Category Archives: screenwriting

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 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, 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 will 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 baulk 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? 

Should your novel be a success however, you’ll be quids in. As of course, will they.

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.

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.

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.

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 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 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 two, maybe even three new ones coming in 2018! 

In the meantime, 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.

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How to write a fight scene.

green street, top dog, violence, sex, fightingI’m not usually one for taking part in online debates about writing, mostly because I’m not that clever and have an adversity to making myself look stupid.

There is of course, also the risk that people will discover that I’ve been winging it all this time which wouldn’t do my agents heart rate any good.

However, I recently became involved in a fascinating discussion with a group of writers on the use of gratuitous violence in both books and film. Or to be more specific, the duty of the writer in the way they portray it.

I won’t go too deeply into the way it unfolded other than to say it veered from one extreme to the other and back again at least more than once. But whilst it was extremely interesting to learn how others perceive their creative responsibilities, little or nothing was said which made me change the way I think about mine. And mine, as I see them, are relatively simple. Indeed, they can be encapsulated in one single sentence. For when it comes to anything fictional, my job is to tell a decent story as honesty and realistically as I can.

This is underpinned by something I have said many times and that is the fact that the most important person in the writing process is the person at the end of the chain be that the reader or the viewer. And when you write the kind of things I do for the kind of people I primarily write them for (lads), then my sole duty is to give them something which they can not only recognise but hopefully, put themselves into the centre of without any difficulty.

In the case of a subject like hooliganism, that means street fighting and anyone who has ever been involved in a row at football knows that it isn’t Queensbury Rules Boxing or Tae Kwon Do, it’s short periods of scruffy, disjointed mayhem. It’s still violence, but it’s real violence as opposed to the stylised fighting we see in too many films and computer games and whilst for some it can be little short of a  terrifying experience, for others it can border on hilarity.

That’s how I have to write it because that’s how it is. Anything else would be a betrayal and I’d lose my readers (and viewers) in a heartbeat.

Quite rightly too.

.

thriller, screenwriting, film, writingThe next few weeks will hopefully see a couple of announcements on the movie front. The first will almost certainly be related to my thriller, Three Greens which has now attracted funding from one of the major distributors and the second will be details of the sale of my latest co-written project, Pizza & Miracles.

The latter script was only finished last week but has actually been a really interesting project to work on not least because it is as far from my usual genre as it is possible to get given that the subject matter centres around the subject of spiritualism and the power of the universe. But in many ways, that challenge is what made it the most fun. More of that as and when!

I can also tell you that work is progressing nicely on the third book in the The Crew/Top Dog trilogy as well as on Billy’s Log 2.

My intention at the moment is to self-publish both books but it may well be that someone comes along who will take them along the more traditional publishing route.

On which note, if you didn’t know, I’ve been publishing extracts of the latter online at Billys Blog. Feel free to take a look by clicking here! 

5 reasons why I love writing for older actors.

ebooks, self publishing, veteran, writer, screenwriting, author, indie, film, green street, football, soccer, actor, script, sex, men, women, sexism, racism, homophobia,I shall, from the outset, put my cards on the table and say that I am, at least numerically speaking, old. 

I don’t feel it mind (and I certainly don’t act it) but it is fair to say that at 58 I’m much closer to my closing scene than I am to the opening act.

The reason I mention this is because for fairly obvious reasons, my age impacts on my writing output. Rule number three in Doug’s Guide To Writing is ‘write what you know’ and since I know more about being a male over 50 in 2017 than I do about being a teenage lad in 2017, my central characters tend to be older and I hope, more realistic. There will after all, be a part of me in all of them.

Thankfully, this is working to my advantage. For example when I  worked on We Still Kill The Old Way it received a great deal of press because of the age of the main cast. Great for me, the film and the actors involved, most of whom were actually older than I am which leads me nicely into the central reason for this blog.

You see generally speaking, when I start thinking about a project, be it book or film, one of the first things I consider is who is going to read or watch it. But recently, when it comes to screenplays, I also think about who might be can cast. Something which helps me actually create the role.

