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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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

Script Excerpt- MOVING ON

EXT. SCHOOL PLAYGROUND – MORNING
HANNAH, (18, medium height, smart, quiet) dressed in a school
uniform, is sitting against the wall with SAMMY (18, female,
medium height, scruffy, rebel), DAN (18, tall, stubble,
scruffy, obnoxious) and KEV (18, tall, clean shaven, smart,
reserved). DAN pulls out a cigarette and lights it. SAMMY is
typing on her phone. HANNAH is reading a Shakespeare play.
KEV is reading a comic book.

DAN
You should have seen his face once
I dropped the bombshell I knew more
than that stupid teacher.

SAMMY
I can imagine, as you’ve told that
story ALL week.

DAN
Surely it’s not been ALL week,
right, Kev?

KEV
Well…

DAN
You’re not backing me up?

KEV
Sorry, Dan. It does get a little
annoying after you’ve brought it up
every day.

DAN
Hannah, will you back me up?

HANNAH
Well…

DAN
Hannah?

HANNAH
Well…this IS the first I’ve heard
of it.

DAN
You see, Hannah backs me up!

SAMMY
Only because she’s been pulled in
for exam practices by The Dragon
all week.

HANNAH
That is true.

KEV
Hannah, just let Sammy and Dan
fight this one out. I love seeing
them get into a weird love dance in
the guise of a fight.

SAMMY & DAN
There’s nothing going on!

KEV
You keep telling yourselves that,
love birds.

HANNAH attempts to hide a smile.

SAMMY
You’re worse than Kev sometimes,
Hannah, you know that?

HANNAH
I’m getting the impression, yeah.

SAMMY and HANNAH grin at each other and start laughing.

KEV
Ugh. Girls, eh?

DAN
They’re not that bad.

KEV

Oh, you would say that!

DAN
Jealous I get all the girls?

KEV throws his comic book at DAN, hitting him in the face.

EXT. SCHOOL PLAYGROUND – AFTERNOON

HANNAH stands watching the doorway, pupils pouring out. DAN
walks over.

DAN
Not going home?

HANNAH
I’m waiting for Sammy.

DAN
I think she can manage.

HANNAH
It’s Friday, Dan. She’s sleeping
over. Shouldn’t you be looking for
Kev?

DAN
Nah. He’s not my type.

HANNAH
You know what I mean. Sammy and I
do a sleep over and you and Kev do
a sleep over and see who can be
awake the latest.

DAN
(flirty)
Maybe we should try and switch it
up, see if you and I could beat
Sammy and Kev.

HANNAH
Uh…

SAMMY and KEV walk over. SAMMY stops as she sees HANNAH.

SAMMY
Hannah? Shall we go?

HANNAH
Yes please.

DAN
You gonna just leave it like that?

KEV
What you on about, bruv?

SAMMY
Dan, don’t tell me you were winding
Hannah up again.

DAN
I wasn’t doing anything of the
sort!

SAMMY
Really, because Hannah looks pretty
petrified to me.

DAN
I may have just said the wrong
thing.

KEV
Hannah?

HANNAH
Can we just go?

SAMMY
Dan, what did you do?

DAN
Just leave it, will ya?!

HANNAH takes SAMMY’s hand and leads her away from DAN and
KEV. The two boys watch the girls go.

KEV
You’d better explain on the way,
bruv.

DAN
Forget it. It was nothing.

INT. SCHOOL TOILETS – MORNING

HANNAH splashes water from the sink over her face. SAMMY
walks into the toilets and checks her makeup in the mirror.

SAMMY
You alright?

HANNAH
Dan tried it on last night.

SAMMY
What?!

SAMMY stares at HANNAH.

HANNAH
I thought it would be OK to go to
the cinema with him. He invited me
back to his house and then he tried
to…you know.

SAMMY
Oh. My. GOD!

HANNAH
Now he’s ignoring me.

SAMMY
I’ll talk to Kev, try and see what
we can do.

HANNAH
Will Kev listen to that?

SAMMY
He will if he wants any of this.

SAMMY flicks her school blazer away from her figure.

HANNAH
Wait. Are you and Kev…

SAMMY
Yup. Did it last night. You should
try it sometime.

HANNAH
Sammy! I don’t wanna know!

SAMMY
Have you not…?

HANNAH
You have to ask that?

SAMMY
I’m surprised you’re not into that
kind of action. Nothing matches it.

HANNAH
No. Just, no. I’m not ready for
that, no way.

SAMMY
Are you…jealous?

HANNAH
You think I’m jealous of you and
Kev?

SAMMY
You do look at him funny.

HANNAH
I just don’t want you getting hurt.
I’ve seen him with the rugby lads.
He can get rough.

SAMMY
Hannah, I can manage.

HANNAH
Like you did last time?

SAMMY
Look, I’ll speak to Kev and get him
to have a word with Dan to sort
things out.

HANNAH
You can try.

EXT. SCHOOL PLAYGROUND – NOON

HANNAH sits on the wall, her bag at her feet. SAMMY storms
over and slumps down onto the wall.

SAMMY
Kev is a dick.

HANNAH
What?

SAMMY
Just caught him with a Year 11 in
the history department. All I can
say is that they weren’t studying.

