Writing Wolfblood

Bobby Lockwood and Aimee Kelly as Rhydian and Maddy Bobby Lockwood and Aimee Kelly play wolfbloods Rhydian and Maddy

The hit supernatural drama Wolfblood returns for a second series in September.

It's the first CBBC show to be repeated on BBC Three, and its creator Debbie Moon, who won the commission through BBC Writersroom, explains how she came up with the idea.

I started my career wanting to direct for theatre, but soon realised ... erm, that was not where my talents lay.

I'd been adapting texts to direct, and that reawakened my childhood interest in writing.

I had some short stories and a novel published, and then someone contacted me about adapting one of the stories as a short film, which opened up the idea of writing for the screen.

Strangely enough, the idea for Wolfblood occurred to me in a second-hand bookshop. My eye skipped from "wolf" in one book title to "blood" in another and I put them together. Interesting, I thought, what's a wolfblood?

And out of that came werewolves who blended into human society, and a girl trying to live with a secret, whose life was overturned by the arrival of a stranger.

I wasn't actually aware of the Twilight stories [which also involves characters that transform into wolves] when I was coming up with Wolfblood. I think they were just appearing in print, but they weren't such a big thing then.

Writersroom success

At the time, I was mostly focused on writing for adult audiences, and I wasn't sure what to do with the idea.

Start Quote

Debbie Moon

We've had a real resurgence of intelligent supernatural drama in the UK ”

End Quote Debbie Moon Writer, Wolfblood

Then BBC Writersroom announced a competition for new children's drama scripts, so I sent mine in.

I eventually made it through to the final eight, spending a week at a residential workshop where I worked on the idea. Wolfblood became one of two new series commissioned through the competition.

Writing for the screen has a lot of advantages. For one thing, you get to write for actors, who make your work 100% better.

Telling your story visually also appeals to me as a writer. Your script, often through quite sparse description and significant details, has to inspire the performers and production team into creating a fully-realised world.

And the attraction of television is that, unlike film, you have so much more time to explore your characters and their lives.

In theory, you could explore that world indefinitely - so you need characters that can grow, change and develop to a far greater degree than the simpler arc that film characters undergo.

Intelligent supernatural drama

Writing for a younger audience does have certain demands and restrictions. The CBBC audience is deeply concerned with school, their relationships with parents and siblings, and friendship and loyalty.

These are all elements that Wolfblood deals with regularly.

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It's been shown in Germany, Spain and Australia”

End Quote Debbie Moon Writer, Wolfblood

The key is not to think of children as being different to any other audience - at least, not at the early stages of putting together a script.

When you're designing concepts and characters, a young audience wants the same things as anyone else - flawed and sympathetic characters in exciting but believable situations, doing the best they can and learning to be better human beings.

We've had a real resurgence of intelligent supernatural drama in the UK recently - Being Human, In The Flesh - and I'd like to think Wolfblood is very much part of that, just aimed at the younger end of the audience.

Screenwriting tips

Reaction to the show has been extraordinary. It's been a particular hit on iPlayer, with a lot of time-shifted and repeat viewing, and has also been repeated on BBC Three, which is unusual for a CBBC programme.

Abroad, it's been shown in Germany, Spain and Australia. Disney has just purchased the show for broadcast in Russia, North and South America, plus a number of other territories.

On a smaller scale, it's been fantastic to see individual fans talking about the show, creating fan fiction and mash-up videos, and engaging with the characters on a very deep level.

My advice to screenwriters is two-fold.

One - it takes a lot longer than you'd think. I was writing for at least eight years, developing projects that never quite made it to the screen, before Wolfblood was commissioned.

Two - every writer's way in to the industry is different. If your work is good, then you'll find your way somehow.

I've always been an unashamed "genre writer" - science fiction, supernatural, thrillers and action - and as such, it took a little longer for me to find the right way in.

But if your ideas are original and your characters compelling, you'll get there in the end.

I'm already working on a supernatural drama for adult audiences, and a couple of film scripts - and of course, hoping for a third season of Wolfblood!

Wolfblood, Monday 9 September, CBBC

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