Category Archives: My Writing

The Horror of It All

BIG NEWS: I’m finally getting some time to write after over a year of upheaval and pretty much abandonment (bringing up my house, redecorating my son). I did some bits and bobs here and there but I feel like a footballer coming back from a long-term injury. It’s good to be back on my feet.

My main focus is to get back onto my comedy scripts but over the past few weeks all attempts of getting myself into that mindset has been thwarted by an idea that came to me about a horror film. Yeah HORROR (?!) Continue reading

The Best Comedy Writing Books

I was recently asked on twitter (I actually have a human follower?) what comedy writing books I would recommend and thought 140 characters is probably not going to do my answer justice. So you get a wordy blog post instead. Continue reading

Confession: I Failed…

Hello, my name’s Anton and I failed. This is an open confession disguised as a big kick up the butt for me to sort out my writing. BBC’s great initiative Laughing Stock closes this week and I won’t be sending anything in despite it being exactly the sort of opportunity I should be taking.

I have no real excuse, I knew about it from late last year. I had three pilots in various states of completion and I chose one early. I started working on it and then I allowed myself to get absorbed by other things instead of working my socks off. Even going into last weekend I had a plan to get it done but a bout of flu and a family visit put paid to that. But it shouldn’t have because I should have done the work earlier. I really let myself done.

However, it’s taught me a BIG lesson. My perception of time and balance of work and writing is way out of sync. I used to be able to do a full day of work and a couple of hours writing in the evening but not any more. Age and the energies of being a new Dad have seen the back of that.

So I’m making big changes. I found I can do a few hours of work in the evenings no problem, so I’m going to swap a couple of hours of writing into my working day. And my punishment is to finish all three pilots before working on any new specs. Two of them have to be done by the end of March.

I will allow myself to work on a radio play that might suit the stage having had a very positive discussion about it. I’ll also try and get something on BBC Radio’s Newsjack to get some credits for 2011.

This failure has hit home more than any other. I don’t want to be seven years down the line and still making the same mistakes and excuses. I don’t even want to be seven days down the line and feeling that. So this post is also a statement of intent.

I believe anyone can change. Just don’t say ‘starting from tomorrow/next week etc.’ Start from NOW. Now I am an organised writer. It’s up to me to keep that title.

London Screenwriters’ Festival 2011 OFFER!

There’s no doubt that last year’s inaugural LSWF was a huge success. Just visit the site and see the comments. So having taken that leap of faith last year, the LSWF team are back with experience under their belts and many new and exciting developments coming your way.

Make sure you’re part of this thriving writing community by taking advantage of their pay monthly offer (ten months x £24 = your ticket!) There is no cheaper way to get a ticket, unless you sleep with David, Judy or Chris. Not altogether at once – well I don’t know, do your own pimping.

2011 Starts Now… well for me

Happy New Year! (a bit late I know but I’ve been away) So 2011 is nice and new and shiny and my ambition is, as usual, at a unmerited high. Time for some outrageous predictions of how I’m going to have a break through year writing followed by a post in September telling you how it all went Andy Gray.

First big decision, for the next month or so, is to DROP ALL FILM PROJECTS. What? Am I crazy (need you ask?)? Drop the area of writing I’m most interested in? Yes, and the main reason for this comes from external deadlines. You gotta love them. They are much better than the ones you can make for yourselves and then fling across the room when you feel like it/daily.

So I also like writing sketches, one-liners and sitcom. They’re also good for credits and in February the topical news sketch show Newsjack is returning on the radio. I’ve had success on this show before and even got invited to a special workshop at the BBC (I do rock the party that rocks the party). It’s great to sharpen the old comedy tools, a nice credit for 2011 and will help get myself back in the writing game. I’ll be trying to get something broadcast on that.

Then at the end of February there is the BBC’s Laughing Stock opportunity. Obviously a massive long shot but I have three sitcom scripts waiting to be polished and sent out and I intend to use this opportunity as a catalyst to finishing one of them and maybe all of them (so just one then). At least I’ll hope to have something to send out from the sitcom draw.

I have made a pact with myself (hah! like they’re worth shit) to finish two comedy pilots before going back into film. But once back in, I’m staying in. I’ve been honest with myself and dropped one project that had a producer attached because I simply wasn’t passionate enough about it – even though it was all my creation. It’s sad but I’ve gone through my list of sixty loglines and found three or four that I’m really passionate about at the moment. Still too many, but better than sixty!

And my big decision about Film is to read the ten or so comedy scripts I’ve been planning to before writing. These scripts are all so different that I feel I won’t end up repeating the tone or style of any of them. It’s a great lesson in film making and also inspirational.