Therefore with that in mind, what follows are 5 reasons why these days my mind tends to wander to those actors who have actually been around for a while.

Choice – We have a huge untapped source of talent in this country and it isn’t lurking in acting classes or talent schools, it’s working in small theatres or sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring. Sad for them but great for writers like me when you’re working on something and putting together a dream cast because you know that there’s a bigger chance of actually getting them.

Gratitude – The main reason why they’re sitting at home is because the phone rarely rings. And it rarely rings because there are so few decent roles being written for people over 50 (let alone 60 or 70). As a consequence, if you create these age specific roles and cast accordingly, not only are the actors grateful, but they give you everything from vast experience to PR gold!

Talent – To me, it’s criminal that all this amazing acting talent is being allowed to go to waste. Aside from the ones I’ve already worked with, I can think of ten amazing actors and actresses I’d crawl over broken glass to hear reading my words yet I doubt one has had a decent film or TV role in ten years. That’s tragic, not least because, as has been proven with We Still Kill, the public genuinely want to see these great actors on screen.

Fun – If you don’t think working with legends of the entertainment world is fun, you really shouldn’t be writing screenplays.

Inspiration – When an actor you’ve watched for years and who you have nothing but respect for comes up and not only praises your script but thanks you for the opportunity you’ve given them, it’s both humbling and gratifying. But equally, such praise drives you on to create more of the same which is exactly why I currently have two projects in development that will feature ensemble casts of actors over 60. And d’you know what? I can’t wait to get them moving primarily because above all, they’re going to be fun. And isn’t that why we got into this business in the first place?

The problem of course, is that the production process isn’t down to the writers or the actors, it’s down to those mythical beasts called producers. So what’s really needed are a few of those to step up and take a chance or two.

The talent is there, the ideas are there and as movies such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (1&2) and Philomena have proved, the audience is certainly there. So how about it?

Who knows, the results might even shock you!

@dougiebrimson

romance, life, love, beer, sexAs some of you may be aware, I’ve been beavering away on the sequel to Billy’s Log for some time now and am currently publishing extracts online in ‘Billy’s Blog’.

Please click here to visit and if you enjoy it, feel free to spread the word!

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

Gender, gender neutral, beer, lads, women, men, relationships, sex, love, romance, author, screenwriting, ebooks, self publishing, indie film, football

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Author, screenwriter or simply mad writer?

writing, screenwriting, author, screenwriter, publishingI recently made the comment that the difference between being an author and being a screenwriter is the same as the difference between an immaculate conception and an egg donation.

This seemed to cause some confusion in certain circles although as someone who writes both novels and scripts, it seems to me to be a totally accurate statement. Therefore, what follows is a slightly tongue-in-cheek guide to the essential difference between the creative processes involved in what are after all, two very different writing disciplines. 

As an author, when you write a novel, it is your baby. You sit, plot, write, edit, rewrite, edit again and then when you’re happy, you send it off to one or two trusted mates for their comments.

Dependent on what they say, you will either rewrite or polish your manuscript and then take the plunge into the real world and send it off to either your agent or your publisher. This is the terrifying time for all authors as these will be the first people within the industry to see, and judge, your latest efforts.

In response to their comments, you’ll either do more polishing or more rewriting after which it’ll go off to a proper editor who will fix your appalling grammar. Only then will it head off in the direction of the actual production process and eventually, print (or internet). 

Yet from concept to shelf or kindle, the writer retains pretty much total creative control and as such, the finished article remains in essence, all your own work. Indeed, once it’s published the whole thing becomes about you and you alone. Have you ever seen a book publicised as ‘edited by….’? Of course not.

This is what I mean by immaculate conception. You’ve created something from nothing and now face the consequences. Be it praise or grief.

A screenplay is a  totally different animal because in terms of the creative process, you as the writer have very little power over what finally ends up on-screen. Yes, you might well come up with the initial concept and you will certainly put the initial layer of flesh on the bones but generally speaking, your place is and always will be on the bottom rung of a very long development ladder. Indeed, a script will go through so many rewrites it might as well be written in pencil and it’s certainly safe to say that by the time it gets to the point when a director calls ‘action’, the shooting script will be very different from your initial draft

There are of course, very specific reasons for this be they creative improvements the director has made or something as mundane as location, cast or budget. Yet however much it might irritate you as the writer, everything is underpinned by one very simple fact and that is that everyone involved in the process wants to get the best thing that they possibly can onto the screen. 

