Category Archives: Articles

People Power – Reverse the Cutbacks: Library of Birmingham

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https://www.change.org/p/birmingham-city-council-reverse-the-cuts-to-the-library-of-Birmingham

Please click this link and help us to petition against library cuts, feel free to re-blog and share across social media.

Petitioning Cllr Ian Ward Birmingham City Council

Reverse the cuts to the Library of Birmingham

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Supporters

We seek your help to defend the Library of Birmingham [ LoB ]. Birmingham City Council have proposed in their most recent budget proposals a massive cut to the LoB of at least £1.5 million for the next financial year. More damage is planned. In the succeeding year more than DOUBLE is planned at a huge £3.3 million per year cut.

The LoB is an award winning architecture designed state-of-the -art modern library. It is fit for the 21st century & the people of Birmingham.

Here in Birmingham we have invested £188 million in this library & the future of this great city.

This is a Library opened just over a year ago in a glorious fanfare of praise & loved by the million visitors who have enjoyed it’s breathtaking facilities & it’s views of Birmingham from the wonderful viewing platforms giving a panoramic take on the cityscape.

This library opened by a Nobel Laureate – Malala Yousafzai who lives in this city & whose memorable book is lodged inside will now be a shadow of its intended glory. This doesn’t have to be the case.

The effects of these proposed cuts will mean –

1. Slashing the hours of the library by 40%
2. Stoppng new books purchases
3. Restrictioning open access to the archives to scholars & researchers of all sorts
4. Reducing to nothing library outreach work & in-house exhibitions & displays.
5.sacking 100 staff posts.
6. Limiting the housebound & community library service of expert help.

Is this what we want? a death by a thousand cuts.

We paid in this city for this library. Come what may will pay for it whether it is reduced or not. This is a nonsense. We can not allow it to decline because of short termism & misguided cuts. This is not the way forward – it is backward looking & wrong. It makes no economic sense.

Support your Library ;

The LoB is an investment in out future, our children’s future & the future of this city’s prosperity.

So for the researchers, the students, the academics & all the public let’s Stand up for The LoB & say this will not happen. We can make the politicians change. We can register our concerns & our desire for protecting this service. Once it is gone it WILL be gone.

In a library you are free to wander, to study & to be strong & independent. Without this service we lose a little bit of what makes us civilised & lose the power of control. Time to take that power back.

We , the undersigned , call upon Birmingham City Council to REVERSE your proposed cuts to the Library of Birmingham & our Community Libraries. Invest in our city & out futures.

Copyright change.org

Library Library of Birmingham PFL dec

Contact us:

friendsoflibraryofbirmingham@gmail.com

Find us:

https://birminghamlibrariescampaigns.wordpress.com

https://www.facebook.com/friendsoftheLoB

@FoLoB_

 

 

 

Plot Block – 6 TIPS to Reboot Your Writing

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photo_9658_landscape_large Planning events in your plot and knowing your characters inside out is not always enough to keep writing block at bay. You know how it is, you have been working hard, the novel has behaved, the draft is going well and then… you get stuck, your characters need to help you out.

These suggestions may get your pen moving/ fingers tapping again. I would use them as a free writing exercise, rather than committing to it being a scene in your story – but if it fits and helps you drive your plot forward these are broad enough ideas to work or at least spark a similar idea which suits your novel better.

RULE 1: DO NOT BE AFRAID

Remember fear doesn’t exist and the worst that can happen is you throw another few hundred words in the bin.

RULE 2: JUMP

Choose one  – write.

Someone knocks on the door

A text message beep

There’s a power cut

A sensor / alarm goes off

 

RULE 3 YOU CAN MAKE ANYTHING HAPPEN

But be clear on what your character wants, what’s their drive? Aim?

RULE 4 PLOT GROWS FROM CHARACTER

Think about your main character, what do they want more than anything in the world?

RULE 5 EXAMINE GOALS AND HURDLES

Why can’t the character achieve this ambition? What stands in the way?

Can the other characters help? What are their goals?

These ideas should help you develop your story.

RULE 6: KEEP WRITING, IT WILL ALWAYS GET BETTER

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INKSPILL 2014 Links

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Thanks to everyone who made this year’s INKSPILL a success!

