Jurassic Snark

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom came out last week to coincide with 25 years of the franchise. Needless to say, many official critics gave the new instalment a kicking, plus there was the inevitable cries on social media about it ‘not being as good’ as the original.

But love or hate the new Jurassic Worlds, there’s plenty for us to learn as writers from the franchise. You ready for another instalment of Movie Lessons For Writers? OBVIOUSLY there will be *some* spoilers for the franchise as a whole,  but only mild ones. So let’s go …

1) Entertainment first, ALWAYS

The original Jurassic Park is a classic and a MASSIVE influence on the spec pile … Not only in Thrillers and Action-Adventures, but across the board. That said, it’s still not a perfect movie, though many people insist it is.

For starters, there’s  a never-ending reliance on junk science that starts here and runs throughout the entire franchise (ALL those dinos from ONE mosquito?? That was lucky!). Said junk science also relates to not only HOW the dinosaurs came to be, but also other scientific inaccuracies such as their size, how they look and even their names.

But then, writers SHOULD sacrifice facts for drama, right? Well, even on a craft level, the original film, like many Spielberg/Koepp collaborations, also has a significant structural issue in the first half, not least its unwieldy set up.

In addition, for some viewers, there’s also a couple of jarring jumps with reference to the number of velociraptors present/not-present in scenes. Audiences have to assume the velociraptor Ellie locked in at the power station got out via that line, ‘unless they can open doors’ (though this is match-cut to the two velociraptors entering the kitchen, a completely different room).

Seen on reddit. Arf!!

But moments later,  it should be noted that Lex locks one of these raptors in the kitchen freezer! But if you recall, Muldoon says of the queen velociraptor (‘she took over the pride killed all but two of the others’) … So unless the one in the power station unlocked the door, there should only be one left. Yet there STILL two attacking the T-Rex in the famous end scene! Teensy bit handy there (and probably the result of judicious edit, I would wager).

But did you notice??? If you did … who cares, right?

Because that’s entertainment.

Jurassic Park shows you can get away with *whatever you like* IF you make it entertaining. In fact, I will no doubt get people arguing with me in the comments section of this blog about how it’s ‘NOT like I remember it’, or that I am ‘over-analysing things’. Yet I said it literally doesn’t matter!

Of course, most of us lowly writers could never get away with stuff like this, but it is worth remembering that if something is entertaining – even on the page – readers may be willing to overlook certain sacrifices for the sake of drama.

WHAT WE CAN LEARN: Writers often obsess over stuff like narrative logic and whether they ‘should’ sacrifice facts for drama. Whilst this is important, it’s never more important than ENTERTAINMENT.

2) Visuals are KEY

I’ve written over and again on this blog about how there is ‘too much’ dialogue in the spec pile. What is surprising is this is even true in the specs that want to be taken seriously as thrillers or action-adventures like the Jurassic franchise!

Now, most of us won’t ever be in a position to write a remake or reboot for an epic franchise. Some of us may not even want to, which is fair enough. B ut whatever you are writing, VISUALS are key and the Jurassic franchise has iconic visuals by the bucketload. Here are my favourites off the top of my head, I don’t even have to look them up:

  • The T-Rex roaring as the banner reading, ‘When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth’ flutters down in the first movie
  • The deaths of the Brachiosaurs on the island in Fallen Kingdom
  • The caravan falling off the cliff in The Lost World whilst Sarah, Ian and Nick hang from a rope (The Lost World)
  • The Spinosaurus taking out the aircraft (Jurassic III)
  • The Indoraptor on the roof in the ‘haunted house’ sequence (Fallen Kingdom)
  • The deaths of the mercs and hunters in the long grass via velociraptors in the second movie
  • Owen riding a motorbike with velociraptors through the jungle (Jurassic World)
  • The computer code reflected on the Velociraptor as it figures where the humans have gone (first movie)
  • Sarah on the glass with it cracking underneath her fingertips (The Lost World)
  • The satellite phone and the Spinosaurus (alluding to the crocodile and the ticking clock in Peter Pan)
  • Ian Malcolm and Claire Dearing running with flares and the T Rex (first movie and Jurassic World)
  • The satellite phone sliding from one side of the boat to the other as they almost drown thanks to the Spinosaurus again (third movie)
  • The T Rex as villain AND hero throughout the franchise, with Blue the velociraptor bringing ups the rear in Jurassic World
  • The demise of Indominus Rex (Jurassic World)
  • The fact it’s nearly always raining at night in these movies! But hey, it LOOKS COOL OKAY

WHAT WE CAN LEARN: Now, some of the above are single shots; others are part of, or the whole of, individual set pieces. Whatever the case, this franchise is a VISUAL FEAST and there’s plenty to learn on using visuals to our advantage as screenwriters … Or, now you mention it, novelists as well. More below in the vid.

3) Thematic Characterisation *is* okay

I’ve heard a lot of wailing ‘If the original Jurassic Park were made today ...’ online this past week. Of course, many of the people online who loved the original Jurassic Park as children so much have unfortunately grown up in the last twenty five years … Plus CGI is now standard, rather than new. But hey, that couldn’t possibly be why they don’t like it! 😉

Yet the Jurassic Worlds are EXACTLY what the originals were, if you really break it down:

  • It’s literally made by the same people
  • CGI dinosaurs galore, chasing and chomping on characters
  • Pathos versus comedy
  • Moral Qs regarding evolution/animal rights/corporate greed/ cloning
  • Thematic characterisation across all role functions

It’s the last one that seem to be the real sticking point. I keep hearing about how the characters in the original trilogy were apparently so amazing and the likes of Owen and Claire are so terrible, or ’tissue-paper thin’ at best.

But let’s not pretend the Jurassic Park movies were EVER truly about the characters. Not only have people gone primarily for the dinosaurs and the eating of people, the franchise has ALWAYS riffed off various audience expectations, tropes and outright stereotypes. This is especially true in terms of peripheral characters, but also some bigger role functions too.

i) What always happens with characters

  • Mercs and hunters hate animals and will die
  • The grasping and greedy will die, especially millionaires and Toffs
  • Military people who don’t understand animals will die
  • Trespassers will (probably) die
  • Innocent bystanders caught in the middle of stuff *may* die, because CHAOS
  • Scientists and zoo keepers who always follow orders will die
  • Scientists and zoo keepers who don’t follow orders will die
  • GOATS WILL DIE AND LOTS OF THEM

BUT!

  • Children are innocent and will survive
  • Adults who show mercy to animals will survive
  • People in peril need rescuing, including women AND men
  • ‘Helpers’ who put their lives on the line for dinos will survive
  • If you repent your previous greedy ways, you will survive
  • People trying to play God will (nearly always) die
  • BUT BD Wong will always get away to make more dinos another day

You can apply the above to every single instalment of the Jurassic franchise. But now let’s look at the bigger role functions.

ii) The Women

For me, the most interesting thing about the first Jurassic Park is the insistence on how it’s apparently so feminist. To me, this feels like an epic retcon to fit in with the current conversation bout feminism and film NOW.

