Poppy or no poppy? Why I really don’t care what you think.

veterans, remembrance sunday, cenotaph, military, armed forces, london, poppyOn Sunday, as I do every year, I will be taking part in the Remembrance Day parade in the centre of London as a member of the Harrier Force contingent. I can’t wait.

Inevitably, the build up to the day has seen my Facebook and Twitter feeds fill up with posts about the poppy and how it has become politicised to the extent that some people will not wear it for fear of what they think it represents.

Good for them I say. This is a free country (kind of) and whilst I don’t agree with their thinking, I am happy that they have the choice to wear one or not.

However, what I am not happy about is the fact that so many of these people seem to feel the need to vent about their decision and not only attack those of us who don’t agree with them, but portray themselves as being on some kind of warped moral high ground.

Well I have news for you, you don’t. Nor will you ever.

The decision to wear a poppy is a personal one and I don’t care which side of the fence you sit on. However, what I do care about is respecting the fallen and by attacking those of us who wish to honour them via the poppy, you disrespect the memory of the legions of brave men and women whose names are engraved on headstones around the globe.

For the simple truth of the matter is that the ONLY reason you have the choice to wear one or not is because they made the ultimate sacrifice on your behalf.

The very least you can do is to show them some respect by keeping your opinions to yourself and not attacking those who wish to honour their sacrifice.

@dougiebrimson


football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolMy numerous books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

I’m a mid-list author and I earn my living by writing books that sell. What’s wrong with that?

publishing, self publishing, ebooks, author, writing, brimson

I have an admission to make: my name is Dougie Brimson and I am a professional writer. That isn’t an introduction to some kind of warped author or screenwriters anonymous group, it’s a statement of fact.

I mention it because the other day someone asked me what motivates me to write and having thought about it at length, the one thought that kept entering my head was ‘what a stupid bloody question!’ Let’s get this clear once and for all; I write for two reasons: 1. I’m a lazy bastard who likes sitting down all day and 2. I need to make money to facilitate item 1.

That seems fair enough to me but for some strange reason it doesn’t seem to sit well with the literati. For them, the very idea of a writer admitting to being motivated by income rather than some holier-than-thou desire to ‘create’ is almost akin to admitting a being a Brexiter and admiring Margret Thatcher. Mind you, both of those are true of me too.

I have never really understood this thinking. After all, writing isn’t just bloody hard work it takes an awful lot of time and effort so if you’re going to do it, surely the aim must be to get the final work published or filmed? But that will only happen if someone thinks that there is potential to sell copies or put bums on seats and if you do either of those, you make money. That’s why they are  called the publishing business and the film business.

Yet for some reason, if you as a writer approach the process by looking at the market and giving it what it actually wants as opposed to what some commissioning editor thinks it should have, you are regarded almost as a traitor to the art form. Believe me, I’ve met people who work in publishing, and film for that matter, who genuinely seem to consider being popular as something to be ashamed of (see my recent blog: Why are publishers so scared of lad-lit).

Well sod that. I might never win the Booker prize or receive invites to the Hay festival but I know my market, I know what it wants and I’m happy to provide it with as much as I can and as often as I can. If the literary world doesn’t get that simple commercial reality then screw them.

The reason why this is so relevant is because as some people are already aware, I’m currently working feverishly on the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy and it’s highly likely that I will be releasing it purely as an ebook.

There are numerous reasons for this (most of which are quite tedious) but the two main ones have to do with speed and money.

It can take months, sometimes years, for a manuscript to make the journey from laptop to Waterstones and even longer for the meagre percentage of the cover price to reach the authors bank.

For a self-published eBook, it can be online, on sale and on Kindles within hours and any royalties in the bank within 3 months. More importantly, even though eBooks are significantly cheaper than paperbacks, that royalty is higher.

As a professional writer, that’s significant because at the end of the day, whilst I’ve sold plenty of books (around 750,000 at the last count) I’m not JK Rowling or Jeffrey Archer and I don’t get offered 6 figure advances. My income is generated primarily by sales. Equally, writing for the market I do, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll get my books reviewed in the mainstream media nor will I feature in the Sunday supplements spread across a comfy sofa so the chances of crossing over into the mainstream are minimal at best.

Don’t get me wrong, I cannot even begin to tell you how much I appreciate every single email, tweet, letter or comment I receive about my writing and when it comes to motivation, nothing works as effectively as praise from readers. But I also appreciate the income that my work generates if for no other reason than it buys me time, and food. So anything I can do to increase that income and the speed with which it arrives, has to be a good thing.

The downside of course, is that for someone like me who continues to sell books, by stepping away from the traditional publishing route I’m actually taking work away from the very people who have for years been in control of my career.

I get no pleasure from that and I will certainly miss the thrill of seeing my next book on a shelf in WH Smiths but at the end of the day, whilst going the eBook route might not win me any friends in publishing, no editor would work for nothing and I’ll be buggered if I’m going to either.

violence, racism, racist, anal sex, oral sex, bum,On the subject of ebooks, it continues to astonish me that since it was first released as an ebook in November 2011, The Crew has almost continually held the #1 slot on both its Amazon and iTunes chart and was the most downloaded football book of 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017. Additionally, on most weeks at least 7 of the top 50 football books on iTunes are my titles.

Thank you to everyone who has brought copies and rest assured, as long as people keep buying them, I’ll keep writing them because to me, the reader is and always will be the most important person in the whole process. Which is kind of the point.

@dougiebrimson

sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fartDougie Brimson is the author of 15 books as well as the writer of a number of award winning movies including the cult classic, Green Street.

