Sunday, 30 January 2011

An Inspiring Film

I went to see The King's Speech the other day. Really enjoyed it. I came away with three things on my mind:

1. I had been so engrossed in the film that I didn't realise I had been sitting there for over two hours until the credits began to roll.

2. It's a simple story. A man – albeit the King – has a speech impediment. He hires an expert to help him overcome his difficulty. The chap cures him. Yet they managed to string it out for two hours. Now that's how to tell a story!

3. I remembered one line from the film. It went something like this - “You don't have to fear the things that scared you when you were five.” Which, thinking about it, could be what the film is all about. In fact, that could form the theme for a whole lot of stories.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

One Small Step

I often see comments by writers in blogs and magazines who claim that almost every time they tell someone what they do for a living they get the response 'I'd love to write a book'. They then go on to reflect on why these people don't do just that so I thought I'd put forward my own ideas. To me it's very simple. Writing is BLOODY HARD WORK.

O.k. maybe it's not too difficult to think up a scenario and vague plot. But when you get down to the details of the story, characterisation, dialogue etc. it takes a lot of effort. I don't know about you but I sometimes agonise for ages over single sentences, even words. I sweat and I get headaches. Then there's spelling, grammar...

And the hardest part? Sorry to bring up a sporting analogy yet again but I used to have my own ideas about that too. I used to compete at triathlon. The races were what I looked forward to but the training took a lot of self discipline. And it didn't matter how cold that lake was or how muddy the the run course or how steep those hills were that you felt if you went any slower you might as well get off your bike and walk. Nothing compared with taking that first step out of the front door and forcing yourself to go out training. It could be a freezing January night or a hot summer afternoon when everyone else is outside drinking beer. Just to strap on your trainers and drag yourself from in front of the TV and go out and do the work - that's what took the effort.

So it is with writing. The first words are the hardest to come up with. So my advice would be to take that first step. Get a scrap of paper, a fag packet, a bus ticket, anything. Write a sentence and that's it. You're a writer.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year

A Happy New Year to all our readers - as they used to say in the Beano.

Is it really 50 years since Biffo the Bear wrote 1961 on a wall and stood on his head to prove it read the same upside-down? Of course it was - do the maths!

Those were the days. When teachers were literate, only men had tattoos and us kids were actually encouraged to eat the fatty bits on meat because it 'put hairs on your chest'. (Worked for me.)

How different it was then. Our soldiers were fighting in foreign countries, Coronation Street was the most popular programme on TV and Cliff Richard was belting out songs on the radio. Hang on a minute - maybe things haven't really changed that much.

Anyway, here are my predictions for 50 years from now.
Having celebrated their one hundredth birthday by having the Rover's Return regulars abducted by aliens, the Coronation Street boozers are returned to Earth as if nothing had happened but the population of Weatherfield don't seem to notice that they now speak in a strange monotone and can't bend their little fingers.
Cliff Richard is preserved as a hologram and is still touring the country to packed venues.
The President of the United States of Europe declares Britain to be an offshore penal colony.

Have a good one.