‘How do I sell more books??’

This question is something that is always on the mind of the author, self-published or traditionally published; fiction or non fiction. Sales is what unites all of us, because – quite simply – without readers, there really is no point in what we do! Eeek!

Many thanks to Michael Alvear for this illuminating graphic below!I knew about finding #2 about series, but numbers #1 and #3 were completely new to me. I was surprised that Amazon users pay such attention to ads, which means I’ll be looking into this in more detail for 2018.

Most of all though I was interested that people go to the bottom of Amazon pages. This made me think about about my own page viewing of Amazon – and yup, I do read all the way to the bottom! I like to find out who publishes what; what the sales rank is; plus what the reviews say. I think I had figured I do this because I am an author who is also a content marketer, but seems like many people do as standard – and this information is very valuable. To see the rest of Michael’s findings, CLICK HERE or on the pic.

Lastly, you may also remember Micheal wrote a recent, brilliant guest post entitled Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make In Dealing With Rejection recently. If you’ve just been rejected (who hasn’t??), DO make sure you check it out, ASAP! Also, make sure you click on the infographic to see the rest of the study’s conclusions.

More on Publishing, Novels & Sales on B2W:

5 Things I Learned Converting My Screenplay Into A Novel

I’ve Written A Book, Now What?

INFOGRAPHIC: DNA Of A Successful Book 

3 Steps To Writing, Editing & Submitting Your Novel

5 Things I Learned Writing My Debut Novel 

How NOT To Write A Novel – 5 Mistakes Writers Make

Top 10 (Normal) Struggles When Writing A Novel

5 Strategies For Self Publishing On A Tight Budget

10 Tips For Authors Promoting Their Books Online

How To Use Social Media To Market Your Novel

More Sites Worth Checking Out About Book Sales:

There’s loads of great sites out there for author advice … In fact, it can be hard to know where to start, there’s that many!! I get asked all the time which ones are good, so here’s the ones I check regularly:

Like this post? Then please pass on to your writer friends and followers. Good luck out there!

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From Writing For A Living

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Inspiring others is surely the dream of just about EVERY writer … And we all have books, movies, TV shows, even quotes that inspire us and keep us going!

I love this from Julie — I was feeling at a loose end, wanting a new challenge, but not really sure what to do … Then I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I enjoyed this book so much and for the first time, took notice of the so-called ‘domestic noir’ subgenre of crime fiction. Suddenly something clicked. That’s what I would write, too! And the rest, as they say, is history … Enjoy!

Have you ever read a book or piece of writing that made you feel you’re not doing enough? It’s not just because you were reading a grandiose piece of literature. You loved that book because it inspired you to act.

When you read such a mesmerising book, you see your vain life and you start thinking: “how can I spend my time here in a more meaningful way?”

That’s where we see the power of a great writer: inspiration.

No, we’re not talking about turning motivational talks into a book. In fact, that might be yet another writing mistake. We’re talking about inspiring people through your stories. Let’s see how you can do that …

1) Recognise Your Passion

What sets your soul on fire? What unlocks your desire to get into fiery discussions? Get in there! The more passionate you are about the theme of your book or screenplay, the more you’ll affect people with it.

You have moments of inspiration, don’t you? You’re watching your favorite TV show and all of the sudden, you feel inspired by something the characters do or say. Capture those moments. Write about the way they inspire you. If you don’t know what your true passions are, this is a good way to discover them.

2) Explore The Frozen Sea Within You

“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound or stab us. If the book we’re reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow to the head, what are we reading for? So that it will make us happy, as you write? Good Lord, we would be happy precisely if we had no books. And the kind of books that make us happy are the kind we could write ourselves if we had to. But we need books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”

With those words, Franz Kafka managed to capture everything a great reader is looking for in a great book. Your book has to keep the reader tossing and turning at night.

How do you do this? First, take that axe and crush the frozen sea you carry inside. Why don’t you try meditation? It’s not just about focus and productivity. Getting deep inside your thoughts and feelings will reveal the things that wrack your body and mind. With that, your writing will be getting more powerful and inspirational by the day.

3) Don’t Think *Just* about Your Reader

Most writing advice will say: Think about the reader. Find out what they want to read and give it to them. This is good advice, but we have to think of ourselves as writers too. We must respect that inner drive to create. We write because it’s the only thing we believe we should be doing. Our voices matter. It’s exactly what makes your work distinct!

4) Ask for Another Writer’s Opinion

Do you have a fellow writer who can read part of your script and tell you how it affected them? If you don’t, it’s time to start making connections.