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Please remember to share – I will be connecting social media and Guest posts later on today. Here are links to some of the 30+ wonderful posts created over 2 days! See you next year!

ENJOY!

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WATCHmotivation dreams

Welcome + Motivational Video

Stephen King On Writing

William Gallagher Guest

Writing Motivation

You vs Yourself

 

READ books1

Editing

Meet Our Guest Writers

You Vs Yourself

NaNoWriMo Includes links to 4 articles.

Archive INKSPILL 2013 4 articles;

Historical Research

Writing Historical Fiction

How to Write a Short story

The WHY Technique

 

GUEST POSTS ticket 2014

WILLIAM GALLAGHER

How To Get Rejected

Making Time To Write

Writing Doctor Who

What You Get From Writing

 

HEATHER WASTIE

On Her Writing Journey

Editing A Poem

POEMS BY HEATHER WASTIE

Histrionic water

Spaghetti hoops

 

CHARLIE JORDAN

Thoughts on Writing & Editing Part 1

Thoughts On Writing & Editing Part 2

 

ACTIVITIES writing_swirls

Writing

Free-Writing

Speedwriting-An Article in Under 30 Minutes

Night Write

Book Discussion

Final Write Subjects and Dialogue

 

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INKSPILL SHOP

 

Products cost more than £2.00inkspill disclaimer

INKSPILL: Archive 2013 Programme (selected) Historical Research &

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INKSPILL 2013 Historical Research Parts 1 & 2

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https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/3517/

 

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2014/05/11/writing-historical-fiction-research/

 

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How to Write Short Stories

 

https://awritersfountain.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/inkspill-assisting-you-with-writing-projects-the-why-technique/

 

NAVIGATE MORE:

Categories menu Inkspill 2013

INKSPILL: Guest Writer – Charlie Jordan – Thoughts on Writing and Editing (Part 2)

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Guest Writer ticket 2014

Charlie Jordan – charlie jordan

Thoughts on Writing and Editing (Part 2)

 

Balance? No idea – just squish bits of writing in whenever you can, and accept that life sometimes gets so busy with work and family responsibilities, that you may not always have space…….that’s ok too – sometimes the only hour you get free needs to be spent walking in the park and clearing your head.

Don’t get too Ivory Tower about your writing, we all have images of sitting in a particular location, with elegant stationery or a Macbook and endless hours to focus on our craft – but the reality may be scribbling on a train in rush hour, or when waiting to collect the kids on the school run – hoping they’re running a few minutes late today, so you can finish a piece. 😉 Sometimes it’s just a few brief notes or thoughts for working on another time, and that’s ok.

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I love the books by Natalie Goldberg on writing, and she writes about Zen practise too – so as someone who’s dabbled with Buddhism for 30 yrs, I can re-read her books and still savour new nuances.

Others rave about Stephen King’s book on writing, or Julia Cameron – read widely and see what works for you, but don’t allow too much reading about writing equate to never actually doing any writing! It’s a fine balance…. I read Buddhist books, Pema Chodron & Thich Nhat Hanh are among my favourites, food books, authors like Elizabeth Gilbert – who have such a clear voice I can hear them speaking from the page, and of course – poetry……from early favourites like Maya Angelou – who wrote and spoke as a 6 foot woman, like me – and I didn’t know any other tall women then, so I felt like she understood!

Benjamin Zephaniah, as a Brummy and hugely charismatic poet and writer who is equally at home writing for children or engaging in more serious political poetry, sometimes combining both in his young adult novels, Sharon Olds – whose work Jo Bell introduced me to – which reminds me – you should look up Jo Bell.

© Sarah Bryson 2014

© Sarah Bryson 2014

Now! She’s a powerhouse of poetic life force, fiercely talented and a warm, friendly mischievous woman whose love of poetry and boating meets perfectly in her currently being our canal Laureate. She instigated 52 – a brilliant initiative online for weekly poetry prompts and sharing of new work – hopefully in a book for next year so we can all catch up on it. Lemn Sissay too – outstanding energy on the page and off the page and sometimes inscribed into walls – Google him now & look….. So many other names, too many to mention – but poets like Jaqui Rowe, Angela France, Helen Ivory are worth your time and generally dip into collections of poetry like a ‘pick & mix’ to stumble on new favourites. Performance poets to recommend include Hollie McNish, Bohdan Piasecki, Kate Tempest, Matt Windle, Spoz, Maggie Doyle – several of whom are friends, but of course I’m not biased – they’re outstanding poets too.

