A spooky little thing I noticed about our unconscious need for structure

I go on about structure a lot, particularly in screenwriting, but also in my prose fiction. I teach screenwriting classes at Worcester University and Birmingham City University, both at undergraduate and masters level, and with each intake I find myself giving students my take on the basics of 3-Act Structure as defined by screenwriting guru Syd Field (hear us chat about it in my podcast), or the mythological paradigm of the Hero’s Journey, from Campbell via Vogler.

A lot of people in writing circles reject these easy paradigms as ‘formulaic’ and insist that great stories are much more complex than the simple 3-Act structure, and if you want to write great stories, whether in film or as novels, you’d be better off ignoring these structures and going with your gut instinct. Continue reading

Why Hollywood wants your ebook

Today is a day of conflicting emotions. You see, my good friend Jonathan Turner, the man who wrote the best spec script I’ve ever read, is at the 2011 Screenwriting Expo in LA, and I was supposed to be there with him.

I don’t feel too bad. It wasn’t a concrete promise. In fact, it’s something we’ve promised each other to do every year since we met, rather like the Jews of the diaspora who every Passover say ‘next year in Israel’. One day we were going to go to that Expo in Hollywood, and this year looked odds on to be the year.

But then the ebook thing happened and I found myself working exclusively on publishing 11 titles before 11.11.11, so I had to tell Jonathan, ‘You know what? I don’t think I can do it this year. Maybe next time.’

It made sense that he should go because he was armed with two absolutely knockout action thrillers that were just made for Hollywood, whereas I was a novelist working so hard on ebook titles I wondered if I’d ever have time for screenwriting again. But isn’t it always the way that, as soon as you turn away from that thing you’ve been chasing all your life and say ‘Oh screw you, I’ve got better things to do,’ that thing comes running up and taps you on the shoulder and says ‘I’m here.’

What happened was that, just as I’d almost given up on screenwriting and started to think of myself as more of a novelist again, I got an email from a Hollywood producer asking to buy the rights to The Very Thought of You, my timeslip ghost story that had only been published a month and sold a couple of dozen copies. Continue reading

Arjun & Alison: the trailer is out!

Been waiting all year for this, and it’s finally here.

The trailer for Arjun & Alison, the indie feature film I was hired to script in February 2010, worked on all that year and saw shoot in Birmingham last November.

It’s been in a Mumbai edit suite most of this year and this is the first glimpse of what the film might actually look like.

(The security guy with his back to camera is me, by the way).