I’ll explain: I like Ellie well enough, plus if other viewers really love her, then great. But for a character so apparently revered by modern femcrit (on the basis of being a professional, apparently!), Dr. Ellie Sattler is not a brilliantly rounded character. She is a brilliant THEMATIC character, there to give out doses of what this story is ‘truly about’.

Ellie’s most famous speeches – at the dino-poop and to Hammond whilst they eat ice cream in the visitors’ centre – really nail her job in the story, here. At grass roots level regarding craft, she is nothing more than the Expositional Jo.

It should be noted that being an Expositional Jo is NOT a criticism. Even though I massively prefer Sarah in The Lost World, Ellie earns her role in the original Jurassic Park, plus Expositional Jos are needed in sci-fi story worlds where there is convoluted back story (including junk science!).

That said, with Ellie as the only lead female character in the original movie (since Lex is by her nature a Damsel to be rescued, much like Timmy), an Expositional Jo is a very common, familiar trope, especially for a female character. We even see this repeated with Amanda in the third movie and no one is going to bat for her as an ‘exceptional’ female character!

In contrast then, the likes of Claire Dearing becomes something we haven’t quite seen before in the franchise. She has some Expositional Jo qualities – she literally introduces us to Jurassic World! – but that is not her sole role function, since unlike Ellie and her male predecessors, Claire is also the protagonist.

In the first movie, she has much to learn; she’s rather naive, highly strung, a bit annoyingly self-involved, but her heart is in the right place. In short, she is what most ‘grown ups’ think ‘young people’ are (and who is this movie really for?). In the course of the narrative, Claire will have to overcome her corporate background and get stuck into the nitty gritty. Sure it’s not an amazingly original arc, but it’s all that’s needed in what is essentially a disaster movie.

In Fallen Kingdom, Claire has been significantly changed by her ordeal in Jurassic World. She is no longer so self-involved or highly strung, but is still using skills she learned in the corporate world … This time it is for the dinosaurs’ benefit, rather than exploiting them as assets. She is still naive however, hence her believing the best of the Lockwood estate and walking straight into Mills’ double-cross. But naive and idealistic is not stupid.

Also, like Ellie or Sarah in the first movies, Claire does not need saving from dinosaurs. UNLIKE them, she will save the men from dinosaurs, which makes a nice change.  So why the hate? Oh right, she wears high heels. Gotcha. BUT SHE OUTRUNS A T-REX IN THEM OMFG WHAT DO YOU WANT. Moving on.

iii) The Men

What’s more, the male characters – both main, secondary and peripheral (and traditionally there have always been waaaaaay more of them!) – have always been thematic too.

The likes of  Ian Malcolm and Alan Grant represent the ‘old world’ of chaos theory and archaeology respectively. They are men of theory, not practice and crucially, react exactly like we’d expect them to. First they freak out, completely useless … and must, over the courses of their arcs, ‘man up’ and do what needs to be done.

In Alan’s case, he must rescue Lex and Timmy in the original movie; then let the child Eric rescue him in the third movie. In Ian’s case (and the second movie), he tries to rescue Sarah, dragging Kelly into danger with him. His arc is the opposite to Alan’s: he must learn HE is the liability and macho bullshit can make things worse (which actually DOES feel very progressive for 1997, now we’re on the subject).

In direct comparison, Owen in the Jurassic World movies is not a man of theory or science, but one of action. This is a direct contrast to the Ians and Alans of before, which is where I think most of the resistance is coming from. His character is representative of the old world too: he’s a military man mixed with a Doctor DoLittle type. Again, this is quite familiar, but he’s not the protagonist … Or not meant to be.

I actually like Owen a lot; he reminds me of activist photographer Nick in The Lost World. He makes a few realisations, such as the fact Claire is not as weak as he thinks she is, though crucially this is a) because she its from the corporate world and b) more about him liking to rescue people!

Like Alan Grant, Owen rescues a bunch of people, most of them men and/or children: Claire’s nephews Gray and Zach in the first movie; plus his colleague Barry who works with him on Blue and the rest of the raptors; plus the worker who falls into the cage. In Fallen Kingdom he rescues Maisie, another child, plus Franklin and Claire from the gyroscope when it falls into the sea (note: not dinosaurs!).

My favourite moment though has to be when he has to rescue HIMSELF from molten lava, despite the notable issue of still be partially paralysed by a tranquilliser dart!

I do think the casting of Chris Pratt (and the fact Bryce Dallas Howard is so much ‘less’ famous) is what is causing the semantic noise and making people ‘miss’ Claire’s arc. Or maybe it’s because traditionally, audiences prefer more complex, less action-y men in this franchise? Who knows.

Whatever the case, I really like the teamwork between Claire and Owen in the latest two movies. In both Jurassic World and Fallen Kingdom, these two characters can only really prosper in the narrative when they work together … and when that fails, appeal for Blue to rescue them!

WHAT WE CAN LEARN: The epic success of Jurassic franchise shows that as writers, we can use characters whatever way we damn well want, including thematic characterisation … as long as we do it WELL. But this is not a ‘get out of jail free’ card either, we must do our research on what has gone before.

4) You Can’t Please Everyone

Now, I really enjoyed Fallen Kingdom and so did a lot of the Bang2writers. This seems to be backed up with Fallen Kingdom scoring a ‘Fresh’ rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, though the critics’ general consensus was that it was not as good as Jurassic World (which had a much ‘fresher’ rating of 70% to Fallen Kingdom‘s 60%).

I decided to do a little further digging, for interest’s sake. If we compare the two new Jurassic Worlds to the original trilogy, Jurassic Park gets an almost-perfect ‘Fresh’ score of 92% (critics) and 91% (audience).  We can expect this, since it’s hard to find people who DON’T like it.

I was a little surprised to discover critics were so-so on Jurassic Park III  with 50% rotten score; I thought they would score it a lot lower. The audience awarded it a rotten score of 36%, which makes more sense to me. You have to be a real Jurassic Park nerd (like me) to like it!

However, compare that to The Lost World’s rotten score of 53% critics, with only 51% of the audience liking it! This was a genuine surprise to me, since Spielberg directed this follow-up. Since Ian Malcolm is such a popular character and is the protagonist of this instalment, I just assumed ‘everyone’ liked it as well. I also think it’s considerably better than the Jurassic Worlds.  Shows you can’t rely on your own opinions when it comes to audience and critical reception!

WHAT WE CAN LEARN: People will always hate on your work. Don’t worry about them, concentrate instead on those who LOVE it.