His books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes

hooligan,hooliganism,writing,writer,author,screenwriting,greenstreet,sex

10 things all writers should know before signing a contract.

author, writing, screenwriter, screenwriting, amazon, ebooks, epublishing, publishing For some reason I’ve never been able to fathom, I receive a lot of mails asking me for advice about contracts, both publishing and screen.

Now to be clear, whilst I have done a lot of deals during my previous agent free days, I am certainly no expert in this field and should not be considered as such. In fact, what knowledge I have accrued is generally a result of my own mistakes and trust me, I have made some corkers over the years. However, as someone who’s always happy to help if I can (and as long as you don’t hold me accountable in any way should you choose to follow my advice and it all goes wrong) here are my top 10 tips. Take ’em or leave ’em.

1.  Arguing with editors or producers over terms can cause some serious rifts in a working relationship which is obviously best avoided. Therefore, if you have an agent you should leave everything to do with the business side of your work, and I mean everything, to them.

It stands to reason that their job is to get you a great deal because whilst they might be fabulous people who you adore with a passion, the stark reality is that the more you earn, the more they earn. So if they are happy with the deal they put in front of you, you certainly should be.

2.  If you don’t have an agent, then you are in a weakened position because the people you are negotiating with will inevitably assume that you are either naive and/or desperate which gives them the upper hand. Therefore, you should write the following three words down and stick them somewhere which places them in your eye line at all times: TRUST NO ONE.

Believe me, no matter what anyone else might tell you, when it comes to deals there is only one person who has your interests at heart and if you don’t have an agent, that person is you.

Remember, it’s not personal, it’s business. The film BUSINESS, the publishing BUSINESS. As such, everyone you negotiate with might well come across as your best mate but the truth is that they are desperate to give you as little as possible or better still, strike a deal which means they don’t actually have to give you anything at all. This is because the less they give you, the more they keep for themselves or their employer. So read everything as many times as you have to and question anything you are unsure of. When it comes to contracts, there is no such thing as a stupid question, there are however, plenty of stupid writers who didn’t ask the questions they should have.

3.  It’s human nature to avoid asking for what we think we are worth and since most negotiators know this, their first words will be ‘so what do you want?’ thus putting you on the back foot from the off. Therefore to avoid this, it is vital that before a deal is even discussed, you take the time to work out what you have and how much it will take to get it from you.

Remember, everything has a value be it your finished manuscript, your experience, your time, your backlist or even ‘From the writer of Green Street’. So be professional, quantify everything and work out both a starting point and a bottom line because pound to a pinch, the person asking you the question you will have.

4.  Publishing royalties should be on a sliding scale. For example, 7.5% for the first 10 thousand sales, 10% for the following 40 thousand and anything over 50 thousand should earn you 12.5%. All publishers will balk at that but the reality is that most novels won’t get anywhere near sales of 10 thousand anyway so what have they got to lose?

Similarly, with movie contracts you should throw in a clause which means that if a movie makes over X amount (enter some crazy amount) your percentage increases significantly. Again, the studio will balk but if it’s a huge success, everyone will be a winner and that should certainly include you.

5.  Unless you are knowingly going into an agreement for a film which is designed to kick-start a career or you are willing to work on some kind of profit share, a contract for a screenplay with a production company should always include a fee on signature for one very specific reason; commitment.

If someone is prepared to put their money where their mouth is, it’s fairly obvious that they will be a lot more enthusiastic about taking your script through to the day the camera’s roll than someone who has nothing invested save a couple of lunches (if you’re lucky). Indeed, if someone is asking you to sign something but are not prepared to invest in you, you should be asking them (or yourself) why they aren’t.

The remainder of the total fee will be staggered anyway so make sure you know what will be due to you, and when.

6.  Unless a major star or studio is involved, back-end payments are generally worthless so take whatever is offered with a pinch of salt and laugh at any offers of increased back-end payments in lieu of a smaller front end fee. This is generally a simple tactic to save money so you should always squeeze every penny you can from the front end.

However, always make sure that a back-end payment is included just in case it’s a smash and the creative accountants can’t cover it up.

7.  Watch the clauses. You want invites to premieres, involvement in promotions (at their expense), a cut of any soundtrack profits and if there’s a sequel, you want to be the one to write it. If not, you want a slice of the action including payment for the use of any characters you have created in any and all spin-off projects.

If there’s a chance of a novelisation, you want to write it but if you don’t, you want a cut of any profits, etc, etc.

If it’s for a book, you want details of the marketing publicity budget as well as an approximate publication date if at all possible.

Seriously, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

8. If the deal is for a screenplay, always ensure that there is a clause in the contract whereby if the film isn’t made, the rights to your work revert to you (for free) after a reasonable period. That way, if nothing comes of it, you will at least have a script you can try to sell somewhere else.

I mention that purely because I was once commissioned to write a script for someone and whilst it was a great script, it never got made because of problems with the company. However, since I didn’t have the above clause, the rights continue to be held by the company and despite offers, they have refused to sell them back to me.

9.  Always, always, always get everything read by either a lawyer, the Writers Guild or the Society of Authors before you sign it. That’s what they are there for so use them.

If a lawyer comes back with some concerns about a contract, act on their advice and fight your corner. Producers are used to brinkmanship so take them all the way and always be prepared to walk away if need be.

You might well come under pressure to avoid this step and just sign on trust or good faith and this will come in many forms from threats that the financiers are about to pull out if you don’t sign through to female directors sobbing on the phone in the middle of the night. You should treat all such tactics as bullshit.

If someone doesn’t want a lawyer to see a contract they’ve put in front of you it’s almost certainly because they have something to hide (see point 2 above). Therefore, resist this pressure, stay cool and make them wait until you are ready to sign on the line. It’s your time, your money and your future income.

