TV Script Editor Interview – Storytelling


Interview - AmyLights, camera, action! 😂 TV script editor Amy Reith has worked with some of the greatest story minds (arguably) – in various roles – across BBC4’s, Sky One’s and Sky Atlantic’s productions…

What I really like about Amy though is that she’s a sweet and down to earth woman… I’ll let you know how we met (funny story) – in part 2 of the interview… 🙂

Meanwhile, as always, we’ll be chatting about writing and storytelling. Besides, we’ll dive into writing for TV specifically. Without further ado, if you are or aspire to be a writer of any kind or TV script editor maybe, this interview should answer at least some of your ‘how to’ questions. Let’s do this!

M: What’s your academic background? Briefly describe your career progression.

A: I attended the local comprehensive school and then went on to study at the University of Exeter – my course was ‘English and Creative Media’ – which essentially means I changed my mind halfway through the course and they had to make up a title for it!

I studied modules varying from English literature and film theory to creative writing and web design, so it was an interesting mix.

When I graduated, I moved back to my hometown, saved up for a year and then relocated to London. On reflection, it was quite a naïve move. I didn’t have a job, so just temped to pay the bills and hoped I’d eventually get some work in TV or film – thankfully, somehow, (after lots of temp admin jobs to pay the bills…) it paid off!

M: What productions have you worked on so far?

A: My first set of credits are all across documentary shows. The first company I worked for made both drama and documentary projects, so I worked as a production assistant/coordinator across their shows and visited the set of a film they were involved in – Kajaki – in Jordan. Then, I moved over into development where we had a large slate of varied projects. In terms of productions, I worked across shows like the BBC4 comedy Bucket, was in the initial writers’ room for the Sky One show Bulletproof and then worked on Sky Atlantic’s Riviera for seasons 2 and 3. I finished on that at Christmas and started on a new project in January.

M: What was your workday like at Riviera? What does a TV script editor do?

A: One of the best bits about script editing is the variety – depending on where you are in the process, no two days are the same.

Initially, you often have a writers’ room – which usually includes the executive team, story team and writers all working through the characters, themes, storylines etc. Then, once the writers go off to work on their episodes – you become their point of contact, helping them when needed with their outlines, scene-by-scenes and scripts, while also working across any production documents needed – such as writing character bios, series outlines, casting documents etc.

During the drafting process you’re on hand to read the new drafts as they come in, make your own notes, then collate them with notes from the showrunner, execs, producer and director and feed them back to the writer.

Once you get closer to filming, you spend a lot of time liasing with production staff – making sure what the writers are working on fits with the schedule, locations and budget. I’ve also spent time on tech recces, which is really useful to get a feel for the geography and layout of the locations and understand what the director is planning in terms of their blocking for each scene.

Once you’re in production, you’re usually working on the drafts of future episodes while also covering amendments to the scenes being filmed and issuing these out to the coordinator for distribution. A lot of the time you’re based in the office of the production company running the show but once it’s filming, you’re often back and forth to the production office and locations.

M: On that note, some of those are quite fancy. Reportedly, Riviera season 2 was filmed in various locations such as Monaco and Nice as well as Alpes-Maritimes in the South of France – with many recognisable landmarks in the background. 🙂

 M: What are the most and the least enjoyable bits of the script editor role?

For me, each stage has its enjoyable moments and its challenges – the initial storylining process is usually the most freeing and creative, but can also feel like it moves slower than you’d like, while the adrenaline of filming is exciting and invigorating, but often the busiest and most stressful stage of the job.

M: How many writers did you manage? What are the main challenges of creating stories with a team of writers?

A: Across both seasons of Riviera, we had five writers working on the show. I’d say in the early stages of storylining, the biggest challenge is making sure that everyone’s ideas align with the tone and voice of the show. All of the writers we worked with are brilliant in their own right, and have strong, powerful voices on the page, so helping them find the right pitch for the show so that it doesn’t feel disjointed is the initial goal. But, thankfully, they’re all total pros, so this was never a big problem!