5) They CAN and WILL Remake Classics

Jurassic World is STILL in the top 10 highest-grossest movies ever (it seems to float around number 4-5 mark) … At the time of writing, the original Jurassic Park is at number 23.  Even allowing for the passage of twenty five years (ahem, Titanic is still number 2, despite being released in 1999), that means a loooooot of $$$ is up for grabs here.

Thing is, it doesn’t matter to us as writers whether we think remakes and reboots ‘should’ happen … If there’s money to be made, the movies WILL happen. This is show BUSINESS whether we like it or not! What’s more, audiences have spoken and they literally want these movies, whether you happen to agree or not.

So, if you go off on one half-cocked on social media ranting about ‘cash-grabs’ and how audiences are all stupid … guess what? You’re being an amateur. What’s more, it won’t stop said reboots and remakes … Only refusing to pay money to go and see them will! 

WHAT WE CAN LEARN: Don’t like reboots and remakes? Don’t watch them. Vote with your wallet and watch some great indie films instead – there’s plenty of them! But most importantly, don’t hurt your writer credibility by shouting into the wind online.

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A Real Job?

Writing can often feel like a lonely and frustrating way to make money. You sit at your desk for hours, writing words that may never see the light of day, hoping that soon, your work will mean something to someone. You only realise that you’ve not spoken to another human being for several hours when the phone rings and you answer it sounding remarkably like Marge Simpson.

To make matters worse, writing can sometimes feel like the worst paid job in the world too. If you’re lucky, you get the odd copywriting gig or small editing role. Sooner or later though, your partner suggests that maybe it’s time you got a ‘real job’. You slowly bang your head against your desk and wonder why you ever thought you could write and make money.

Opportunities

Sound familiar? Well fear not. There are ways to make money with your words and we’re here to show you how.

Opportunities for writers are plentiful in 2018. From blogging and copywriting to editing and freelancing, we can find jobs to suit us on a regular basis. You may feel unsure about where your strengths really lie, but with so many possibilities out there, you’re sure to find one that’s right for you.

The infographic by Global English Editing after the jump shows you the opportunities you have as a writer today. Not only does it provide you with a detailed summary of your options, it also shows you just how far your writing skills can take you and how best to use them. Good luck!

More About Making Money:

How To Build Your Own Online Empire

How Do I Become A Freelance Writer?

4 Steps To Building A Successful Freelance Writing Career

10 Ways Freelance Writing Helps My Screenwriting 

6 Ways To Find Success As A Writer With Your Blog

5 Important Hacks Writers Need To Know To Earn A Living

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Shriver Roars Again

Is Lionel Shriver okay? The reason I feel I have to ask is because she’s been making waves AGAIN about diversity in the arts. So much so, it would seem she’s got herself booted off the judging panel of the Myslexia short story contest, as you may have seen on social media yesterday:

(Being so against the concept of diversity I’m only surprised Shriver ever wanted to be part of a judging panel that ‘favours’ female writers when they ‘should’ be picked SOLELY ON THEIR MERIT, but moving swiftly onwards).

But Who Is Lionel Shriver?

But okay, okay, back up, back up … In case you didn’t know or hadn’t heard of her, Lionel Shriver is a celebrated and accomplished writer in her own right. She wrote We Need To Talk About Kevin (which in turn was made into a BAFTA-nominated movie), plus a raft of other books and short stories, including The Mandibles and her recent collection of short stories, Property.

But even if you have never read her work, as a writer you will no doubt have heard of her. Like many writers (including me!), she is very outspoken on certain issues. In fact, one of the most-hit articles on this very site, 13 Questions On Cultural Appropriation You Need To Ask Right Now, deals with Lionel Shriver’s 2016’s speech at The Brisbane Writers’ Festival and how she hopes the concept is just a ‘passing fad’.

Well, two years on and it seems Shriver is now turning her attentions beyond cultural appropriation. Perhaps upset it’s very much not a ‘fad’, Shriver is now sticking the boot into the concept of inclusion and diversity itself.

Her recent Spectator article, ‘When Diversity Means Uniformity’ is what caused the upset online; it’s also the reason Myslexia gave her her marching orders. In the article, Shriver takes issue with Penguin Random House’s inclusion policy, Shriver starts with suggesting that a publisher’s ONLY true mission is ‘to sell and to promote fine writing’. 

Of course, the issue has never been that publication houses (or Hollywood or anyone else in the arts) DON’T want to do the above. I will go into this in more detail, next.

No BUSINESS Like Show BUSINESS

I have been banging on (arf) about diversity for nearly ten years now. In that time, I’ve seen radical changes in the industry across ALL mediums, but especially screenwriting. Where once a writer couldn’t get a female and/or BAME lead even read, suddenly we’re seeing iconic properties like Marvel building diversity into its business model.

Let’s be clear. The likes of financial behemoths like Hollywood follow the money; so do other creatives, to a lesser degree, depending where they are on the ladder. They have to. Without money, there are no movies; no TV shows; no books.

What’s more, in recent years it’s become clear diversity SELLS. Whether you like that idea or not – and Shriver certainly doesn’t – it seems weird she should advocate literally leaving money on the table. It comes down to this: agents, producers, filmmakers and publishers are not patrons of the arts. We can fight this – and lose! – or accept the inevitable and get our writing taken seriously in the marketplace. The clue is in the name.

What is ‘Fine Writing’?

But, in one sense, Shriver is correct: a publisher’s remit *is* to SELL. Where she’s wrong is that slippery concept of what she calls ‘fine writing’.

Whenever anyone mentions inclusion or diversity in the arts, someone will pop up and insist the creative arts is basically a meritocracy. That person – like Shriver – will say that the BEST writers and  creatives should *only* be selected on the basis of their talent and hard work. They will claim they made their own way on that basis and anyone ‘different’ to them should do the same, or it equates to ‘special treatment’.

Yet, if writers like Shriver – and me! – have had no benefit whatsoever from the various institutions and systems at work here, then I ask WHY ARE THERE:

  • more white creatives than BAME creatives?
  • or male creatives than female creatives?
  • more straight, cis (non trans) creatives than LGBTQ* creatives?
  • or abled-bodied creatives than disabled creatives?
  • more Oxbridge-educated creatives than those who went to comprehensive school?

Is it really because we are supposed to believe those celebrated creatives are somehow BETTER than those who are not these things? That somehow female writers, black writers,  gay, bi or transgender writers, poor writers, or writers with disabilities are not *as* capable of ‘fine writing’ as standard? Seriously???

Scary Diversity

As already mentioned at the beginning of the article, Shriver has already made her name as a writer. I can’t imagine she’s afraid of all these supposed big, bad diverse writers snapping at her heels … Plus I’m sure she would have learned how to share as a child.