And that is the key difference. For unlike a novel, a script is a true collaboration and your pages are usually the starting point. Or to use my original statement, the egg.

You see, simple. 

There are of course, occasions when the two elements meet and an author ends up adapting their own novel for the screen as I did with Top Dog. Whilst an interesting experience, it was quite possibly the single most challenging thing I’ve done as a writer and whilst I learned a lot, it’s not something I would advise an author to do unless they have either a very thick skin, a good therapist or access to a shotgun.

@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

 

From the writer of Green Street….

wordcount, writing, writer, greenstreetThis isn’t something I would normally do, but with three projects currently in development and taking the bulk of my time, I have a number of additional scripts in work so thought I would offer a few out via my blog. All are at the second draft stage so if any are of interest to anyone in the industry, please drop me an email via dougiebrimson@me.com

Boots on the Ground:  Drama (feature or TV): A soldier loses his legs after an ambush in Afghanistan and returns home to the brutal realisation that his real war has only just begun.

Wings of a Sparrow: Comedy (feature or TV): A fanatical football fan inherits a multi-million pound fortune and thinks that all of his dreams have come true. However, his dreams soon turn to nightmares when he learns that the money comes with some very unsavoury strings attached!

First Parallel: Supernatural Drama (returnable TV): A shy, unassuming woman girl discovers that she is the only hope for mankind in a supernatural war being fought against an army of evil led by the malevolent spirit of her dead mother.

@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, screen

How movies happen. Part One.

film, screenwriting, script, CannesFirst off, I must apologise for the title of this blog.

The truth is, as a simple writer I am but a tiny cog in the movie making machine and if I did know how they happened, I would have bottled it, patented it, franchised the shit out of it and be long gone by now.

What I do know however, is how mine happen although to be fair, my experience is hardly standard. After all, my first feature came about as a result of a conversation on a dodgy internet forum and my next one (that will  be #4) is the product of a simple one line pitch thrown in at the end of a meeting about another film. A film which remains as yet, unmade.

This proves to me, and should do to you, that there is no actual ‘way’ for a movie to happen but there are instead, a myriad of ‘ways’. And for the average writer, most of those will be entirely out of your control and more often than not dependent on huge amounts of luck. Sad, but undoubtedly true. 

That said, there are plenty of ways to heighten your chances of escaping the anonymity of the slush pile although in truth, none will ever guarantee success.

For a start, turning in a script which is both properly formatted and free of either spelling or grammatical errors should be a given (and if you don’t do that anyway, then you don’t deserve to have your script read let alone produced) whilst having a decent title certainly helps. Attaching a star is also a great way to gain attention but all of this should be the territory of your agent or manager if you have one. On which note, if you don’t, then get one. They are effectively filters who keep crap away from script readers and so a pile of paper coming from an agent is going to have far more of a chance of being looked at and taken seriously than one that doesn’t.

If you’re not adverse to networking (and I am, I hate it) then get out there and sell yourself as often and as hard as you can. In the film industry, people buy people as much as they buy what they can actually do. If you can’t or won’t do that and aren’t getting anywhere via any other means, then entering and hopefully winning one of the numerous screenwriting competitions will at least get your work in front of the right people.

And that’s what all of the above is designed to do; get your work in the hands of someone who will hopefully read your script. That’s when it’s all turns back around and you really do influence what happens next.

Because aside from your screenplay looking professional, the single most important thing to do with a script is the one thing you have the most control over. It’s the story. Because whilst a great story will sell a crap script, a crap story won’t sell a great script.

So nail your story from day one and if you do the work and get it right, it’ll happen. 

On which note, if all goes to plan, details of my next movie will be announced at the Cannes Film Festival which begins a week today.

For reasons which will become obvious in the fullness of time, details of this project are being kept a closely guarded secret for the time being but rest assured, I will pass them on as soon as I’m allowed.