So that’s it for now. Let’s all laugh at this post in the summer. More news on other projects I’m attached to coming very soon…

2010: Most Amazing Year Ever

I’ve never been busier yet I’ve hardly written anything. How the hell could this be a good year? Well becoming a father eclipses everything. I won’t go into that as any parent will know what I’m talking about and anyone who isn’t should only appreciate it when/if it happens to them.

The one thing I’ll say about it is that nothing has focused my mind more (as well as mashed it up). I’ve done a lot of adjusting and had to catch up with a lot of work, but I’ve also made some big decisions that I hope will give my writing a real chance.

Having mixed writing and work by developing the London Screenwriters’ Festival website, I hope to do more work in the film-making world in 2011. I’ve also got together a team of website developers to help ease the workload and help take on more work that makes everyone happy. With this extra time I’ll write more. But not only that, I’ve done a grid (inspired by Chris Jones here) that has helped me choose what projects I should be working on first.

The biggest lessons I’ve learned from 2010 is 1) to write what you are most passionate about, not what you think others are or things you have a slight interest in. 2) write with confidence. Find it somehow, make it up, fool yourself into cockiness. If you don’t write confidentially, it won’t read confidentially. You’ll lose hope and the cycle continues downwards.

So now to plan 2011…

What’s Next?

So the London Screenwriters’s Festival 2010 is over , knowledge has been absorbed, contacts have been formed, so what is next for this writer?

No seriously, I’m asking you. Answers on a postcard… bye.

Ok, ok. The truth is I learned A LOT from the sessions at the festival and my next step is to assess the projects I’ve got on the go and see if they fit with the distribution tips I picked up in London.

Then I need to finish off the scripts I have in various stages of development (if they still fit the distribution matrix). I need completed samples/spec scripts not three or four first drafts of a good idea.

I have too many ideas and get too passionate about them, dropping projects instantly just to get started ‘on the one’. Of course every new idea is the best ever. Mainly because it exists in such a small form: an idea. You haven’t got into the mess of plotting, structure, characters or (the most damaging aspect) writing the bastard thing. First drafts do suck, not all of it, but a lot of it. And it makes your genius idea very, very mortal. It’s a lot easier to move on to a fresh new idea. DON’T DO IT!

I also had a meeting about a ‘dream writing job’ last week. Unfortunately, that bubble has been burst. The director, who has written the script, wasn’t interested in someone clearing up a far too messy, unfocused and busy script. He wanted a jokes-smith to heighten the comedy. We had completely different visions for the script. A shame but I wish the project well.

On the upside, I’m free to crack on with my scripts so good day!

Creating Good Characters

I’ve not agreed with everything in Writing Drama or any book on writing -because, you know, I rock the party that rocks the party (OK, I’m not sure I know what that even means) – but one area that resonates with me is the pages on character creation.

This is a subject that is absolutely crucial to get right in any script, and there are 101 theories (maybe even 102) about the process of creating your characters. A lot of which go down the ‘write a CV’ or ‘answer 50 questions’ route which I found more destructive than constructive. I found myself giving random answers to these and coming up with characters that were even more disjointed. If you follow the analogy that your character’s core is the skeleton and the flesh are his characteristics then my character’s often felt like they had been blown to pieces in a bomb attack.

The approach I find a lot more helpful is one that simplifies a character’s core by asking just a few questions:
What is his/her objective (not plural!)?
What is his/her internal obstacles (flaw)?
What is his/her external obstacles (layers)?
How does he/her react to different people (we don’t act the same infront of everyone. Add’s more layers)?

This approach allowed me to get a handle on my characters a lot quicker than anything else. And of course you can go back to your 50 questions with this in mind and tailor your answers better, even adding metaphors based on this. (Oooh…)

Not Writing Improved My Writing

A dream opportunity presented itself to me today which asked for some writing samples. I haven’t written anything but a few sketches and treatments this year so I had to do a bit of a rummaging. On opening some of my favourite scripts I realised two things:
1) Some of this shit is good
2) Some of this shit is shit Continue reading

Return of The Jaded – Writers’ Guide

I’m super excited as after a year of redecorating the house, having a lovely baby, and a very demanding full-time job, I’m FINALLY returning to my writing! Part-time of course.

Of course that means I’m unfit and out of training, so I’ve set myself a quick pre-writing reboot camp. This basically will consist of:

1) Reading my notes on the writing books I’ve read
I only write notes on the key points made in these books. Just to keep them focused in the mind.

2) Read a RELEVANT script a day
I write comedy or at most comedy-drama and so I want to focus on the films in this genre that I like and learn why and how they were successful. But, I purposely want to go for films that I think break the mould slightly. I don’t want to follow the typical structure and style of the mainstream films. You know the ones where you feel you’ve already seen the film before. So my diet will consist of scripts such as: Continue reading