Saturday, 29 January 2011

'Selling Sweeney' update


It seems like I should write-to-order more often.

I've just had an email from Scott Barber - the producer who requested the short scripts via Shooting People - to say that he really liked the 'Selling Sweeney' script and thought that this was the one he'd film.

It'll probably have to go through one or two script tweeks - as any screenplay would - and it's very early days but it looks as if I might have my first piece of work filmed in March/April.

Writing to order

I sent a copy of 'Coffee, Biscuits and Bullets' off in response to a script call from a post on Shooting People at the start of the week and got a very positive response from the producer asking for the screenplays. Then I got an email from him asking if I had anything along the lines of 'The Sting'/'Hustle'?

No, I didn't, but I wasn't going to tell him that.

So I wrote a new 11-page screenplay with the general theme of his synopsis in just over a day.

Phew. First time trying to write something to order.

The result is 'Selling Sweeney': a Hustle-type short which I'm quite happy about. The worse case scenario is that I have a new piece of work, and had the experience of writing something new to a (self imposed) deadline.

I sent it over to him earlier today, so just have to wait now to see what he thinks.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

New Story - Spilled Blood

My third story - Spilled Blood has now been posted on the Littlerature website (see the original post about it here). Different to the others, it's a re-working of something I was trying to finsish off for the Fangtales anthology but never got around to it. With the name 'Fangtales' it's not difficult to guess that the stories are vampire related, but I can assure you that my vamp doesn't go all glittery.

Also, whilst I was waiting for the story to be added to their site I adapted it into a screenplay version, just for the hell of it. It's actually a really interesting exercise translating prose into a more visual medium. The 'Spilled Blood' (4 page) screenplay has been added to the list of finished work below.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

New story posted

My second story 'The Yankee Girlfriend' has been posted on the Littlerature website. It's about the interaction between an office worker and one of London's unfortunates. A link has been put direct to the story in the Littlerature section below and right.

Friday, 21 January 2011

New avenue for short stories

I've just started having work listed on the Littlerature website, which hosts stories of exactly 1,064 words. There is a reason for them wanting stories of precisely that length, but you'll have to go there and find out. So far I have one listed - 'How Roger Monks became Portuguese'. It's how an Englishman is accepted into a rural Portuguese community.

I've put a Littlerature section below my bio with a link to the story.

Stories can be voted for - please do, 10s only mind you - and I believe there is an option for purchase onto various e-formats. Please do, as I get a cut of profits.
The stories aren't buyable yet. The site owners/organisres are waiting to achieve 'critical mass' before opening that door.

I have a second story 'The Yankee Girlfriend' due to go onto the same site soon, so keep an eye out for that as well. I'll update the link box as and when.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

War of the Dead (AKA Stone's War) Update

Thanks to Shona McWilliams for letting me know that the long-awaited 'War of the Dead' (AKA 'Stone's War') will be premiered at the Berlin Film Festival, next month. It's taken five years but as Peter D. Lago reports, the final sound mix and print master has been finished.

As some of you may know it stars my old mate Andrew Tiernan as Capt Martin Stone, the leader of a group of American and Finnish soldiers sent into Russia during WW2, on a secret mission. They soon discover a Hitler-funded program to develop an army of the undead (zombies), where it all goes wrong. Horribly wrong, which is the way we all like it.

The (very) rough footage I saw a while back looked pretty good but apparently the final sound, FX and print are really something good. Peter reports that the film has already acquired release in 20 territories but not yet America, which is the big one. Let's hope that after the BFF showing it'll get a disribution deal across the pond.

I'll let you know the exact premier date when the BFF releases its schedule in a couple of weeks time.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Latest piece of work

I've been drawn away from the story and forced, forced I tell you, to write another short screenplay. I've listed it with the others, below and to the right, below my 'bio'. It's called 'Tombstone' and is about a young couple who go to a dis-used quarry lake to do some tombstoning. It's all fun and games until something goes wrong. Oh, dear, another cheerful, up-lifting piece.

I've been looking to get some produced work out there so have taken the decision to get more short, lo-budget, screenplays written in the hope that I can get some credits behind me. That's not to say that I wouldn't mind earning something from them, but like everyone in this game I need to have some sort of portfolio to show that I can actually produce work of a reasonable standard.

I'm not a writer if all I do is talk about writing. Novels are all well and good, and I'll continue to work on them and develop stories that might be one day fit for publication, but short work - short screenplays - are more likely to be attractive to people as I haven't yet earned a reputation. At least not one where writing is concerned ...

Friday, 14 January 2011

Writing (and other) updates

As well as getting the positive email from Jo yesterday I also managed a cracking 1,884 words down on the new story - Tiberius Found. Yesterday was a good day.

