Wednesday, April 17, 2019

What do you think of Netflix' Special series about cerebral palsy?

In case you haven't seen it, Special is a new Netflix series where the main character has cerebral palsy.
 
 
 
It opens with the main character falling over. Rather like me sometimes.

It is a comedy. At the same time, on the plus side, it is educating the public about CP.

I don't want to give any spoilers away. But for me, it's great that Netflix have commissioned this series. A thing like this is long overdue.

However, it should be just the beginning.

Mostly the only famous people with CP are comedians. Is that the best we can do? Laugh at ourselves?

It does remind me of the days 100 years ago when the only way black person could become a celebrity was to become a singer or a comedian, laughing at themselves.

Am I being unfair?

I would like to see actors with CP and other disabilities playing regular parts in regular dramas.

I'd like to see actors with CP playing lead parts, heroes and heroines, looking cool, and being great role models.

Then we will know we've really arrived and not just being treated with a little corner of broadcasting time to "educate" the public with a laugh-sugared pill.


Monday, March 11, 2019

A step-by-step guide to successful novel and script writing

Making readers care is now available exclusively on Amazon as a print and e-book.

Some of you may recall the presentation I gave in Cardiff last year on making compelling characters, or been on one of courses or other workshops.



Well, you can now read the book!

At the Society of Authors' Jo McCrum's clever suggestion I've now published the book of my writing course.

Making Readers Care with Psychology and Structure: The Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Totally Gripping Novels, Film and TV Scripts is about how to write a 'page-turner' – a compelling narrative with in-depth characters that ‘jump off the page’.

I came to it by considering deeply how to think about the reader and what they want, and how to make them care about what you're writing so that they ‘can’t put it down’. I guess that's its unique selling point.

Packed with practical exercises, I hope this book will help you get the best from your story, whatever genre, novel or script it is, to uncover inside it the seed of the perfect narrative that's waiting to be found.

I evolved the method using techniques from teaching hundreds of hours of creative and script-writing workshops, working with my students as they went through drafts.

It includes the 10 Steps To A First Draft system. This is the quickest way to arrive at a first draft, from the initial idea to thinking of every scene as a series of dramatic beats. It saves time and frees authors to write fewer drafts while concentrating on style – the exact words used.

Topics include:

  • using psychology to create flawed characters
  • the four story types
  • the four endings
  • the 'but' equation
  • the storyline
  • the hero's journey
  • character development
  • on dialogue
  • honesty and writing
  • planning a scene
  • beats and how to use them
  • suspense
  • pacing
  • humour
  • editing
  • openings
  • submitting your work
  • ...and much more.


You can get it here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07PJTN9BK

If it’s useful, please consider leaving a review - you know how Amazon works! Thank you.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Making Readers Care with Psychology and Structure: The Complete Guide To Writing Totally Gripping Novels, Film & TV Scripts

My new book will be published towards the end of February as an e-book, price £4.50. Watch this space!
Cover of Making Readers Care with Psychology and Structure: The Complete Guide To  Writing Totally Gripping Novels, Film & TV Scripts  by David Thorpe
It is for anyone who wants to write a ‘page-turner’ – a compelling narrative that readers ‘can’t put down’ with characters that ‘jump off the page’. These phrases in inverted commas are frequently used by editors, producers and agents to describe what they are looking for.

The way to achieve this result is by making readers care what happens to your characters, regardless of whether they are likeable or not.
My aim is simply to help you get the best from your own story, whatever it is; to uncover inside it the seed of the perfect narrative just waiting to be discovered and guide you in making it as gripping as possible.

I have taught many hundreds of hours of scriptwriting and creative writing classes, during which its content has been developed and refined from feedback with students.

It concentrates especially on two things: human psychology and structure. It provides a methodology.

Many readers, and many beginner writers, think writing is just about inspiration. Of course inspiration plays a part. But discipline and method, ruthlessness and determination contribute the rest.

Film, TV, publishing: they are highly competitive industries. Millions of dollars are at stake. To succeed you need to be working at a top professional standard.

This book contains the secrets of success for writers in these industries. The only other things you will need are your time and hard work.

