My Blog

[Pinned] Want to Hook Your Reader Immediately?

 There’s something so thrilling and delicious about reading a really hooky first sentence or engaging first pages in a book - you just know you're about to be taken on a great ride.

Is there a writer on the planet who doesn’t want their first pages to thrill, delight and intrigue?

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[Pinned] Can't Find Time to Write? Get Carving

 There’s only one person on the planet interested in protecting your writing time and that’s you. It's time to pull up the drawbridge and fill the moat with piranha. 

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How to Fight "The Doubts"

Last month I received an email from a screenwriter client who, having received a “thanks but no thanks” letter, wanted to know what I tell myself to fight off the doubts that I'm not good enough - and stay focused on writing my story... It was such a great question and it really started me thinking - what exactly do I tell myself to fight off the doubts and keep going? Self-doubt affects just about every writer I know and I'm certainly no stranger to it. Being a writer means endlessly seeking validation and approval from the outside world. And sometimes we just don't get it. Cue the doubts aka the dark vortex of doubt aka the creeping fingers of dread aka the paralysing, grey corset of doom. So what do I tell myself to get the crazy under control? I tell myself to remember the achievements, successes, and praise. Remember that time you did good? "Doing good" can be anything from winning an award to impressing folks at your writing group with a killer first line or simply finishing your manuscript. ... Read the rest of entry »

Finished Your Screenplay? 6 Things to Do Before You Send

 Finally typed FADE OUT on the last page of your screenplay? Nice work.

Now you'll want to get it in front of people who you hope will be as excited about it as you are. But no matter whether you're sending it to a funding body, production company, competition or listing site - you want to give it the best possible shot, so consider doing these 6 things before you send it out into the world...

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The Best Dumb Questions About Screenwriting

 Every time I teach my Beginner's Guide to Screenwriting workshop I get asked these same questions and they’re almost always prefaced by the statement “this is probably a dumb question but...”

However, if no-one has told you about this stuff, how would you know? And I think knowing what you don’t know is actually kinda smart.

So let’s jump in and clarify some basics…

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I Hate Big Buts and I Cannot Lie

 I want to write one day BUT I’m waiting until I retire/until work calms down/until the house is renovated/until I’ve done one more workshop /until the kids have left school etc, etc, etc, etc.

And the list goes on.

I hear variations of these excuses all the time. And sometimes I hear one or two coming out of my own mouth - goddamnit.

But there are always numerous, perfectly freaking logical reasons for not investing your time in writing and, um, so what?

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What Writers Can Learn From Donald Trump

 Think Donald Trump has nothing to offer?  Not so, friend. 

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10 Excellent Reasons To Join A Writers Group

 There’s nothing like somebody waiting for you to deliver to give you a case of the giddy-ups. And how would it be if it wasn’t just one person waiting for you to deliver but a whole bunch?

Ladies and gentlemen – I give you – the writers group.

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Resolutions Suck - Set Up Awesome Writing Goals Instead

 New Year’s resolutions? You can keep 'em. They don’t cut it for me – and I bet they've been less than successful for you in the past.

So how about you and I sit down and set your firm 2017 writing goal?

I’m sure you’d much rather sit down with a plate of BBQ and a gin (dreamy!) but pretend I’m in the room fixing you with a “let’s get cracking look.” (If you've ever attended my live workshops that shouldn't be too difficult.)