You can even turn to some of the top essay writing companies for such collaboration. You can hire a writer or editor, who will approach your work from a reader’s point of view. Their feedback will mean a lot. You’ll know what aspects to improve or change before you get that book or screenplay out there.

5) Remember WHY You Write

How long has it been since you last saw Memento? Remember how Leonard was forcing himself to remember? Each tattoo and each photo was supposed to remind him of something important.

Find your memento. Remember why you write! It may be a favourite book, movie or TV show. It may be an old journal that you still keep. It may be a pen that your grandfather gave you. It may not even be an object. It may be just a memory, or feeling.

The reason why you write will keep you pouring your heart and soul into your work. When you start working on a new project, it’s easy to get bogged down in details. That makes you lose your passionate voice. The memento will get you away from that state.

Concluding:

Inspiring people has got to be one of the most important reasons for being a writer. You enjoy expressing yourself, so you better do your best to reach the reader’s soul with that expression of your own.

Good luck!

BIO: Julie Petersen is an English tutor and a freelance writer. She works with top essay writing companies and contributes articles to the number of educational magazines.

More About About Inspiration on B2W

50 Industry Insiders Share Their Filmmaking Secrets

43 Famous Writers Share Their Secrets Of How To Be Happy

33 Industry Insiders On Success, Dreams & Failure

Infographic: 30 Doses Of Inspiration From Fictional Teachers & Mentors

25 Writing Secrets Of Famous Authors

Infographic: 24 Experts On The Foundations Of Success

Top 20 Quotes For Writing Success

Top 10 Tips For Finding Writing Inspiration

7 Inspiring Tips From Outstanding Screenwriters

7 Motivational Quotes From THE Shonda Rhimes Herself

6 Ways YOU’RE Stopping Your Own Writing Success

Good Luck!

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My Number 1 Top Submission Tip?

Bang2writers ask me all the time for my top submission tips … but the thing is, submissions ain’t rocket science! As long as you check and follow the submissions guidelines, you should be fine. (‘Well, DUH!’ you might say, but really, believe me when I say writers are STILL shooting themselves in the foot on this one!).

But following the submissions guidelines is even EASIER in the digital age, since most agents, publishers, producers and filmmakers will have these guideline listed on their websites. Get Googling! Alternatively, check out the submission tip links below.

Key Questions

But okay, I’ve been working with writers long enough to notice common submissions questions they end up agonising over. Here they are:

– Does the title page affect the overall page count?

Nope. ALWAYS include a title page, too (unless asked not to).

– Should I put my name and contact details on the title page?

YES!!! (Unless you are expressly asked not to). While we’re on the subject, make sure you name your files too when you submit stuff digitally (again, unless you are expressly asked not to).

– It doesn’t say what *exactly* to submit. So what do I send?

When it doesn’t say a word or page count, a full draft and a one page pitch is fine.

– Do I HAVE to send a one page pitch?

If says you do, then yes. If not, then you don’t … BUT it is always a good idea to send a (good) one pager. It’s another chance to sell your story/writing skills ‘off the page’. Here’s some tips on writing a great one pager, plus a free PDF download one page pitch reference guide (it’s the red one!).

– The website says ‘no unsolicited material’ — now what do I do???

Simple … This means they don’t want stuff they haven’t expressly asked for, that’s all. So you get them to ASK FOR IT.

– Erm, how do I get people to ASK for my writing???

You query them! This involves writing a short, concise letter or email to the person you want to ask for your stuff. Check out the infographic below and/or the links. What’s the worst that could happen? They may say no, for ignore you altogether … Alternatively, they may just SEND IT! Eeek!

GOOD LUCK!!!

More on B2W About Querying & Submissions:

Can’t get read? Yes You Can! Top 16 Tips 

No Unsolicited Material? So Get It Solicited!

3 Tips To Get Your Work Solicited (And Not Blow It In The Very Next Email)

5 Tip For Writing Effective Query Letters & Emails 

5 Ways To Impress A Literary Assistant (Or At Least Not Irritate Them)

5 Steps To Writing The Perfect Cover Letter 

Top 5 Submission Mistakes Writers Make 

Download a free Submissions Checklist (PDF) at B2W Resources


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Social media gets a bad rap as a ‘time suck’ for writers, but as any Bang2writer knows, I think social media is BRILLIANT for us … Not only can we get ideas and inspiration, we can use it as a ‘water cooler’ to chat ideas through (either overtly or covertly). We can crowd fund for opinions and answers to our queries, as well as observe debates, talks and even flame wars too. What’s more, we can even find out what our potential audiences are interested in (or conversely, NOT interested in!) too — this is one of the main reasons I ended up penning Writing Diverse Characters For Fiction, TV and Film!

