Friday, November 25, 2011

It's the Final Countdown

Greetings Carbon-based units,

It doesn't look likely that I'll meet my self-imposed target of finishing the novel today. It's a bit of a cliché but real life has caught up with me in a sudden and upsetting way this week which meant that work ground to a halt Wednesday and Thursday.

I guess there's a chance that I might write the last 9,000 or so words tonight but as I will be away from home for at least part of the weekend it's far more likely that I will finish early next week. There is still plenty of time before the official deadline of November 30th, after all. I was hoping to be able to concentrate exclusively on my
Heartlands entry all next week but I do have a couple of days booked off from the day job for that purpose so I'm sure I will still be able to catch up.

If this were a film then we'd be at the part where you keep cutting between the clicking countdown and our hero's herculean efforts to beat it...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

In Memoriam Freddie Mercury

So dear friends your love is gone
Only tears to dwell upon
I dare not say as the wind must blow
So a love is lost, a love is won
Go to sleep and dream again
Soon your hopes will rise and then
From all this gloom life can start anew
And there'll be no crying soon

Brian May

Friday, November 18, 2011

New Writing Talent Search: Heartlands

BBC Writersroom have joined up with the nice folk who make Doctors to develop an exciting opportunity for Midlands-based writers.

Heartlands will provide an industry training and development opportunity for writers with some of the most experienced producers in the country. A shortlist will be invited to a masterclass day. Selected writers will then be chosen to take part in an intensive three-day mini-academy for Doctors, and/or
receive mentoring on their original script from an established writer.

On Monday evening I went along to the launch event at Birmingham Library Theatre.

Will Trotter (BBC Executive Producer, Drama Series) Peter Lloyd (Senior Producer, Doctors) and Paul Ashton (Development Producer, BBC Writersroom) were there to officially launch the search, to talk about BBC One drama, Doctors, and to answer questions.

The main focus of the Q&A was on Doctors, as you would expect, but Paul Ashton did cover the Writersroom unsolicited script process and speak a little about television drama, both in the region and nationally, in the current economic climate.

I came away feeling really excited about the opportunity, but also about Writersroom in general. I think in the past I've thought of Writersroom as a big impersonal mechanical process, but having heard Paul Ashton speaking about it I can see that it really isn't, and of course it wouldn't work if it was.

All in all a brilliant opportunity and I will definitely be entering. The deadline is 9am on December 2nd so no time to waste.


NaNoWriMo novel is still chuffing along. Had a very bad time of it last week, so much so that I ended up feeling that the week might have been more productive if I'd just headbutted a wall every night for five days while chanting “NA-NO-WRI-MO-NA-NO-WRI-MO”.

This week I finally seem to be settling back into the groove and I'm now relatively happy with how it's going. Again.

I've found myself recalling the anecdote about Douglas Adams being locked in a hotel suite until he finished So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish quite a lot lately. I think I've found some strength in his example this week and it's helped me pick myself up. I'm also rereading Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency as a small tribute to him and a treat for me.

Support has also been provided by that lovely
Neil Gaiman, who linked to this on twitter and cheered me right up. There can't be all that many professions where the news that it doesn’t get any easier can be encouraging.

Something else that I've been reminded of - years ago James Moran mentioned in a blog post that while you might say you don't have time to write, you still find time to watch television every night, or read a book (I can't find the link sorry, so just go and read his Big
Writing FAQ again instead). I feel like the living embodiment of this point, having hardly looked at a television or seen my ever supportive wife all month. On the other hand I've written about 26,000 words of prose. It's amazing what you can do when you try, eh?

Due to the
Heartlands deadline, and with a heavy heart, I've decided to abandon my secret target word count of 65,000 words. My new ambition is to finish (hit 50k) by November 25th to give me a full week to work on my Heartlands entry. A full week, you scoff. Yes, a full week. Luckily I have just the draft zero script for this competition sitting in a draw. I've been meaning to do something with it for ages but now the opportunity has come knocking it's time to make it shine.


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Set Course for the Red Planet!

How curious, here was I just throwing together a post about my progress with NaNoWriMo so far and what I might do next month when BOOM! Scribosphere superstar guru Danny Stack throws down something more exciting to blog about.

Yes, it's that time again - Red Planet Prize 2011/2012

I'll let the man himself fill you in...

It's the best screenwriting competition in the world. Here's why:

- FREE to enter.

- A truly amazing prize: £5k, a script commission and an agent (if you don't already have one).

- Lots of opportunities and mentorship for the finalists.- Robert Thorogood, a finalist in the inaugural 2007 competition, developed his new BBC series 'Death in Paradise' via the Red Planet Prize.

- Many other finalists have launched their careers through the scheme and have worked, or are working, on other shows.

- Quite simply, it's a screenwriting competition by writers for writers.

Here's how it works:

- Submit the 1st ten pages of a 60-minute pilot or one-off 60-minute TV script. Any genre you want. A 100 word synopsis and a 16 word maximum logline is also required.

- If we like your first ten pages, we invite you to submit the entire script.

- A shortlist is compiled. A winner is chosen from an esteemed line-up of judges.

Full details and how to enter can be found on the website. And/or click here to read how and why the competition started.

Plenty of time to think of a new idea, polish the first ten pages to an inch of their life, AND have the entire script finished in case it gets chosen for the second round.


I'll be entering, of course, and so should you. It really is the best screenwriting competition out there.


NaNoWriMo week one has gone pretty well. Hopefully you can see that wee progress bar filling up daily over on the right there. I'm now a quarter of the way to the 50,000 word official target, although I've actually set myself a more challenging target of 65,000 words. I've been pleased with the amount I've been producing. I do have concerns about the quality of the work but hey,
that's what Draft Zero is all about.

Most of all I'm just pleased that I'm sitting at my desk every day and bashing out around 2,000 words. It's a long time since I've had a good spell like this and it really feels like a new start.

Even though I'm not accepting an award or anything, I'd like to thank my lovely wife (who is blogless but can usually be found on twitter) for all her support. She's always been enthusiastic about my writing but I'm sure I wouldn't have thrown myself into NaNoWriMo so wholeheartedly if it hadn't been for her encouragement.

I was only thinking this morning that come December, in the post NaNoWriMo glow, I might bash out a first draft on a feature idea I've had knocking around for a few months. Hear the sound of smashing window panes? Now I'll be working on a new TV script for the Red Planet prize - how exciting!