What I can tell you is that it’s going to be a cracker and is certain to shock a few people. More than a few hopefully.

And that’s all you’re getting for now.

@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

 

 


Dear Doug, I’ve written this amazing script….

brimson, screenwriting, writer, script, authorAs someone who has pulled it off more than once, I’m often asked how to go about selling a script.

Whilst an obvious question, it is actually the wrong question. For the truth is that anyone can sell a script just as anyone can buy one. So what people should be asking is what are the chances of selling a script into the industry. Be it to a producer, a studio or even to an agent.

The answer, for a first time writer is slim, very slim. In fact the odds are stacked firmly against you. Not because  the film industry is some kind of closed shop -although in many respects it is exactly that- but because of simple mathematics.

You may well have written an awesome script, maybe even a potential Oscar winner, but the second you send it out into the world you’re entering a competition for attention and that competition is fierce. Not merely in terms of quality, but because of pure numbers.

The Writers Guild of America register anywhere between 30 and 50 thousand scripts every year. A number that can probably be doubled if you factor in screenplays written by writers who don’t register their work but still punt it out. That’s EVERY year, and the average screenplay floats around for at least 5 years, usually longer. So even using conservative figures, that’s 250,000 spec scripts floating around waiting to be picked up at any one time.

Since the vast majority of movies which actually get made are written by writers with some kind of track record, as a first time writer the chances of anyone even reading your script let alone buying it are reduced even further. Indeed it is estimated that even in a good year, only 50 spec scripts are actually sold into the business.

In real terms, that’s 1 per 5000 or 5000 to one. Or, to put it in more realistic terms, you’re twice as likely to die by falling in the shower as you are of someone buying your script.

Simple as that.

(It’s also important to remember that selling a script, whilst a great achievement in itself, does not guarantee that it will ever get anywhere near actually being filmed. And before anyone asks, it’s also worth noting that many spec scripts are sold for nominal fees, sometimes as low as £1!)

@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

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Writers: The single and brutal truth about rejection.

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

Unfortunately, if you want to write, be it for publication or screen, you had best get used to it because like it or not, it’s 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. For each one represents a very personal failure.

You see I’m a lazy screenwriter and by that I mean that generally speaking, I’ll only write a script when I’m being paid. Therefore, if I write one on spec, it means that I think it’s something special 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 thriller, Three Greens, is moving swiftly toward production with casting of the major roles currently underway. In addition, I am delighted to announce that another project has now been given the green light and with finance in place, is also heading toward casting.

For reasons which will soon become obvious, I can’t say much about this new movie at the moment other than I can guarantee that when it’s announced, it’s going to cause quite a stir in certain circles.

@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,

 

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

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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

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General Galtieri – my part in his Falklands downfall.

Falklands, Britain, Thatcher, Argentina I am a Falklands Veteran. Yes, that’s right, 35 years ago I was one of those brave  souls who headed south to drive the invading Argentinean scum from our land.

However, I have a confession to make. You see I wasn’t one of the amazing Para’s  who yomped across the Islands carrying a weight akin to a medium sized child on  their backs, nor was I one of the sailors who spent their war bobbing up and down  on waves which, from the films I’ve seen, gave them a ride like a non-stop trip on  the Big One at Blackpool.

No, my war was easy. More importantly, it was fun.

You see I was in the RAF and my war was spent on the relative luxury of Wideawake Airfild on Ascension Island which, for those that don’t know, is a pile of volcanic rock in the middle of the Atlantic. Being close to the Equator, it’s also quite warm. Well, very warm.

Now I won’t go into what my actual job was (I’d have to hunt you all down and kill you) but after a very exciting flight down, most of which was spent in the cockpit of a VC10 talking UFO’s with the crew –well at least those who were awake-  it involved a lot of sitting around and waiting. Now this sounds fun and to be honest, as someone who does pretty much that for a living now, it generally is. But when you’re at war and both chaos and uncertainty are all around you, you do kind of get caught up in things and so in an effort to do my bit, I ended up working with the American Fire Crews who, it’s fair to say, pretty much ran the Island. As a result, I would be tasked with all kinds of odd things from dragging extremely stubborn donkeys from the runway with a Landrover through to Ascension Island Falklands War, Harrier, Royal Air Forcesorting through the endless pallets of gifts which had been sent down to the Task Force from the fabulous people back home. Gifts which included everything from beer and fags to hard core porn!