I've added another section to this blog today - a short list of work I've either completed or is in progress, in an attempt to show that I'm not all mouth. Not that I'm particularly gobby, am I? I've restricted it to screenplays (short/feature/TV) and novel-length work to give a taste of what I'm about.

If you look below my 'Bio' you'll see that I'm not genre-specific and am writing about things that interest me. Of course, if you have a specific request for work commissioned then by all means get in touch. Very reasonable rates offered ...

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Oliver Drummond update

I had an email from Jo Hayes at the Bell Lomax Moreton agency a couple of hours ago with her thoughts after having a full read of 'Oliver Drummond and the Four Horsemen'. Although she's not jumped up and down waving a flag to offer me a huge contract (I wish) she has offered constructive revision notes and said that as she sees '... something in it ...' she'd be happy to re-read it once I've had the opportunity to re-work it.

How good is that? Getting revision notes off an agency is certainly a step forward and the offer to have another look is fantastic.

I need to have a think about her suggestions (which all make sense) and how I can weave them into what's already there, before just banging out something without thinking it all through. This is all part of the process of listening to an agent or editor and knowing that all they're really concerned with is making the end result as good as it can be.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

And relax ...

Today wasn't a bad day.

The tax paperwork was handed in, a new zero per-cent arrangement for the credit card sorted and 905 words done on the story. Job done.

I also bought 'Wannabe a Writer We've Heard Of?' by Jane Wenham-Jones from Waterstones whilst I was in town. On first glance it's more aimed at what you should do and have in place once you have a book deal, but looks like it could make for interesting reading.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


What? It's a word. It means: thank f*ck the tax paperwork is finished!

It would seem that 10% paperwork that I had left grew overnight whilst I was sleeping. Bloody thing. Still, that'll teach me for not doing it at the time.

No writing done today - so far. I might need a beer to settle myself back into it then have an hour or so later tonight.

Monday, 10 January 2011

2011 update

Nearly a week since my last post and much to update on:

90% of my tax paperwork has been sorted - only the last few vestiges remain to get finished. Phew.

Progress on the new story is coming along nicely - I'm averaging about 750 words a day on it at the moment, with a projected end date first draft of late February. I'm trying to get something down every day but find that it doesn't always happen. That's not to say that it isn't still being worked on. I'm discovering that I'm one of those writers who, when standing at a plot or development hurdle and isn't sure the best way forward, just has to take the dogs on a long walk and let my mind mull it over.

More often than not I come back with the solution or a new direction. The excel spreadsheet detailing the high-view chapter breakdowns is getting amended many times a day. I plot. I structure and need to know how I get from one step to the other. Some writers do it differently, citing that such plotting is too rigid and kills creative flair. Tosh, in my opinion. It helps me flesh out the story and helps me identify any weak areas needing propping up.

If a story is going in a direction I don't like then it's no big deal to 'delete' and add something new.


Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Another 1,000+ down

It's surprising how quickly, when you get your head down and not allow yourself to get distracted, it actually is getting 1,000+ words onto the page. Now if only I could do that every day. The problem is the distraction element. I even avoided looking at the latest issue of Writing Magazine, which came in the post today.

Also, not only did I manage to get all those words down, I also updated the story-mapping document to include elements which I've been mulling over for the last few days - you know the sort of things: tweaks to sub-plot, slight alterations to the time-line to make the flow smoother, blocking out the day-by-day sequence of the story so that I don't refer to an event happening a week ago when it was yesterday. Not earth shattering stuff, but I find that it's small components like this that make the actual writing much easier.

It doesn't stifle creativity, in my opinion, like some people seem to think. It just provides the skeletal structure on which I hang my story flesh. As it were. For sooooo many years (admittedly, in childhood) I just started writing whatever I had an idea of: a good opening, a good finish, an interesting premise, but had no real idea or plan of where it was going or how it was going to get there. The result was that in all attempts I ended up writing myself into a corner and realising that the corner was crap. End of interest, end of story.

By structuring the plot it just means that I know where I'm going. It doesn't mean that if I think of an interesting twist or additional element that I can't weave it into what's already there. It's a framework after all, not a straight-jacket.

Now, let's see if I can replicate the same tomorrow ...

Monday, 3 January 2011

New Year, new energy

Two weeks away over the Christmas and New Year period with only a smattering of internet cafe online access amlost proved too much for me. Happy to be back on broadband! One consolation was that I re-started work on a YA story I had already blocked out and written about half of it, before other things lured me away. It's looking good and I'm back in the saddle, as it were.

Some sad news I read today was that Pete Postelthwaite has died at the age of 64, from cancer. I think he was one of the few actors that could genuinely play either side of the good guy/bad guy coin with equal ability and will be sorely missed on our screens. 'Sharpe' was only so 'good' because Pete's Sgt. Hakeswell was so 'evil'.