So, when Robert suggested this article, I bit his hand off. Some great tips here, so get searching on social media … and researching that bestseller or blockbuster… But most of all, have fun! 😀

Sometimes, you’ll find yourself short of ideas or inspiration to write. It is normal and happens to everyone. However, you can get GREAT ideas from social networks if you know how to use them properly. Ready? Let’s go!

1) Be open and engaged on social networks

First things first. Sometimes, literally all it takes to get inspired is a single post, question or answer! True story. Once it clicks, your floodgate of ideas will open automatically. But you need to be open and engaged. Stay active on social networks till you find the inspiration or ideas you seek. MORE: 3 Quick, Useful And FREE Ways For Writers To Stay Up-To-Date Online 

2) Observe discussions on Twitter

There are Twitter management tools that can help you monitor conversations about a particular topic. These include Tweetdeck, HootSuite or CoTweet. All you need do is to set up your search for the keyword you want.

3) Monitor Industry Leaders on Twitter

You can get inspiration and great ideas from leaders in a particular niche. Find out what they are discussing. The question is how can you conduct this type of search? You can make use of search directory like Twellow or WeFollow. With Twellow, you can search for keywords on Twitter profiles with the more followers.

4) Spend more time in your niche

Don’t be a Jack of all trades. You need ideas or inspiration that is specific to your niche. Follow industry leaders or people in your niche who have built a name for themselves. Read their previous and present posts till you find what you are looking for … Like Bang2write! Join the B2Wers on Facebook and get chatting, find out what’s important in your niche.

5) Keep an eye on discussions on Facebook

Find out the hottest topics people are discussing on Facebook using Kurrently.  With Kurrently, you can monitor updates made by public profiles though it is not as advanced as the search queries for Twitter. TOP TIP: include keyword phrases while searching, like “How do I” then add the keyword thereafter.

6) What is most popular in the community?

You can search social networks for hot topics to get useful ideas. On Twitter, tools like Digg can help you to find hot topics on a particular channel.

You also need to conduct more research to broaden your idea and knowledge of the topic you are writing on – otherwise you could end up with a red face! But this will inspire you, too. You can also get more ideas to add to what you’re working on by reading other people’s comments online. MORE: Top 10 Tips For Finding Writing Inspiration

GOOD LUCK!

BIORobert Mora is a researcher, corporate advisor, and writer at Ezassignmenthelp.  Also, he is a marathon runner and participates in local and world competition. Robert has a passion for blogging, so he likes to share his thoughts with internet users.

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One of the remits of B2W is demystifying script reading, especially screenwriting contests, so I’m DELIGHTED to have Phil Gladwin of UK contest Screenwriting Goldmine back on the site. The contest is currently open for entries, so make sure you utilise Phil’s great insider info here before submitting your script. Don’t miss the extra links at the bottom, either. Good luck!

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1) Miss the early bird entries

A lot of contests, including Screenwriting Goldmine, reward early entries with a discount on entry fees. They do this because it helps them stagger the reading . If you miss out on these windows your entry costs can go up by 50% or more, which, if you’re entering a lot of contests (as you should be), can really add up.

Takeaway: Look out for discounts on script submissions and make sure you take them. If funds are tight this can mean the difference between entering one or several scripts.

2) Submit A Novel

A script and a novel are different beasts entirely, yet new writers often enter something that reads more like a book. . Pages of scene description, with dialogue that goes on for hours. Not good. In fact very bad. And then there are entries that read like bad poetry: all fancy polysyllables and no story. A good screenplay is light, sharp, fast moving and easy to read. It provides a well-structured skeleton that the director, actors and production crew can clothe.

Takeaway: If you’re not sure how dense is too dense, read some current movie scripts from www.script-o-rama.com, or the BBC Writersroom, to see how it’s done.

 3) Send a script that isn’t ready

The scripts that get listed as finalists in the Goldmine contest are all of professional standard. They stand up on craft, concept, and presentation. They feel mature, strong, and sharp. So before you enter, be honest with yourself:  is your script ready?

Takeaway: it’s rare for a first draft to win a good contest. Schedule the time to finish, let it stew for a few days, and then rewrite it at least once. Hiring a good script consultant is never a waste of money.