Once you get into the scripting process, it’s not really a challenge, but one of the most important things I do early on is work out how each writer works. Some people like to discuss their episode then go away and work independently until they’re ready to deliver. Some will discuss it, go away and then touch base sporadically until the deadline, while some like to keep a more regular contact, batting questions and ideas back and forth. My job is to be on hand for them – so I can adjust to any rhythm once I know what they prefer.

M: What part of writing/storytelling can be, and which one cannot be taught?

A: I think there’s elements of the craft that can be taught – from the basic stuff like learning how to use Final Draft and the correct layout to knowing how to write a scene-by-scene etc, but I believe a lot of writing and storytelling comes from instinct.

Just getting a feeling for what works, what doesn’t, what excites you and the people you’re working with versus what doesn’t. Millions of books have been written about storytelling – and most of them completely contradict each other.

I don’t think there’s one format that should be adhered to, and we’re lucky enough that in the current TV market, people are getting braver about diverting from previous structures imposed on shows.

M: What are the main lessons you’ve learned while working on TV productions (i.e. on storytelling e.g. how to weave a good  story, etc.)? 

A: Working in development and as a script editor has, I think, been the absolute best place to learn story and structure. Personally, with my own writing, I’ve always found the precise intricacies of plotting – the logic, the pacing etc. – the hardest part, so having had the opportunity to work with some really brilliant story minds has been invaluable. You quickly learn what works, what doesn’t, what is overused and what feels original.

Also, just watching how different people work – whether it be executive producers, story producers, fellow script editors or writers. I find it fascinating to see the way everyone’s ideas develop and the methods they use for structuring a story.

In TV, I find there’s an interesting balance between creativity and the actual craft of making a show. The former is essential, but when you are constantly working to deadlines, schedules and notes from varying quarters, it’s also about finding a way to get the scripts ready to shoot without compromising on the creativity.

M: What advice would you give to people who want to write for TV? Where should they begin?

A: Having asked this question many times, I know how frustrating it is when people just say ‘write’ – as if just writing your own material will suddenly get it seen and get you a job. It usually makes me irrationally angry to hear it, but I’m going to become what I hate, because I do recommend writing as much as you can in your spare time – not because it will get you work – but because it really is a case of the more you write, the better you become.

Everyone’s route into writing for TV is different – some come from editorial, some juggle writing with directing/producing, a lot are playwrights who move across. For me though, I think working as part of a story/editorial team is invaluable experience – so the first step to this is to become a researcher/assistant script editor. As far as I know, long running dramas in the UK usually hire people on 6-month fixed contracts, so advertise quite regularly for roles like this. Similarly working in development is also really useful as you work across a large slate of projects, so see ideas and shows at their inception, and get to work with a varied set of writers.

M: How do you recognise a writer’s style? How can one find/understand their unique voice?

A: I always love chatting with writers for the first time and finding out what they’re interested in. Often, people who write lots of episodes of TV can adapt their voice and tone for the show they’re working on, they’ve become pros at it, but diving in and finding out what they really are interested in is fascinating.

I mean, usually people always seem to want to write much darker things than they’re currently working on (take from that what you will…!) You can, often, tell quickly whether people skew towards wanting to find the heart of a piece, or the action and excitement, the comedy or the tragedy.

M: How does one know which area of writing to pursue?

A: I think the best thing to do is try everything – try writing a novel,try poetry, try screenwriting or writing a play, try articles, reviews, find what works and what doesn’t and don’t feel like you have to settle for just one thing.

M: What makes a good writer?

A: There’s so many different answers to this question, but I think at the heart of it, it’s about connecting with what you’re writing.

Whether you’re writing a novel that inspires escapism, a specific genre of TV show, a gritty, realistic film or something more avant-garde, if you’re not getting something back from writing – enjoyment, catharsis, or anything else, then it’s hard to get something on the page that people will associate with.

To be continued…✍🏽

Winsome Duncan Interview – Part Two


Winsome and IIf you’re an aspiring author, book publisher, creative or budding entrepreneur – you will find valuable tips in my interview with Winsome Duncanan award-winning author, entrepreneur, and poet with over a decade of experience in the book industry.  

Part two stands on its own, however, to gain additional insights please READ PART ONE too. Here, the conversation about writing, self-publishing and creative entrepreneurship continues.

M: Do you think that a writer can be just a writer (these days), or must we learn marketing, business skills, etc.?