Of course, Shriver is her own example. ‘I did it despite crap odds as a female writer, so everyone else should be able to do it too’ is her basic mantra, here. Or as I like to put it, ‘I’m alright Jack’. 

Well, guess what? I did it too. So did JK Rowling. Whilst I have yet to achieve the heady heights of Rowling’s fame – or Shriver’s, now we mention it – I do suspect we had a lot further to travel than Shriver did. Maybe because of that, we have more empathy for marginalised writers? Whatever the case, it does not hurt me in any way to acknowledge any advantages I might have had along the way, or still get on my journey.

One obvious advantage is that I am white, in an industry that was set up predominantly by white people. Yes, I was a teenage single Mum; yes, I had many challenges along the way, including cancer and all kinds of other crap. It was not easy. Nothing in my life has ever been easy for me.

But acknowledging I had an advantage is not saying it WAS easy for me. I don’t have to acknowledge the system exists to benefit from it – and that’s precisely why my whiteness was to my advantage. Most people in the industry are white. No one thinks whiteness is exotic, or strange, or anything else. It is the default. This means being white is an advantage. It is not rocket science.

Calling The Department of Wrong

So, what is Shriver’s real beef, I wonder? Well, of course only she knows for sure. But whether it’s keeping her name in the headlines (as I suspect) or because she really believes this, there’s only one true answer:

Shriver is wrong

Wrong

WRONG.

Don’t be caught on the wrong side of literary and screenwriting history like Shriver will be. She might get the column inches and Google hits now, but burning bridges has never been a sustainable BUSINESS model, nor has it helped CREATIVITY. (Nor, indeed has it helped you get gigs judging writing contests either!).

Concluding:

Greater inclusion means more POVS, which in turn means better writing … plus better opportunities to reach audiences overlooked before. How can a writer serious about their craft and storytelling NOT want to do that?

But okay, fine: even if you don’t give a toss about diversity politically, why would you literally wreck your own chances when said audiences have spoken? They WANT diversity and they have voted with their £££. It’s our job as creatives to give it to them.

So you gotta keep up … Or you’ll get left behind, like Lionel.

It’s really that simple.

Want more about diversity & writing?

I gave the keynote speech at the City Lit Festival of Writing last weekend, probably around the same time Shriver’s article went online spookily! It was called ‘Diversity in 21st Century Fiction: Telling Untold Stories’ and you can read what went down, HERE.

You can also check out my book, Writing Diverse Characters For Fiction, TV & Film, out now from Creative Essentials. Available in paperback and ebook, from Amazon and all good book stores. Click on the link or the pic below for more info.

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Due Diligence

Writers are urged to do their ‘due diligence’ a lot. This is especially relevant when it comes to finding and evaluating agents, producers and publishers, but also any services or we might pay money for. This may include obvious stuff like screenwriting, novel and short story contests, but also other things like writing courses, software and other things we may buy or use.

However, as many Bang2writers may have noticed lately, there is a small but nevetherless stubborn contingent of writers around who think practicing ‘due diligence’ means slagging off and/or smearing people, products and services, especially on social media.

But even writers who would never DREAM of going off one half-cocked like this have reached out to me recently. They say they are not really sure where to start when it comes to ‘due diligence’. Luckily, Aunty B2W is here for you … Let’s go!

Due Diligence, A Definition

Both a noun and a legal word, to practice ‘due diligence’ gives  the following two meanings, according to the dictionary:

  • Reasonable steps taken by a person to avoid committing a tort or offence.
  • A comprehensive appraisal of a business undertaken by a prospective buyer, especially to establish its assets and liabilities and evaluate its commercial potential.
Obviously, slagging  attempting to smear people/stuff, then calling it ‘due diligence’ is incorrect. These are neither ‘reasonable steps’, nor  ‘a comprehensive appraisal’ of someone or something’s pros and cons, either.
It should also be noted at this point that if a writer does this, it has become a personal vendetta. This is something completely different to due diligence and should not be confused as such.
What’s more, personal vendettas PREVENT others from being able to practice their own due diligence, especially online, as all they will find are toxic trails of misinformation.
Yes, yes I know what you’re thinking – ‘there’s no smoke without fire’ … Actually, online, it’s the other way around. They’re not called FLAMERS for nothing. So avoid becoming one, wherever possible.

Lastly, personal vendettas should not be confused with ‘right to reply’, either. Whilst anyone who follows me knows I love a good ruck online, you will never find me bitch-slapping someone off the bat for no reason. It will be because they have stuck the boot in to me or B2W first . If you can’t stand the heat, get outta my kitchen! 😉

So, what do we do?

It’s actually simpler than you may think. I will lay out the steps:

i) First Step: Gather Evidence

  • Google. Googling can and should be your first port of call, as well as looking at associated websites, reading articles, reviews and so on.
  • Offline. Asking your peers and contacts is always a good idea, but make sure you ask multiple people. (Note that when I say ‘offline’, I don’t necessarily mean you *can’t* ask people via PM, DM or email – I just mean ‘not publicly’).
  • Go straight to the source. Confused about something or someone? Ask the person or service themselves. Alternatively, you could ask someone ‘bigger’ than you to do this for you. Bang2write has a long history of asking people and places about *stuff*, on the request of Bang2writers. I’m happy to help.

ii) Second Step: Reserve Judgement

Once you’ve done the above, you need to SIFT THROUGH the evidence you’ve gathered. You don’t want to jump in with both feet. Things that are worth considering as you do this:

  • Online flame wars. Google is great, as long as flamers have not burned down all available pathways. So, if all you can find are people talking/freaking out on social media and forums about the stuff you’re concerned about, that’s a sign you need to dig more and find more sources.
  • People may have had personal bad experiences. If you only ask one or two people, you will not get a full picture. That might be obvious, because it is. But seriously, no person is friends with everyone; neither has a product or service satisfied every single one of its customers (oooh matron). This doesn’t mean it will automatically screw you personally over.
  • They may tell you what you want to hear. Obviously, going straight to the source has its issues too. The bad ones will just  try and persuade you they’re okay. In comparison, the good ones will be happy to assuage fears by being honest and transparent. They will be happy to discuss problems and take questions; they will not make counter accusations or fly off the handle.

iii) Third Step: Compare and Contrast

So, you now have access to a good chunk of background and facts to do with that person, product or service? Now you need to weigh these things up. I suggest writers do this with these things in mind:

  • Trustworthiness. If a person, product or service has been around for a good few years on the circuit this is of course much easier, as they will have more transparency. After all, it’s less likely an established person, product or site that had previously good reviews would *suddenly* go off-piste and start ripping everyone off!
  • What you personally need. Are you willing to explore and take risks, or do you need some kind of guarantee? If you can’t afford to lose money on something that is not useful to you, then you’re probably best off leaving new products and services alone. But even if they are not established yet, that doesn’t mean you should necessarily discount them straight away. Everyone has to start somewhere – the question is, do you want to be the guinea pig? Only you can decide.
  • Personal bias. Lastly, you need to consider your own potential bias. It will be difficult for you to conduct your own due diligence for things you are freaked out about, or dislike. Similarly, if you are massively enthusiastic, then again this may create semantic noise in your brain. In these cases, it might be a good idea to ask someone else to do a last, more objective check for you.