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4) Bank On A Golden Ticket

Winning a script contest is not going to lift you into the ranks of the constantly working. Hell, even winning a BAFTA doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily work again. Even if the first prize is an option, the chances of that script making it into production are low, and the odds of one contest win carrying you into a long term career are lower still. The industry just doesn’t work that way. See placing in a contest as a significant addition to a CV.

Takeaway: Never stop playing the long game. Don’t for a minute think winning a contest means you can sit back.

5) Throw Your Toys Out The Pram/Give Up When You Are Not Placed

All contests are just beauty contests. They have hundreds, even thousands of entries. Getting placed or winning depends on the opinion of a very small number of people. Opinion is subjective. The opinion of these people is in no way definitive. Never let not placing in a contest defeat you for long.

Takeaway: No one, two, or ten failures to place should come close to defeating your mighty desire to write. Remember, all it takes in the end is for one influential person to fall in love with your stuff!

Good Luck!

BIO: Phil Gladwin is a British screenwriter / script editor / entrepreneur, and is the founder of www.screenwritinggoldmine.com, a site for British TV writers. The Screenwriting Goldmine Awards is now in its sixth year and attracts significant industry interest for the finalist writers.

Previously On B2W:

Is Your Screenplay Ready? AKA 12 Qs To Ask Of Your Writing by Philip Gladwin

How To Beat The Gatekeepers – TERRIFYING infographic from Screenwriting Goldmine

Top 5 Story Mistakes Even Good Writers Make 

Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make Dealing With Rejection

6 Things Writer Just Don’t Get About Script Readers

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Female characters_Katniss & friends

So, with the recent Hollywood scandal, there’s been a lot of discussion online about how a greater variety of representations of women in fiction, film and TV is more important than ever.

As writers, we can do our bit by rejecting the ‘same-old, same-old’ when it comes to ALL characterisation, but especially female characters who are too often viewed through the male lens. Next time you’re coming up with a female character (protagonist, antagonist or secondary), consider these questions:

1) Does she have to be GOOD?

We’re seeing more and more female antagonists, especially in crime novels but more and more often in movies and TV, too. This is great! Less great is the fact nearly all female antagonists have a ‘good reason’ for being bad (losing babies/children top of the list, especially in films). More variety of bad girls, please! MORE: 5 Problems With Female Leads 

2) Does she have to be WHITE?

We’re seeing BAME characters more and more often now, but most of the time they’ll be MEN. White women shouldn’t stand in for ‘all women’. Not all stories with BAME characters need to be about race, either.

3) Does she have to be a CARE-GIVER?

When we see parents in books, TV and movies, we nearly always see MUMS – rarely Dads. Sisters will frequently be care-givers too to younger siblings and have to rescue them all the time. Why? By the way, ‘Warrior Mom’ was a brilliant representation, especially in the thriller genre — but it’s feeling a bit old now.

4) Does she have to be EXTRAORDINARY?

Very often, women in books, TV and movies are extraordinarily talented in some way. This is great when we’re dealing with *those* kind of characters in *those* kind of stories, but where is ‘EveryWoman’? We have EveryMan. Why do women always have to be ‘extra’??

5) Does she have to live in MAN’S WORLD?

Sometimes a female character will be up against a patriarchal system, so this can work well … But most stories reflect the world we ALL already live in. What if it was flipped and your storyworld was matriarchal, instead? What would you lose/gain? MORE: The 1 Gender Swap That Could Make ALL THE DIFFERENCE In Your Story

6) Does she have to be a WAG?

For the uninitiated, ‘WAG’ stands for ‘wife or girlfriend’. Now, I’m not one of those who says being a WAG automatically weakens a female character (here’s a couple of great ones), but they ARE overrepresented. Where are all the single laydeez? What if your WAG was the main character and your menz were HOBs (husband or boyfriend!) instead??

7) Does she have to be BEAUTIFUL?

DYK? The most common description of a female character in a screenplay (and often books too) is ‘beautiful’, whereas male characters will be described by their non-physical attributes. C’mon writers, this is an easy one.

8) Does she have to be SEXUALISED?

Again, plenty of stories in which sexualised female characters can feature – B2W ain’t no prude. Let’s just see a bit more variety … Plus, do these female characters have to be sexy 24/7??? Even the sexiest female character alive is still supposed to be a holistic character – let’s see her in some other poses too, for crying out loud.

9) Does she have to be a FACILITATOR?