HANNAH
I’m sorry, Sammy.

SAMMY
I thought he could have been the
one, you know?

HANNAH
You can do better than Kev.

SAMMY
What if I don’t want to? I love the
dickhead. I just wanted to have
something that I didn’t ruin. Was
that too much to ask for?

HANNAH
Guys need to pull their heads out
their arses, don’t they?

SAMMY
He wasn’t like that, not with me.
He was really sweet, you know? I
just wish he’d given us a chance
before blowing it.

HANNAH
Why don’t I see if you can stay
over tonight? I think Dad got some
Haagen-Dazs ice-cream we can share.

SAMMY
Thanks, Hannah. I’d really
appreciate that.

HANNAH
It’s what friends are for, isn’t
it?

SAMMY hugs HANNAH.

INT. SCHOOL TOILETS – NOON

HANNAH is dressed in her own clothes, smartening herself up
and checking her reflection. SAMMY walks into the toilets and
stands right next to HANNAH.

HANNAH
Everything OK?

SAMMY
You cow.

HANNAH
What?

SAMMY
You posted that video.

HANNAH
I have no idea what you’re talking
about.

SAMMY
That sexual video we made a few
months ago as a JOKE, the one we
got YOU to film!

HANNAH
I haven’t posted any videos
recently. I swear it’s not me.

SAMMY
That video is round the entire
school, just on the day we’re meant
to graduate!

HANNAH
Are you sure Dan or Kev didn’t post
it?

SAMMY
You think I believe that? I checked
the account it came from. It’s from
yours!

HANNAH stares at SAMMY.

SAMMY (CONT’D)
There’s no point looking at me like
you didn’t know about this. It’s
too late. Thanks for nothing.

SAMMY storms out the toilets, slamming the door behind her.

HANNAH
Sammy!

HANNAH runs out the toilets.

INT. HANNAH’S ROOM – AFTERNOON

HANNAH stands at the foot of her bed, dressed in a T-shirt
and jeans. HANNAH holds her phone to her ear.

HANNAH
Hey, Sammy. Sorry I’m calling
again, but I wanted to check you
alright. I’m sorry about all this.
Would you just call me back? I’m
worried about you.

HANNAH hangs up her phone.

INT. HANNAH’S ROOM – MOMENTS LATER

HANNAH’s phone is pinging with each message as it is lying on
her bed.

SAMMY (V.O.)
Everyone needs to get their bloody
noses out my life! I wanna live it
my way.

DAN (V.O.)
Some people are such drama queens.

SAMMY (V.O.)
Get out my life, you hypocrite!

KEV (V.O.)
Get back in your cage.

SAMMY (V.O.)
Who asked you?! Get out of this
conversation!

DAN (V.O.)
Don’t be a bitch, Sammy!

KEV (V.O.)
Such a cow! Just get off Facebook!

HANNAH
ENOUGH!

HANNAH’s phone stops beeping. HANNAH sits on her bed and
turns off her phone. HANNAH curls up on her bed.

INT. HANNAH’S ROOM – NEXT DAY

HANNAH sits on her bed, staring at the wall. A knock echoes
against the door. SAMMY enters the room, a little sheepish.

HANNAH
Sammy?

SAMMY
I was…uh…in the area. I thought
we could talk? I didn’t really know
where else to go.

HANNAH
Yeah. Of course.

SAMMY and HANNAH sit on the bed.

SAMMY
I’ve had some time to think after
yesterday’s Facebook pandemonium.

HANNAH
I’m sorry about Dan and Kev. They
went too far.

SAMMY
It’s not your fault. I’ve also been
thinking about the other day. That
video coming out, it rattled me,
you know? Now I’ve had time to
think, I know now I shouldn’t have
blamed you for that coming out.

HANNAH
Not exactly been easy for any of
us, has it? Ignoring each other
hasn’t helped.

SAMMY
Which is why I’m here.

HANNAH
Look, I’ve got the rest of the
holiday off. Why don’t we catch up,
do a sleep over again?

SAMMY
I’d like that.

HANNAH
Besides, I think Dad might let you
finish the Haagen-Dazs this time.

SAMMY
Sounds like a plan.

Both girls hold each other close.

INT. HANNAH’S ROOM – MOMENTS LATER

HANNAH sits at her desk and opens a photo album. The various
pictures are of HANNAH, SAMMY, KEV and DAN graduating from
school.

HANNAH (V.O.)
Friends are described in many
poetic ways. There are some that
shine like stars you don’t always
see but you know they’re there.
They’re described as flowers to
brighten the day. I had one friend
in particular that seemed to stick
around, no matter how hard the path
got.

HANNAH turns the page to a picture of SAMMY and HANNAH.

HANNAH (V.O.)
My favourite friend quote is
friends come and go like waves of
the ocean, but the true ones stay
like an octopus on your face.

FADE TO BLACK.

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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How to write a Theatre play (because confusion sucks)

Writing for theatre is completely different to writing for the screen or for radio (which I’ll hopefully do in my next blog). Theatre, the way I got taught how to do theatre in my University course, is quite interesting to see how to change the style from screen to stage. This will explain how you lay it out and hopefully help you to write a theatre play of your own.

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