Once you have all this information?

NOW you can make your judgement! Otherwise you’re just fanning the flames of writer paranoia. This is never a good thing, especially when we’re supposed to have one another’s backs.

By the way – 90% of your due diligence should stay offline if you’re a professional. But this doesn’t have to mean keeping it to yourself. There are plenty of people, products and services Bang2write thinks are dodgy, poor value, or irrelevant in the creative industries, having done my due diligence on them.

Rather than slag them off or go on a personal vendetta then, I simply don’t recommend them, or even talk about them. Also, when people practicing their own due diligence on these things ask me (or I see them asking on social media), I send a private message saying I saw their question and that I don’t recommend whatever it was. Sorted.

Good Luck Out There!

More About Legal Stuff On B2W:

What Is A Screenplay Option & How Does It Work? 

What Is the Difference Between An NDA & A Release Form? 

2 Laws Every Screenwriter Should Know

How True Can A ‘True Story’ Be?

Get This, Writers: No One Will Steal Your Script!

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Writer PAIN

Being a writer is hard, who knew?? Well, all writers you know!! check out some of these fun pics this weekend … They’re funny ‘cos they’re true my friends! See you on the other side 😉

Recognise this??

So I’ve been writing, writing, writing this week … and it would seem I now have forty billion versions of essentially the same document on my hard drive. And in my Dropbox. And in The Cloud. Plus I’ve emailed it to myself.

Because you JUST CAN’T BE TOO CAREFUL, OKAY! It’s the only way to survive the horrible moments you get that ‘wheel of doom’ when your laptop crashes. Which it will!

… Or this?

I love weekends, evenings, holidays because I get to relax. And by ‘relax’ I mean go on my phone and write stuff on there, instead. What???

How About This?

I have kids, which means I get asked to make food, hear songs or watch ‘jungle dances’ (whatever they are!) every thirty seconds. It’s a miracle I have any focus whatsoever, but then I do have some really great noise-cancelling headphones. Get some!!!

I’m sure you get this …

If you’re a writer this happens to, I’m actually jealous. I’d have to actually go to sleep for this to happen to me!

Or Maybe This …

There is never a good time to write a book, okay. Or a screenplay. In fact, just be an accountant or a hairdresser or a chef.

Oh but wait — I’ve had the greatest idea!

Damn. Too late. Looks like I can’t stop myself even if I wanted to (I want to — waaaaah!).

And definitely this!!!

Don’t you just love it when you’re a writer online and one of THESE asks your advice … Then doesn’t follow it? OMG.

So you no doubt need this …

Give me all the coffee. The End.

So you can do THIS:

Well there have to be some perks of the job when you’re a writer … After all, if you did it for real, you’d go to jail.

Good luck out there!

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Hear Ye, Hear Ye

Look, I know you don’t want to hear this, but here’s a big fat truth bomb for you this morning:

You’re wasting your time. 

Some of you will be outraged to hear this; others will say, ‘I KNEW it!!’ Most of you will shrug and quote William Goldman, ‘Nobody knows anything.’ 

But trust me: I’m right. Just  probably not the way you think I mean.

Let me explain.

Build it & they will come?

Imagine a person making something … Let’s say a house. S/he is a master (or mistress!) in their field. They’ve worked on their craft for YEARS, maybe they’ve won awards? Whatever the case, it’s generally thought this person knows how to make a goddamn house. Everyone knows this.

So, our master builder knows there’s loads of people out there, who’d LOVE a great house. And s/he’s the one to build it for them! In fact, why wait? That builder is going to get started RIGHT NOW on the best house EVAH! When finished, people are going to be literally knocking down the door, DESPERATE to give them $$$. What could go wrong … They’re the BEST!

So the master builder gets to work. They work on the plans, until everything is perfect. Then they build the foundations, the walls, the roof … whatever. They pick the best materials; they take their time, making sure everything is perfect. They’re secure in the knowledge that someone, out there, is going to LOVE it.

Then they finish and … CRICKETS. Or maybe people drop by, look around, make all the right noises … but fail to get their wallets out. The master builder is left with a house they can’t sell (even though it might indeed be great).

But okay, maybe it’s freak occurrence. Perhaps that master builder will start anew on another house, sure the next one will sell. Or maybe they’ll renovate the existing house, trying to make it more attractive. Maybe they’ll do both … and yet nothing will chance. WTAF?

You Guessed It

The master builder in the above scenario is a screenwriter, the house is a spec screenplay. The people dropping by to view said houses are the producers and/or filmmakers. It’s time for screenwriters to get real and hear this

A good sample or spec screenplay, showing why you can do as a screenwriter, is obviously a no-brainer. It’s always a good idea to have something you can show people – this is why builders have SHOW HOMES – but as screenwriters, we can learn something from the building trade:

If there’s no money forthcoming, they don’t build the houses! 

So why the hell are we writing endless numbers of spec screenplays for NO REASON that NO ONE WANTS???

We Need To Be Better Business People

Note that I don’t mean you shouldn’t write *only* for money, then you’re a hack. Nobody likes hacks.

I also don’t mean sacrificing creativity for business, as if it’s ‘either/or’.

IT CAN BE BOTH.

In other words, you can be the most brilliant screenwriter in existence, but you ALSO need to put your ear to the ground and actually hear what producers and filmmakers want

Otherwise, you’re throwing spaghetti at the wall again and hoping it will stick.

Filmmakers Can’t Find Scripts!

It’s all very well saying, ‘I do the above already.’ Do you? How can you tell?Because I hear all the time from directors and producers:

‘I can’t find any screenplays to make.’

Yes, you read that right.

There are a MASSIVE number of spec scripts of all genres, budgets, tones, types – TV, feature, short, web series – in circulation at any one time. Script readers like Bang2write get paid to sift through these masses of submissions, to find scripts to make or writers to champion.

Guess what? A lot of the time, we can’t find what we’re looking for. This might be because the scripts:

  • don’t have a discernible genre or audience
  • can’t be produced at a specific budget level
  • don’t have a memorable enough role for a star or stars
  • are outdated or generic, or conversely out of the left field
  • have too many craft problems

Note how only ONE of the above is a specific writing issue. The rest are all to do with the logistics and constraints of the industry … aka THE MAKING of said script. This is show business, baby.

