On Saturday, I spent the day in a screenwriting workshop with Cathy Overett, producer of Iron Sky and Separation City.
I’ve been tinkering with an idea for a little while now, but I’m always interested in how other aspects of writing can enhance my ‘normal’ thriller ventures as well.
At the end of the day, the Hero’s Journey relates to all stories, no matter how they are told. The following are a few of the screenwriting tips that Cathy shared which I believe should also be considered when writing novels:-
1. Read other books in your genre
2. Think about your audience – who are you writing for?
3. The story must engage the reader
4. Know your market – but don’t force yourself to write something to
match current trends – tastes change!
5. Your writing has to hit the five senses – taste, smell, touch, sight and
6. Write what you know – and if you don’t know it, accept that online research
will only get you so far. You’ll have to get out there and explore at
7. Make sure your story is character-driven – the plot should form organically
8. Show, don’t tell
9. Draft, draft, draft
10. Edit, edit, edit!
It's very easy as an author to get bogged down in the research for a new idea, instead of concentrating on the writing, especially if you're writing outside of your comfort zone.
My next thriller, Under Fire, features a stolen submarine. Problem is, I've never served on a submarine - so how to make the scenes realistic?
The solution was a simple one. Find a submarine, have a wander around, and get that all-important sense of place I was trying to capture in my writing.
The Australian National Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour, Sydney was just the ticket. They have an Oberon-class submarine, HMAS Onslow, which is open to the public daily. I managed to pick a quiet time during the day (I think everybody else was in the pub) and spent some valuable time with one of the volunteers, asking questions and getting a real feel for what it was like to serve on the vessel.
The visit helped my imagination gauge what it must be like for a submarine crew - the cramped conditions, the heat, noise, smells. Everything I experienced that day would be amplified in the confines of a serving submarine. Within an hour, I'd joined those lucky what-names at the pub and was furiously scribbling into my notebook.
Hopefully when you read Under Fire later this year, you'll get that sense of place too.
One of the best things about being an author is the opportunity to get involved with other aspects of writing and publishing.
I was excited to be approached by the creators of Espionage Magazine a couple of months ago, who wanted me to take a look at their new anthology of thriller stories, Death Toll.
Featuring stories by the likes of Jake Needham and Stephen Leather, the anthology also introduces a wider audience to writers such as Liam Saville, the Sydney-based author of "Predator Strike" and a great advocate for new authors like myself.
In short, it was an honour to be asked to provide a "blurb" for the anthology, and having downloaded it on to my Kindle on its release a week or so ago, I would urge readers to do the same.
I don't think the thriller genre is known for anthologies - with any luck, Espionage Magazine and Death Toll will convert people's thinking, and fast.
You can find out more about the anthology here.
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