W: You can be just a writer and outsource marketing, business tasks, cover designs, etc. but then if a writer is interested in the business they should learn the trade. I went into self-publishing because companies like Random House weren’t taking me on. I’ve got a collage of rejection letters. One day, I’m going to find them again and put them online…

M: Why did you call your publishing company Peaches Publications?

W: …I called it Peaches Publications because life is peachy and sweet. What I mean by that is that you woke up this morning and you’re still alive, you’re not in a hospital bed. This should be reason enough to give thanks. That’s why life is just like a peach (sweet).

M: What do You (Peaches Publications) do?

W: We provide ghost-writingnot everyone is a natural writer. I believe that everybody can write a book, but whether it would be of good quality or not that’s another matter. Ghost-writing helps to smooth the book out. It helps to give it a voice, direction and a narrative that is readable and consistent rather than disjointed.

M: But still true to their story? 

W: Yes, still true to the story, but embellished – descriptions added and so on and so forth. We have quite a few ghost-written books.

We also edit, proof-read, provide critical evaluation. Then, we have marketing and PR (outsourced). We give advice on copyright and do frameworks for people to start on their journey… Many people just need some direction and then, off they go. Finally, we have our special 24-hour formula which helps you get your book written in 24 hours…

M: Just to clarify – we are talking about that first draft – not about a manuscript being ready for publishing (in 24 hours)?

W: The first draft, yes… It can be done. It all depends on how dedicated you are… 

I also work with people who have their books out already, but they need a publisher to help them take things to the next level. Writing a book is therapeutic and cathartic, but the whole idea is to at least recoup the money you spent on it. The average lifetime of a book, in terms of how well it sells, is about 300 copies. Getting to a thousand, two thousand, and more – that’s the challenge.

M: What must a self-published author, supported by Peaches Publications, do to become successful?

W: The contract says what they should do i.e. the homework that I give them; make time for meetings and video calls on Skype… Sometimes, clients come and say, “here’s my book – it’s finished” and I’m like “has it got a contents page, etc.?” The nature of self-publishing is such that people don’t know a lot about the journey, so it’s also my job to teach them and tell them…

It’s now reflected in the agreement that there will be some work for you to do. We need to decide what the book covers will be (with us). You have to fill out the table of contents. Some people include a foreword, some people don’t. It really does depend, but writers must do the work and that can be challenging sometimes.

In the past, we had a twelve week turn around, but now we don’t have strict deadlines because the nature of self-publishing can be slow, and people’s lives get busy. We recommend a deadline and it can be met if writers do what’s requested, but it’s just a recommendation – it can take anywhere from six to twelve months.

M: What do you believe is a good motive to write?

W: When you have a desire in your soul that just won’t leave you. I worked with one woman who had 21 years of poetry in her that had only been written on bits of paper, email, etc. … She cried at her launch. Imagine that, her book was trapped for 21 years! She came, a year ago, to our book publishing workshop…

M: What genres do you work in?

W: The genres we work in are Christian gospel, inspiration and motivation, short stories and autobiographies…

M: What other projects do you want people to know about?

W: Well, I’ve got a sitcom “Keeping up with the Brokers” – we’ll be doing some more work around that this year. It’s on YouTube and Facebook. We want to begin telling a story about a family who go through struggles and hardship, but still through love they survive…

I do want to work with Anthony Joshua (the boxer) … I think his is such an inspirational story. I’d like to at least be a consultant on his story if not the publisher of one of his books. I’ve researched him, and I don’t think there’s a book out there yet…

M: Oh, you research people that you’d like to work with without knowing whether or not they want to publish a book?

W: Yes, I do…

M: So, now, you’re just visualizing?

W: Yes, actually I should put him on my vision board… I should…

M: You’ve done projects with BBC, Eddie Nestor played in your film. You were trained by Les Brown and Andy Harrington, and you’ve received some recognition over the years. It’s interesting to know that you still have the humility to continue learning from people who know more than you.

W: Yes! I will always maintain that even if I am at the top of my game or what’s perceived to be the top of my game. I’m always evaluating myself… I will always have someone mentoring and life-coaching me because I don’t ever want to stop learning. Even Oprah has got mentors, and she’s a billionaire. She’s also on my vision board…

M: What’s your family background? Did they teach you to strive?

