When Wanting To Murder Your Series Plotting

Welcome back to another blog! It’s getting all a little scary right now, only a month away from the end of my time at University. Final year has gone so quickly and now I’m in the mad dash to get all my work done for the looming deadlines. So, whilst I’m in the mindset of my Major Final Project (dissertation equivalent) that is a 3-part Crime Drama for TV I’ll pass on a little bit of help and guidance I picked up from how to plot stuff into the series, but it’s mainly stuff like thrillers or mystery.

PLOTTING:

So, when you’ve got certain things that need to be found out in certain places, this is what you should do.

Figure out how many episodes you have content for. From there, you make a list of points you need to uncover. Once you have that, figure out which ones go together. Once you have that, choose which points come in what order and choose which episodes which points come into the series. Once you’ve got that, then make sure it’s evenly done and you don’t give the whole chain of events away before the end of the series. That would definitely kill the series in its tracks.

I hope that helps and you can make your own series the best it can be. I wish you luck in your writing endeavours.

Love,

Abbie Allen

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The Dreaded Series Outline

Welcome back to another blog! It’s been WAY too long. Since I’ve just finished writing a draft for an assignment/showcase due in May, thought the best way to try and recover is write a blog. Why not? So this blog is about Series Outlines. They’re horrible to try and write, but if you get the structure down, you might get through unscathed. Let’s get right into it.

START IT OFF PROPERLY

So, the first bit you need to know about putting the first words on this one page only document is to ensure you make it clear what is being told. This is the example I will give so you know what I mean.

Locksford by Abbie Allen – Crime Drama TV Series of 3 episodes

Logline: Not everything a new PC sees in a Birmingham suburbs police station is the truth

So the title and the name of the writer are in bold. Then you explain what genre the series is and how many episodes you intend the series to be. It’s also a great idea, no matter how horrible the process may be, to get some kind of logline on there, just so they know what your piece is about.

SECTION ONE- THE WORLD

This is the first bit you need to put in next. You need to give a little bit of info about the world you want to tell them about. It is likely to be a bigger paragraph or more if you’re doing a Sci-Fi or Dystopian. Then you have to explain what happened to the world and how it got into its current state. Luckily, mine was just about a police station in Birmingham. This is the example I’ll give.

“Lizzy Reading, the youngest of her family, makes the decision to join Locksford Police Station against her family’s wishes. With determination to follow in her dead brother, Sergeant Neil Reading’s, steps it pushes Lizzy to believe in the impossible. The four year anniversary of Neil’s death gets closer and Lizzy is confused why her family turned their backs on Lizzy and Neil. Emotions bubble to the surface as Lizzy starts to behave like Neil and their mother, Elizabeth Hendy-Reading, tries to persuade Lizzy to change career.”

So this would set the world up for the reader to understand what is going on.

SECTION TWO- CHARACTERS/PROTAGONIST EMOTIONS/OBSTACLES/RESOLUTION

The gloriously long but narrative-led section. This is where you try to introduce your characters whilst also move the narrative on to reveal the bumpy journey your characters go on. It may be a long section, but it can be worth it if you can get it done well. This is the one from my project, LOCKSFORD.

“Ignoring the threats from her own family to leave the force, Lizzy turns up for work to discover her father, Superintendent Michael Reading, has been creating a reputation on brute force and deception. Unsure what to believe, Lizzy starts to put her trust in Inspector Dale ‘Becker’ Beckett and PC Nicky Penn. Whispers and looks of disgust are pointing in Lizzy’s direction, but are put to bed by intervention from DI Melissa Hemming, DC Leon Boulder and DC Natalie ‘Tash’ Price. Whilst a new team is formed, tensions rise from Tash about Lizzy, worried what Neil told Lizzy about her, his girlfriend at the time of his death.

As Lizzy tries to settle into her new environment, she finds not everyone plays by the rules. Coming across her supervising officer, Sergeant Max Strong, Lizzy must decide who she puts her trust in and what she will do to stay alive. During her first week as a probationary PC, Lizzy is paired with Nicky, known as the ‘Master Puppy-walker’ due to his career spanning close to thirty years and puppy-walking all the new recruits. Tash and Leon stumble across an armed robbery, leading them straight to a drug dealer. With trouble brewing round the case Lizzy, Nicky and Melissa are pulled in for assistance. Just when they think it can’t get any worse, Lizzy recognises the drug dealer as an associate of Michael’s. Becker is drafted in and all officers in the inner circle are on red alert for danger pointing straight at Lizzy. After a raid on the drug dealer’s house goes wrong, questions emerge of who is involved and what parts they have to play in the events circling Locksford.

