Be The Best Writer You Can

Award Nomination for “Mad Girl”, Contest News and a Scrivener Coupon

hot dog contest poster

Now that’s what I CALL a contest!

I can’t promise you hot dogs, but excitement is definitely brewing about the 2013 Screenwriting Goldmine Screenplay Contest – I’ve had three people write to me this week to ask where they can submit their script.

I’ve had to write back and say they can’t as we’re not up and running yet, but it won’t be long – the doors will FLY open on Thursday 31st January.

I also wanted to mention that Johann Knobel has signed up to the judging panel.

Johann is a producer at Company Pictures, who are one of THE major production companies in the UK. Check out their rather astonishing awards list.

South African born, Johann moved to the UK about ten years ago, and quickly made a name for himself as a tough, practical, highly capable individual. Over the years he’s produced all sorts of shows, most recently The Shadow Line and Secret State.

I’ve worked for him and I’d say he’s firm, but fair(!), and a simply outstanding judge of story. I’m genuinely thrilled he’s on board with this competition – it’s a MAJOR coup for any writer to get their work read by Company Pictures.

So, to remind you, the Judging Panel so far is:

  • Paul Ashton, Development Producer, BBC Writers Room
  • Adrian Banyard, Development Producer, STV
  • Matthew Bates, Literary Agent, Sayle Screen
  • Elliot Grove, Founder and Head Guy, Raindance Film Festival
  • Johann Knobel, Producer, Company Pictures
  • Kirstie MacDonald, Script Editor, World Productions
  • Steve Matthews, Producer, Octagon Films
  • Julie Press, Literary Agent, MacFarlane and Chard
  • Fraser Robinson, VP, Scripted ITV Studios Global Entertainment
  • Ben Stoll, Head of Development, C4 Drama
  • Julia Tyrrell, Literary Agent, Julia Tyrell Management

And maybe just one or two more, if I can twist their arms.

I’ll let you know.


If you know a 16-19 year old who wants to get into film, this BFI scheme has got to be worth looking at:


This is a very useful list from Hayley McKenzie and her blog Script Angel. (Useful? If it lives up to the promise it’s sheer gold!)

But…. before you blast off an email to each of these companies, please improve your chances immeasurably by two simple steps:

1. Research the company, starting with Find out what they have done, what sorts of drama they make, so you don’t send an intergalactic action adventure story to a company that only makes low budget kitchen sink drama.

2. Find out who works there, find out who you want to read your script, and send the script to them personally. (You’re looking for people who are called things like Head of Development, Development Producer, Development Executive.) Once again, is a good place to start.

Doing those two simple things will make it SO much more likely you’ll get taken seriously.


I had some nice news earlier this week – my play “Mad Girl” has been nominated for an award from the Medical Journalists Association of Great Britain.

The category is ‘Handling a Medical Theme in Broadcast Drama’ and the three finalists are:

Falling, by Bethan Roberts, BBC Radio 4

Getting On, (episode 1 from series 3) written and acted by Vicki Pepperdine, Jo Brand and Joanna Scanlan, on BBC 4 (TV)

Mad Girl, by me(!), on BBC Radio 4.

The Award Ceremony is at the Wellcome Medicine Now Galleries in London on Tuesday night. Should be a good evening!

You might remember the agonies I went through writing this one – I detailed them all in a more or less daily diary on my blog: what I did, why I did it – and exactly where I went wrong!

If you want to read about a grown man in the depths of writing pain, the story starts here

And if you want to skip the pain and go straight to the fun, download the play here.


We’ve still one or two places left on our January workshop – it’s next weekend in Central London, so if you’ve been sitting on the fence, now is the time to book.

Get more information and grab one of those last screenwriting workshop seats.


One of the biggest challenges I find as a writer is keeping track of all my fragments of ideas.

I’ve worked out various systems over the year, and have settled on a mix of Excel and as a great solution.


Another great solution that a lot of pro writers use on a daily basis is a tool called Scrivener.

As it says on the website, Scrivener lets you “Outline and structure your ideas, take notes, view research alongside your

writing and compose the constituent pieces of your text in isolation or in context. Scrivener won’t tell you how to write – it just makes all the tools you have scattered around your desk available in one application.”

I’ve been talking to the people over there, and they’ve very kindly agreed to give Goldminers a 20% discount on downloads of Scrivener.

If you’re interested, you should go to, select either the Mac or Windows regular licence type, and then type GOLDMINE into the coupon code field. The discount code will be available throughout 2013.

Keep It Together

I also had an email from a man called Keith Turner, about an interesting new iPad app which promises a wonderfully intuitive solution to this info structuring problem.

The app isn’t up and running yet, as Keith is looking for crowd sourced development funding. I want to pass this on as I think it looks like a really interesting project:

Here’s his press release:

Keith Turner had a problem.

The Los Angeles based Art Director and 3D Artist was working on his latest project “Apocalypse Later, Surf Now”, a music-driven,
special effects heavy video montage of surfers riding waves while the world is destroyed around them. He needed to learn a lot of effects, match-moving, and compositing techniques in a short time, so he amassed a great deal of information on how to do them.

The problems arose trying to keep track of all the information. “I would have all this information about one effect, but it was
scattered in all these different places; my desktop, email, bookmarks, the cloud, stickies. And if it was bookmarked, sometimes
the link would be dead.”

This wasn’t the first time he’d encountered this problem, just the most recent.

That’s when he got the idea for Keep It Together, an app that allows you to organize information in a more natural, intuitive

The app opens to a 3d rendering of 20 temples on a mountain top. Each temple represents a room that you enter to do your work in.

“We all move in a 3d environment and are surrounded by rooms and walls our entire lives, so that seemed like the natural choice for the navigation of an app that’s supposed to help you organize things intuitively”, explains Turner.

Once inside a room, you are presented with 25 walls, each one a kind of hybrid between a computer desktop and a bulletin board.
These walls allow you to attach anything to anything else by literally sticking them to each other, as if you were operating in
the analog world.

After talking to many developers, Keith assembled a team and then launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the majority of development costs.

You can see the campaign and a fuller explanation of what the app does here.


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