Hear THIS Film Director

But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s film director Kelly Holmes, who popped up talking about this in the Bang2writers Facebook group recently:

‘I end up writing a lot of my own stuff, when I’d much rather be working with another writer to conceive something together. ALL I want to do is find writers I want to work with FROM CONCEPTION. But it’s bloody difficult, because I’m sent a lot of scripts after the fact where I read it and think yes this person can write … but they just aren’t a fit for me.’

Kelly echoes what I have been banging on about on B2W for years, here. Great writing is important, but we need to treat that as a given, the VERY LEAST we can do.

It’s About Collaboration

She doesn’t just want to make a screenwriter’s vision, she wants to COLLABORATE. This is the way forward and how to hook a filmmaker, not present them with a script and say, ‘Isn’t it great? Now make it!’

I am ALWAYS saying to screenwriters – meet producers and directors, find out what they want, create relationships with them and they would LOVE to work with you. But screenwriters would rather work in isolation and try and ‘match up’ existing specs with directors and producers, a tactic that makes ZERO sense … then the writers wonder why they don’t advance. Supersadface.

Kelly continues:

‘Finding the right collaborators in film is the absolute key, because whether you’re trying to find public or private funding, the key triangle of Director/Writer/Producer is always generally expected to be in place, or at least Director/Writer.’

So it’s not about beating your head against brick wall, sending one spec screenplay after another into the void and crossing your fingers. It’s about FINDING PEOPLE, forming a team and using your mad writing skills to build up a project TOGETHER.

How To Find Collaborators?

Banding together as a team and MAKING STUFF by any means necessary is any screenwriter’s quickest way ‘into’ the industry. After all, that’s all the industry really is – bunches of colleagues, making stuff! Some will work out; others will not. Most lead to something else, as Kelly says:

‘Writing short scripts is a good way to start finding collaborators, but you won’t ever make any money from it – but there’s more chance of the script actually getting made and you learning from that. And then there’s TV, a lot of writers I know started off with writing a spec script for something like the Red Planet prize and have gone into writing for shows like Holby City, which is not to be sniffed at when you’re getting paid and learning how to write to a production’s needs.’

Networking, connecting with like-minded people online, making shorts, getting into TV, making web series, building online platforms, entering contests … these are the ‘usual’ ways to find people, but there are plenty more. You’ll need a career strategy, plus you’ll need to assess and evaluate how it’s working out for you, too.

Put simply, no one ever got to where they want to go by blind luck alone. What’s more, you can increase your odds of arriving successfully by about a million per cent minimum if you CHECK OUT A MAP (or rather, create a strategy that actually works!!!).

Concluding:

Stop being that screenwriter working in isolation. Stop writing only what YOU want to write and then trying to match it to people randomly. Sure, it *might* work, but the odds will be much more in your favour if you find out what THEY want and see if what YOU want, too. That’s where the magic happens. Or, rather:

  1. Network & find filmmakers & make a TEAM
  2. Create something together from CONCEPTION
  3. Get funding/get it made TOGETHER

Good Luck!

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Harsh but TRUE

Look, there are some harsh truths you need to know about this writing lark. And I’m not talking about the obvious, like this:

  • Think you can write a novel and whack it up on the Kindle and make a gazillion quid? NOPE, obviously not.
  • Or that making a film is a question of writing a brilliant script and waiting for Spielberg to call? DOUBLE NOPE.
  • Or even that being a writer is a reward enough, because you will love your job every day and life is all sunshine and flowers?? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA triple NOPE to the power of infinity!

There are some less obvious, but extremely important things you MUST realise or you might as well give up now. I’m serious! Here goes …

1) Do not stop. EVER!!!

So many Bang2writers come to me and say, ‘I’m giving up writing. There’s no point. I tried X, but they wanted Y. I tried Y, but they wanted Z. It’s clear I’m not cut out for this. See ya!’ 

I get it, it’s a harsh industry. Plus ALL writers feel like this from time to time, not just those who feel on the ‘outside’ because they haven’t made a big sale yet. Yes, that’s right, this feeling will NEVER go away!

But that’s all the more reason to keep going. Writing will always be an uphill trek of impossible odds. Every project is like resetting to zero. If you think ‘breaking in’ or ‘making it’ (whatever that means) is hard, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Definitely harsh, definitely true!

The difference is, you get better at negotiating those terrible odds. They no longer consume you or bash you over the head like they once did. You let go of the no-hopers and concentrate instead on those projects that have at least a POSSIBILITY of working.

In short, doors will always slam in your face. So you work on getting them open again with your big Shining-style axe, screaming like Jack Nicholson as you do so. At worst, you become a writing cat burglar and slither through the window instead. Yeah baby. MORE: Why Writer Luck Is More Than Throwing Spaghetti At The Wall

2) Remember – haters gotta hate

People will always tell you that you, your ideas and even your work, SUCK — get used to it. Even when you have gone out of your way to ensure your writing is fresh, some harsh person will come along and rip it to shreds because they can.

An example: my novel, The Other Twin, was praised for its emotional plotting, diverse characters, authentic story world and for ‘relevancy’ in about 90% of its reviews. This didn’t stop a small minority of reviewers writing these things about it, however:

  • ‘lacks innovation’
  • ‘feels disingenuous’
  • ‘no idea what all the good reviews are about’
  • ‘some middle-class writer thinks she’s edgy’ 
  • ‘so boring I nearly fell asleep’ 

It should be noted: this was their reaction to my book, so it’s true for them. These people are entitled to their opinions, just as I’m entitled to say they can get stuffed (arf).

But seriously, there will always be people who are not in the target audience for your work, for your ideas or even for YOU.

I’ll never forget a woman I worked with back when I was a teacher who would argue the toss constantly with any suggestion I made. It could be literally ANYTHING – from ideas on how to engage students, through to what kind of coffee machine the school should buy for the staff room.

Hell, I even repeated some of her OWN ideas back to her and she argued the toss with those too, simply because I was now saying them!

Some people are just harsh. They are not receptive to anything you say or do. So move on. Nothing to see here. Focus on finding the people who DO want to invest in you and move forwards with you … DO NOT obsess over the ones who don’t. It’s not productive.

3) Everyone is winging it

Remember the William Goldman quote about the industry, ‘No one knows what the **** they’re doing?’

This is 100% true. Just like everyone is winging it in real life, so are filmmakers, producers, publishers and other writers. Sure, they may have some ideas that might just work based on prior experience, but nothing is GUARANTEED and that scares them shitless.

Just like you.

4) You gotta get it done

If I had a quid for every Bang2writer who got angsty about the first draft, I would literally be as rich as JK Rowling right now.

Don’t worry. Get it written. Fix it later. You can’t fix a blank page.

5) It’s okay to think writing is hard

Yes, yes I know. And okay, the below is a bit of an exaggeration. Or is it??? (Yes it is). Seriously, we have enough harsh non-writers taking the mick out of us and doing us down.