If your female character’s sole role function is to BREAK OPEN a male character’s emotions, act as a sounding board, or simply react to what *he* does (usually by crying at the end of the phone!), then STOP RIGHT NOW. Whilst secondary characters always orbit round the main character, this is an epic fail. Reassess her function ASAP!

10) Does she have to be THE ONLY ONE?

Too many stories have a BUNCH of varied male characters, then what I call ‘the girl character’, creating ‘The Highlander Effect’ (‘There can be only one!’). Too often there’s NO story reason for this, either. Ugh, boring!!! So think about whether you can add more female characters to your group to improve that dynamic — we’re waaaaaay over just the one. MORE: Top 5 Female Character Mistakes

DOWNLOAD THE CHECKLIST AS A PDF:

Simply click on the pic below to download it. Enjoy — and please do share on your profiles and pages with writer friends.

Want more on female characters?

Then check out my new book, Writing Diverse Characters For Fiction, TV and Film. Hailed as ‘A timely guide to creating original characters and reinvigorating tired storylines‘ by Debbie Moon, creator and showrunner, Wolfblood (BBC). If you want to attempt to write a character that’s not ‘the usual’ but are afraid of getting it wrong, then this one is for you! CLICK HERE.

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TV writing is a major interest of the Bang2writers, so many thanks to Drew from FrameYourTV for getting in touch with this fab infographic!

Knowing about budgets – especially what is possible for what money! – is absolutely paramount for screenwriters. Not because they should write ‘for the market’, but because this will aid their story choices at foundation level. Too often a writer will blithely claim their screenplay or idea is ‘low budget’ when the reality is it’s anything but.

So this infographic makes for interesting reading, reminding us that stars are also likely to pick up massive pay packets in addition to the actual MAKING of the show too … Though of course Kevin Spacey might be feeling the pinch nowadays after getting House of Cards cancelled, thanks to the recent Hollywood abuse allegations! (Not Clare Danes though, she’s in Homeland! 😉 )

Which is your favourite of the shows listed below? Let us know in the comments.

More On TV Writing On B2W:

How To Write TV Series Bibles

5 Tips On Becoming A TV Showrunner

How To Write Daytime TV Drama

9 Steps To Get Your Spec TV Pilot Written, Edited & Sent Out

Spotlight On Sitcom Structure: 6 Tips For Writers 

How To Plot TV Series: ‘Story of the Week’ vs. Serial Element


The-Most-Expensive-TV-Shows-of-All-Time

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Male POV

In her Guardian article, Time To Make The Link Between Abuse And Film Content, actress and filmmaker Kate Hardie makes the compelling argument that men continue to hold the power on how women’s bodies are portrayed on screen:

“[Nudity] is nearly always decided upon and filtered through male eyes. Nearly every actress will tell you about scripts that included scenes of female nudity that seem to have no apparent reason for being there and that are often degrading.”

As any longterm Bang2writer knows, I have no problem with nudity on screen – in fact, I’m more likely to argue FOR more of it, especially when it comes (arf) to men and what I call ‘equal opportunities nudity’. Hell, if female characters are to get their kit off, then male characters  should too as far as I’m concerned!

And certainly, in the last fifteen years or so the ‘female gaze’ has been invoked via the likes of muscle-bound, naked men courtesy of Wolverine and his mates (other buff naked guys are available).

But outside the realm of characterisation (theoretical), there’s the PHYSICAL realm – i.e. actors have to *get* naked. So Hardie raises an interesting point about the ‘degrading’ nature of so many instances of female nudity for actresses.

Hugh Jackman let it all hang out at various intervals for nearly two decades as Wolverine

Nakedness and Power

So, what’s the difference? Well, this is the thing. Wolverine might be naked, but he’s still POWERFUL. There’s zero vulnerability there. We see nakedness in male characters in this way as STANDARD on screen.

It’s this automatic strength that’s missing in terms of female characters. Instead, we’ll see them naked/scantily-clad and:

  • Sexysee representations of sex workers, but also just women in general. (Women are far more likely to be represented as sexy as standard, clothed or unclothed for that matter).
  • Vulnerable – cue lots of female characters in the shower for no real reason, especially if they’re VERY SAD about something that happened in the story.
  • Dead – whilst it’s true many murder victims IRL turn up naked, the overrepresentation of female bodies (especially white female bodies that are somehow still beautiful and poised and even, ugh, sexy) on screen is waaaay OTT. (See the sexy, vulnerable girl who winds up dead, posed in an objectifying way for the UNholy trinity on this one!).

