About Julian Williams

Writers’ Guild of Great Britain candidate member, currently working on the upgrade.

Les The Punter places 2nd

I entered Les The Punter in a Hammond House screenplay competition a few months back and it has placed second – a good result.

The prize is to have a trailer made for the film. It will be fascinating to see someone else’s interpretation of the story.

The trailer is due to be shown at an awards ceremony, December 11th.

Until then…

Action lines – back to basics.

Reading a short screenplay I wrote a few years ago, what’s holding it back is the way I’ve written its action lines. So, back to basics – an action line check list.

Part one, the English lesson:

  • Screenplays are written in present tense.
  • Try not to use as, while, are, then or is.
  • Avoid verbs ending in “ing“.
  • Use adverbs sparingly.

Part two, the content lesson:

  • Only write what you can see or hear.
  • Never give camera directions or write “we see…”.

Part three, the specific lesson:

  • Each action paragraph should be 3 lines or less.
  • Make each action line a single visual direction.

Any thoughts on part one and two or additions to part three, please pass them on!

Scrivener – a shout out for outlining

I’ve found a great piece of inexpensive software that has revolutionised the way I outline my writings. It’s called Scrivener and if you haven’t heard of it before read on…

Scrivener is designed for all kinds of writers who write all kinds of things. The one thing it’s great at enabling is the simple and efficient organisation of longer, more complex writing works.

You can download a demo here and there are plenty of online tutorials including YouTube ones which I found far more useful than books or even the introductory tutorial. That is, once I’d defined exactly what I wanted out of the software.

I use Fade In to actually write scripts. It’s amazing, dedicated and easy to use – and above all, I find, perfect for the actual act of putting scenes, action lines and dialogue down on a page.

Where I was struggling was in the process that generally comes before script writing – outlining. In fact, outlining for me has always been a nightmare. At best I’d be surrounded by a mess of paper and notes. At worst I’d just try and write a script straight out.

Both methods resulted in a pickle because, to be honest, my head is not particularly organised at the best of times.

Scrivener has a system of files and folders plus a corkboard feature that once mastered makes the outlining process a breeze. More importantly, having put several of my longer scripts through it, it shows up plot and character weaknesses and easily enables elements of a story to be moved, interchanged and added to or subtracted from.

It’s changed the way I write for the better and, if you give it a go, you may find the same thing too.

Oh, and a tip of sorts. I don’t bother with the templates Scrivener offers, I just use a blank document and build up the outline from there. And, I’ve found, there’s no need to learn everything about Scrivener. Just focus on the bits you need and the learning curve won’t feel like climbing Everest.

Scrivener for outlining, Fade In for writing. A perfect combination. Could it work for you?

Girl On The Beach

girl-watercolourFunny thing about being male. Walking alone you can look quite suspicious. Walk alone and have a camera in hand and “oh, it’s a photographer”. Or take a dog for a walk and the lonely male immediately fits back into others’ comfort zones. “Look, a dog walker”.

Girl On The Beach is a new short that touches on this phenomena. It’s the story of a young man who’s looking for love – and who finds he can’t do it alone.

As a first, I’ve dispensed with dialogue which seemed the natural thing to do with the story. For a little more detail – and to read the first page – click the link in the menu above.

For the full script, please get in touch.

 

BBC Radio Drama, a session in Birmingham

BBC Radio 3Just back from a fabulous three hours – a “Writing Drama for Radio” session at BBC Birmingham. In The Mailbox, which was all new to me.

We had a tour of the studios (where The Archers is recorded, amongst many other things), followed by a fascinating introduction to writing radio drama hosted by Writer in Residence, Caroline Horton and Jessica Dromgoole, Editor of Home Front, Radio 4’s epic First World War drama series.

BBC Radio 2Just to stand in the BBC studios was inspiring enough but Caroline’s and Jessica’s talks drove enthusiasm to a new level. I’m familiar through copywriting with commercial recording studios but the BBC facilities are something else. That said, I felt very at home there amongst the props, microphones and sound-damping pyramids.

Factoid one: For The Archers there are around 20 different gate opening sound effects, all created on a good old metal ironing board.

There were 45 of us in the group. When asked if anyone was writing a radio drama we all put our hands up. Well, there’s the competition I thought to myself, or a fraction of it.

BBC Radio 1Thank you BBC for being so generous with your time. It was an eye opening experience and a driver to write harder. Radio is my natural platform and this event has been a personal springboard to a more focused, knowledgeable approach to the medium.

Factoid two: For 45 minutes the word count should be around 7500 but that’s rarely accurate. Nothing beats reading your script out loud and timing it. 

The event was recorded and will form a podcast via BBC Writers’ Room in a few days. I’ll link it here when it becomes available.

One final takeout which I think is vital for anyone writing radio drama. Radio 4 are constantly on the lookout for a new voice. Originality is commissioned!

Bring on Free Kick…

A great meet

Tuesday proved a great day. Friend of mine, Pete Spencer, came down from Manchester to chew the cud on film.

Pete is an established screenwriter with IMDB black type. We met many years ago and his passion plus my yearnings have proved a bedrock for us.

Meeting with PeteJust wanted to say, Pete, it was brilliant to see you again and hear of your continuing success in the indie film world.

Our next meeting is up in Manchester – an overnighter. Manchester is now a hot bed of creative talent and one element of particular interest is the 2017 JB Shorts event.

Learn more about JB Shorts here.

Of specific interest is turning Les The Punter into a 15 minute theatre production. We’ll see.

Cheers Pete – and Ann – for making Tuesday a special day to remember!!

BTW: In the picture we’re both squinting. This was the result of a day – at 28 degrees – that had brilliant sunshine. It rained the day before and the day after. Pete, you’re blessed 🙂

Where Les existed

Delivering Les

Found this photo. An important find. So, from the beginning…

I wrote Les The Punter as a poem first, before the short screenplay. This picture is the pub – The Sportsman – where Les really existed. Until his demise of course. I went back (that’s me standing) to pin a laminated copy of the poem to the wall where Les used to sit, on my right beneath the TV.

On Saturday afternoons the pub was full of racing enthuisiasts and our bets were placed by the landlord via phone to Austin Wilkins, a local bookmaker.

The bar is as small as it looks, perhaps seating 40 with a further 20 standing on a busy night. Brian and his crew, including me, sat to my left where, just out of shot, there’s bench seating facing the TV. The bar is to my left and behind. Ashtrays on tables will give an indication of the date of this shot although I’m sure not too much attention was ever paid to legislation.

I remember the bar had a stone floor but it turned out that the landlord’s son was a carpet fitter and so we had carpet. And then we had carpet up the walls. He couldn’t stop.

Being an end of terrace pub there was a back room where parents took their children, a lounge which was more of a snug for those courting or being posh for a night (it seated no more than 10) and a serving hatch for off licence sales.

The smoking ban and corporatisation is killing most communal pubs but I believe The Sportsman is still alive. I drove past it only the other day and its front door was open.

Inside? Perhaps the ghost of Les and echos and shadows of horse racing and punting. And, who knows, maybe my poem is still on the wall.