We writers need to realise it’s OKAY to find writing hard, but to keep going regardless. If that means working out daily word/page targets, eliminating what’s distracting us, using tools and software and negotiation to this … then fine! BY WHATEVER MEANS NECESSARY. MORE: How To Fail As A Writer – EPIC EDITION

6) You mustn’t waste your talent

Being a writer for hire is fine if that’s what you literally want, obviously. But if you’re only writing for money; or for validation as a ‘proper’ writer who gets stuff published/made; or because you’re too scared to make that jump, then DON’T WASTE YOUR TALENT.

Write that spec screenplay. Take a year out to write that novel. Make a film of your own. Do whatever it takes to USE your talent to build your own dream, that’s ALL YOURS.

7) You mustn’t be one of the haters

It comes down to this: professional writers don’t feel the need to slag off all and sundry – whether that’s their colleagues; books, movies and TV shows; or even themselves. They know it kills their credibility, especially online. Others won’t trust them – and in an industry that values relationships so highly, this is a serious own goal.

What’s more, hating on stuff and whinging takes up waaaaay too much time! You could use this valuable time for writing and building on number 6 in this list. Think about it.

8) You can’t go off-piste

Rejection is something that happens to all writers and like number 1 min this list, will most likely NEVER go away in your career.

That’s why I love this graphic below and the idea of ‘reframing’ rejection as redirection. Whilst it’s true a writer should NEVER stop, s/he also probably shouldn’t keep hitting their hit against a brick wall either. Sometimes, the constant harsh reality of rejection is a message from the universe that says, ‘Are you *sure* this is the RIGHT way?’

It’s your job to listen and work out whether you need to take a different route to get where you want to be. THERE ARE MULTIPLE ROUTES!!!

9) You HAVE to set their world on fire

NEWSFLASH – if you need to chase people to get their interest in you or your work? That’s probably not the best place for you to be concentrating on. So:

  • If you’re getting endless radio silence? Move on
  • If a contact, agent or collaborator seems to lose interest? Move on
  • If your producer, publisher, agent, or colleagues don’t treat you or your work with the time and respect it deserves? Move on

NEVER, EVER accept a shit deal or let them keep you dangling. You and your writing is worth more than this. There are countless GREAT places who will feel lucky to have you. Go find them, instead.

10) People WILL do you wrong

These are the facts: most people in the industry are good and mean well, even if they can be careless. Plus they want to do good work and have dreams of awards and validation, just like you.

There IS a small minority of sharks, scammers and full-on arseholes out there who will take you for all they can get. But far more likely? That person you’re working with drop the ball, or throw you under the bus, especially when books get pulled or films fall apart.

When this happens, wanting to kill these people (or at least bury them up to their necks and coat their faces with honey) is a perfectly understandable reaction. But even a shitty email is not a great idea.

There’s one thing you should do … you guessed it! MOVE ON.

They will get theirs and you can remove yourself from the situation with your karma intact. Priceless. 

Bonus!

Start NOW!!

Remember number 6 on this list. Sure, there are loads of reasons why you *should* do the things you’re ‘supposed’ to do FIRST. Some of them are even good reasons, like paying the mortgage or looking after your kids (apparently turning them loose in the countryside is frowned upon. Who knew??).

So, Hugh Laurie has got it licked with this one. It’s harsh reality that you could die at any point, maybe tomorrow. You probably won’t, but that doesn’t alter the fact THERE IS ONLY NOW:

… NOW!!! Got that???

There is NO mythical future in which all your ducks will align in a row and conveniently fall into place to make life easier for your dreams. Conditions will always be impossible. So start now.

You won’t regret it. MORE: 33 Industry Insiders On Success, Dreams & Failure 

Good Luck!

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Failure Happens

Failure is part of life. We cannot avoid it. Whilst this is obvious, in ‘real life’ we can kid ourselves that it’s a ‘once in a while’ thing, especially once we’re out of school. It’s not like we take tests and exams every day, right?

But as writers, failure seems to be CONSTANT, especially in the form of rejection:

  • Producer, publisher or agent said no?
  • Only getting radio silences?
  • Didn’t place in that contest or scheme?
  • Film, show, web series or book reviewing badly?
  • No one buying your stuff?

I’m sure you can recognise all of these things instantly. You’ve probably had all of them at some time or another – I know I have! These can compound our feelings of failure and can make us wonder whether it’s all worth it.

Failure is a learning experience

But newsflash: we NEED failure, if only to learn what NOT to do.

Sure, obvious and stupid mistakes can be avoided on the advice of others who have already been there – that’s one of the purposes of this blog! But that’s the key … Others who have already been there.

Sometimes, we ourselves have to BE that first person. Other times, the only way we can find out is for ourselves. Simple.

As Thomas Edison said, ‘I have not failed, I have found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’  Edison is right on the money … As long as we learn from our mistakes, then there is no such thing as failure. Here’s another quote I love:

Failure makes us take responsibility

Lots of writers ask me WHY they’re not getting any success with their work. My question is always: ‘What are you DOING to ensure you get that success?’

Lots of them have a go at me, saying I don’t understand what it’s like for them. Some just shrug, confused. An even smaller minority will tell me their strategies and what has – and hasn’t – worked for them so far.

I’m happy to work with the last two. But there’s very little I can do for the first. You see, if you won’t take responsibility for your failure and blame others, or circumstance, or WHATEVER for your lack of success? Then you deserve to fail.

What’s more, if you keep doing the SAME THING and never re-evaluate, you deserve to fail too. Harsh maybe, but true.

Failure makes us rethink

When something goes wrong, we shouldn’t think ‘Woe is me, the world is against me’. Instead we should think like Edison or Einstein and say, ‘Well that didn’t work, what next?’

WHAT NEXT is always the key. Sometimes there will be lots of ‘what next’; other times, just a few. But if we treat failure as something that is not fatal and keep moving forward, then it is not possible to stand still …

… And then we succeed.

Sometimes, failure is not our problem

It is someone else’s. Sure, projects will up-end; books will get pulled; finance may collapse. You may end up with nothing to show for your efforts, or you may end up with a story that no longer looks like the one you first conceived. This obviously sucks. Big time.

But at the same time, we have to recognise our own efforts too. Even if a project goes tits up, as long as we have done what we’re supposed to, we can hold our heads up high. We have delivered.

Not afraid of failure?

Congratulations! You are now invincible. You will never take a shit deal, for fear of being thrown aside. You will walk away and know you are doing the right thing. You will never sell yourself short.

Always trust your gut. This means you have succeeded … Because you don’t act like failure is inevitable, like so many. This is why Coco Chanel’s quote is my favourite here (and not because she’s the only woman on this list!).

So, keep on keeping on … what else is there? If you keep going, you can’t NOT to get where you want to be, as long as you take responsibility and learn from your mistakes.

Good luck!