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Connect with other writers when you can, it’s such an isolating process – so writing groups, open mics, writing courses and literary festivals – go and find your tribe as it were! I’ve found the West Midlands to be full of some hugely talented writers, who are also encouraging and supportive people who welcome new poets and want to build up their confidence.

One thing that makes me sad is when a writer spends time and energy criticising another writer’s work. This may be amusing with the big name million selling, prize winning stars parry in the broad sheets to get the headlines for their new bestseller…..but for the rest of us in the real world – be kinder! Don’t waste your finite words, and energy in negativity and try to divide the already small community of writers and artists and claim some work is superior to others. Of course we’re not all going to love every word or genre written, but why denigrate someone’s hard work and sneer – instead why not tell us whose work you love?

Share what sets you alight with inspiration and we too may indulge in the excitement of discovering new favourite writers.

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Update things. This is as much for me as you……I’ve been presenting the Drivetime show at Smooth radio in the West Midlands since March, but haven’t updated my website this year….ooooops! My friend Dave does all the technical stuff for it, but I’ve not sent him any new copy for months – so, note to self – update it……… Nina’s much better at this

 

On Editing

Editing – try actually chopping a piece up. Literally with scissors and physically swap words or lines around in a poem…..sometimes it frees things up in a way you’d never discover on a computer screen. And you get to play with blue tack or sellotape – always fun!

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This is just a few rambling thoughts scribbled extremely quickly, so to wrap up I should say something really profound and meaningful and well thought out – like I was planning this destination all along…..erm…..oooopssssss…..oh wait, yes – that’s it….. Feel free to ignore/discard/forget every word of this or anything else……… different things will work for us all at different times. There is no one definitive answer, but by reading widely and dipping into and out of things, you’ll be likely to discover something you do like, that fits right now.

So Good luck, go write and enjoy.

Oh and one more thing, try writing with your friends – I did it with Divas, and we’ve had the best fun and once our diaries are all link up, we’ll be doing it again and having the best writing and performing fun ever, and tea, cake & mischievous giggles!

 

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INKSPILL – Motivation: Keep Going – A Little Back Story & a Video

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This motivational video is SPORTY, as most are. Why? Athletes know the part BELIEF plays in their success. In fact (as followers from 2013) will know, it was whilst watching the athletes competing in the Summer Olympics of 2012 that I first conceived my 16 year writing plan.

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My sporting achievements (alongside County Netball and 3rd in the Egg and Spoon Race)! ^^^^^

Who wants a 5 year plan? Now I have a vague one year plan (nothing on paper, although that is a great idea for manifesting goals) and from that comes the 4 year plan.

There was never a 5 year plan, just the 16 years of trying. Gold medallist after gold medallist spoke of their ‘journey’ to achieving GOLD and for many of them the success was the result of trying Games after Games. For some of the older (still younger than me) athletes it was their 4th Games (4×4 = 16) they made it – then retired to coaching or presenting or promoting sports.

This is where we have the advantage – a writer (and many do) go on writing until they die or find they can no longer create new work. We can go on long after our bodies have aged, with all sorts of tech that can produce our manuscripts without the need for typing, as long as our minds are still active we can continue giving the world something new to read.

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In just one year of writing poetry and nearly 2 years of writing I am well on my way to my first Olympic games and as you can read in this blog, lots has happened in that short space of time.

I should point out that I have done my training, I was a ‘young writer’ (before that term was used and in a very different world than today, no internet, no groups for 16-25 year old talented writers, no young writer groups like the one I work with at The Hive) it was a very insular writing experience. First published at the age of 15, my work appeared in various publications and anthologies of poetry, it was only just before leaving for university (an Olympic Games later) that I even admitted (confessed) publically to writing, let alone telling people I was published.

During my time at university, studying drama, I took to the stage at various venues around the East Midlands performing poetry.