Note that I’m NOT being a ‘feminist killjoy’, calling for a veto on sexy, vulnerable or dead naked female characters by the way. There’s been plenty of stories in which the above have worked (at least for the first two, anyway). As ever, it’s not that anything *exists*, but that there’s not enough variety.

Atomic Nudity

Consider Charlize Theron’s character in ATOMIC BLONDE. The lead Lorraine IS impossibly sexy, but she’s also vulnerable *and* incredibly powerful. We see her naked in a myriad of ways in the story and none of this is a problem, because we’re seeing  hfer clothed and unclothed in various contexts, rather than just the one.

We see Lorraine bathing and tending her wounds in ice baths (to show what a badass fighter she is); plus she spends a lot of time in her underwear smoking and listening to tapped phones (what woman hasn’t done that?? That’s my whole weekend, right there).

Plus, as Theron herself says of *that* sex scene with her co-star Sofia Boutella: ‘I’m a dancer … She’s a dancer … Being naked is nothing‘.

Of course, Theron is a big star. She can presumably tell filmmakers to F right off if she feels the nudity is gratuitous, degrading or humiliating.

Many other – especially younger – characters don’t have this privilege and never will. So it’s up to the (predominantly male) creators to consider instead whether nudity is justified in their projects, as Hardie alludes to here:

“I wonder whether the powerful creative men making it so clear that they know that Harvey Weinstein is a sexual predator – and that sexual predators are wrong – will also take time to truly look at all the other ways, overt and subtle, in which their male power dominates our industry.”

It doesn’t have to be either/or on this one, either. Again, no ‘feminist killjoy’ stuff here, saying  no one deserves to get their rocks off. I know I did during ATOMIC BLONDE – the fact Lorraine isn’t *just* hot is the icing on the cake.

Aaah, internet. You’re always there for me. Love you, Charlize. (And Sophia! WOW!)

What Writers Can Do

Obviously there are limits to what screenwriters can do. 9/10 we don’t get to decide what even movies and TV *we’ve* written LOOK like. Despite our best efforts to the contrary, we may end up with something we don’t like in our stuff. Shit happens.

But there ARE story decisions we can make in approaching female characters that can at least HELP AVOID the obvious exploitative, male lens stuff like I’ve outlined above. In other words:

Don’t JUST write sexy, vulnerable or dead naked women please!!!

Oh and before anyone says it … This doesn’t mean *never ever* writing nudity, either. If it fits the story, write it. But for God’s sake actually make it count and remove that *automatic* male lens.

Politics aside, it’s dull seeing the same thing all the time! Let’s have a little more variety, yeah?

Want more on this?

Want more on writing a story that’s not the ‘usual’ or the ‘same-old, same-old’? Check out my latest writing book, Writing Diverse Characters For Fiction, TV & Film – I put gender, race, ability and LGBT characters under the microscope in probably the first book of its kind! ‘Lucy Hay nails it’ says BAFTA-nominated screenwriter and author Stephen Volk (Ghostwatch; Afterlife; The Awakening); ‘A timely guide to creating original characters and reinvigorating tired storylines’Debbie Moon, creator and showrunner, Wolfblood (BBC). GET IT HERE, or click on the cover pic for details.

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So, I did a blind-read on THE STOLEN waaaaay back in 2010 via an investment initiative — and I gave it a RECOMMEND. I wondered what had happened to it off and on over the last seven years … So imagine my surprise when the filmmaker Emily popped up in my inbox recently! It must be fate!

I’m DELIGHTED to hear how THE STOLEN has made it to screen and I’ll definitely be getting my tickets. Make sure you support indie filmmaking, female filmmakers AND female leads by throwing your weight behind it. CHECK HERE or click the below for cinemas near you and ENJOY!

StolenUKPoster2017

1) Thrillers grab distributors 

It wasn’t really until we started talking to sales agents that they flagged the word ‘thriller’ as it was so much more bankable than ‘Pianoesque-Western-but-not-really Historical-Adventure?’   And it was fascinating how much more pick-up we had from distributors wanting to read in advance when our script was pitched as a thriller.

Thrillers are probably the most commercial genre and wonderfully can be categorised against a number of sub genres; horror thriller, pycho-sexual thriller, mystery thriller and our case, a western-thriller. MORE: 10 Quick Tips About Writing Thriller Screenplays

2) The Devil is NOT in the details

Distributors like a clear through-line with the lead character, and don’t like getting too bogged down with ensemble.