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Beverages & Writers

Isn’t it great to drink your favourite beverages while writing? For most writers, it’s just a natural creative process.

But did you know? Depending on your choice of beverages, you can help your brain work smarter! While most people know about the importance of proper diet, just a few of us pay attention to beverages we drink.

Choosing the right beverages can be key to better writing.Here’s the list of drinks which require only 15 minutes away from getting it to absorbing essential vitamins and minerals to increase your brainpower:

1) Water

Your brain needs the right amount of hydration to work correctly. Drinking water and brain functions are linked. When your body is dehydrated, your memory loses its agility. An adequate daily fluid consumption has a positive effect on your body and boosts brainpower.

2) Mango juice

It contains magnesium, vitamins B1 and B12, iron that have a positive effect on brain power. Moreover, this fruit affects your mood and uplifts it which means you can think positively and work better.

3) Lemon juice

Rich in vitamin C, it acts as an antioxidant that protects the brain against oxidative stress. Lemon juice contains potassium that helps the brain and nerve cells, improves concentration, memory and calms the mind.

4) Carrot juice

As a source of beta-carotene, carrot juice can boost brain power. Plus, it contains potassium which encourages normal functioning of the brain, and therefore prevent stroke.

5) Green tea

It helps you stay simultaneously calm and focused due to unique compounds, EGCG, caffeine, and L-theanine. Thus, the brain works better and you stay productive.

6) Sage tea

The leaves of sage are well-known for their antioxidative properties. It’s good for increasing brainpower as consuming sage leads to better brain functioning and boosting memory recall.

7) Rosemary tea

A cup of rosemary tea can help to soothe anxiety, promote cognitive functions and acts as an antioxidant which also leads to brain health improvement.

8) Coffee

As a natural energy drink, coffee is a stimulant that contains caffeine and helps to stay focused, productive, and alert. When it hits the brain, it suppresses a neurotransmitter called adenosine, and it influences attention, alertness, and sleep.

9) Cocoa

It is not just a tasty drink but a source of vitamins, too. It includes flavonols which means enhancing attention and boosting memory.

Concluding:

For writers, brain power a.k.a. the ability to perform or act effectively matters. Your creativity and productivity depend on your mental health, so it’s important to improve your brain power.Once you can boost creativity, you can dream up the stories that make compelling novels. And the faster you do it, the better!

It’s not a secret: a balanced healthy diet helps to stay focused and productive. The right beverages can help you improve your brain power, so get drinking the good stuff!

BIO: Hugh Beaulac is a content manager behind MC2 blog who also writes for various websites. As he tries to keep a work-life balance, Hugh is interested in tips on productivity and creativity boost. Follow him on Twitter to get in touch.

 

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It’s Cultural Diversity Day!

It’s May 21, which means we are celebrating cultural diversity today, as set up by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). But what does the term culture mean? Well, that can depend on who is using the term, but one commonly-used definition is:

“[Culture] is that complex whole which includes knowledge, beliefs, arts, morals, laws, customs, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by [a human] as a member of society.”

In other words, culture is a people’s ‘way of life’ meaning HOW they do things in their group. This group may be as large as a continent, country or group of countries; a race, religion or creed; identity, gender or sexuality; or something else (ie. disability).

Some cultures are very large; others are niche; many are somewhere in the middle … And lots of them all intersect together somehow, since most of us are not just ‘one’ thing.

Diversity on B2W

A focus on diversity has long been part of the remit of this site. Though female characterisation is the primary focus (and the one most Bang2writers turn up for in terms of clicks!), you will also find articles here about other elements to do with this topic.

As mentioned in my book, Writing Diverse Characters For Fiction, TV & Film, when we say ‘diversity’, the four topics people inevitably think of first are gender, race, LGBTQ and (sometimes) disability. But in real terms, if we look in the dictionary, ‘diversity’ simply means ‘variety’.

So if we’re talking about ‘cultural diversity’, then today we’re talking about all the different types of culture in the world, of every kind. With writing in mind then, writers have their own particular culture … AND represent many more within their writing!

So, I propose that today should be doubly meaningful for us.

Niche? No Thanks

In recent year, cultural diversity has taken centre-stage in storytelling. We not only see writers talking about it (as we had done for many years before now), we’ve actually seen stories make HUGE revenue and garner critical acclaim.

Even Hollywood has got in on the action: movies like Mad Max Fury Road and Black Panther have proved mass audiences are bored with the ‘same-old, same-old’. They want something more than the ‘usual’ – whatever that is. Diversity is no longer a niche interest.

Our choices and intentions

So, now is the time to keep that steamroller going. I still hear a lot of people talking about ‘diversity boxes’ being ticked, or disbelief that stories can even include diversity at all. When we’re literally making stuff up, this is very bizarre!

What’s more, marginalised creatives are still being sidelined in favour of the ‘same-old’ behind the scenes. Publishing is still mostly white; filmmaking is still mostly male – and that’s just for starters.

This is why we need to not only celebrate Cultural Diversity day today, we need to celebrate diversity – aka VARIETY! – every day, every time we consume something creative.

The B2W Diversity Pledge

We need to be intentionally inclusive in our choices and vote with our wallets … It’s the only way to get MORE VARIETY. So, do you pledge:

  • To watch films/TV and read books with female leads (protagonists and antagonists)?
  • To do the same for stories with female secondary characters?
  • Plus stories with female-dominated story worlds?
  • And to do the same as the above for stories featuring people of colour,  LGBTQ people, disabled people, working class people and more?
  • To look out for stories that are about ‘diversity issues’?
  • As well as stories that aren’t just about ‘diversity issues’?
  • To review and recommend diverse works to others?

BEHIND THE SCENES:

  • To watch films & TV by female screenwriters?
  • To watch films & TV by female directors?
  • Plus female directors of photography?
  • And credits for female editors?
  • To read books (fiction and non-fiction) by people of colour?
  • And do the same for books (fiction and non-fiction) by disabled authors?
  • Plus the same by LGBTQ authors?
  • And by working class authors?
  • To follow the careers of marginalised creatives?
  • To review and recommend work by marginalised creatives?

Make it count

There’s a lot here … and I get that people like to consume entertainment according to how they feel on any given day, too. It shouldn’t be a chore!

So, why not make a decision, such as:

  • ‘I will watch 5 movies by female directors in the next year’? or
  • ‘I will read 5 books by people of colour in the next year’ or
  • ‘I will watch/read 5 works by disabled creatives in the next year’

for your own pledge? You’ll be surprised by how easy this is … and how your viewing/reading habits change to become more inclusive organically.

Have fun with it … and enjoy!

More on this:

Stop saying ‘diversity’. Start writing VARIETY!

Top 7 Things Screenwriters Can Do To Improve Diversity

Top 5 Diversity Mistakes Writers Make

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