10.  Believe me, signing a dodgy deal is an awful experience so only sign on the line when you are sure that it’s as good as it can be for all sides, but especially you!

And finally, always trust your gut because if something feels wrong, it usually is.

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpool Someone mentioned the other day that I have been quiet on the work front of late. After choking on my lunch, I pointed out that whilst I might not have released anything, in the last twelve months I’ve written half of the sequel to Top Dog (the novel, not the movie) as well as four feature scripts and the first episode of a TV drama.

As usual with these things, we are now playing the development game but it looks as though one of the movies has already been green lit (subject to contracts!) and all being well at least one of the others will follow fairly quickly so watch this space!

You can buy all the existing books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog from either Amazon or iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

author, writing, writer, screenwriting, screenwriter, publishing, indiefilm, low-budget, self-publishing, brimson, hooligan,veteran 

How to create believable characters (according to me!)

writing, screenwriting, author, writer

I was asked this morning how I come up with names for my characters and since I haven’t blogged for a while I thought it might be an idea to kill two birds with one stone by writing something about the process and how I go about it.

It is important to stress from the outset however, that this is my creative process. As I’ve written many times before, I have never studied the craft of writing and so have no idea if there is a standard ‘way’ or not. This works for me and that’s all I need worry about.

Character development is actually one of the most fun parts of the writing process for me because it allows me the opportunity to play god. And given that it’s fairly certain that he and I will not be meeting in the afterlife as I’ll almost certainly be heading south, it’s an opportunity I tend to relish for all kinds of reasons. Revenge being just one.

Now, I know that in both Billy Evans (The Crew, Top Dog) and Billy Ellis (Billy’s Log) I have created characters which have and will make return appearances but what we are talking about here are characters which make an appearance in my psyche for the first time. But be that in a novel or a screenplay, the process always starts with the same thing, the story. Be it tightly or loosely plotted, it is vital that you, as the writer, have some idea of the journey you’re going to take your creations on before you start putting them together. Once you have that, then you can start putting flesh on bones. It is however, important to understand that to all intents and purposes, your characters must be real in every sense of the word. They must have histories, personalities, flaws and fears and it is up to you, as the writer, to create those.

For me, the first stage of that process is to give each of them a name, a face and a voice. The name is the easier of the three because all it has to do it fit the individual and the world you want them to inhabit. Can you imagine Billy Evans being called Tarquin Selby-Green? Of course not, it would never work. Billy is short, sharp, blokey and slightly cheeky so it was perfect for the main man in both The Crew and Billy’s Log.

I also wanted the christian names to be short and punchy. Evans was my former agents name and Billy Evans rolls off the tongue. Simple as that. But in the past I’ve found names for my characters simply by scrolling through Facebook and finding something which I think fits.

However, a name can be changed fairly easily, usually with a few clicks of a button, but the face and the voice are far more important because as you spend increasing periods of time with these imaginary people, they will fairly quickly come to haunt your consciousness.

When a character first appears in your head, he or she will inevitably have a certain look and Billy Evans was no exception. From day one he was medium height, stocky, dark haired and had a cheeky face. In essence, like any one of a hundred lads I know. I also knew immediately what I wanted him to sound like and so once I had the plot tied down, I went looking for him.

Oh yes, every character in everything I’ve ever written is based on a real person. In the case of Billy Evans, it was a mate. Now I won’t say who he is (he knows, but he is very different from Leo Gregory which is why I had so many initial problems when I began adapting Top Dog for the screen) but I follow this same model for every character in everything I write. The reason being that if I ever find myself struggling, I can either ring up that person or YouTube them. Trust me, it’s amazing how quickly and easily a quick chat or a short video clip can free up the mind and spark something off.

Of course as work progresses the characters begin to take on lives of their own which is exactly as it should be but as a starting point, basing them on real people certainly works for me and in all honesty, that’s all I care about!

writer, writing, author, screenwriting, film, movie, hollywood, football, soccerIt has recently been commented upon that I have been fairly quite of late. This is not however, because I have been suffering from the mythical writers block not have I retired. Far from it.

In fact over the last year or so I have worked on three movie scripts (two of which have nothing to do with either football or criminals) as well as what could be an extremely controversial TV drama. Having thrown all of these into the commissioning pit over the last few weeks, I am now back working feverishly on the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy which is thankfully, heading toward completion.

More news of all of these as and when!

Exciting times!

@dougiebrimson

,sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fartJust in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes

author, screenwriting, screenplay, green street, elijah wood, fart, farting, gangster, sex, oral, football, soccer, hooligans, author, indie, independent, self publishing, ebook

 

25 things I’ve learned in OVER 20 years as a pro-writer.

writer, writing, author, screenwriterAmazingly, it is now well over 20 years since my first publishing contract landed on the doormat and a chunk of hard earned money hit my bank account.

Fifteen books, three feature films and numerous screenplays later, I’m still wondering how this happened and, just as importantly, how I’m continuing to get away with it. However, given that ‘writer’ is the box I tick whenever I’m asked for my occupation, I must be doing something right and so it occurred to me the other day that it might be worth scribbling down some of my perceived wisdom in the hope that it might help or inspire someone who is seeking to tread the same slippery path.

So, in no particular order…

1. It really can be the best job in the world. You get to create things, meet fabulous people, visit fabulous places and you best of all, you get paid for it! On top of that, you’re allowed to spend weeks in pyjama’s without anyone thinking it’s odd and best of all, if you write about football, you’re entitled to write your season ticket off against tax.

