first thought - Was I too old to have a writing career in TV? My second thought - TV producers are mainly looking for young writers eager to learn and easy to mould, right? My third thought - Why do I have hairs growing out of my ears?

Then I read this quote on one of Bangers's (Lucy Hay - Bang2Write) many informative pages:

It’s never too late!

"Bang2writers tell me all the time they fear they’re “running out of time”. But Julian (Fellowes) has a brilliant SECOND career as a screenwriter and only started in his middle age. As he says of GOSFORD PARK, “I was this fat, bald actor nearly fifty, suddenly writing a Hollywood film!” This could be any one of us, IF we keep going and keep ourselves open. 
Lucy Hay, 2016
He'll be sixty-eight this year and he's still writing. Blimey! Suddenly I didn't feel so old. There was hope for my creaking bones and failing memory. Maybe, just maybe my life experience, maturity (ha!) and wisdom were a valuable commodity in the world of TV production.

Then from the depths of my dodgy memory, I recalled a moment last year when a writer came to me asking me to give him feedback on his TV pilot. He had a couple of TV people interested in reading it and wanted to polish it before he sent it off. He showed a great enthusiasm for his work, a willingness to listen to alternative ideas and was open to constructive criticism... and he was seventy-three years old.

So I guess the lesson I learnt here is not to categorise myself. It doesn't matter who you are. It only matters what you write and how you approach your work. Age, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc, are labels. Great writing is great writing and eagerly sought by producers, directors, script editors and development executives alike.

Here's another great link from Bangers... enjoy! - Why It's Never Too Late To Start Writing Your Masterpiece.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, June 01, 2016


I've always found story planning a pain, something akin to swimming up river wearing a suit made of concrete. That tricky second act is a bugger and often comes back to haunt me like last night's curry.

The way I approach structuring my writing has changed many times over the years and at the moment I'm using a combination of Blake Snyder's Save The Cat beat sheet and blank index cards.

I would always encourage new writers to follow beats and screenplay templates when they first start out, but once you've used them a few times and learned the rules of formatting and structure, it's then possible to be more flexible in your approach. You have to know the rules in order to mess around with them, to break them and create a unique way of telling your story. Even then templates are still helpful.

A few weeks ago I was approached by a new story planning website and asked if I would promote it. Those of you that know me know I don't just pimp any old thing. I don't have ads on my blog or my website for that very reason, so if I do decide to promote a service, site or book it's because I've checked them out thoroughly and I'm satisfied I would happily use them myself.

So it was with pleasure and a great deal of excitement that I dove right into the wonderful ( and gave it a damn good testing. This new site not only gives you access to structure templates like Save the Cat, Syd Field, The Hero's Journey, the Moral Premise and more, but it also gives you more free form ‘Index Card’ style planning tools so you CAN break those rules. There are even templates for those novelists of you out there. How very handy! In fact, there are more tools to help improve your writing than you can shake a stick at, all on one handy website. Even better than that it's a free resource. Here's the official press release below. 
Story Planner offers the largest collection of writing plans online 
Story Planner aims to be the home for story planning online. The new website offers online tools for every aspect of screenplay preparation, from recording new ideas to crafting story structure, developing character outlines, creating log lines and synopsis, or planning scenes. Story Planner gives writers the opportunity to save their notes in project files, and prepare the groundwork for writing a novel, short story or screenplay.
Writers can choose from a range of popular planning methods including Save the Cat, The Hero's Journey, the Moral Premise, Syd Field’s Paradigm and many more. The site also offers a forum, with a facility to share a writing plan for feedback from other writers. Regular free to enter competitions give writers the chance to practise their story structure skills.
Joanne Bartley who founded Story Planner said, “I trained as a screenwriter and went from being a writer who wrote entirely instinctively to someone who loved the structure of a writing plan. I think structure plans can guide any writer’s creativity.” 
“I created Story Planner because so many writers use plans from books, character worksheets, or download or create spreadsheet templates, but there was nowhere that offered all of these in one place. So I made the Story Planner site to offer all my favourite plans and give writers the ability to save and edit the plans online.” 
Story Planner has collaborated with many authors and screenwriters to offer their plans online, including Karen Weisner, Graeme Shimmin, Stanley D. Williams (the Moral Premise), Libbie Hawker (Outline your books, for faster, better writing ), Randy Ingermanson (the Snowflake Method), and Save the Cat. 
Joanne said, “I wanted the site to offer a wide range of plans because I know writing methods are personal, so we designed the site so writers can ‘favourite’ their preferred plans ready to use for every project. I intend the site to grow over time, and welcome writers getting in touch with suggestions of new plans to add.”  
Story Planner is free to use, with premium membership offering additional features. 
For full details visit 
Having said that, nothing quite beats the satisfaction of good old fashioned pen and paper.

Happy writing!