Contents:
Introduction 13
The nature of storytelling 13
How to use this book ... 14
10 steps to a first draft! ... 14
 
SECTION A: PREPARATION
1. Choosing the right idea ... 17
Research the market 17
Exercise 1: Finalise the idea 17
2. The four basic plot types ... 19
How to decide your story’s plot type 19
1. Conquering the Monster ... 19
2. Rags to Riches ... 19
3. Voyage and Return ... 19
4. Rebirth ... 20
Exercise 2.1: What's the plot type? ... 20
So are there really only four plots? ... 20
Exercise 2.2: Practice the plot type ... 21
Exercise 2.3: Your plot type ... 21
3. The challenge of creating compelling characters ... 22
Be honest 22
Exercise 3.2: Know your characters ... 23
Exercise 3.3: Practising honesty 23
Issue-based characters ... 23
4. How to create characters that jump off the page 24
Exercise 4.1: Make a basic character sheet ... 24
Hear their voices ... 24
Complexity ... 24
Exercise 4.2: Creating complexity ... 24
Inner conflict 25
Ways of creating inner conflict 25
Exercise 4.3: Life scripts and inner conflicts 27
5. The ‘but’ equation ... 28
Upping the stakes ... 28
Exercise 5.1: Write a 'but' equation ... 28
What’s at stake? ... 28
Exercise 5.2: What's at stake? ... 29
How do conflicted characters behave? 29
Exercise 5.3: Plot goals ... 29
Make mistakes ... 29
6. The really interesting thing about superheroes ... 31
7. The story writing map ... 32
8. The four story endings ... 33
Exercise 8.1: How does it end? ... 33
Story arcs ... 33
Exercise 8.2: Check the ends ... 33
9. The three act structure and the sentence summary 34
The three act structure ... 34
The three sentence summary ... 35
Exercise 9.1: Analyse a story ... 36
Exercise 9.2: Write your three sentence summary ... 36
10. Loglines ... 37
How to write a logline ... 37
Exercise 10.1: Write a logline for another story ... 38
Exercise 10.2: Write a logline for your story ... 38
11. Research 39
How to do research ... 39
How to use the research ... 39
12. Themes and subplots ... 40
The use of subplots ... 40
More than one theme ... 41
Exercises 12: ... 41
13. The Hero’s Journey ... 42
Too formulaic? ... 43
Exercise 13.1: Look out for the plot points ... 44
Exercise 13.2: Map your hero's journey 45
14. Fleshing out the story ... 46
15. Character development ... 47
You are what other people think of you ... 47
Making an attitude table ... 47
Exercise 15.1: Make an attitude table ... 48
Stakes ... 48
Exercise 15.2: Sharpen the stakes 49
16. More on psychology and dramatic storytelling ... 50
The shadow self ... 50
Exercises 16.1: What is the shadow self? 50
Life scripts ... 50
Exercises 16.2: What are the life scripts? 51
People have ‘parts’ ... 51
Triggers 52
Exercises 16.3: What are the triggers? ... 53
17. The Storyline ... 54
Weaving yarns ... 54
The Storyline ... 54
Exercise 17.1: Make a storyline 55
Things to look for: ... 55
Exercise 17.2: Plant the plants ... 56
Exercise 17.3: Plant the props ... 56
Exercise 17.4: Perfect the storyline ... 56
18. The scene cards system ... 57
The scene cards ... 57
Exercise 18: Make your scene cards ... 59
19. The synopsis ... 60
Exercise 19: Check for plot holes ... 61
20. What is suspense? ... 62
Three ingredients of suspense 62
Levels of suspense ... 62
Ways to increase and vary suspense: ... 62
The payoff ... 62
Timescales ... 63
Layer your anticipations ... 63
Be aware of pacing ... 63
Relation to story structure: ... 63
Exercise 20: Monitor the suspense ... 63
21. Flashbacks and framing devices ... 65
Framing devices ... 65
22. Interlude: Imagination, inspiration and in-betweens ... 66
Empathy and imagination 66
Courting the unexpected ... 66
Breathing space ... 67
Exercise 22: Tap your subconscious ... 67
 
SECTION B: WRITING THE FIRST DRAFT
23. Writing the first draft ... 69
A suggested work pattern 69
How many drafts should you write? ... 69
How long should your novel be? ... 69
Assemble your tools 69
24. Honesty and writing ... 71
25. Choosing the point of view ... 72
Exercise 25: ... 72
26. Present or past tense? ... 73
Exercise 26: Play with tense ... 73
27. On Dialogue 74
Exercise 27.1: Plan a scene ... 74
Exercise 27.2: Dialogue vs. silence ... 75
28. More on dialogue ... 76
1. Intention ... 76
2. Pauses and attributions ... 76
3. Multiple topics in a conversation 77
4. Long speeches ... 77
5. Grammar ... 77
6. Phonetic spellings 77
7. Don’t use characters’ names too often 78
8. Don’t have long stretches of dialogue only ... 78
9. Reported speech ... 78
Exercise 28.3: Showing not telling ... 78
29. How to plan a scene (1) ... 79
The definition of a scene ... 79
Exercise 29: Prepare to write a scene ... 79
30. Transactional analysis of a relationship ... 80
31. How to plan a scene (2) ... 82
Exercise 31: Make the scene grip the reader ... 82
32. Suspense and structure ... 84
Exercise 32: ... 84
33. 20 tips on scene writing ... 85
34. Beats and how they work ... 86
Exercise 34.1: List the beats ... 86
Exercise 34.2: Check the beats ... 86
The relationship with adjacent scenes ... 87
Exercise 34.3: Check the scene ... 87
35. How to keep it simple and fast-paced ... 88
Tense and sentence structure ... 88
Exercise 35.1: Active-passive ... 88
Word choice ... 88
Use short chapters or segments ... 88
Cliffhangers ... 88
Jump cuts ... 89
The secret of good storytelling 89
Exercise 35.2: Cliffhangers 89
36. Pacing ... 90
What is pacing? ... 90
When to slow down ... 90
When to speed up ... 90
Exercise 36.1: Speed check ... 90
Exercise 36.2: Overwriting check ... 90
Action scenes ... 90
Cliffhangers and pacing ... 91
Summaries ... 91
Extending the dramatic scenes 91
Jump cuts ... 91
Short chapters ... 91
Word choice and sentence structure ... 91
Exercise 36.3: Read it out ... 92
37. Set-pieces ... 93
Exercises 37: ... 93
38. Show, don’t tell ... 94
Exercise 38.1: Noticing 'telling' ... 94
Exercise 38.2: Read and critique ... 94
39. Scene setting and the reliability of the narrator ... 96
Exercise 39: ... 96
40. Everything is particular: the art of writing descriptive prose ... 97
Exercise 40: ... 98
41. The extended metaphor ... 99
Cold Comfort Farm ... 99
Exercise 41: ... 100
42. Using humour ... 101
Types of humour ... 101
Types of humour in relation to character type or to genre ... 101
Narrative forms and humour ... 102
Types of verbal humour ... 103
Sample list of humorous books with types of humour ... 104
Other notes ... 104
Exercises 42: 104
 
SECTION C: EDITING
43. Editing your work ... 106
Seeing it afresh ... 106
Exercise 43.1: Overview ... 106
Exercise 43.2: Settings check ... 106
Exercise 43.3: Style check 107
Exercise 43.4: Chapter or scene level checks ... 107
This is about making the reader care 108
Show don’t tell ... 108
Transitions ... 108
Making it flow ... 108
Exercise 43.5: Copy-editing ... 109
Exercise 43.6: Proofreading ... 109
44. Openings ... 110
Things that a beginning needs to do ... 110
How to do this ... 110
Exercise 44: ... 111
45. Notes on formatting ... 112
For the manuscript ... 112
46. Jokes for editors and writers 113
Explanations for the jokes ... 113
 
SECTION D: SUBMITTING
47. Agents and editors ... 118
48. What to send ... 119
Cover letters when submitting to agents/editors ... 119
Synopses ... 119
49. How to grab the attention of an editor or agent ... 120
50. How to deal with rejection and feedback 121
How to respond to feedback ... 121
51. To self publish or not? ... 122
Self-publishing and publishers’ services ... 122
Acknowledgements ... 123