Wednesday, December 29, 2021


2020 was a reasonable year. While I did battle depression for the most part I also landed a feature commission and had plenty of screenplay clients to distract me from the explosion of Covid. However, 2021 was a completely different monster altogether.

2021 sucked the life out of me. There were no commissions, very few screenplay clients and my mental health went terminal. By the end of the summer, I was done. I could barely string a sentence together in person or on the page and I was so broke I contemplated ending it all. It got that bad! But it's only when you reach rock bottom you realise what's important and what you need to hold onto to come through the dark times. Rock bottom is where all the layers and barriers you've built up over the years to protect yourself from hurt and disappointment have been stripped away and all you are left with is the honest truth of who you are.

I discovered a middle-aged, white male dissatisfied with his career and life, a person who had put so much pressure on himself to succeed it had tied him up into tiny little knots, to the point he could barely function without continually second-guessing his every move. Those pent up frustrations had caused him to take it out on the ones he loved the most, sometimes blaming them for what he considered his rotten luck, skewing his priorities so badly his need to be successful at writing had overridden everything else in his life. He needed to retune his priorities and reset his expectations.

The first thing I did was get assessed for autism. I've long suspected I might have Asperger's and with the crippling levels of anxiety I was experiencing due to Covid, it was something I needed to get sorted quickly. It was a tremendous relief to finally receive confirmation that I indeed have an Autism Spectrum Condition. Knowing how my brain translates the world and how different situations affect me has helped ground me, giving me an understanding of what I and others can do to help avoid high levels of anxiety and future meltdowns. I didn't need to be normal - what's normal anyway? - I just needed to accept myself and work 'with' rather than 'against' the unique individual running around inside my head.

The second thing I needed to do was to strip back everything and concentrate on what was really important to me... my family. So I swallowed my pride and ditched my crappy part-time job, which I had hung onto in the desperate belief I needed time available to write for when the inevitable TV commissions came my way and found myself a full-time job doing something I love... selling.

Writing has taken second place to my family and their happiness, and if some days the words don't come or I don't get a certain number of spec pages done in a week, it doesn't matter. And it's a great feeling to not have the pressure, the doubt, the desperation that has haunted me over the last few years. It's early days and the small, sometimes insignificant things still wind me up now and then, but I'm a lot happier without the weight of expectation I buried myself under.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, don't judge yourself or your progress against the success of others because you'll only ever be disappointed. Just be the best you can be and leave time for the important things in life.

Happy writing!

Wednesday, December 01, 2021


The static scene is one of the most common mistakes a new writer can make. Characters sitting around eating/drinking/talking isn't visually appealing and can be incredibly dull to watch, especially in feature films. 'But..,' I hear you cry, 'Tarantino did exactly that in his opening scene of RESERVOIR DOGS???' He did, but then he 'is' Tarantino... sadly, the rest of us are just mere mortals.

Both TV and feature films are visual mediums and as such, the visuals take the lead, showing us character and moving the plot forward. If they're not interesting enough to hold the attention of the audience we risk losing them... 'entertainment' is the key word here.

Unfortunately, new writers tend to rely far too much on dialogue heavy scenes to tell their story, trying to entertain the audience's ears without thinking about entertaining them visually. If this is you, and you want to improve your writing quickly and easily, thinking about how your scenes look and what you show rather than tell, will help you achieve this.

I can't remember the screenwriting book I read it in ( I think it may be SAVE THE CAT) or which programme or film the scene is referenced from, but the explanation of the 'Pope in the pool' scene and how to elevate large chunks of expositional dialogue without boring the audience, is a game changer.

The scene described went like this: One of the Pope's advisors has a lot of expositional dialogue to get through to inform the audience of what was going on. This could be a very dull and uninteresting moment but the way the writer approaches the scene makes it interesting, feeding the audience the exposition in such a way they doesn't realise.

The way the writer did this was to have have the Pope, in Speedos, do lengths in the Vatican pool while his aid walked up and down ploughing through the exposition. A boring scene instantly became visually appealing, attractive, giving its audience something unusual, and entertaining enough to ensure they would forgive all of that normally brain numbing tedious exposition.

That's one thing thing you have to do to improve your writing, review those static scenes with people sitting around and talking and figure out how you can set this scene differently to make it visually interesting and not typical, cliché or boring.

Screenwriting isn't just about story and character, it's also about what is on the screen and how you can use your visuals to entertain, inform and move your story forward in an interesting way. Remember the adage, 'SHOW, DON'T TELL!'

Happy writing!