W: My parents are from the working-class background. My dad was a hard-working guy and my mum was a house-wife. I learned poverty consciousness from my mum. It was hard at the beginning to ask for money. At the beginning, as an artist, I did stuff for free… My first paid show as Lyrical Healer was at the Soul Food in 2003. I got £50 to stand on the stage for 10 minutes and do poetry… There, a connection was formed, in terms of how I could use my skills, gifts and arts to make money.

My dad is a hard worker who believes in 9 – 5. We argue quite a bit about this because I’m a creative entrepreneur and he keeps telling me to get “a proper job” … I guess he wants stability for me because as you know the nature of self-employment can be up and down. Your clients pay you when they pay you, but it looks like we’re coming into demand… and I know what the direction given to me is…

M: What is your best piece of advice for writers?

W: The first tip is in the title of my workbook – JUST WRITE ITBelieve that you can do it. Go get a nice A4 notebook, a pen and start writing… Let it come out purely – don’t edit the piece as you go along, let the pen just flow (at this stage).

My final piece of advice isif you feel like giving up, rest but keep going – don’t give up! I’ve seen many poets come and go off the stage. They say, “I’m a poet, or a this and a that” and then they disappear into the night! So, if you feel like giving up – rest but keep going. Don’t give up. Stay focused!

M: Is that the advice you’d give to aspiring entrepreneurs and/or to people who want to succeed in business too?

W: Yes, because you’ve got to want to stay in it. I have been in this creative stuff for 19 years. You’ve got to really want it to the extent where you can’t see yourself doing anything else other than what it is you are doing… I want to thank my team. I’m just one person, so I appreciate their support and what they do…

Don’t give up your passion… even if you must get a part time job or a full-time job. Even if you have to leave a full-time job and start from nothing.

Fulfill what’s in your heart. Whatever God has given you to do I urge you to do it!

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To Check out Winsome’s Publishing Company Please Click Here. 

Author, Publisher & Entrepreneur – The Winsome Interview


Winsome and IMeet Winsome Duncan – an award-winning author, entrepreneur, poet and more with over a decade of experience in the book writing industry. Her work has been featured on BBC iPlayer, SKY and BBC London radio. Winsome is a bestselling author and founder of Peaches Publications – their motto: “We Publish Books”. Her books have received national press and media coverage, and they have been endorsed by former Minister of Justice Sir Simon Hughes.

Having said all that, I want you to know that Winsome is a kind, humble person and a dedicated friend who cares about others. Her successes are inspiring because she managed to overcome difficulties like dyslexia or poverty consciousness. If you are a writer, an aspiring author, book publisher, a creative or budding entrepreneur – you will find valuable tips and information here. Please stay tuned if you love stories and mean business…

Let’s get to it:

M: Winsome, you have done so many things… How would you describe yourself in 2018?

W: “As a writer and book publisher. This year is definitely about writing and the next year and the year to come…”

M: I was first introduced to you as a poet? Do you still perform?

W: “As a poet my name is Lyrical Healer. Poetry is my first love. I’m also a singer although there are better singers than me out there. I stepped away from the poetry 4-5 years ago because I wasn’t making enough money; but last year I decided that this decade I wanted to leave my voice signature… to inspire. I actually have an EP coming out this year. Nobody knows about it – until now. It is called “Get Up 3000” and I’m working with 3 Chronicles, Kenny McKay, Adante from Birmingham and Joseph Junior.

M: Fantastic! I can’t wait to hear it and thank you for the exclusive. You’re a speaker, writer, book publisher, sitcom writer and so much more. How do you pick what you do at any point in time? Is it intuition, a solid business plan – what guides you?

W: “I go with my heart. I’m sensitive and a creative which means that I feel things on a different level. I’m an empath to people’s stories and experiences. Sometimes, I choose for business. I’m quite focused when it comes to that, but most times I just want to do what makes me happy. And what makes me happy is being creative – whether it’s writing a book, helping someone write a book or setup their business… I’m an ideas generator – I can think ideas all day long. Practical things I struggle with and because I’m dyslexic, but it’s all a learning curve, isn’t it?”

