What inspired these particular stories?
The first script was called Violent Delights. It’s a reversal of Romeo and Juliet, where the two protagonists can’t stand each other but they have been branded together and must live a lie. It is now called Loose Threads and I’ve altered a few of the plotlines after recommendations by my reader.
The second one is called Afterglow, and it’s a sci-fi vampire story. I’m interested in the ethics of mortality and how technology might interfere with that. There’s less blood and biting than is traditional but I put jellyfish in it instead — you win some, you lose some. I’m interested in characters caught in difficult ethical choices, and I have a particular fondness for what I’d term domestic dystopia, big philosophical themes explored by characters trying to live their day-to-day life.
What led you to choose Shore Scripts for coverage?
Shore Scripts had a competition for new writing and offered coverage along with the entry. I was playing a sneaky game with two scripts. I sent in one script (called Violent Delights) and it got absolutely shredded by the reader. Brutal, but very fair. I then applied all the learning from that feedback to the other script and submitted the second script to the competition too. This script did very well and became a Semi-Finalist.
Later, I re-submitted the first script after extensive editing for coverage outside of the contest and paid for the same reader to give feedback. I think having someone brutally ripping your work apart is great. It might be a challenge to your ego, but it’s a necessary evil if you want to persist in the industry.
What did you get out of your coverage? Any specific learnings?
I came to the world of screenwriting from theatre — and I was never formally taught it. I feel very strongly that I was let down by the industry and its lack of directness and interpersonal advice. Violent Delights (now Loose Threads) did the rounds on the say-so of my agent and I saw about twenty different production companies. At no point, did anyone ever say what needed to be said and tell me it wasn’t very good.
It wasn’t until the anonymity guaranteed by coverage services that I was able to get direct feedback on what I was doing wrong. My story was fine. My dialogue was pretty good (theatre writing will do that to you). I needed to be pointed firmly in the direction of some example scripts and formatting tools — and I was.
What are you working on now or next?
I always have multiple projects on the go because my brain works better that way. Last month I finished writing a new version of Treasure Island for my local theatre here in Ealing. I am putting the finishing touches on a spec script I’m co-writing with my friend Chrisroy Adams for Lucas Aurelio (Bridgerton S3) to shop around the US in the new year to see if anyone bites. That’s been fun to write as I love to collaborate.
I’m also writing an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery youth production currently called The Moosetrap. I try and keep everything as varied as possible to stop me from getting too bored. It’s nice to swap between projects and stay creatively active.
Do you have any advice for other emerging writers?
Apart from don’t do what I did? I think the best advice I can give to any emerging writer is simply to surround yourself with stories as often as possible. I watch a lot of theatre, read a lot of books, and enjoy a lot of audiobooks as I wander around London. I know how stories work and I’d argue almost everything else is craft. If you know the craft of writing and you can talk about three-act and five-act structure but you don’t fundamentally understand the psychological mechanisms of story, then you’re going to get stuck writing mediocre work. Stories are always first in my mind.
What I’ve learned is that everyone in the industry who meets you is primarily interested in preserving a relationship with you at the expense of being honest. If they don’t like something because it isn’t very well written, they won’t tell you. Get coverage. Stick your ego on mute. Listen. Wash, rinse, repeat. Chances are you need the brutal indifference anonymity grants professional readers. And even if your work is ripped to shreds, don’t sweat it — all writing is re-writing. A creative career is a continuing choice and it’s not an easy one to make but it does lead to some fun things — like answering these questions for the lovely people at Shore Scripts.
Anything else you’d like to share?
If you want to read my work you’re very welcome to, all the scripts I’ve mentioned (plus the full playscript of Tomcat) are discoverable on my Coverfly account. Tomcat is also available on Amazon for bibliophiles and those who love a stage play collection.
For more information about Shore Scripts’ coverage service, please visit https://www.shorescripts.com/screenplay-coverage/.