Project Carnaby – Loglines

Chances are if you see a screenwriter crying and/or banging their head against the desk, possibly whilst wailing about the injustice of the world, it’s probably because they’ve been asked to write a logline. If writing a screenplay is finding the conflict and the drama and exploring that over 60 to 120 minutes, loglines are taking all that nuance and throwing it out of the window. Depending on who you ask, loglines are between 20 and 50 words long, they’re an elevator pitch. A tiny sales document, selling sizzle more than steak. And they’re really hard to write well. Case

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Recovering Corrupted Final Draft Files

Considering how often I’ve heard reports of Final Draft crashing or corrupting files, it’s astonishing to me that people still recommend it. Sure, it had it’s heyday as the de facto screenwriting software, but there are now so many better solutions, my favourite of which is Fade In. But, if you are still in the Final Draft paradigm, what to do if you suffer disaster and you end up with a corrupted file? That’s what happened to Helen Shang, writer on TV shows like Hawai Five-0 and Hannibal. Luckily, she managed to find an automatic backup generated by Final Draft, and


Project Carnaby – Urban Fantasy

Most of what I write is in the genre of urban fantasy, and this project will be too. So I probably ought to define it before we continue. According to Wikipedia: Urban fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy in which the narrative has an urban setting. Works of urban fantasy are set primarily in the real world and contain aspects of fantasy, such as the discovery of earthbound mythological creatures, coexistence or conflict between humans and paranormal beings, and other changes to city life. A contemporary setting is not strictly necessary for a work of urban fantasy: works of the


Project Carnaby – Research

Write what you know. Such a misunderstood phrase, and it’s why you get so many terrible scripts about writers with writer’s block. (Everyone has a pet peeve, that one’s mine). ‘Write what you know’ is so much more about emotional situations, it’s about theme and mindset. For example, the life of a being with supernatural immortallity is utterly unknowable, but loneliness and ennui, that’s something many of us know, and understand. I’ll get to the theme of Project Carnaby in a subsequent post, and it definitely falls into the remit of ‘write what you know’. But what I didn’t know about,


Project Carnaby – A Writer’s Saga

No, I’m not breaking my golden rule of not writing about writers with writer’s block. There are lots of motivational groups and programs for screenwriters, such as WRAC and Zero Draft 30. However, for my own motivation, and by way of illumination, I wanted to chronicle my path from hair-brained idea to complete feature film screenplay. Unvarnished, and including all the process missteps and crises of faith. Project Carnaby I’d reached the point of saturation with my last project, a TV pilot called Breached. It had been submitted almost everywhere it could, it was complete if imperfect and it was


Monica Beletsky on Writing a One-Hour TV Drama Script

There’s no denying that Twitter is an imperfect medium for communicating longford thoughts. There’s also no denying that people do so anyway, including kind people willing to share their industry experiences with anyone interested. A recent thread or “tweetstorm” was by writer/producer Monica Beletsky, known for Fargo and The Leftovers, writing about her process for writing TV scripts. This insight is invaluable! Update 1: There’s now a PDF version of this, thanks to EdithD! Download it here. Update 2: I was worried about all the embeds going wrong, and I wanted to incorporate all the addenda, so I created a new


Story of a Script: Gone Girl

The news came down this week that an amateur screenwriter is attempting to sue Gillian Flynn for taking the idea from her unsigned screenplay, and turning it into the bestselling novel Gone Girl and its subsequent screen adaptation. Now, I’m not saying it’s impossible that preternatural writing talent Flynn stole… No. Wait. Yeah, I am saying that. You only have to read her work, whether the novel or the astonishingly written screenplay to see that she’s in a league of her own. But I thought this would be a good opportunity to bring together a few resources and talk about Gone Girl. Storywise,

Emmy Statuette

Scripts for 2017 Award Winning TV Shows

Say what you will about awards shows, not only do they get everyone talking about great television, they also mean that a lot of great resources get released. Scripts, or even if we’re lucky series bibles, start getting released from around now to help build the case for the nominees. And this has been also true of the Emmy’s this year; a year where in our opinion The Handmaids Tale and Big Little Lies deservedly did well. We’re just sad that the excellent Westworld didn’t get more recognition. So, here are some scripts from some of this year’s winners and

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Digital Gems, Hidden Treasures 2017 – A Year of Streaming TV

I’ve been writing my Hidden Gems column for a year now over on The Digital Fix, so I thought it worthwhile to look back, crunch some numbers, and see what’s stood the test of time. In the last year I’ve suggested 53 different TV shows for you to watch, with only one duplicate as Broadchurch got a new series. Of those, Netflix easily came out on top with 25 recommendations, nearly half. Amazon Instant had ten recommendations, closely followed by NowTV’s eight and BBC iPlayer’s seven. ITV Hub and All 4 managed a total of seven between them, but ITV

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Red Planet Prize Opens Today

The Red Planet Prize is a well-established and well-regarded screenwriting competition, and it’s back for 2016! Not only that, but the submissions window opens today, closing on Friday 22nd January 2016 at 12pm. One lucky winner will receive £5,000 to have their screenplay exclusively developed by Red Planet Pictures and will also have six months of intensive development with a dedicated and experienced script editor. The winner will also receive one to one masterclasses with British writing talent such as Tony Jordan (Life On Mars, Hustle, Dickensian), Andrew Davies (Pride & Prejudice, Bleak House, War And Peace) and Sarah Phelps (Great


Mobile Apps for Writers 2015

These days many writers rely on their mobile devices, their phones and tablets, rather than (or in addition to) more analogue stationary. Anything to get ideas down on the move with a minimum of effort and inconvenience. So I’ve gathered a list of mobile apps that I find useful to this end. I’ll apologise for the slight iOS bias in these, it’s not that I think one platform is necessarily superior to any other, but it just happens to be the one that works for me. Some these aren’t free, and there are cheaper alternatives for most, but again they’re

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Writer’s Block Episode 2 – Story: Part 1

Filmmaker Mark Lever was kind enough to invite Story Factory’s Stephan Burn to participate as a guest on his screenwriting talk show Writer’s Block. Stephan talks with Mark, and regular guest Gary Thomas, about where story ideas come from, as well as his favourite script Brick. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BUrDTNfYfsc Stephan will return for a future episode of Writer’s Block, where he talks about structure in screenplays.


How To Get The Most Out Of LSF 2015

The London Screenwriters’ Festival is a great event for UK screenwriters, both apprentice and journeyman: Three days of seminars, workshops and panels; networking opportunities, pitching and full immersion into a world beyond the isolation of the writerly life. Chris Jones and his team always put a lot of effort into the event and the result is always a great show. But there are a few things you can do to maximise the benefits you can reap. Preparation Preparation is everything, even if you chose to go a different way on the day. So check out the schedule ahead of time,

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