And when I wasn’t doing that, I spent my time doing everything from swimming with what I later learned to be sea-water Piranhas (yes, really) and trying to break into the NASA station in the middle of the Island through to being spied on by the SAS. And that really is a tale!

I was also prone to playing practical jokes on people. Jokes which included placing a huge land crab in my bosses sleeping bag which he only found when he climbed into it after a 24 hour shift and scaring the shit out of the intelligence officers by hiding in their porta-loo in the middle of the night and screaming ‘BOO!’ when they pulled the door open. Trust me, the impact that can have when you’ve been told to expect an Argentinean Special Forces attack is quite dramatic!

Of course, things changed dramatically when rumours of the Vulcan raids began to break -and I cannot even begin to describe what it was like to be involved with those- and once our fabulous soldiers had actually landed and the fight to reclaim the Islands began, even those of us thousands of miles away felt like we really were at war. Which of course, we were.

And then the losses began, and when the injured started to drift back I started to actually understand the realities of war for those who had been on the front line. That really was an experience I will never forget nor is it one I would ever want to repeat. Humbling doesn’t come close.

A Vulcan. Given the lack of Victor tankers in this picture, I suspect they might have been 'orf somewhere!

Victories were of course, celebrated in time-honoured style but oddly, the actual surrender came as something of an anti-climax. But whilst I remember exactly where I was when I heard it, nothing much changed for me, at least not initially. My job, such as it was, continued whilst supplies still had to sorted, planes still took off and landed and donkeys still had to moved!

When troops started making their way back it actually became even busier and in fact one of my most emotional periods of the entire war came when a Hercules full of Harrier lads landed en route back home. Amongst them were lads I knew personally having worked with them on 4 Squadron in Germany only months previous.

Then out of the blue came the news that I was to go home. In fact, I was the first RAF serviceman on Ascension Island to be told that their job had been stood down which is something I’m quite proud of. Within days, I was geared up to head back to the UK, thankfully, on the very plane that the new (and first) Station Warrant Officer arrived on and those of you with experience of the RAF will know what that means!

My arrival back at RAF Brize Norton was unintentionally hilarious as I flew back with a group of those special men from Hereford who had no intention of hanging around for the elaborate ceremony that had been organised to welcome back the other soldiers on the plane (Cue potentially very violent stand-off!). This being followed by a three-hour wait for a car to take me back to Abingdon and a row with the orderly Sergeant who refused to take my rifle off me. Hence my having to sleep with it in my bed.

And that was that. Not for me the civic receptions nor the big parades but I cherish my South Atlantic campaign medal and am as proud of that as I am of anything I have ever done before or since.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. War may be hell for some but for many it’s also where they feel more alive than you can possibly imagine. Even those of us who played only a minor part.

argentina, falklands war, thatcher, royal airforce, nimrod, vulcan, harrierTo all those who lost loved ones or who have endured untold suffering since 1982, please do not think for one second that I am trying to belittle what you have gone and are going though. Nothing could be further from the truth as I am, and continue to be, in awe of you all.

 

football, soccer, comedy, cost of football, manchester united, liverpool, derby, watfordAll of my books, including the comedy Wings of a Sparrow  are available in ebook and paperback format from either Amazon or iTunes.

The audio version of Top Dog is also now available to download and joins the ebook, paperback and movie to make the clean sweep of all platforms! Not too shabby if I say so myself.

And speaking of movies’, my next film, Three Greens, is currently being cast and news of that should be released over the next few weeks.

I’m also hopeful that details of another film will be released over the coming days. And I suspect that it’s going to cause quite a stir!

 armed forces, hooligan, british film, top dog, green street, self publishing, manchester united, liverpool, sex, maggie thatcher, veteran, UKIP, tory Argentina

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