CREATIVITY FOR SCRIPTWRITERS 1 day course London Saturday Nov 15th
A course for scriptwriters in all media – TV, film, radio, theatre
– designed to help you generate exciting ideas and characters, and
give your creativity a boost with a day of fun, stimulating writing
exercises. Run by TV drama script editor, producer and script
consultant PHILIP SHELLEY with guest speaker writer CAT JONES.


Hi There,

I’m using the fact that yesterday was apparently National Poetry Day
as an excuse (not that one’s needed) to talk about a poem by Clive
James that you may have seen recently. I think this is a beautiful
piece of writing. Structurally it’s really interesting, it has such
an emotional punch, and there are so many ideas packed in here – about
family, nature, perception – and finally about death. It’s beautiful
and heart-breaking, and a wonderful legacy to a hugely talented writer.
This analysis of it articulates better than I can why this poem is so
brilliant –

Incidentally, I think Clive James’ books of TV reviews from The Observer
from the ‘70s and ‘80s still stand up today as really enjoyable reads,
even if you haven’t seen the shows he’s writing about. In a similar vein,
Nick Hornby’s writing about his reading is equally excellent – funny,
honest and beautifully written.

Here’s the poem:-

Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.
So slow a fading out brings no real pain.
Breath growing short
Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain
Of energy, but thought and sight remain:

Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever see
So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls
On that small tree
And saturates your brick back garden walls,
So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls?

Ever more lavish as the dusk descends
This glistening illuminates the air.
It never ends.
Whenever the rain comes it will be there,
Beyond my time, but now I take my share.

My daughter’s choice, the maple tree is new.
Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.
What I must do
Is live to see that. That will end the game
For me, though life continues all the same:

Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,
A final flood of colors will live on
As my mind dies,
Burned by my vision of a world that shone
So brightly at the last, and then was gone.


In the last week I’ve been lucky enough to go to two really excellent
 new British-funded feature films –


An uncategorisable blend of documentary, drama, fantasy and music, this
is Nick Cave’s musings on his career, life and creativity in general.
While that might sound a little on the pretentious / precious side,
it really isn’t – saved mostly by the film’s dry sense of humour – and
the music. There are also some brilliant insights into creativity. (see
last week’s blog!)

Excellent writer CHARLOTTE BOGARD MACLEOD has kindly written this response
to the film –

‘The title of Nick Cave’s new film: 20,000 Days on Earth refers to the
length of time that he has spent on it. A self-styled ‘cannibal’, he
admits to feeding on his relationships to nourish his work.  And work
he does – for he’s a composer, songwriter, musician, novelist, screenwriter
and actor.

And clearly Cave is acting in this film.  For 20,000 Days is no
‘fly-on-the-wall’ rock-u-mentary.  It’s pure artifice. Rather than removing
his rock star mythology, it re-enforces it.  It’s best described as a visual
poem.  With fragments of ideas and images, like fugitive pieces  gathered
together to explore what Cave calls “The why of it all.”

Part confessional, part memoir, and part reverie – the film mirrors the
transformation of ideas into music. The inevitable pretension is undercut
by sharp humour. There are delightful sequences with Cave driving through
the Brighton drizzle, chatting to Ray Winstone and Kylie Minogue. There are
scenes of him composing, over a meal of freshly fried eel.  And there’s the
moment he first sees his wife. A cinematic depiction of love at first sight.

Yes.  It’s self-conscious. But it’s self-consciousness with a purpose.   
Cave interrogates, investigates and ultimately celebrates what it is to
be an artist.  And when you watch Cave and his crew coaxing French school
children to sing the chorus of “Push The Sky Away”, you too understand.   
It’s a musical epiphany.

That’s why 20,000 Days on Earth works. It’s not just about a man and his
music. It’s a gathering together of what Cave calls “Those moments where
the gears of the heart really change.”  For all the artifice, the film
has a purity.  An intimacy.  A kind of truth.  It propels us towards an
understanding of the imperative to create. Cave’s “why of it all.”

Incidentally Charlotte’s outstanding radio play, THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY
OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT, broadcast last Monday on BBC R4, is still on i-player
until this coming Monday. Highly recommended!

And here’s Charlotte’s blog about the writing of the play –


You know in a few years these boys will be very important.’