After graduating I worked as an actress, performance poet and wrote for theatre. Within a year I found myself studying Creative Writing and was tutored by famous/ re-known local and national writers & journalists, including the much loved Sue Townsend. I embarked on a career as a Freelance Writer – alongside facilitating Poetry Workshops in schools, promoting local writing / performance events and leading Drama Workshops for the corporate world.

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It is AMAZING what young ambitious 21 year olds can achieve!

A large part of me wishes I had stuck with it but it didn’t pay well and I had other ambitions, like owning a home and travelling the world, both of which needed money. Ironically, I believe if I had stuck at it I would still have achieved those dreams. So, if you are under 25 and already doing something creative with your life, stick with it! If it is your path, you will know.

I trained as a teacher and later a life coach.

At the beginning of this career change I was still in tune with a shadow of my dream and set up a website and online community in 2000 called A Writers Fountain – domains and the internet at the time was relatively new to users, despite this we became the number one ranking community network/website within weeks and stayed in poll position for 2 years that our URL existed. My website for those involved in 52 was similar in concept and network, but writing was divided into genres and sub-sections. AWF helped many across the world realise their dream …. had relationships, marriages and publication success too.

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Young 20- somethings are pretty good at realising their dreams too!

Sadly, MSN sites were abolished and although I bought a domain name, the set up of the website wasn’t as good as the original and we lost several hundred members when we moved URL. The experience was not the same for the user. Imagine a premiere league sports team playing in your local club venue – how different that would feel, it was the same.

Back in the early 2000s web design was expensive and there was little option. In the end it was costing too much money and it didn’t feel the same, my own offline life was increasingly complicated and I abandoned the site and writing, although that process happened a little slower. I made no submissions after 2003 and had stopped writing altogether. (None of these ‘writing’ decisions happened on a conscious level.)

I was a full-time teacher for 12 years alongside some short-term lecturing and mentoring work. I did buy the house (then sold it and bought again with Mr G) and did some travelling. Followed by more travelling (on a bigger budget) seeing the world 5 weeks at a time!

Until illness in 2012 re-awoke me and made me accept who I am. A creative soul was fed once more and here we are in AWF mark 2# a blog. I had never blogged before 2013 and I LOVE it! Last year I had more time to explore the world of blogs and blogging, since then my own writing life has kept me busy offline – and I still teach to pay the mortgage, having learnt back in the 90s that you need a plan to support your creativity as it is a poverty placed career choice (as is the Arts in any context) unless and until you are Hollywood block buster level or JK Rowling!

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I went part-time and now I work supply and spend the other half of my week writing and getting creative. I now work as an Assistant Writer and Mentor for Writing West Midlands and am a  Performance Poet and Freelance Writer, my world has done a 360 turn!

You are never too old and people in their 30s aren’t old anyway!

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Moving onto the promised video… here it is!

As the title says KEEP GOING!

Whatever you are doing – do it better, do it well.

So ignore the sportiness of this video and pay attention to the words!

Enjoy

 

INKSPILL Guest Writer Heather Wastie on Her Writing Journey

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Heather Wastie our Guest Writer has been kind enough to compile of list of what has happened to her on her writing journey, I find the personal stories about writing, it amazes me that there are so many differences, remember it takes time, keep believing!

Here’s Heather, ENJOY!

 

 

 

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My writing journey – some of the key factors and events up to 2014

Heather Wastie

  • As small child, made up songs at the piano, writing new words over the top of music I couldn’t read

  • Wrote my first poem, about the moon, at infants’ school

  • Carried on writing – at school and outside school

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  • Translated menus into Black Country dialect for Friends of the Black Country Museum annual dinners

  • Had articles published in local canal society newsletter

  • When I went to Sunday School, wrote mini musicals and produced them

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  • At University began a song-writing partnership with another student –mostly he wrote the music, then I wrote the lyrics

  • Entered Bard of the Year competition run by Poetry Digest, performing my own work from memory for the first time (published in anthology)

  • In one year, was published every month (bar one!) in Poetry Digest magazine.