This can be a challenge if you want your supporting roles to be fully formed people – but its once you must overcome, because those well written supporting roles (in our case there were at least six) not only add quality to the film, they allow for more potential casting of named talent.  So even if you need to cut back the foliage in your thriller script, don’t forget the supporting characters.

3) Your director will want to be involved in the script rewrites.

A writer does need to put their ego aside, each edit or re-write suggestion should be looked at from the point of view of its worth in improving the film, not whether it was your idea or not.

Yes, it may mean that you share a credit, which can be hard to swallow – but it can also mean that it improves the film so much that it benefits the writer enormously in the long run – or even in fact means that it gets made at all.=

If suggestions are made that seem fundamentally wrong they absolutely should be discussed heatedly, that’s the only way to ensure that both parties really can back up their suggestion with solid reasoning.  I believe a good ‘discussion’ emotional or otherwise does bring out the best in the re-writing process and can indicate that an exciting solution may surface which is better than both the opposing ideas. MORE: How To Write Action Set Pieces

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4) Sometimes things just don’t work out … which can be GOOD!

I wrote a wagon falling off a cliff. The Production Team and the stunt team were dying to chuck a wagon off a cliff. But when myself and the director discussed it, we realised that we just couldn’t make it look like what was in our heads.

So we had to find another way of killing off one of our supporting characters and the answer came from … Not me, nor the director/co-writer, but our very clever art director! She said simply, ‘he could drown’ …

… Well yes he could!!! Not only did that fit with what was historically happening regularly in that particular location, but drowning takes a while and we could make that seriously compelling!  This brings me onto the next point …

5) Filmmaking is a team sport

The crew and cast are collaborating with you to make the film, their ideas and improvisations and problem solving skills feed into the film and tinge it with a little bit more uniqueness.  If you allow people to blossom and breathe,  acknowledging and respecting their talent? They will give you their best.

Equally, one persons ‘blossoming’ shouldn’t take over another’s garden, so it’s a balancing act! MORE: 8 Mistakes That Will Kill Your Thriller Screenplay DEAD

6) It’s All In The Edit

We had an interesting experience, where we were pushed into screening the film early (code for “I caved in, and didn’t stand my ground”) and the distributors all came back saying it was 12 minutes to long.

We had done a series of test screenings previous to any cuts with an average audience who really liked it. But they do not buy the film – film distributors do and film distributors do not think like an average audience.  They dictate what the average audience (or niche audience) likes, even if they’re wrong.  So you cut your movie for the distributors, otherwise you won’t sell the fucker.

Back to the edit we went and the fat was sliced off, a smell of danger plopped in here and there in a glance or a close-up of a gun, the music tweaked and amped up and before we knew it – the stakes seemed higher, the danger more palpable and the whole thing more gripping.

So, maybe the distributors do know what they’re talking about!?

7) It doesn’t feel like you thought it would!

I was not expecting to be stressed up to the eyeballs juggling financiers, acting agents, lawyers, contracts, film commissions, fittings, corsets, egos, cash-flow issues, sleepless nights, family tension and an eight month old baby.  This was not how my big dream was meant to pan out.  And yet, that is how it has, and I’m not out of the woods yet.

I’ve had to really get over it not being how I thought it would, because I’ve not been able to enjoy what we achieved.  All I could see was the responsibilities, the debts, the still-being-broke-ness of it all and not that I’ve written, produced and acted in an epic, historical, western, thriller. Which is pretty extraordinary.

So although it’s easy for me to say in hindsight, try to bend like the reed when you make a film.  It will never turn out how you thought it was going to … and that’s okay! MORE: The B2W Ultimate Thriller Writing Cheat Sheet

Watch The Movie!

THE STOLEN is in Selected Cinemas Nationwide NOW! CLICK FOR BOOKING LINKS.
BIO: Emily Corcoran is a New Zealand-born, UK-based writer, producer and actress. She has made 12 feature films as a producer or writer and appeared in 11 feature films as an actress, alongside various TV and stage work.  She has won a number of awards and her films have had both BAFTA and BIFA nominations.

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Same-Old-Ideas

So, every now and again I will be on Twitter or Facebook and a writer will post about their work in progress, asking for feedback for their story/concept. It might be a novel or a screenplay and it might even be a half-decent pitch in terms of actual layout, language and The 3 Cs – clarity, conflict & characters.

Probably because of this, my heart will sink even further for them. Why?

Because the concept will be exactly like everything I’ve heard before.

