I’ve become one of those irritating people who do things for charity and expect their friends, family and people they met in the supermarket to pay for it. In my case I’ll be doing the Oxfam Trail Walker this July. It’s a 100km hike over the South Downs to raise money for Oxfam, whilst loosing as little blood, skin and bone as possible.

So far I’ve raised a whopping £0.00.  I’m hoping I can improve on this.  If you have a moment, please would you take a moment to consider sponsoring me?

Here’s the link to my Just Giving page:

Thanks in advance for any donations!

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Thank you Celtx

Just realised that Celtx has a timer to encourage you to write, amazing – maybe I will finish this draft after all…

Right, enough procrastination for this ‘session’ – back to it.

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Dreaming Spires, end of plotting, start of writing…

Quick update: Despite lots of little projects and silly things like moving house, I’ve finally finished plotting out my radio sitcom series Dreaming Spires.  I’m excited to finally have six strong A-stories, each with a nice B-story to spin-off, adding to the chaos and a general story arc cutting through the series.  Now the exciting part begins – writing a draft episode of the blasted thing before house move shenanigans push it back further.

So it’s time to fire up Celtx and start hitting the keyboard randomly, until 30 pages of nonsense appear.

Back with an update sooooooooooon…

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A productive holiday

I’m just back from a week in Egypt, which meant lots of relaxing by a pool, knocking back red wine by the gallon and not doing as much staring-at-pyramids-and-mummies as you should when in Egypt (I’m afraid this holiday’s hedonism : culture ratio was way off-kilter).

But having plenty of free time and little to do with it, meant time to read.  Packing for a holiday always begins with a small rumble of disapproval from Mrs @awbscreenwriter – I have dozens of unread writing books sitting rather forlornly on shelves in the shed, forming temporary housing for spiders and moths who’ve made poor lifestyle choices.  Every time I begin loading a few into the suitcase, I’m told it’s not OK to do anything productive on holiday, so out they come, to be replaced by the novels I’ve collected since the previous holiday, which will be worked through, to while away the hours spent burning by the pool.

This holiday I was rather underhand and, alongside the novel pile, loaded the kindle with two writing-related non-fiction titles: ‘The Serious Guide to Joke Writing’ by Sally Holloway and ‘The Secrets to Writing Great Comedy’ by Lesley Brown.

Sally’s book has been recommended several times in James Cary’s Sitcom Geek blog (a goldmine if you’re interested in writing sitcoms).  I do have the paperback somewhere, but not wishing to disturb the large and rather fearsome arachnid currently residing around page 32, I purchased the ebook last week.

It’s a fantastic resource for anyone looking to advance their joke-writing skills and breaks down a few simple processes for coming up with jokes, which can be applied to sketches.  The tools given are pretty much fail safe, the output is really down to how much practice you are willing to put in. The book alternates between theory and practical exercise chapters, allowing you to try out the tools that Sarah gives you as you progress.

Lesley Brown’s book explains the basics of what comedy is, different styles of comedy, thinking about your audience, starting out on a project and the language used.  Lesley then takes the reader through a series of ever more complex writing, from jokes, stand-up material, to developing characters and situations to fit this material to sketches and finally through to developing a sitcom.  There are further chapters on plotting, character development, editing and much more.

An important aspect both books come back to again and again is the important of writing everything down, silencing the inner critic and not expecting to just sit down and bash out a work of genius between lunch and afternoon tea.  This is something I’d foolishly forgotten for some reason, a shame as I thought I’d learned to control my inner critic during the NaNoWriMo escapade of 2011.  I’ve spent so long working on established projects which trip off the keyboard with ease, that every time I’ve tried to start work on my own pet projects, the second they don’t go right I’ve moved onto something else.  Sometimes, even if what you first write is awful, you have to scribble it down, if at least to empty your brain of rubbish and warm up the comedy fried gold neurons – and once it’s down, you can make it better.

With this in mind and equipped with the tools from these two books, I set out to develop a few ideas last week and lo and behold, it only blooming well works!  Four sketches written down, a few one-liners and a radio sitcom plotted out, I really should come to Egypt more often.

(…and no spiders were hurt in the process)

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One of my daily blog reads is the Shedworking site.  Recently they’ve been posting photos of snowy shedworking scenes, so I sent in some photos of my shed and the bird house version next door:

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A change is as good as a rest

I’ve almost caught up with the huge backlog of blogs that have plagued me every time I’ve loaded Outlook for the last few months.  I subscribe to Feedblitz, which works wonders for neatly taking all of the blogs you regularly read and combining them into one simple daily digest.  At this point, I usually leave it in my inbox until I find the time to read the damn things, like a huge pile of mail building up whilst on holiday, I realised last Sunday that they stretched back to August – that was one daily digest per day, for six months…  Well I’m pleased to say that after a week of furious speed reading, I’m now caught up to January 10th (2013…) so I’m finally happy, nay proud, to open my nice (almost) clean inbox.