  • Winner Poetry Digest Ina Carlyle Love Poetry Competition 1996 (published in anthology)

  • Poetry collection Until I Saw Your Foot published by Lapal Publications 1997

  • Edited 2 oral history books about people in the Black Country 1997-9

  • Self-published Poems of the Head in Dynamic Relation to F M Alexander 2007

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  • Entered my first poetry slam in Bilston

  • Through entering slams, began writing and memorising longer poems

  • Did well in slams but have only won one – PUREandGOODandRIGHT, Leamington 2010

  • Formed Brewers’ Troupe performance poetry company with Emma Purshouse, co-wrote, co-directed and performed site-specific piece SNUG in Hollybush pub, Cradley Heath 2010

  • Poetry collection The Page-Turner’s Dilemma published by Lapal

    © Peter Williams 2014
    © Peter Williams 2014
  • Publications 2010

  • 2011: Winner Apples & Snakes Jawdance Audio Poetry Competition;

  • Winner British Science Festival open mic competition with poem, The case of Sir Bernard Spilsbury; Shortlisted for Birmingham Poet Laureate;

  • 3rd place, Worcestershire Poet Laureate competition

  • Got ACE funding to be Writer in Residence Museum of Carpet 2013, writing poems, monologues and songs from oral history interviews

  • Created and performed Kidderminster Stuff show about Kidderminster and its carpet industry with singer/songwriter Kate Wragg 2013

  • Commissioned by Canal & River Trust to create audio piece Idle Women and Judies. Booked for live performances of the piece in canal museums.

  • Wrote and performed How do wars start? With Worcs Poet Laureate, Fergus McGonigal, funded by Kidderminster Arts Festival 2014

 

 

 

 

 

PUBLIC APOLOGY to Heather for the formatting – text was all consistent size in original document.

 

 

INKSPILL: Speed Write – How to Produce an Article in Less than 30 Minutes

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AWF Speedwrite I am not going to teach you short hand, which is the perfect way to write faster. Our evening speed write is just a fast free write exercise really.

This time though you won’t hit it cold. You are going to have just 5 minutes (set a timer) to do a rough plan, then you can try a speed write. Can you write the whole piece in just 10 minutes?

TASK: Choose one of the following and write a short blog post or article.

1. Why I Blog
2. Interview with (someone who’s no longer living – you make up the answers you think they’d give)
3. 5 Books You Need to Read

Start with an outline

Think about what you want to write, then outline it.

If it’s an article, jot down the subheadings. If it’s a web copy, write down the points you want to cover.

If you prefer, you can also write more detailed outline for easier writing later. Give some keywords to every topic or even paragraph in the article.

Surprisingly this action will possibly spawn more ideas for you in the writing stage later. Most importantly, once you have the outline, writing will be a easier.

 

Now set the timer 10 minutes and start writing.start time

AWF Edit Allow another 10 minutes to edit and polish.

There you have it, an entire article/blog post in less than 30 minutes. DONE!

 

SHARE your links or post your speed writes in the comment box on this thread.

ENJOY!

 

INKSPILL What We Get From Writing – Guest Writer William Gallagher

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Blank screen William G Our final article from William Gallagher today is a great read and also a thought-provoking title. Let us know what writing does for you, what do you get from writing? Thanks William for being part of the 2nd INKSPILL Writing Retreat.

©2014 Lee Allen Photography

©2014 Lee Allen Photography

 

 

What we get from writing

Hand on heart, this is a tough one. I was very flattered that Nina Lewis asked me to talk to you for this Inkspill Writing Retreat but I was aware that my first thoughts to talk to you about were all about things that I do constantly. Things I know and care about and practice. I think the point of a writing retreat is to stretch you and I feel I ought to be stretched too.

This is me stretching. Im not sure how much value that has for you, it feels like Im doing calisthenics and youre waiting there in your smart leotard waiting for me to get off the mat. Youll be waiting a while. Im very unfit.

And I dont know what I get from writing.

I know that if you or I had any sense at all, we would have normal jobs and proper careers and we might even find a way to make that not feel ditchwater-dull and boring. I know that when we do have to juggle those normal jobs with a writing life, we are split between having to deep-mine our selves and our very souls on our own and then bound off into social occasions with colleagues. Colleagues who we work with but who probably dont get writing.

I was at a thing recently where some smart and charming writers were talking about why they write and a fella in the audience told them that it was because they wanted to make a bestseller. They wanted to make money. It took the speakers a beat to find a way to politely say no, thats not it at all.