Samey Samey-ness

You know the type: we’re talking the USUAL – vampires and werewolves; X Men-type super beings; a teen girl standing up to the system like Katniss in The Hunger Games or Triss in Divergent; time-travelling guys and their companions like Dr Who; duos investigating the paranormal like Mulder & Scully; Ken Loach-style teens destroying their lives; a disparate bunch going on a road trip like in Little Miss Sunshine to learn what’s important.

In other words, at pitch level it merely comes across as a REHASH of what we’ve seen before. Nooooooo!

Hard Sell

Even worse, those writers will agree when someone says, ‘This is a hard sell.’ Those writers will insist, ‘But mine’s different to that previous published or produced project.’ 

And you know what? It might well be, in the execution. But as every Bang2writer knows – it’s NOT the execution of the draft that counts. You have to get to the read first … And if your pitch sounds like a SAMEY REHASH, you’re not going to get that far. Sad but true.

Pre-sold Versus Same-old

In other words, if it sounds TOO MUCH LIKE a very famous published and/or produced property? Then this is serious threat to the success of your pitch and whether you’ll get a read request.

For some writers – the ones telling the truth about their execution being different, anyway – all their pitches need is a tweak to reflect HOW theirs is different. After all, pre-sold elements told a new way are highly desirable. HIGHLY. It turns ‘Oh god NOT THIS again’ to ‘why haven’t I seen this before???’

So, if you have a genuine NEW twist on the vampire, time-travel or werewolf myth? WE WANT THIS. But you have to let us know, right from the bottom up – and that STARTS with the logline. This is why pitching is so difficult.

Target Audience

But very often, it’s not JUST about the logline, but the target audience. If people have ‘seen’ this story before, there’s no reason to invest in it all over again. Those writers will have to own up to the fact that actually, their execution won’t cut it either.

But some writers never want to hear advice that contradicts with what they want to write, EVEN when it literally improves their chances in the marketplace. Instead these writers will doggedly insist they’re writing what they want NO MATTER WHAT, even when faced with questions like this:

‘How is this different to [published book] or [produced project]’?

The answer will invariably be:

‘It just IS – read it and find out!’

NopeNopeNopeNopeNopeNopeNope.

Same … But DIFFERENT!

We hear a lot about the idea that the industry wants ‘the same … but different’. This is true. But a lot of writers focus too much on ‘the same’ and not enough on THE DIFFERENT. As a result, their writing might be great, but at pitch level there’s no spark, no special SOMETHING that marks them or their project out … so they don’t get off the starter blocks.

This is sad because those same writers will be bewildered when they don’t get anywhere. Then they will repeat the cycle again. And again. And again. These same writers will get disillusioned and depressed and eventually give up on their dreams. I’ve seen it over and over. Supersadface.

But, if writers already know something is a hard sell, why the hell dont they go back to pitch level to make their story more genre-busting?  Because it’s a mixture of optimism, naivety and ultimately laziness. They want to do what they want to do.

The savvy writer needs to identify target audience – and if we’ve already seen this story, WHY would we watch another that’s the same? We need a REASON to get on board. Something being ‘well written’ is not enough. If you think it is, then think about the last 3 movies, TV shows and novels you consumed. Was it because they were ‘well written’? You can’t have known this in advance!

It was because the concept appealed for some reason, pure and simple. 

Pros Versus Amateurs

But THIS is the difference between amateurs and pros:

A pro writer will JUMP at the chance to hear advice that will stop them wasting hundreds of hours. So if you hear those questions that ask you HOW yours is different from a previous work and you don’t know? This is a red flag. You need to find out, reassess and if necessary, revisit your concept at pitch and/or draft.

Don’t be that amateur that insists it will all be fine, as long as someone will JUIST READ the draft. Because it won’t get that far if your story misfires at pitch level. Sad but true. Good luck out there!

Last Call for The Screenwriters’ Craft Crash Course

https---cdn.evbuc.com-images-29888419-3773478736-1-originalWe all know format is the LEAST of our problems as screenwriters … but *how* do we improve our writing craft?? My course with LondonSWF, THE CRAFT CRASH COURSE runs for the first time this year — THIS WEEKEND — which is Nov 11-12th, at Ealing Studios, London. Over two days, we will put writing craft under the microscope & you will learn tricks to elevate your writing to the NEXT LEVEL. Don’t miss out, there’s only a few places left … CLICK HERE for full details of the course (or on the pic above). Act now to avoid disappointment. See you there!!!

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