2. It really can be the worst job in the world. It can be soul destroying, confidence sapping and incredibly frustrating, all at the same time. You also encounter scumbags and smiling knives on a regular basis and have to deal with people who think it’s perfectly acceptable to slag you off simply because you because you either turned down their kind invitation to work for them for free or you managed to avoid feeding their sad egos by avoiding getting into online spats with them.

3. The best marketing tool you will ever have is yourself, so be yourself. If people don’t like you, f**k ‘em. There are always more people, there’s only one you.

4. Editors are the unsung hero’s of writing. A great one will make you look like a great writer, a bad one will make you look like an idiot. So make sure that you only work with great ones.

5. Never resent anyone else’s success. Unless it’s E.L. James in which case you are perfectly entitled to think ‘how the f**k?’

6. Join the Writers Guild. They are your union and they are awesome. Oh, and never sign anything either they, your agent or a lawyer haven’t checked first!

7. Trust only two things: your gut instinct and your bank balance. Neither will ever let you down.

8. Generally speaking, if someone wants to meet you, they want something from you. That’s fine (and often fun) but if it’s in a professional capacity and involves the use of your time and experience, there had better be a good reason why they aren’t prepared to pay you. Usually, there isn’t so in such instances, do not hesitate to turn them down. If they’re serious and professional, they’ll come back with an offer of some kind. If they don’t, you’ve lost nothing (and possibly had a close shave).

9. The internet is the enemy of creativity and social media are it’s special forces. Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat are not careers, nor do they pay your bills but if you’re not careful, they will happily consume your time faster than you can ever imagine.

10. Troll baiting can be great fun but if you don’t have a thick skin, treat them with extreme caution. Hitting the block button is not a weakness, it’s a strength.

11. When a deadline looms, you could well end up working 20 hour days for as long as it takes. For that reason, when you don’t have a deadline to meet then ‘I can’t be arsed today’ is a perfectly legitimate excuse for wanting to go out on a motorbike, sit and watch TV or stroll around Ikea.

12. ’People watching’ is a perfectly acceptable reason for sitting in Costa or Starbucks drinking coffee, eating toast and watching the world go by.

13. Adapting your own novel for the screen is a bad idea. There’s not much fun to be found in spending weeks cutting perfectly good bits from a story you previously spent months creating. To make matters worse, despite the fact that ultimately you have little or no control over what ends up on screen, everyone will blame you if it’s not as good as the book but no one will praise you if it’s brilliant.

14. Writing a novel based on your own screenplay is a great idea. You get to put in even more good bits and tell the story you really wanted to tell.

15. If you’re screenwriting and serious about it, use Final Draft. It’s the established tool of your trade and if you’re not prepared to invest in it, how can you expect people to invest in you?

16. The world is awash with writing teachers but 95% of them are charlatans who merely want to separate you from your money. However, if you really do want to employ one, look at what they’ve had published or produced and if the best you can come up with is ‘teach’ then go elsewhere. The old adage ‘those who can, do but those who can’t, teach’ is 100% true.

17. Nothing shows commitment like cold hard cash and in most cases, you (or your agent) should get that cash upfront. Promises of higher back-end payments are generally worthless.

18. There is no such thing as writers block. It’s a cop-out term employed by people who are either lazy or simply not prepared to admit that whatever they’re supposed to be writing isn’t working as they think it should or, more likely, hoped it would.

19. Always have two entirely different projects on the go. If you’re stuck on one, simply switch to the other one and carry on.

20. You can’t edit a blank page. And in the same vein, first drafts don’t have to be good, they just have to be written.

21. Every writer, however successful, has a specific book inside them that they really want to write but probably never will. Or is that just me?

22. The Terry Thomas classic ‘School For Scoundrels’ will teach you everything you need to know about conducting yourself both in public and in meetings. Watch it religiously at least once a year and make sure that you learn from it.

23. Find a comfy chair and love it like one of your children.

24. Don’t play safe. If you have something to say, then say it. But be prepared to back it to the hilt if need be.

25. Family aside, the most important people in your life are your readers. They give you everything from your wages to their time and as a consequence, they should be loved and cherished accordingly. Treat their reviews, even the bad ones, as market research and learn from them but never respond to them directly unless you actually like being trolled. Above all, give them what they want because if you do that, you can’t go wrong.

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolMy numerous books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

How to get ahead in writing. The business of self.

writing screenwriting author publishing film self-publishingOf the numerous emails that land in my inbox, a good number involve the issue of advice.

Occasionally, these mails are of the kind which suggest various things to do to myself that are anatomically impossible (which merely proves that women do indeed have a quite nasty side to them) but in the main, they are asking for advice on writing or making that leap from the laptop to the shelves of Waterstones or the screens of Cineworld.

Given that I never set out to be a writer of any kind -as many people have pointed out!- I have often wondered why that is. After all, I am not and probably never will be either a Booker Prize winning novelist or an Oscar winning screenwriter, and whilst I enjoy what I do and always put in 110%, the truth is that I am definitely not one of those people who are driven to write. Make no mistake, the day that my 6th lottery number pops out of that machine is the day I’ll have typed my last letter and from that point on, life will revolve around doing as little as possible!

I suspect the answer lies in the fact that unlike many other authors I am reasonably easy to contact but there have also been occasions when there has definitely been an element of ‘if he can do it, so can I so I might as well ask him how he did it’. To be honest, I have no problem with that largely because there is indeed a degree of truth in it. I’ve always been happy to admit that I did indeed ‘luck’ into writing and I although I have done better than many so-called ‘established’ writers in terms of both output and sales (you’d be surprised how few books some of these apparently successful authors actually sell) I most definitely have no delusions about my position on the Great British literary ladder. As someone once suggested, it is firmly in the ‘bungs on the feet at the bottom’ category.

However, to return to the point, as long as someone has taken the trouble to write to me, I have always responded. Not simply because I think I should but because I hope that one day someone I set on the rocky road of penmanship will strike it big and I’ll get to appear on some kind of TV show celebrating their literary achievements. Let’s face it, chances are that’ll be the only way I manage it!

But recently, a few things have happened which have started to make me wonder about the wisdom of such a policy. Not because I have suddenly started to think that being helpful is a bad idea, but because increasingly, I am being contacted by people who have asked me very specific questions. Usually involving the names and contact details of agents, publishers and even TV producers.

To be fair, many of these requests have come from American authors looking to break into the UK market rather than from ‘newbies’ looking to get a foot in the door but having worked in the ‘creative’ world for some time now, I have learnt two very important lessons.

First, contacts are everything and second, the most valuable currency of all are ideas. Which is why both are much sought after and even occasionally stolen. Indeed, I could tell you some stories about certain people, but I best not.

However, the fact remains that whilst I have become (almost) used to the gut-wrenching feeling of being shafted by people who work in the TV and film industry, I am now starting to feel the same way about writing and that has to stop. If only because it eats into my time and therefore costs me money.

So whilst I will happily continue to help anyone who is trying to break into publishing or anything else for that matter, I am no longer so receptive to requests from anyone who has ever earned a penny (or a cent) from their writing. Unless of course any kind of reciprocal arrangement or better still, a fee is involved!

Pondering this last night, the thought struck me that rather than upset 50% of the population with another diatribe about women and/or football, it might be a good idea to use this blog to offer up a bit of advice to those looking to set out on the rocky road of penmanship for the first time. It is the same advice I use as the basis of every talk I ever give on writing and is based on six very basic rules which come in a very strict order.

1.   If you cannot take criticism, do NOT write for public consumption. No matter how good a writer you think you are, at some point, you will have to show your work to someone else be it a partner, friend, agent or publisher.

Trust me, no matter how good a writer you are, sooner or later someone is going to come back with a negative response and it hurts. Some can take it, others can’t. The key is to take all criticism as constructive and learn from it.

But if you think it’s bad when you first start out, wait until the presses have rolled and the reviews begin. Any author who says they never read their reviews is a bloody liar and whilst I’ve been lucky enough to have some awesome ones in my time (‘The best book ever written on football hooliganism’ Daily Mail) I’ve also had some horrors. The worst being simply ‘Yeah right. Now fuck off.’ courtesy of Time Out.

The fact that both of these were for the very same book proves many things and whilst the initial inclination following a bad review is to either hang yourself or track down the offending individual (I took the latter course of action with Time Out but that’s another story) the simple truth of the matter is that they are just one persons opinion. But as any publisher will tell you, any review is better than no review and that is very true.

2.   Write what you know. It is an old adage and the source of much discussion in writers circles but to me, it is absolutely spot on. Not only does it save on research time, but if you know the subject well, it will come across on the page. Conversely if you don’t, you will spend all of your time having to deal with people who will take great delight in pointing out your mistakes (see above!)

3.   Join a local writing group. You might think they are full of geeky nerds or middle aged women seeking to fill their time (and to be fair, some are) but a good one can provide huge amounts of advice and encouragement. A great one can make you a great writer.

Never forget, getting into print is incredibly difficult and so the more advice you can obtain from people who are at the coal face or who have been through it, the better.

4.   Never write to get rich. Very few (and I mean, VERY few) published authors earn a living wage from their work. The days of huge advances for first time authors are long gone folks. And don’t think screenwriting is well paid either.

OK, if you’ve got a decent track record and a good agent you should do pretty well but I still receive emails every week offering me opportunities to write spec scripts (that’s for free) and once had a very well known film producer offer me £500 to write a script from scratch. Obviously I told him to f**k off but someone else took the job within days and no, it didn’t ever get made.

There is only really one reason to write and that’s because you want to do it. If it’s good enough, everything else will follow. How you can make that happen however, is an entirely different blog!

5.   Write, write, and write. It’s a fairly obvious thing to say but the more you write, the easier it becomes. It’s a skill and it needs constant honing.

And finish everything you start. You might know it’s rubbish from the end of the first chapter but trying to turn it into something half decent is a great exercise and fabulous experience. There is also the very real chance that as you are working, something will click into the creative box in your brain which you will be able to use on something else.

One other point I will make here, in my opinion there is no such thing as writers block. As far as I am concerned it’s a myth that was invented by writers to cover up laziness or lack of creativity. If you get stuck, it’s simply because your idea doesn’t work and you should have worked that out at the planning stage anyway.

6.   Most importantly of all, enjoy it! It’s supposed to be fun you know and if it isn’t, why bloody do it?

So what are you waiting for?

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpool I desperately need to do some work on my Amazon author page  this page, primarily by adding some new titles to it! So I’m happy to pass on news that there will be at least one new book coming in 2018! That’s assuming I can finish this bloody script I’m currently working on.

In the meantime, you can buy all my existing books, including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog from either Amazon or iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

 
author, writing, writer, screenwriting, screenwriter, publishing, indiefilm, low-budget, self-publishing, brimson, hooligan,veteran

Dear Labour Party… An open letter from a non-supporter.

labour, tory, lib-dems, electionAs you seemingly haven’t noticed, the last four attempts to get a vote of confidence in your party have resulted in the delivery of something of a kicking by the British electorate.

The most recent being yesterdays local government elections where traditionally, the party in opposition (that’s you apparently) have done quite well.

Inevitably, both the mainstream press and social media are currently full of how it all went horribly wrong for you yet as far as I’ve seen, no one has had the balls to call it as really it is, or at least how we non-Labour supporters see it.

So, as a 59-year-old bloke who has never voted Labour and probably never will, I thought I’d let you know why with a few simple bullet points which may or may not help.

  • One of the most important things you have to understand, and which a majority of your supporters seem incapable of grasping, is that calling people idiots, stupid or racist just because they don’t agree with you is counter productive.
  • Your supporters can scream, shout and protest all they like but unless you recognise that the silent majority are silent for a reason, you’re never going to get anywhere. UKIP might be finished as a political force but they cracked it when it needed cracking and you can learn a lot of lessons from them and how Nigel Farage did what he did.
  • Failing to grasp that the vast majority of people in this country are hard-working, decent, respectful, law-abiding tax payers who are sick and tired of you promising to prop up every other bugger but them is also counter productive.
  • You have some truly awful people in the upper echelons of your party. Your leader might be a lovely bloke but he has never once come across as a person I’d want to see at the helm of my country. However, he’s not the worst. The odious Diane Abbott takes that spot and every time she opens her mouth, it strengthens resolve against you. However, the arrogant John McDonnell is not far behind her.
  • On which note, speaking as an armed forces veteran, your leaderships history of cozying up to the murders of the IRA whilst leaving our soldiers to the mercy of the courts continues to prove more damaging than you clearly recognise.
  • The anti-semitism issue is killing you, as it should.
  • Patriotism is not racist. It’s not even xenophobic. Stop making out that it is and show some faith in the UK and it’s people.
  • Banging on about issues such as the NHS, policing, defence and housing is fine if you provide properly thought out alternatives, but you don’t.
  • Similarly, promising to prop up the lazy and the feckless at our expense isn’t doing you any favours. Nor is pounding away at the rich when most of your MP’s and former ministers are sickeningly minted. Indeed, hypocrisy is never good so calling the government out on something when your history on that same subject is equally dubious is plain stupidity.
  • Immigration IS a problem to many people and most of those blame you. Many live in areas which traditionally vote Labour so if you want them to vote for you again, come up with a policy that recognises their concerns and deals with them in a way that isn’t defined by political correctness but by their reality.
  • Wheeling out a succession of champagne socialists to urge the electorate to vote for you merely underlines the ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality which has divided your party. Eddie Izzard strolling around in a pink beret with freshly applied lipstick might attract a few headlines and appease the snowflakes but to the average working man (and woman) it’s embarrassing. And as for Owen Jones…
  • Once in a while, take the government to task on an issue which the vast majority of the country would support you on. The madness of Overseas Aid is an obvious example.
  • Admitting you got it wrong once in a while is a sign of strength, not weakness.
  • Finally, like it or not, Brexit is going to happen and the majority of this country want it. Just as importantly, they want the PM to get tough with the EU, not bend over and let them screw us, again. So back the government and by definition, your country. Because not doing so is not only damaging to you, but were you to get behind the country, you might actually start to get the electorate on your side. Well, some of them anyway.

There you go. Hope that helps a little, but not too much obviously.

Best wishes

@dougiebrimson

sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fart

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watfordJust in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

Further information at dougiebrimson.com

beer, lads, women, men, relationships, sex, love, romance, author, screenwriting, ebooks, self publishing, indie film, football, twitter, trolls, trolling, facebook, social media

 

 

 

If football fans want to become a political force, the next step is obvious.

football lads alliance, FLA, terrorism, antifa, racismIf you’ve ever read any of my books, you’ll know that one thing I’ve written about many times is the issue of fan power. Not just within the game itself, but as a potential political force.

The problem of course, has always been how one would harness that power but it seems that finally, that problem has been overcome by the formation of the Football Lads Alliance. A group which might have it’s origins within the great game, but which has seemingly struck a chord with a wider section of society. One which up until recently had felt largely ignored; Middle England.

I won’t go into what the FLA is all about (you can read more here) but the last march in London drew well in excess of 50,000 supporters (some estimated it to be closer to 60,000) from all over the UK and as we prepare to march again in Birmingham this Saturday (Gathering from 12.00 in Curzon Street and 12.30 in Victoria Square if you fancy coming along) I thought it might be worth sharing this extract from my book Barmy Army. 

First published in 2000, it discusses an idea which caused quite a stir when it was first mooted and that is the formation of a single issue political party. The Football Party.

Times have obviously changed since I first wrote this and the concerns of the FLA certainly extend way beyond the confines of football but the general principle remains the same and it remains sound.

The problem however, was always where to start but given what has been achieved by the FLA in such a short time in terms of generating both momentum and interest, that problem has already been circumnavigated. So the key question is what to do next.

The answer is obvious. For if it is to make a genuine statement of intent, the clear target has to be the next round of mayoral elections which are due to take place in 2020. That might seem pie in the sky but before you dismiss the idea, consider these  two simple facts.

1. Most of our major cities have more than one professional club within their boundaries with each generating sizeable and passionate support of a kind every political party would kill for. London alone, has 14 professional clubs within the M25.

2. Only 42.6% of the population of our capital voted at the last Mayoral election. In Manchester, the turnout in 2017 was just 28.9% of the electorate whilst in Liverpool, it was 26.1%. Indeed, the mayor of that great city was elected with just 171,176 votes (and for reference, 53,287 watched Liverpool hammer Watford on Saturday).

If that’s not food for thought, I don’t know what is.

Read on.

Extract from Barmy Army (2000)

So if we are to force action, then it must be done in a way which the clubs are unable to ignore. And in this country, every football fan over the age of 18 has something which those in authority have to take notice of. It’s called a vote.

A few years ago, I suggested the formation of a single issue political lobby group called the Football Party. Initially, the suggestion was that people would stand for their local council to give fans a say in issues that directly affected their local club. It was an approach that proved astonishingly successful in 1990 when supporters of Charlton Athletic FC formed The Valley Party in an ultimately successful campaign to get the club back to their spiritual home.

Such was the response, it quickly became apparent that many supporters believed that this local angle was an idea worth developing. But many people wrote to me and said we had to think big and aim higher. The more I thought about that, the more plausible the whole thing sounded. What finally convinced me that the concept of a national Football Party was a sound one was when I realised that the average local election generates a turnout of less that 40 per cent and that while over 12 million people voted for the Tories in the 1992 general election, approximately 25 million watched the England v Germany semi-final in Italia ’90. What this proved to me once and for all was that if you went canvassing around every pub, club, house and factory, and told the electorate that you were standing to give them a say within the football world, there’d undoubtedly be good support, and as soon as the established parties saw there were votes in it, their policies and actions would change so as to give football a kick up the arse.

As a result, I sat down and wrote out a manifesto, one aimed not just at local councils but also at general and European elections. It included four main points. First, the formation of an independent, credible and properly funded body to represent the views and opinions of football supporters from every level of the game; second, the appointment of supporters’ representatives to the committees of both the Football Association and the Football Trust; third, the appointment of an elected supporters’ representative to the board of every professional football club; and finally, the appointment of an ombudsman or regulator to oversee the activities of the Football Association, the Football Trust, the Premier League and its members, the Football League and its members and supporters’ groups.

In August 1998, when it was first released to the press and various supporters’ groups, the response was amazing. Yet sadly, the people I wanted to react, the football authorities and the government, paid it little heed. Undaunted, I carried on. More support poured in and the manifesto began to appear all over the Internet. I had enquiries about it from all over Europe and as far afield as Australia. It had certainly captured the imagination of supporters. However, the campaign eventually began to take its toll on me, both in terms of time and finances and I was forced to put it onto the back burner. But the idea is still very much alive and the very fact that so many people continue to respond to it proves that it is sound. It sure would rock the boat were it ever to come off.

The mere idea that football fans throughout the country could even consider voting for a fat git like me proves how desperate they are to be involved in the game they love. Every supporter has a role to play in the future of the game, and that doesn’t just apply to the hooligan issue but to every single aspect of football. Every major political party recognises that fact – which is, after all, why Tony Blair does so many stupid photo-calls – but still they do nothing about it. That is not good enough. If football will not provide us with a properly funded platform through which we can be heard and demand answers, then the government must make sure they do. And if they don’t, that’s when we should use our vote, because that is the one thing all politicians are truly scared of. All we need to do is to get organised; but how we actually do that is anyone’s guess.

Yet it has to happen. For only by wielding the immense power we as football fans have at our disposal will we ever see an end to the problems facing football, from the asset-stripping to the financial incompetence, greed and sheer hypocrisy of those who supposedly run our game on our behalf. For too long now they have got away with shafting us. They have placed us in danger, sold our very game from under our feet and in far too many cases to note here, have walked away with bank accounts bursting at the seams with money that came out of our pockets. It’s not right and the time has come to do something about it.

If you want to read more on this, Barmy Army is available to download via this link. There is also more on the subject of football protest movement in my book, Rebellion which is available here.

@dougiebrimson

The Crew. A thriller by Dougie Brimson
The Crew

Two additional plugs, I’m still giving away ebooks versions of two of my best-selling books The Crew and Everywhere We Go. Further details can be found by clicking on the links or here Free Books where you will also find details of all my other publications.

Aside from all that, work continues apace on developing the film version of Wings of a Sparrow as well as the thriller Three Greens and a couple of other movie projects. I’m also working hard on the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy.

Exciting times! green street, top dog, football, soccer, politics, screenwriting, film, author, writing, hooliganism, England, world cup, hillsborough, twitter, social media, facebook, 

Screenwriting: Is age discrimination an actual thing?

writing, writer, screenwritingIn my last blog (Why the film world doesn’t owe you a living) I made the point that as a 59-year-old male screenwriter, the chances of you ‘breaking through’ into the big leagues of the movie world are almost certainly hindered by the fact that you are usually old enough to be the father of the person holding your future in their hands.

The reaction to this was, as expected, mixed. Some people claimed it was shameful of me to compare age to race or gender as a barrier with others thanking me for saying something that they’d been thinking for years.

Now in response to the former, I have no idea what it’s like to be anything other than a white heterosexual male and given that I’m currently 59 and a writer who has enjoyed a degree of success both in print and on screen, I think I’m fairly well placed to write about the impact being a 59-year-old white heterosexual male can have on a career as a writer. And since this is my blog… well, I’m sure you know where I’m going with that so please, fill in the blanks yourself.

As for those who agreed with me, which was to be fair, the majority, I’m obviously grateful for all of your comments and if in some small way I’ve inspired you to keep going, then I’m humbled.

Interestingly, the blog generated some extremely positive reaction in the US (someone even linked me with Madonna which is a bit random!) and actually led to a few interviews on the subject one of which was with the website ‘Screenwriting Staffing‘ which has just gone live.

Have a read and please, let me know what you think.

@dougiebrimson

,sex, lads romance, love, vibrator, george clooney, fart


Just in case you didn’t already know, all of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes

author, screenwriting, screenplay, green street, elijah wood, fart, farting, gangster, sex, oral, football, soccer, hooligans, author, indie, independent, self publishing, ebook

 

One year on…

father, dad, brimson, family, eulogyIt is, somewhat unbelievably, a year to the day that my dad passed on.

I can’t speak for the rest of the Brimson clan (although I suspect I probably do), when I say that I still haven’t fully accepted that the old man has actually gone. But then again, I talk to him pretty much every day anyway so whilst he might not be ‘here’ in the physical sense,  I know he’s never far away. Besides, since I’m increasingly being told that I’m morphing into him, a brief glance in the mirror will always jog the memory.  

I won’t however, go on about the old git and write about how our lives are a little less full without his input, even though they are. Instead, I thought that the best way to mark today would be to post the eulogy I gave at his funeral. Not just because it encapsulated pretty much everything I wanted to say about him, but because it provides a timely reminder of what was actually a pretty perfect send off. I certainly can’t recall ever going to a funeral which was capped off by a round of applause. A genuine masterstroke of an idea courtesy of my brother.

So here it is. If you knew him at all, I hope it brings forth a smile. If you didn’t, well you missed out but I hope this gives you some insight into the type of man he was and how much he meant to us all. 

There’s an irony about today which I don’t think is lost on anyone in the family and it’s that dad would have loved it. He was after all, at his best in front of an audience and his happiest when he was the centre of attention. Indeed, I’ve often considered the possibility that one of the reasons he had six kids was so that there would always be someone around for him to talk to, about himself.

That’s not a criticism of him, far from it. Wanting everything to revolve around the world of Del was just a part of what made him both the great entertainer we all know he was and a pretty awesome dad. 

And he was an awesome dad. Not in the traditional sense as the graft of actually bringing us up was mostly left to our fabulous mum, or even in the sense that he was always great fun to be around, which he was. But in the sense that whatever he did, be it music, golf, photography or even astronomy, he was passionate about to the point of obsession. And he was the same with his kids. For whatever any of us decided to do, he was always incredibly supportive and backed us to the hilt.

I don’t think I ever fully appreciated that until I sat down to write about him. Nor did I realise quite how much he had influenced my own working life.

 You see unlike my brothers, who all followed in his musical and comedic footsteps, I have zero musical ability and I can’t tell a joke to save my life so having trod a different path to the others I’d always thought that his impact on my various occupations was negligible. But since his death I have come to realise that the only reason I’ve been able to forge a career as a writer is because his storytelling DNA runs through every single sentence I have ever written, and it always will.

I wish I had acknowledged how grateful I am for that when he was alive but I think he knew it anyway, I certainly hope he did. I do know how proud he was of all of his kids because he never tired to telling anyone who would listen about us and what we were up to. Not that he was adverse to taking a chunk of the credit for it. Indeed one of dads greatest gifts was his incredible ability to turn any and every conversation around so that it ended up being about him.

That was never more evident than in recent years when his deteriorating health gave him a lot to talk about. Not that he ever complained, he just liked everyone to know he was ill but that like the old trouper he was, he was struggling on regardless.

I mention this now, of all times, because in recent months, his various ailments meant that whenever he left the house, he would require the use of a wheelchair. But for my old man, far from being a pain it was actually a win-win situation. For not only was he being handed a legitimate excuse to play the poorly card, he was also gifted a captive audience in the shape of the poor bugger who had to push him around.

This task fell to me on numerous occasions however far from being a chore, it quickly became a source of hilarity for the two of us. For whenever I’d take him anywhere we’d spend an hour or so entertaining each other purely by seeing who could embarrass the other the most. And I’m not talking about stuff like introducing me to the checkout lady in Tesco as his slave, or telling her that he might not have enough money in his bank account because he thought I’d been stealing from him, both of which he actually did, I’m talking proper embarrassment.

One of my favourite examples of this took place during what turned out to be our last shopping trip together when he told me that he wanted to go to Primark as he needed some new socks. As I was wheeling him between the racks of clothes, he suddenly announced that he also wanted a new belt.

Normally, something like this would be a routine purchase however, nothing was routine with my old man. For not only did he insist on finding one that looked good, he insisted on trying it on. Or rather, since he was unsteady on his feet, he wanted me to help him try it on.

Despite my protests at the fact that actually having to touch him filled me with horror, I soon found myself kneeling in front of him with my face far too close to his groin for comfort and my hands around his waist threading a belt through his trousers as he held up his coat with one hand and rested the other on my shoulder.

He of course, found both my discomfort and my embarrassment hilarious but bad though things already were for me, they were made even worse when I suddenly realised that we were being stared at by a middle aged woman who having put two and two together and come up with a solid five, wore a facial expression which was a perfect mixture of horror and disgust. 

To dad of course, this was like an open goal and even as I turned beetroot, he flashed his immortal grin at her and said ‘It’s alright love, he’s almost finished’.

Sadly, as I said, that turned out to be our last trip out together and so I was never able to extract revenge. But whilst I will have to concede defeat in that particular battle, I can take a little comfort in the fact that I did manage to get the last word in.

On the night he fell ill and was taken to hospital, I sat alone with him in A&E and as there was no indication of how the night would unfold, we ended up in a cubicle talking about anything and everything to pass the time and inevitably, talk soon turned to the politics of the day. In fact his very last coherent sentence was ‘I really like that Theresa May’ which kind of summed him up. A Tory to the end.

And it was the end. For shortly after that, he began to slip quietly and peacefully away as I held his hand.

But whenever dad and I parted, our closing words to each other were always ‘be lucky’ and I will be forever grateful that those were the last words he heard during his life. Because they were.

So wherever you are now old man, be lucky. We certainly were.

 

The official blog of author and screenwriter Dougie Brimson www.dougiebrimson.com