Whilst Lizzy battles with her new job, Elizabeth battles with her conscience on what the family is up to behind Lizzy’s back. Through Elizabeth’s leisure centre, Michael has been using it for a front to cover his dealings away from the nick. Their remaining son, Dan, is also up to his neck in it, not giving Elizabeth a way out or a way to keep Lizzy safe.

Returning home to gather herself after her first day at work, Lizzy finds a letter in one of Neil’s books. With new information Neil had left her before he died, she starts to doubt Neil is actually dead. Taking a week to contemplate the new information before talking to the team, Lizzy starts to get letters and notes at work in the same hand as Neil. Finally caving and confiding in the team, they try to figure out whether the rumours Neil’s death had been fake or not. As Tash starts to receive threats putting Leon in danger, she struggles to decide what to do between keeping quiet about what she knows or putting Lizzy out of her misery and telling her the truth.

Just when the case looks hopeless, Lizzy and Tash catch onto a new lead after another associate of Michael’s is found murdered in his flat. The duo check out a flagged up warehouse full of bags shoved full of white powder. Just when they think they have found the jackpot of evidence both of them are caught in an explosion, knocking them off course from finding out the truth.

As Elizabeth’s conscience starts to take over, she makes the choice to tell Lizzy what has been going on and what she knew about Neil’s death. Elizabeth and Michael butt heads about their daughter, but Michael’s approach petrifies Elizabeth enough to stand up for their daughter in her hour of need. Michael’s dealings come to light and his reputation is torn to shreds as the facts surface. Distraught at the shambles her family have become, Lizzy goes home to find Neil waiting for her, asking her for help before collapsing into her arms.”

So you see, this is an example, but different series need structure in a different way.

So I wish you luck in writing your own and maybe, you never know, it may just be a help to pin down the main points of your series.

Love,

Abbie Allen

Story Beats Are Your Friend (I hope)

Welcome back to another script themed blog! Quite a few of these will end up being from lectures I’m attending for my final year at Uni, but it’s still useful for that author in us.

In one of my earlier blogs I talked about the five beat structure, putting the story into five beats. Now, hopefully this blog will help you if you think your story is becoming a little difficult to keep track of too.

So, let’s begin. With every story there are the main events, the important clincher points. Those are what you want in your story beats. So, if you struggle to get them into the five, try putting it into more than that. In a lecture I attended recently we were taught that it should be about one hundred and fifty maximum, at least for a feature film anyway. The minimum would be about sixty story beats.

It’s alright if the beats are a little sketchy at first. That’s what the whole exercise is for. This is to see where there are holes in the story, where we aren’t sure how we got to a certain point and to find the five main points of change to use in the five beat structure. This could also lead to helping you to write your pitch (that I talk about in another blog). The story beats could look like this, as an example:

-Mary destroys the kitchen

-Mary drives to John’s house

-Mary confronts John about their relationship

So, as you can see, it doesn’t have to be much, even if it does mean I’m subtly quoting SUPERNATURAL. I hope this quick blog has helped you figure out your story. I wish you all the best in your writing endeavours.

Love,

Abbie Allen

How To Get Noticed As A Writer

Welcome back to another blog! Now, I know this may sound easier said than done, but I’m sure we’ll get there together…I hope.

This blog’s title may seem a little OTT (over the top, for people who may not know what that means) but I think it might be an idea to widen people’s eyes a little at this. A lot of writers are out there and they all want to get noticed, get their work made but there is one thing you have to do to get there.

Enter competitions.

I know it seems really simple, but it can be difficult. What I find great is that there are so many different competitions that you can enter to get your work out there. You don’t get noticed if you don’t make any noises about you or your work. So here is what I recommend. At the moment the WRITER’S MAGAZINE (that you can buy in WHSmiths, Sainsbury’s and other shops a little like that) they are doing a bumper pack. It is £4.10 for it, but it is also coming with not just the magazine, but a pack that lists different competitions you can enter throughout the year. A lot of this afternoon I have been highlighting the ones that aren’t poems and that would apply to me and where I am living. It’s actually rather handy. It allows you to write short stories, get your novel/s out there.

So don’t just sit there writing and waiting for the call that will never come because you’re not entering any competitions. Show off how incredible your writing is. It’s ok if you don’t get it first time round. It just gives you a chance to see what you’re able to do and learn from it to make your writing better. It took me long enough, so don’t worry if it takes plenty of times to get there. It just means you have more time to hone your skills.