M: I’ve experienced some of these challenges. How do you stay focused? We know that focus is a must if you’re going to finish a project without getting distracted or delayed by new ideas.  

W: “I think it’s important to complete the work that you start. I’ve got nine books under my belt, and you’ve got to be focused to do that. I’m so used to staying focused that I don’t really think about it, but the main thing that I do is a ‘things to do list’. I plan out everything and tick tasks off as I go along. If there’s too many things, I narrow it down and action what’s left… I’m a bit workaholic and I work funny (night) hours. I stay focused trying to fit my schedule into my personality and my life. I think you really need to be driven and believe in yourself and your destination to complete projects. If you don’t you won’t get there.”

M: You work with writers and budding authors. What skills or character traits does one need to get from page one to the last page of a book?

W: “Bwoy, these are some good questions. They’ll need faith and belief. Also, many of the writers I work with initially feel quite overwhelmed. Once they get the gist of it – once we map out the contents page, the chapters, the titles, the subheadings – it becomes real. It’s getting them from thinking of the book in their head and putting it out on paper. And once they can do that they flourish…”

M: So you simplify the process for them? Just Write IT

W: “That too, but to get from page one to the end – you just have to write. You need to be dedicated and like my workbook says: “Just Write IT”. You must be committed. If you don’t have time to write – get up an hour early and do it, or get up at midnight when everyone is sleeping and do an hour there and then go back to sleep. You have to find the time – that’s how you get from page one to the end. Even if it’s just an hour or half an hour a day… You just need to keep pushing through. Be consistent.”

M: How many people have you worked with?

W: “At the moment, we’ve got twelve books out, and I’m working with another eight. An event that we did at the Millennium Gloucester Hotel raised the profile of the brand. Since then, I’ve been inundated (with requests to help people write their books). The word is getting out and it’s really good! … A woman contacted me at 5 am this morning. I was up, but that’s not the point. She’s said: ‘I want your services’…”

M: “5 am?! Is she willing to pay?” (we’re both laughing).

W: “She’d better be willing to pay. We’ll have that conversation after. That’s the thing – when I started… my first prospect was here (the restaurant where we had the interview) and because it was such a passion and I just wanted to make some extra income – I said ‘I can do all these things with your book for £300’ just because I loved doing it.”

Lyrical points at the table where she had the meeting with her first prospect, and continues:

W: “She was a nice woman. We spent two hours talking about her book, and then she didn’t buy the service… Later, I found out that she went to Author’s House. I’m glad that she told me because it helped me to know what I was doing wrong and why she didn’t buy. With the other publisher, she got a packaged deal (incl. hard book covers and copies, etc.) We added these after – it was a lesson learned.”

Here Winsome tells me how earnestly that very woman was explaining to her that she didn’t have much money just to go ahead and spend thousands of pounds with the other publisher. I’m smiling as she continues because I’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt (or two).

She continues: “That experience made me realise that the service is valuable. We’re still in touch to this day. I even attended her book launch. I like people to be straight with me and the feedback was very good – after that day, my prices went up and now we offer free book copies to our clients which is what they want.”

M: I feel like many creatives and passionate people can relate. When you love what you do you can do it for free… (Winsome: ‘I’m telling you!’) and you still feel like you’re doing something. However, that can only take you so far… So, my next question is: how do you cross from there to becoming a business woman? I feel like many people, especially women, struggle with asking for money in exchange for their work (passion).

W: “Yes, they do and it’s a shame. I was one of those women – I felt not worthy, or I’d be asking myself ‘is that too much?’ I had to get support with that from my business mentor Lorna Stewart and from my life-coach as well… There’s a world of people out there – they come with a hard lack story and that’s all well and good, but… I’ve got a free 20 min consultation, so even if you don’t have any money but you want a little bit of guidance you can still speak to me… You just need to fill out a form, and that stops a lot of people… I used to have these two-hour meetings (instead of a form) and that was my time which I could never get back… “

M: Do you have mentors now?