Bestsellers are great and the idea that I can reach out not only to you but to oodles of people is simultaneously exciting and terrifying. I prefer it when its just us, but if oodles of others come, well, you put the kettle on. Ill get the extra biscuits.

It is possible to make a living from writing and I do, but the aim and what I think I actually get from this life is the opportunity to write better. Paying the mortgage and feeding myself is important, but the longer I can do that, the more I can do that, the greater my chance of becoming the writer I long to be.

So what I get from writing is writing. I feel Im short-changing you there. I live for the moments and it is only moments when the world is forgotten and I am in my writing, I am working at my best and hopefully making that best become better.

There are only two things that improve my writing and the biggest one is time. Making more time to write and then spending that time writing, its crucial.

But the other is using writing to head out into unsafe waters. I interviewed a poet the other day and as delightful as she was, she also goaded and challenged me into writing a poem. It was dreadful. But the experience of writing in a new area, reaching for something new in me, that was electrifying.

So theres the exercise. I am okay with writing you this personal blog chiefly because its you and youve got that kind of face, I feel I can tell you anything. But let me turn it into a writing exercise: I need to feel Im giving you something practical that you can actually use. And I know this is practical, I know you can use this: write something new.

Really new. If youre a poet, write a short story. If youre a novelist, write a radio play. Go somewhere new in topic and in form.

There is nothing else that can stretch you like writing in new directions and that stretching, thats it, thats what I get from writing.

William

Buy Books By William Gallagher on Amazon inkspill-pink2014

 

INKSPILL – Writing Doctor Who – Guest Writer William Gallagher

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©2014 Lee Allen Photography

©2014 Lee Allen Photography

Writing Doctor Who

Do be careful what you wish for: it can be bloody hard work. I write Doctor Who radio dramas for Big Finish and you cant just swan in and cook this stuff up. Doctor Who has to be inside you: I dont believe you can write for a show or a book range or a magazine if you dont already read it and love it. Plus, the producers at Big Finish do know and love Doctor Who, you have to step up to their level in the quality of your writing and its not easy.

Still, I hope that I will continue to write them forever. That is partly because I was a Doctor Who fan growing up and it never leaves you, especially not when the TV show is back and is capable of such great drama but also because it is radio drama and also because it stretches me tremendously.

Whatever type of writing you do, have a think about radio drama. I dont mean that you should definitely take it up, Ive got enough competition without you coming along and blowing me out of the water, but think about the form. I love radio drama because I feel its very intimate and personal, plus it is life-support dependent upon dialogue.

I am a dialogue man. Ive a friend who insists dialogue is the nice tasty little extra that you add at the end of a story and Im surprised were still friends. If I dont believe what your characters are saying, I dont believe them and I dont care about them. Let them be exterminated, so what?

Radio focuses you on dialogue like nothing else. Its exciting creating an entire new world, both metaphorically in your writing and pretty literally in that this is Doctor Who and youre making up a planet. But you have to convey that its, I dont know, a desert planet with oases of Apple Stores and a great big, green, smelly monster. You could have the Doctor step out of the TARDIS and say Oh, its Theta Beta Five, the famous desert planet – oh, no! A Smellosaurus! Quick, lets buy an iPad.

But nobody would be listening any more.

Ive tried recently to explain why I love scriptwriting above all things and at first I thought it came down to this. You have to conjure characters, a story, a world and all the drama using only what people say. (Plus a few sound effects. Do listen to a Big Finish Doctor Who some time: the sound design is simply a marvel.)

But actually, Ive come to realise that its much harder than that. And much more satisfying.

You cant say its a desert planet. You cant have villains saying what their dastardly plan is.

Russell T Davies, who with Julie Gardner brought Doctor Who back to TV in 2005, wrote once about a huge problem he had when moving on from writing soaps to writing drama. Im paraphrasing but broadly what he said was: In soaps, everybody says what they mean. In drama, they dont even know what they mean.

Thats a Damascus-level thought for me. I love and adore scriptwriting not because youre telling stories using only what people say, youre telling them only using what people do not.

Try it. Write me a scene with two characters and only dialogue, no settings, no description. One character wants something from the other and for some reason, that you have to think of he or she cannot tell that other person.

William

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Doctor Who Radio Dramas and other books by William Gallagher on Amazon