Reading a quote from one of the posts – Jurgen Wolff’s Time to Write blog, from the 10th January, he listed a few quotes by writers.  One in particular hit home – “You only fail if you stop writing” Raymond Bradbury.  Jurgen went on to say that if you keep being knocked back, maybe a change is as good as a rest.  I’ve been wrestling with a large project recently – a comedy drama series that I developed as part of my Screenwriting MA a few years ago.  I had to prepare a series bible and a pilot script.  I was rather proud of the series I developed and the bible to showcase it, but the script itself was rushed through to meet a deadline right at the end of the course and I never felt it did the series justice.


I pitched the project during the London Screenwriter’s Festival last October and it helped to develop it further – a few of the lectures about the protagonist and their journey turned the project on its head and I think I may have something really quite promising to offer now.  I’ve been working on this for the last few weeks, but it’s burnt me out a little – coming back to an old project that you’ve already reworked countless times can be a little depressing.


To counteract this feeling of lethargy, this weekend I began work on a short fifteen-minute play, having recently read Alan Ayckbourn’s Crafty Art of Playmaking.  I’ve had a few ideas swirling around in my head for about a year, that I’m now committing to paper, just nice for a change.  I’ll post some more about it on here when it’s in a better form…

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London Screenwriters’ Festival 2012

WOW.  Long time no blog, I’d apologise but I doubt anyone’s reading an abandoned blog.  Just in case someone does stumble over this post in a moment of mis-googling madness… I’m sorry.

Can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I last blogged.  Last time I added a post it was with blistered post-NaNoWriMo scarred fingers.  I’d just finished a 50,000 novella version of my TV comedy drama – ‘Those Dreaming Spires’.  Well it’s been eleven months and not much has happened with it as I’ve been working on a few other projects, which I’m very excited about, but which must remain confidential, sadly, for the foreseeable future.

I’ve just returned from the London Screenwriters’ Festival, which ran Fri-Sun at Regent’s College, London.  Must admit, I’m sat in a bit of a daze today, trying to come to terms with the mix of screenwriting craft lectures, awe-inspiring industry panels and networking opportunities crammed into the three days.

Every session pointed towards areas that I need to improve on and I came away with a long ‘to do’ list of projects, in short must rebuild my website, must re-write EVERYTHING, must actually send things out (as Doug Naylor said “nothing’s ever finished”) and must must must blog…

But there were new areas that it opened up as well – projects I’ve often considered but not had the time to approach,  I think I need to dive in and just have a go at them now.  They might be a distraction away from screenwriting, but as Craig Batty and Zara Waldeback (authors of The Creative Screenwriter)  said – you need to test your creativity, push it different directions.  Zara likened this to a pianist practicing scales, you can’t spend all of your time working on one project or you block up and motivation leaves you.

I know I need to be careful not to allow too many distractions in, but I think a new direction to try would be:

  • Animate a short sketch I wrote a few years ago, as Peter Thornton, Creative Head of Comedy at the BBC said he might struggle to read a script, but would always click on a link to a short film or animation)
  • Turn the eight episodes I planned for Those Dreaming Spires into a series of short ebooks to try to build an audience for the series before taking it to production companies.

Neither of these new directions are going to be easy, but I think they’ll be a great leap forward, just need to get on with them and stop procrastinating!

I promise the next post will be sooner than next September!  (and hopefully this year…)

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Well it’s over at last, 50,122 words verified by NaNoWriMo and I’m exhausted, mostly due to getting up an hour and half earlier than usual every day to slog out some words before work.

I’ve uploaded a screenshot of the stats from my page, courtesy of the kind and useful people at

My November, in a nutshell

My November, in a nutshell

The anomaly on day 16, when the word count dropped to 1,704 was a mistake, I was aiming for 17,040 but hit return before hitting ‘0’ in a fit of NaNoWriMo-based excitement – the word count and stats were the only thing that got me through this.

It was a fantastic experience and quite a marathon, towards the end, when everything was looking a tad bleak, I was aiming for 500 words before work, 500 on the bus to work, another 500 over lunch, 500 on the bus home and then 500 in the evenings.

The organisers of NaNoWriMo hold another event in April called Script Frenzy which is a script writing equivalent of NaNoWriMo, 100 scripted pages of the script of your choice, I will definitely be entering in April.  I may try to write a play, like the novelling, it’s something I’ve wanted to try for a few years but never had a spare month to commit.

Anyway, that’s enough cyber-self-backslapping for one month.

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Last day of NaNoWriMo

Less than 24 hours to go and I’ve actually run out of plot, the story’s written, I know there’s always something that can be added, but right now, after 30 days flat out on it, I can’t think of anything.  Mind’s gone blank.  I have another 1,800 words to write.  I was 2,500 words short when I woke up this morning, so I wrote a quite unnecessary scene about my protagonist going for a walk to clear his head.

The only thing I can think to add right now are more descriptions of locations, so I’ve listed eight of the main settings of the novel and hope to write 250 words about each one today, which should bring me well over the 50,000 before midnight tonight.

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44,000 words…

The 50,000 word count that marks the end of NaNoWriMo is so close now I can almost smell it!  Well there is a lot of leaking Victorian plumbing, mild cannibalism and a geriatric in need of a good wash, so it ought to whiff a bit.

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