Thursday 17 April 2014, 15:57
"Never give up" is the kind of thing you often hear people say, whether it’s Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa, Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness or someone who likes your script but not enough to actually produce it. However, in real life, unlike the movies, when things don’t go to plan no subtle background music kicks in to emphasise that in half an hour’s time you will bounce back and achieve your dreams.
As a writer, you’re often left to get on with never-giving-up on your own, perhaps accompanied by the odd screenwriting book, which will also tell you to never give up – partly because its writer wants you to buy another book called Never Give Up on Buying Books About Never Giving Up.
I have a collection of scriptwriting books from the 1960s to the 1990s. I often wonder what happened to all the writers who used to own them. Did they never give up? One of the books (Writing for the BBC), by Norman Longmate had nine re-prints over 30-odd years. Thousands of people must have owned a copy. They can’t all have got commissions: if they had, there would be so many dramas, comedies and short stories on the BBC that there wouldn’t be room for anything else. Either...
Friday 4 April 2014, 15:47Alfred Bradley Bursary Award 2013-14 shortlist
I have been writing plays for years (and years), submitting them to theatres and competitions, producing them myself, sometimes having them accepted in festivals, and occasionally sending them to the BBC. Although some had a degree of success on the fringe theatre scene, the elusive ‘breakthrough hit’ was still out of reach.
Two years ago, I put on a play I’d written called All the Bens, at Manchester’s 24:7 Theatre Festival. It won a couple of awards (well, 3 actually, but who ‘s counting?), and did quite well. I submitted it to the Writersoom as part of the Script Room process, and it got through each stage, until I was invited into the BBC to meet the team, both at Media City and in London.
From there I became part of the Northern Writers Group, and had various meetings with various BBC people. I was encouraged to send in ideas, attend workshops and gatherings, and to let people know of any pieces I’d like them to read, or productions of my work I’d like them to see. I started to get to know people and, more importantly, they started to get to know me and my plays, offering support, advice and encouragement. I had a...
Thursday 3 April 2014, 16:06
It’s 5:15pm on Saturday 29th March 2014. The next hour will likely remain one of the shortest and longest of my writing life.
It was the prize-giving event for the Alfred Bradley Bursary Award, and to my ongoing surprise I was one of the six finalists. Jeremy Howe, Commissioning Editor for Drama at Radio 4, was at the lectern and (finally!) about to put us poor writers, our families, and a couple of hundred other well-wishers out of our misery.
We’d already had a warm welcome from the judges, and an inspirational, funny and heartfelt opening address from Alfred Bradley’s daughter, Rachel Dixon. This was followed by the electrifying experience of watching extracts from our scripts performed by a very talented bunch of actors – during which it became soberingly clear that the standard of the competition was incredibly high.
And suddenly Jeremy was announcing the runner-up prize, and I realised he was talking about my play. I couldn’t quite believe it. I stumbled up to shake hands with anyone I could grab hold of, and, clutching my envelope like a drowning man at a lifebelt, I made it back to my chair. It was all a bit of a blur, and I’m still slightly stunned to be honest...
Wednesday 2 April 2014, 13:08
If you're a writer who is trying to get their first credit you're often inundated with advice. There are books, blogs and actual people who tell you the various ways to land that hallowed commission. The BBC Writersroom is one of the few sources whose advice I would accept without a second thought and they've been instrumental in helping me find my voice as a writer.
I've worked in the television industry for four years now but I've always known that I wanted to be a writer. However when people would ask "What have you written?" I would often just say "Oh you know...this and that". That was...
Tuesday 1 April 2014, 16:25
Nooooooo! A blogpost about comedy that’s not funny? I just wanted to share as much of what I learnt with you as succinctly and quickly as I could.
The three main opportunities for writers at the Salford Comedy Festival are: to listen to and learn from the top people; to watch previews of the latest sitcom pilots to be developed both in-house and by indies; and to network.Salford Comedy Festival
First up was ‘In conversation’ with a man with a gold-plated CV as long as your arm: Greg Daniels. I could have listened to him all day. Judging by how generous he was with his...
Tuesday 25 March 2014, 14:14
Editor's Note: Character Invasion Day took place on Saturday 29th March on BBC Radio 4 and at BBC venues across the UK where Drama is produced. Find out more about Character Invasion Day
Character Invasion Day
As part of the BBC Writersroom's events for Character Invasion Day we ran a live webchat with two highly experienced writers, Rebecca Lenkiewicz and Sebastian Baczkiewicz. They answered questions about developing ideas and characters, their inspiration, their careers and offered help and advice.Read a transcript of the full webchat on Storify.com
Thursday 20 March 2014, 15:46
Frankie Ward is a multiplatform producer, formerly of BBC Radio Comedy, who has produced an iBook for new writers with an interest in breaking into the comedy writing industry.
When I mention my background working for Radio Comedy, the most common responses are; “have you worked with anyone good?”, “can you get me tickets to The News Quiz?” and finally, “how do you get into comedy writing?”
The answers to the first two questions are simple; (comedy is subjective, but yes I have and tickets for everyone’s favourite Sandi Toksvig-fronted panel show can be applied for via the BBC Audiences...
Wednesday 19 March 2014, 15:25
When I was invited to pitch for the job of adapting ‘Hank Zipzer’ I hadn’t heard of the books but I had heard of author Henry Winkler. He was one of my childhood heroes and I’d spent many a happy hour in the playground as the Fonz, perfecting my thumbs up “Heyyyy”. After much deliberation I decided not to include that as the big finish to my pitch. My inner nine year old was very disappointed with me.The stars of Hank Zipzer - Henry Winkler and Nick James
I started reading the books and immediately fell in love with the character of Hank. A funny, resourceful and resilient kid...
Friday 14 March 2014, 14:38
Brian McGilloway from Londonderry has been awarded BBC Northern Ireland Drama's Tony Doyle New Writers' Award receiving a £2,000 cash prize and the position of Writer in Residence at BBC Northern Ireland for six months. During that time he will gain an introduction to the world of television drama.
McGilloway is already the bestselling author of two critically acclaimed series of crime novels, Inspector Benedict Devlin and DCI Lucy banks. His winning entry, Little Emperors, is an accomplished Belfast set script, introducing two brand new detectives.Winner of the Tony Doyle Award
Tuesday 11 March 2014, 11:44
Shakeel Ahmed is the writer of the original drama short for BBC iPlayer My Jihad
Here’s a disclaimer; my experience is minimal enough for me to realise that I have no advice to give. Besides, writing is not prescriptive. It is a fluid and dynamic endeavour, and the rules are constantly in flux. The only thing I have to offer is my own personal thought-process.
Let’s present a hypothetical scenario; you have been told by a potential commissioner to pitch a story. You have been told not to worry about budgets and logistics. You have been told to let your imagination run wild. There is no brief...