Writing The Next Hit Show With BBC's Land Girls Screenwriter Roland Moore

Thursday 19 April 2018

Today we have award-winning screenwriter Roland Moore share his top tips about his creative-process, how to pitch and why writing a shit first draft is a GOOD thing!

With credits including Smack The PonyDoctors, Peter Rabbit and the hit Chinese television show Noodle, Roland is also the creator and writer of the BBC1 period drama Land Girls. He has also written audio dramas for the Doctor Who and Survivors ranges. Roland is currently the head writer for Fremantle working on an international TV series, so if YOU plan on writing the next hit show then Roland’s the man you need to be listening to!
You know the drill: pen and paper ready? Let’s go!

1) It starts with an IDEA, but then WHAT?

Here are 3 things you can do to kick-start your new writing project:
· Start with the WHAT-IF question –  this will frame your idea,  use it as your starting point to structure, plot and tie-together your world and characters.
· Ask for feedback BUT – Work on several first drafts BEFORE asking for feedback! You want to give the reader the best first impression you can offer, so in return they can give you the most HELPFUL notes.
· Planning takes TIME – Remember, with good planning you can build a STRONG foundation. Think of planning your project like you would build a house, you need the floor first before you can add any pretty wallpaper!

2) What’s the most important part of writing a great script?

Of course, everybody has their own opinion on this, but here are 3 elements Roland feels writers should consider:
· Without CHARACTER, you have nothing – The audience will bond and associate themselves to the characters and their actions, this will be the DECIDING factor of your film/show.
· THEME can strengthen everything – Plot strands may tie together, presenting themselves as one theme. Use this to help inform the audience of the reaction they may have.
·  Fulfil character NEEDS, fulfil the STORY –  Roland encourages writers to look at Steven Moffat, note how well he writes incidents motivated by characters that fulfil their needs

3) Here’s how YOU can use REJECTION to serve you!

It’s VERY rare to receive destructive notes but if you do, you have every right to politely part ways with the collaborative partner or disregard the feedback. Otherwise…
· Leave your ego at the door, or the door will remain SHUT! – Notes can be positive whether you agree with them or not. The script is a skeleton, EVERYBODY from the costume designers to the actors will have something to add to help enhance your vision.
· Notes from the UPSIDE/DOWN– Perhaps you need to reflect on why you’re getting this feedback? Have they missed the point of your script entirely? Maybe you haven’t been clear enough but at least now’s the time to rectify it!
· Don’t be afraid to ASK questions – It’s a great lead when pitching (What would YOU do if your son went missing?), but it’s also a good move when dealing with rejection.  HOW would they make your idea better? Ask for specifics then take it on board!
· Take interrogation as a POSITIVE – It shows they’ve been listening and are engaged! They want to know MORE about your idea, use this to your advantage.

4) The one piece of writing advice that can help YOU

As Ernest Hemingway once said, the first draft of anything is shit. And he’s not wrong, but that’s okay and here’s why!
· The first draft is NEVER perfect – it takes all the pressure off! The first draft is about getting it onto the page. It will take AT LEAST several drafts to sculpt into what you want it to be.
· You CAN and WILL make mistakes –  The first draft is a process of improvement, and it’s liberating to know you can make mistakes and have the time to explore and correct them.
· Your first draft is NOT ready to be sent out – Remember writing is re-writing, and perfecting your first draft usually means several re-drafts and edits before it’s ready to be sent for feedback, pitching etc.

5) Here are the 3 things YOU can do to further your career!

· Twitter is the new Linked-in – Use social media such as Twitter to your advantage, engage in conversation and be up to-date on current writers, films etc. Look to people in your contacts, who and how can you reach out to these people?
· What to do if you DON’T have credits – Try and collaborate to make short films or get a play on somewhere. Actors, directors and writers tend to have parallel careers, so we can all help each other by building up credits and networking together.
· Deal with WRITER’S BLOCK – Break the cycle, go for a walk or work through it. Imagine 10 ridiculous things that could happen at the end of that scene, you don’t have to use them but it helps kick-start your imagination and get you back to physically writing!


· Write EVERYDAY – Even if you have no projects, give yourself a deadline. Treat this as the job you already have!
· The What-If question – Use this as your starting point!
·  Let GO of the EGO –  Notes are a good thing, take them on board.
·  The first draft is NEVER perfect – Get it done and then start editing!
·  Reach out to other actors, directors or other writers – Look to collaborate and create together.

Good Luck!

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