Writing Tips

Lessons from UCLA Film School

A WotH session on the secrets of screenwriting by  Gary Sutton, a graduate of the School of Theater, Film and Television at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Following his graduation, Gary forged a career in Hollywood acquiring film, video and TV rights for the territory of South Korea before returning to mid-Sussex and taking up copywriting.

So what, for him, makes a good film script?Click to read his full article!
• Authors once acted as story overseers, choosing to withhold or reveal any character’s thoughts, as well as telling readers the truth as they saw it. In modern fiction, this is usually avoided, because it denies the readers the opportunity to decide for themselves. So you might two characters who

‘Strong, well-rounded characters who spring from the page fully formed are the most valuable currency for every writer.’ How you find characters varies from writer to writer: - you collect details as you go along - you collate details from people you know - some emerge fully formed from the

Colours are rich in symbolic value and cultural meaning. All colours are capable of activating our senses in ways we may not be consciously of: - yellow > fun - red > exciting - green > calming - black > power and aggression The names used to describe colours are

‘All good writers, whether we are aware of it or not, establish a bond with their readers by sustaining a distinctive narrative voice’:Alisa Cox, Writing Short Stories, A Routledge Writer’s Guide How to find? pick up linguistic habits from the writers you are readingyour writing voice will derive largely from

Some older mini-tips!

A First Draft

A top tip from Joshua Wolf Shenk

Get through a draft as quickly as possible. Hard to know the shape of the thing until you have a draft. Literally, when I wrote the last page of my first draft of Lincoln’s Melancholy I thought, Oh, shit, now I get the shape of this. But I had wasted years, literally years, writing and re-writing the first third to first half. The old writer’s rule applies: Have the courage to write badly.

Place and emotion

We had a great session on using analogies, metaphors and similes to bring settings to life.

Here is how Paula Hawkins goes about it towards the end of her thriller, ‘The Girl on the Train’

‘The beach is deserted, and it’s so cold I have to clench my jaw to stop my teeth chattering. I walk quickly along the shingle, past the beach huts, so pretty in daylight but now sinister, each one of them a hiding place. When the wind picks up they come alive, their wooden boards creaking against each other, and under the sound of the sea there are murmurs of movement: someone or something coming closer. I turn back, I start to run.’

Frighteningly good, even if not strictly allegory, metaphor or simile.


Jilly Cooper

Hint 3

Desert Island Discs

July 2016

Any time that something funny happens write it down.

When you are 25, you quickly forget what it is like to be 24. The memory is very false.

Link to programme

Jilly Cooper

Hint 1

Desert Island Discs

July 2016

Remember the five senses

What do things feel like?

What do they look like?

What do they smell like?

It lifts the prose.

Link to programme

Neil Gaiman on Writing

A top writer's top tip...

Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

Jilly Cooper

Hint 2

Desert Island Discs

July 2016

Keep a diary

Otherwise you won’t remember ideas and details.

Link to programme

Jack London on Writing

A top writer's top tip...

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.

Edgar Allen Poe on Writing

A top writer's top tip...

A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it.

Kurt Vonnegut on Creative Writing

A first lesson...

Kurt Vonnegut on Creative Writing

First rule: Do not use semicolons.

They are transvestite hermaphrodites representing absolutely nothing. All they do is show you’ve been to college.

Ray Bradbury on Writing

A top writer's top tip...

Quantity produces quality.

If you only write a few things, you're doomed.

Stephen King on Writing

A top tip from a top writer...

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time — or the tools — to write.

Simple as that.

He also wrote a book about writing.

At Amazon


Throughout a story, a writer has to increase and slow the pace to gain the maximum effect.

You achieve it through a combination of emotive vocabulary and the length of sentences and words.

As a rule, short words and sentences denote:
• anger
• urgency
• fear
• pain

Longer words and sentences denote:
• romance
• contentment
• relaxation
• confidence

You can also use longer sentences to help build tension.

Learn Morewww.literarydevices.net


A process of transferring information or meaning from one subject to another.

Analogies are used in many areas: Law, logic, mathematics, science, etc.

In writing we use analogies as a figure of speech.

Metaphors and similes are tools used to draw an analogy.

An analogy drawn by a simile

  • The structure of an atom is like a solar system. The nucleus is the sun and electrons are the planets revolving around their sun.

The same analogy now drawn by a metaphor

  • An atom is a solar system. Nucleus is the sun, with its electron planets revolving around it.

Learn More

Lev Grossman on Writing

A top writer's top tip...

Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously.