Category Archives: author

Why no writer should ever fear a blank page.

writer, writing, author, screenwriting, film, movie, hollywood, football, soccer
Ever since I’ve been writing, two things have regularly been thrown in my direction.

The first is that at some point all writers experience writers block, the second is that the blank page is a terrifying thing.

I’ve written about writer’s block numerous times before so I won’t go over that again (however, to paraphrase it for any newbies, in essence I believe it’s a myth designed to excuse one of any number of basic failings) but the issue of the blank page is something I’ve rarely discussed. As I sit here facing a new one today, now seems as good a time as any to tackle it because the explanation is relatively simple.

You see loathe was we are to admit it, all writers believe that somewhere deep inside us is the ability to pen a booker prize-winning novel, a ‘Harry Potter’ style literary phenomenon or an Oscar-winning screenplay.

The blank page signifies the opportunity to commence the creation of that particular creative journey and like any opportunity, there are two ways of looking at it. You can either be pessimistic or optimistic. Which one you choose, or rather which one chooses you, is wholly dependent on the type of person you are.

The pessimist will type those first few words already believing that this new project won’t be the big break they have been dreaming of and instead, even as they sit there hammering away, they will fairly quickly be enveloped by that awful sense of hope evaporating.

And as that hope rolls away, it will be replaced by the standard writers fears of exposure, of failure, of making yourself look stupid and possibly worst of all, of being boring. Who on earth would want to risk any of that let alone willingly put themselves through it?

Yes, all of that and more lurks on that single A4 page or blank screen filled with nothing but white. Having written 16 books and numerous screenplays, I can state that with some authority.

Thankfully, having been writing for some considerable time now I tend to be far more optimistic and far from fearing the blank page, I love it! For one very specific reason: it signifies power. Power to create anything I want to create be it non-fiction, fiction, thriller, comedy, male, female, sex, crime, football… anything.

A blank page gives me freedom to develop characters and make them do whatever I want them to do be it good, bad or even evil. I can make them love, hate or even kill them off, horribly if I want. And all of that comes from nothing other than my imagination. How can anyone not find that exciting?

That, in essence, is exactly what I’m facing at the moment. For having just completed work on the third book in the Billy Evans trilogy, today I start work on a new novel.

It’s a thriller I’ve been planning for a while and having read over the numerous notes I’ve made over the last few years, it’s going to be great fun to work on.

Blank page… don’t be frightened of it, love it. It’s everything any writer could ever want.

violence, racism, racist, anal sex, oral sex, burlesque

Despite being over 18 years old, The Crew and Top Dog continue to sell well with the former continuing to inhabit the #1 slot on its Amazon chart. Indeed the new book will bring the character of Billy Evans right up to date and if I say so myself (although I don’t because my beta readers have told me) it’s a cracker. I’ll have news of publication dates as soon as my publisher lets me know!

Finally, thanks to everyone who continues to contact me about Wings of a Sparrow which also continues to do well in both paperback and eBook formats. Having recently sold the film rights, I’m seriously hoping that we’ll soon see it make the leap to the big screen.

screenwriter, screenwriting, author, self-publishing, green street, top dog, british film, gangsters, the krays, hooligans, collymore, troll, trolling

 

Why writing your endings first can solve your plotting problems.

panster, writing, screenplay, authorThe other day, I mentioned the subject of pantsting and have had a number of mails asking me what it’s all about.

In essence, pantsting is a method of writing where you put together the very basics of a plot and then just run at it. Or to put it another way, you write by the seat of your pants.

This is generally the method I use for all my projects be they book or script because as I have previously mentioned, the majority of them are sparked off by ideas I’ve had for endings. As a consequence, everything else is about getting the characters to a point I already have firmly fixed in my mind (or indeed, will almost certainly have developed and written to the point where it will remain pretty much untouched right through to the end of the process) and so I can make their journey as simple or as complicated as I want.

Of course, as the journey unfolds and my characters begin to take on lives and personalities of their own, I will invariably get to the point where I’ll have to go back to the beginning and start again but this isn’t as bad as it sounds. For by the time I’ve finished what would be classed as a first draft, I’ve probably rewritten most of it at least three or four times and have characters which are reasonably well formed.

That usually means it’ll be good enough to send to an independent reader for some feedback and for someone like me who hates rewriting scripts without notes, that really is a god send!

But, as mentioned previously, no matter how many rewrites I go through, the ending will always remain pretty damn close to the one that originally sparked off the idea. For as anyone with any sense knows, when it comes to thrillers, endings are always the most important part of all!

My next book will be the third book in The Crew/Top Dog trilogy and  should hit the shelves later this year.

It’s a hairs breath from being finished and is a cracker, even if I say so myself (which I don’t, because a few people have already read through the opening chapters and they’re saying that as well!)

 

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolIn the meantime, my 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.

@dougiebrimson

Writing and the single, brutal truth about rejection.

writing,rejection,autor,screenwriterLet’s get this out in the open from the start. However it happens, rejection sucks. It sucks big.

Indeed, as I wrote in Billy’s Log some years ago, it is the best contraception known to man. Trust me, a brutal knock back will drive a shy male back to his XBox faster than you can say ‘friend zone’.

Unfortunately, if you want to write, be it for publication or screen, you had best get used to rejection because like it or not, it will be coming your way.

The only comfort you’ll have to draw on is that you’ll be in good company. I’m not just talking about J.K Rowling who was famously rejected by numerous agents and publishers before someone finally noticed the pot of gold under her arm, I’m talking about all of us. For with very few exceptions, every single author, screenwriter and journalist has to deal with the dreaded R word on a regular basis. I know I do. In fact my current hit rate is one script in three actually getting anywhere near being filmed.

To be fair, I am happy to acknowledge that to most writers a 33.3% success rate will actually look half decent but to me, whilst I’m obviously delighted with the one that gets through, I’m just as pissed off about the two that don’t.

You see I’m a lazy screenwriter and by that I mean generally speaking, I will only write a script if I’m being paid. Therefore, if I write one on spec, it means that it’s something I feel passionately about and so if it subsequently gets rejected, it’s personal. Very personal. However, what makes it even tougher to handle is that often, the rebuff will come after I’ve already taken a few steps along the development path and the anticipation of a dream actually coming true has begun to take hold.

To give you an example; a few years ago I wrote a script called Boots on the Ground which examines the thorny issue of PTSD amongst British military veterans. For obvious reasons, this is a subject that has special significance to me and so once we were happy with it, we went out and pushed it as hard as we could.

Eventually, it landed on the desk of the head script reader at a studio who took it to his boss claiming it to be the best script he’d read all year. After reading it for himself, the studio head rang me to give me his word that he would put up most of the money to get it made and then introduced me to a very high-profile British director who was all over it like a rash. We even had BAFTA making some very positive noises about putting money in.

Then, as soon as it began and for reasons which I’ve never quite been able to fully fathom, it all went cold. And now, like Wings of a Sparrow and numerous other scripts I’ve written, it sits languishing on my hard drive until we stumble across the right person to put it in front of next.

Gutted? No, I was devastated, and continue to be so. Not just because it’s possibly the best thing I’ve ever written but because it talks about something that this country HAS to talk about.

But as I say, rejection is a part of the writers job so the question is, how do you get used to it?

The answer is that you don’t. And nor should you because if you want to write for a living, rejection HAS to hurt. And for one very specific reason.

A mate of mine, Brad Burton, is a motivational speaker and one of his ‘braddisms’ is that if you have a plan B, don’t get upset when others don’t believe in your plan A. In other words, if you prepare for rejection, it means that somewhere in the back of your head, you’re expecting it. And if you’re expecting it, how can you possibly put everything you have into your script?

The answer is that you can’t. But what you can do is to take the gut wrenching pain of being knocked back and pour it into your next script or book. Keep doing that and eventually that pain will be replaced by the ecstasy of success. And it will. Because if you want to call yourself a proper writer, you have to have absolute and total belief that it will.

Because if you don’t, if you’re not totally committed to yourself and your work, what the hell are you wasting your time for?

Speaking of being committed, my latest novel, the third book in the Billy Evans trilogy is now being edited before heading off for publication.

If you’ve read either The Crew or Top Dog, you will have some idea of what it’s about so I’m not going to give you any clues. What I will say however, is that in terms of the plot, it is bang up to date the the twist at the end will have your head spinning.

Watch this space!

@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

self-publishing,author,writing,amazon,kindle,independent film,ebooks,

 

Why we love football.

As someone who is lucky enough to converse with people from pretty much every point of the spectrum on which human life sits, I frequently find myself responding to questions of some kind or another.

Inevitably, the bulk of these will revolve around subjects linked to writing and be of the ‘how can I?’ variety which is fine by me, after all, my work or writing will have been the thing which brought us together and if someone takes the time to contact me, it’s only right that I afford them the courtesy of a reply.

Occasionally however, I’ll get a curveball question and the range of issues these can cover is, to say the least, broad. Only recently for example, I found myself explaining to someone from the other side of the world why we British drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road.

To be honest, I like this kind of random stuff. Not only does it tax the brain (or test my proficiency on google) but I find it quite rewarding to think that people actually feel comfortable enough to ask me these things. Especially when in some cases, I’ll have been the first Englishman they’ll have ever emailed.

My favourite question however, is one which lands in my inbox on a regular basis. It is quite simply, why football?

Usually of course, this will be used in the context of violence or hatred of some kind but increasingly, it’s being asked by people who don’t follow the game and want to know why those of us who do are so fanatical about it.

My response to this is that there is no such thing as a standard answer because there is no such thing as a standard football fan. To the uninitiated we might well come across as sheep (or even mugs) but when you look a little deeper, you’ll quickly discover that there are all kinds of reasons to explain why we are all unique in our love of the great game and our respective teams. There are even different degrees of obsession but if you want to know more about that, then you best read this.

Amongst those of us who actually get off our backsides to attend games in the flesh however, there is one common thread and that is that being a fan of the game is not just about the 90 minutes of actual football. And I mean football, not even great football. For it’s fair to say that some of the best days I’ve had as a supporter have been on days when my team -the glorious Watford- will have lost and I’d bet that most fans reading this will be nodding in agreement.

For the simple reality is that watching football is about one thing, hope. Hope that things will get better (or at least not get worse), hope that you will win promotion, not get relegated, beat your local rivals or even just carry on for one more season. Who know’s, maybe even win the FA Cup or the Champions League.

And with that hope comes every kind of emotional experience possible all wrapped up in one simple word, passion.

To be a part of that passion and share those experiences with other like minded souls is why we do it and why we love it because it’s where we feel that we belong. It’s out religion and it’s addictive, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

So don’t ask me why we do it, just try and explain to me why you don’t.

@dougiebrimson

football,soccer,protest,premier league,fans,supportersSpeaking of football and fans, my old book Rebellion is now available as an ebook.

First published in 2006, it tells the background to some of the more infamous fan protests including those at Charlton, Wimbledon, Manchester United, Manchester City, Norwich and Bournemouth amongst many others.

Details of my other books, including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow, as well as links to buy can be found by clicking here!

 

soccer, football, writing, write, author

So, you want to be a writer.

When I first started out on what is laughingly called my writing career, I imagined that at some point, I would end up sitting somewhere warm doing pretty much sod all whilst my bank account was being drip fed a steady stream of royalty payments.

This money would then be spent fuelling my passions for motorcycles, stock car racing and Adidas Gazelles with the remainder being wasted on expensive holidays and flash restaurants. Sadly, it has not turned out like that.

Instead, like most writers battling against the combined curses of mid-list anonymity and the explosion of electronic publishing, I find myself working long hours developing new projects whilst waiting for decisions from people who are either barely qualified to make them or are simply too terrified to. These days, saying ‘no’ is both easier and safer than saying ‘yes’ or even ‘maybe’.

Given that I am keen to eat once in a while (well, this belly doesn’t maintain itself!) what this means in real terms is that since time is one of only two tools I have for the generation of income (the other being what could jokingly be called ‘talent’) it has become an extremely valuable commodity. One which once consumed, is irreplaceable.

I mention this not in an effort to elicit any kind of sympathy but for a very specific reason. For I recently read an amazing article by a best-selling American writer called Leslie Banks in which she talked about the demands placed on a writer’s time and in particular, the value placed on that time by other people. And what she says is correct.

Abso-fucking-lutely correct.

You see, like most writers I receive a steady stream of unsolicited mails from people asking for either help or advice and in the main I’ve always welcomed these and been happy to help if I can. After all, we all started somewhere right?

Recently however, increasing numbers of these mails have gone beyond simple questions about the basics of writing or publishing into requests to critique whole manuscripts, help find an agent and/or publisher or even come on board to help develop a project from scratch. This would be fine were there ever the offer of any money to carry out this work but this is rarely, if ever the case. Remember that, because I will return to it in a moment.

I’d also ask you to consider another point raised by the fabulous Ms Banks. For like her I rarely read anything else whilst I’m writing because I have learned from experience that if I do, I tend to adopt that authors style in my own work. But equally, whatever I’m reading sinks into my brain and on one occasion, something actually fell out of my subconscious and made it onto a page I’d written. Thankfully, I caught it whilst editing but supposing I hadn’t noticed it and it had made it into print only to be picked up by some eagle eyed reader who went on to point it out to the offended author. Can you imagine?

Indeed, with more and more people paranoid about the theft of ideas, it’s only a matter of time before a writer is dragged into court and accused of ripping off a plot line.

Now, put all this together and you might start to understand why more and more writers are not simply reluctant to respond to requests for help but are becoming increasingly angry about them. Because when that mail drops in my inbox what it’s actually asking is “Dear Mr Brimson, can I take advantage of your 20 odd years worth of experience and a shed load of your time to offer you the opportunity to risk getting sued to shit and back? Oh, and can you do it all for free?”

Not exactly the most attractive proposition and in all honesty, it’s actually quite insulting. After all, would you go to any other experienced professional and ask for their time free of charge? What do you think a lawyer would say to that? Or a plumber? What would you say if I came to you at your place of work and asked for something on a non-existent account? I rest my case.

So the bottom line is this; if you want to be a writer, then write. And if you want to be a published author or a credited screenwriter, then as you write, learn. Learn about the delights of plotting, the fineries of character arcs, the stress of editing, the nightmare of pitching, the complexities of contracts, the (occasional) thrill of PR, the gut-wrenching pain of rejection and the never-ending irritation of waiting.

But if you want to circumnavigate any of that and take advantage of someone else’s experience, then be prepared to put your hand in your pocket. It might cost you in the short-term but it will almost certainly save you an awful lot of both angst and time in the long terms.

And as Leslie Banks says only too well, time is money. My money.

@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

screenwriting, author, publishing, british film, football, soccer, sport, politics, work, green street, gang, hooligan,

 

 

Want to be a writer? It’s money for old rope.

writer, author, brimson, lazy, ebooks, amazon, itunesAs I have previously mentioned, I receive a lot of emails asking for advice about writing. Primarily, these are of the ‘where do I start?’ variety as opposed to the ‘how do I enrich my novel with deep and meaningful subtext?’ sort but that’s fine with me. After all, I’m not exactly DH Lawrence or Dickens and to be fair, most of the time a large portion of my brain is actively tied up with trying to comprehend how I’m able to get away with earning a living as a writer. Although thinking about it, this is possibly why so many people do ask me. ‘If that talentless tosser can do it….’ etc, etc.

So let’s get this clear, writing a novel is easy. You simply sit at a keyboard, tap away at the keys until you have around 75 thousand words and there you go. It’s a novel. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can do that.

Screenplays are even easier. General thinking is that a page equals a minute of action so you’re only looking at about a hundred sheets of A4 which equates to around 20 thousand words. That’s a little over a quarter of the words required for a novel. Absolute piece of piss.

So what are you waiting for?

I am of course being flippant (I know it’s hard to tell sometimes) but trust me, there are people who really do think it’s that simple and in a certain sense it actually is. What they fail to recognise is that the easy bit is followed by the hard bit. Gathering together those 75 thousand words and putting them in some kind of coherent order takes takes time, effort, blood, sweat and tears.

Don’t get me wrong, I am one of those who subscribes to the theory that everyone has a book in them and I would most definitely urge everyone to have a go at writing for all kinds of reasons. As someone who is lucky enough to be able to do it all day every day, I can tell you with hand on heart that it can be hilarious fun, massively therapeutic, hugely exhilarating and even bloody exciting. But it can also be lonely, frustrating, heart breaking and certainly soul destroying.

Yet I wouldn’t have it any other way nor I suspect, would any other writer. Because that’s why we do it.

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolAll of my books and DVD’s are available from both Amazon and iTunes.

A new novel, the third in the Billy Evans trilogy, will arrive in autumn 2019. News of a new movie (or maybe two) will hopefully arrive before that.

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? Yet that will only happen if someone thinks that there is potential to sell copies or put bums on seats and if either of these things happen, you make money. That’s how it works and 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 or producer 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’ve been  working feverishly on the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy and whilst I’d love to see it out in print, it may well be that I release 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, food and motorcycles. 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 watching my next book roll off a press somewhere 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.

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.

Sixteen 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 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 on top of that, you get paid for it! As if that wasn’t enough, you’re allowed to spend weeks in your pyjama’s without anyone thinking it’s odd and best of all, if you write about football, you’re entitled to write off your season ticket against income 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 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. 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 or the Society of Authors. They are your unions 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 its 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 going out on a motorbike, sitting on the sofa watching TV or strolling around Ikea.

12. ’People watching’ is research. Therefore it’s also 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 if not years 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. First drafts don’t have to be good, they just have to be written. That’s why they call them vomit drafts.

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. Never let anyone demean or undermine you whenever you tell them you’re a writer. That’s easier said than done but the Terry Thomas classic movie ‘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.

My next book is the sequel to Top Dog and is currently with my publishers. It should hit the shelves late in 2019 and is, I have to say, awesome.