I hope this is helpful to all you clever people and I wish you all the luck in those competitions you enter. If you don’t get the magazine, try googling competitions or try the site below (which is for the magazine, but you can still enter through the site if you wish).

Writer’s Magazine Site

Love,

Abbie Allen

Method To My Madness…ish

Welcome back to another blog! It’s been a little too long since my last one, but preparing for Final Year of University is getting the better of me, as usual. Either that or binge-watching the good old British Crime series THE BILL.

Anyway, back to this blog of mine. Now this title may seem a little odd, but it fits this topic quite well. The blog I will talk to you about Wikia. Some of you may have heard of Wikipedia, but this is kind of along the same branch, kind of.

Wikia is a website that allows any creator/s to make a site for a show they are really into, like DOCTOR WHO, THE BILL (Bit too much watching my favourite crime show) and many others in different genres. What I have figured out is that there are no limits to this site, really. I’d seen the one people had put together for THE BILL and I couldn’t help but question what would my projects look like?

So, I decided to create my own Wikia for my TV Project LOCKSFORD. Now this project is written around a Police Station in the fictional borough Kingswell in actual Birmingham, UK. Since one of my parents is an actual Brummy I wanted to do something for those roots, especially in the current state where areas of the UK are being under-represented. The series follows, mainly the Uniform, of the station through the eyes of their newest recruit, PC Lizzy Reading.

I knew there would be a lot for me to keep track of in the series and with it having a Transmedia take on it too in the form of a novel (hopefully) and a Radio series I had to figure out a way to get it out of a jumbled notebook and onto paper somehow. This would now be that outlet. So this is what I suggest to you. Create a Wikia for your original Project and put profiles, episode stories, character journeys, overheads (layout of a building from the ceiling looking down on each floor, if you need to) and anything else you may have. Put it on there and let your imagination run wild. It doesn’t have to be for a TV Series. It could be any of your projects, so don’t be afraid to step out with that Wikia.

If you don’t believe me, why don’t you check out mine and see how it is growing (it’s not finished yet, but it could be soon enough) on the link below:

Locksford Wikia

So I hope this blog has helped you if you have struggled to find a way of organising your notes better. I wish you luck on your next endeavour.

Love,

Abbie Allen

5 Beat story structure

Welcome back to another blog! This time I will be giving you the ideas of how to use the 5 beat structure, which a lot of scripts will need as part of their treatment to go along with drafts of scripts. Hopefully this will help you to figure out how to use it for your own ideas.

STEP 1 – FILLING IN THE FIVE BEATS

The first step that you need to do is through your story find the FIVE most important actions that happen. This would basically be also using your outline for your story and squeezing it down to just five points of what happens. Once you’ve done that, then you can see where to go to next from there.

STEP 2- ORDERING THE ACTIONS

This may seem a little odd at first, but sometimes the order we do the action can actually be moved round. Your last point might actually go better at the start. Mix the order round and see what happens.

 

This is one from a project of mine to get what else you can do:

  1. 3 months later Hannah writes a blog of what happened to the friends and how she
    wished they hadn’t separated when she gets a message from Sammy to meet at the
    usual place, so Hannah replies she can make it and leaves hurriedly
  2.  Hannah, Sammy, Dan and Kev walk out to Cardiff Bay, their usual meeting spot for
    their last meeting
  3. Hannah asks what they want to do, so Kev suggests they make a one-off vlog to
    remember all the good times
  4. Kev records the vlog on his camera, getting them to tell him funny memories and one
    thing they will always treasure
  5. Sammy gets the call she has to go home to pack for University, so the rest of the
    group follow suit once they have a picture of them all taken

 

I hope this helps and feel free to ask any questions you may have, whether it’s about the five beat structure or if you want to know more about the term ‘Treatment’ for a project. I wish you luck with your creative endeavours.

Love,

Abbie Allen

Episode Plans (in case of drawing blanks)

Welcome to another blog! This one may be a little different to my other ones, as there aren’t actually steps for you to follow.

As I’ve mentioned in one of my other blogs, when you’re writing out episodes, the best way to do it is through planning an outline so you know where you’re going with it. Sometimes it’s not that easy. This is an alternative starting point if you can’t find the heart of the story for the outline. I know that a lot of writers don’t stay in one area of writing, whether it’s novels or scripts or poems, it differs. For me, it’s mainly scripts and novels. Recently, I have been trying to plan a Police Drama eight part TV series. I have come across the issue where I don’t know what should be in each episode. So what did I do to get round it?

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