W: “Always! I have to be around people who are ahead of me. I don’t ever think that I know everything. And if you’re serious and a person in business please have a mentor – whether you pay them or you exchange services… You need someone who’s gone before you. They must be successful at what they do…”

I feel I’ve mastered the asking for money part when I became really clear about what the issue was – and when I got really fed up of half-payments here, half-payments there. One of the things that Fiona (a mentor) got me to do this year was to create a price-list. People tend to have them in their heads, but I thought ‘I need an actual price-list, so everything becomes transparent.’ And then, I put agreements in place (this is what’s expected of you and this is what’s expected of me). Of course, there are people who want to haggle down, but I’d usually say: ‘No, we can’t do that because I’m busy.’ It is different if they’re a friend or connected to me in some way, but other than that my prices are my prices. Now, Peaches Publications want to expand, so that’s really how I deal with that and I’m quite confident now…”

M: Do you feel like being counselled was instrumental?

W: “Yes, it made me feel confident that what I do is worth it. I know a lot about what I do… I help people publish their books, and to have your book out is a great legacy to me.”

M: Especially if it’s a bestseller? (we’re laughing)

W: “If it is – it’s even better.”

Thank you for reading. Winsome and I have spent quite some time talking, and THERE IS A PART TWO. In it, once again, we are talking about writing, self-publishing, business, inspiration and more. Please click on the link to read it now…

Poetry, Writing, Publishing, Interview…


once upon a time

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Real writers write today

They do not wait until tomorrow

Real writers paint the truth

Aware that joy comes after its sorrow

.

Real writers know that the gift

Comes from the heavens above

Real writers stand up to fear

of being misread or unloved

.

Real writers are not afraid

Of being called a fluke or a fake

Real writers write for the love

And not for the accolade

.

Come shine, come rain

Come bliss, come pain

Real Writers don’t talk about writing

They tame their lines, again & again!

Winsome and I B and W (2)On this note, I would like to briefly introduce an award-winning author Winsome Duncan. She has written nine books and has over a decade experience within the book industry.

Winsome started out as a poet called ‘Lyrical Healer’ and her love of the English language has seen her on platforms such as SKY TV, BBC, ITV and House of Parliament just to name a few.

Winsome’s fondness for writing has led her to open her own publishing house called ‘Peaches Publications’. She has just released a simple workbook titled: “JUST WRITE IT” to help budding writers get their stories out and on paper.

I have recently interviewed this lovely lady and cannot wait to share our discussions with you. You can expect precious nuggets of wisdom on topics which are important to you as a writer, blogger or someone who wants to write a book.

I am planning to post THE INTERVIEW over the next weekend. Again, this will be a conversation about writing, poetry, publishing and the business part of the whole shebang. Please stay tuned – it will be worth it… 🙂 

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I conduct interviews, so we can all learn and grow together.

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Do Lend Me Your Ears


I am so pleased to let you know that my book “Do Lend Me Do Lend Me Yr Ears Amazon E-book 50 conYour Ears” is available right now. This collection of poems & short stories is designed to entertain and empower.

The book’s ‘tales’ often begin amid life’s conflicts & complicated relationships with oneself, God & men. They will, however, take you on a quest to unexpected resolutions & positive transformations.

It is a book of emotionally charged poetry which invites its reader on an intense & colourful journey from hate to love, from hopelessness to hope & from pain to satisfaction. To some extent, this collection is a lyrical analysis of the human condition singled out by introspective & therapeutic qualities.

“Do Lend Me Your Ears” is a thought-provoking ensemble influenced by life, death, faith & its lack. This book will satisfy your emotions & intellect if you take the time to read between the lines.

Enjoy & be inspired by this fantastic BOOK, or let it be your gift to another poetry lover.

Please Click Here if you’d like to get the hard copy on Amazon. 🙂

The Real Writer


Writer Poetry

The Real Writer is The One

Who writes Today not tomorrow

The Real Writer paints the Truth –

Includes the Joy and The Sorrow.

.

The Real Writer knows that the Gift

Comes from the Heavens above

The Real Writer stands up to fear

of being misread or unloved.

.

The Real Writer is not Afraid

Of being called a fluke or a fake

The Real Writer writes for the Love

And not for the accolade.

.

Come shine Come Rain

Come Joy Come Pain

Real Writers don’t talk about writing

They tame their lines, again & again!