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The Tyranny of One Day Thinking

I’ve been trying to finish the next draft of a play and it’s been problematic. Not because it is so difficult that I can’t do it or even that I don’t want to finish it – it’s because I seem to think I have all the time in the world. I’ve always understood that my time on the planet is limited but bizarrely it hasn’t stopped me putting off my writing by making other things a priority. Until recently that is - when that false sense of eternity got well and truly smashed. I received upsetting news about a friend, quickly followed by a sad email about a work colleague and then even more crappy news about another friend. (Seriously, 2016 come on!) This sad cluster of news was a timely reminder that we don’t live forever. Our bodies and minds have a habit of breaking. I knew that and yet somehow I kinda forget. This is what’s so wrong with “one-day” thinking. There’s no guarantee that “one day“ will actually come. I think there's a tyranny to "one day" thinking - especially for writers and aspiring writers. ... Read the rest of entry »

9 Ways to Improve Your Story's Chance of Winning

 Having been on more than a few judging panels, I have a good idea how entries and applications look from the judges' perspective – and how entrants can thwart their chances of winning.

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The Most Effective Antidote for Productive Writing Ever?

You know, there are many things that can get in the way of committing serious time to writing - procrastination, the need to earn money, TV box-sets and good old-fashioned crippling self-doubt. But I recently learnt that one of the most common impediments to writing regularly is children. I discovered this when a subscriber to my newsletter emailed me to say - please write an article about writing with children in the house. To be honest it's not something I've given much thought to as I'm sans nipper. But I was suitably moved by the heartfelt plea and figured the many writerly parents I know may have some insightful solutions - but no...  There was an immediate flood of responses – I’d clearly stumbled onto a hot topic - but it was the type of feedback that left me wondering if people don’t so much come to my workshops for the great learning but to indulge in socially acceptable child avoidance. This is what they generally had to say: It's impossible to write with children in the house. UNLESS y ... Read the rest of entry »

The Benefits of Bouncing

 It’s a no-brainer to have your completed work objectively assessed, edited and critiqued before you publish or send out into the world – but what about while you’re stuck in the thick of it? I always have questions and doubts while I’m writing.

Is that first sentence powerful enough? Is that line funny? Does this moment feel emotional engaging? Is the end of the scene strong enough? Is this idea actually a bit crap? That sort of thing.

 

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Why Hitting The Beach Should Be Top of Your 2016 To-Do List

 Already making plans for 2016? Me too.

No matter how often I remind myself I’m on holiday the old grey matter keeps circling back to the tasks that lie ahead. Our lives are now so frantic and achievement focused I don’t think I’m alone in finding it difficult to truly “turn off” during our precious holidays.

Annoying? Hell, yes. Productive? Not really.

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Loving Your Ho-hum Ideas

 Everybody has crappy ideas. You’re allowed to have them too. The world probably isn’t going to fall off its axis because your idea is a little bit average.

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3 Simple Ways to Push Yourself Creatively

So given you’re already in the business of being creative you could be forgiven for wondering why this subject is even relevant. Surely, you’re pushing yourself by doing it to the best of your ability. Fair cop good people - except amazing ideas and projects rarely fall out of your head fully formed. And human beings whilst innovative and clever are also rather fond of “easiest” and “familiar.”

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8 Ways New Screenwriters Undermine Their Screenplay

So you've nailed your kick-ass, original idea. You've spent long hours grinding out that first screenplay and now you're ready to send your baby into the world - or are you?

After reading hundreds of screenplays by new writers I've seen a number of flaws that will almost certainly ensure your screenplay gets the thumbs down - even if the idea is fab. A "great idea, badly executed" response isn’t going to make the rejection any sweeter - so give your baby a better chance by making sure you're not guilty of any of the following.

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  1. Re: The Most Effective Antidote for Productive Writing Ever?

    Thanks Fiona! Much appreciated. KB

    --Kathryn Burnett

  2. Re: The Most Effective Antidote for Productive Writing Ever?

    I've been writing for the whole of my children's lives. First my BA, then Masters, now Phd, and also...

    --fionakiwi

  3. Re: Can't Find Time to Write? Get Carving

    Of course you have to be focussed to write and having an end goal is a great help - Playa Flamenca

    --Playa FLamenca

  4. Re: Why Hitting The Beach Should Be Top of Your 2016 To-Do List

    I agree Kathryn. Goal setting is so important.

    --Toby

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