Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Replica's screenplay

My brief foray into screenplay writing is over. (No, don't worry about me, I'll be fine, honestly.)

Many readers have commented that Replica would make a good film. So eventually I decided to write the screenplay. It was really hard reducing the book to 114 pages - so much had to go, including a character or two - but I finished a few months ago, and d'you know, I thought it was quite good. I was aware I was probably wrong - noobs are generally filled with false confidence regarding their first efforts. I knew I'd formatted it right, as formatting is easy if you just take pains enough.

A professional scriptwriter, Oli Jeffery, had kindly offered to read it for me. While waiting for his opinion, I put it in to the BBC's Scriptroom, which considers film scripts once a year. I'd told Oli not to pull his punches, and in a long and thoughtful critique he told me my screenplay, though the formatting and descriptions were good, was structurally out of whack and the pacing was off. Among other flaws. Quite a lot of them.

I'm sure he's right. Now I could spend more time learning to write scripts and I think if I did, I'd get there in the end. The process must be similar to learning to write a novel. But it occurred to me, once I'd written a brilliant screenplay it would need to pass the gatekeepers in order to be made into a film, and I just can't face that. Been there, got the tee shirt, didn't like it. My time would be better spent writing the next novel.

And Scriptroom 5? The BBC emailed me: We received over 1300 TV & Film Drama scripts, and our team of readers have been working intensively to sift through all submissions.

After reading the first 10 pages your script was put forward to the next sift where the first 20-30 pages of scripts were then read by another reader – which was the case with 13% of submissions we received. Unfortunately your script did not progress beyond this stage, so will not be considered further and will not receive any other feedback

I'm quite pleased my script was in the top 13% of submissions. (Mark you, the formatting was really good.)


  1. Yes, you definitely should be pleased you were in the top 13% on your *first* screenplay. I'm more of a screenplay/play writer than novelist despite the "gatekeeper" hurdles. I would imagine that you might progress more quickly than you think. The thing with screenplays & plays is, it's all about structure. If you can tell a story, and your novels suggest that you can, then with the screenplay you just have to identify the big hinge points of your story and write to those.

    But, I'm also sure you're right. Keep writing novels - get one that really sells and then some producer will come to you and pay you to learn to write a screenplay!

    And, live happily ever after. The End. :)

  2. Well done, Lexi for having a go. I'd love to with my rock'n'roll novels but wouldn't know where to start. I just don't have time to take a course. And congrats for getting to the top 13%. Like Judith says, one day, someone will come along and snap one of yours up. Keep writing. Pam. :-)

  3. Judith, that sounds like good advice. In the unlikely event of finding myself with not much to do, I might have another go.

    Pam, thanks. There are lots of books available on screenplay structure. I didn't read them and clearly should have done :o)

  4. Purely selfishly, I'd prefer you to go on writing novels so that I can read them!

  5. Your wish is my command, FH.

  6. And here I thought you were all set to tackle the complex, cutthroat world of the greeting card.

  7. Thanks for the laugh, Alan.

    I'm with Judith - go on writing novels and someone will come to you.