People like us don’t make mistakes.’

Even better than 20,000 DAYS ON EARTH is Laura Wade’s THE RIOT CLUB.
Its previous incarnation was the outstanding POSH, which was on at
the Royal Court in 2010 and then transferred to the West End in 2012.

THE RIOT CLUB is a quite a radical restructuring and opening out of the
stage play (nearly all of which takes place in a dining room above a
pub), with new characters and new story strands. This adaptation has
been really skilfully written by Laura Wade – it keeps to the spirit
of the stage play but has added a more muscular, complex narrative.

The script is brilliantly observed – it captures the effortless and
overwhelming ‘sense of entitlement’ of the Eton / Oxbridge / Bullingdon
club ‘elite’ (and I use the word elite very loosely!).

What is great about play and film are that both are hugely entertaining –
a lot of the dialogue and antics are very funny. Wade doesn’t provide easy
answers – you can’t help but be a bit won over by the Riot Club members’
easy charm and wit – but as the story escalates, things turn very black…


And then what makes the play and film stand out for me is that Laura Wade
really has something to say – there’s a powerful message at the heart of
the play, something that seems obvious but isn’t stated often enough, about
class and the establishment in this country. Like so many of the best
scripts, there is a powerful writer’s agenda at the heart of it.

This is a film that makes you think, it makes you come out of the cinema
discussing what it’s about – while at the same time it’s a funny, involving
and a really well-crafted piece of story-telling.

This quote, from a (positive!) review of the play POSH in the Daily Mail
in 2012 is the sort of cretinous attitude the script is looking to skewer –
‘I have no problem being governed by old Etonians and an Oxbridge elite,
as long as (and I stress) they are resolutely the best men (or women) for
the job. It is an undeniable fact – and one which we would be churlish to
attempt to deny – that the fortunate possessors of a Rolls-Royce education
are often more up to the task than those not as well-educated.’


Finally I received this email which may interest you. I think MONOLOGUES
are a really brilliant dramatic form and here is a great opportunity to
have one of your own monologues exposed to a very large audience…

‘Dear Philip,

My name is Kiran and I’m writing from the Talking Statues project. (Nice
to meet you over email!)

We are holding a writing competition that we think may be of interest to
your Script Consultant newsletter subscribers. (I am one of them!)

Sing London have commissioned some of the UK’s most celebrated writers and
actors from Tony Harrison to Jacqueline Wilson to Patrick Stewart to
create monologues for iconic statues across London and Manchester. Pass a
Talking Statue, swipe your smartphone on a nearby tag and get a call back
from Queen Victoria or Sherlock Holmes.

With our public writing competition, 4 more statues await the gift of
speech. We are giving budding writers the chance to write a short
monologue from the perspective of one of our competition statues. Winners
will have their monologues recorded by well known actors, their monologues
will be accessible to the public for a year and they’ll get a copy of the
final audio to keep as well.

I have attached a brief document outlining the competition and if you do
think this is something that would be of interest please do circulate it
as you see fit.

We hope you like the idea!

Many Thanks,


Kiran Benawra
Sing London
Talking Statues

Give a statue a voice! Talking Statues Public Writing Competition
Sing London have commissioned some of the UK’s most celebrated writers and
 actors to create monologues for iconic statues across London and Manchester.
Now it’s the public’s turn to put words into the mouths of statues!
Four statues are still awaiting the gift of speech!
Sing London is teaming up with to give budding writers the
chance to bring these statues to life with the Talking Statues Public

Writing Competition:

-Shakespeare in the British Library

-Isis in the Royal Parks

-Leaping Hare in Broadgate

-Stan the T-Rex in Manchester Museum.

What do you think is on their minds?

To enter, please submit a short monologue, maximum 400 words, from the
perspective of your chosen competition statue. Our expert judging panel
will be looking for originality, factual accuracy and entertainment value
so keep this in mind when writing.The winning pieces will be recorded by
well-known actors and included as part of Talking Statues, ready to chat
in time for Christmas. They’ll talk for a whole year! Winners will also
be invited along to their monologue recording and receive a copy of the
final recorded script to keep.

Send entries to with the subject heading
‘Public Writing Competition Entry’

Deadline: 17th October 2014

For more information,  official writing guides and Terms & Conditions please visit:

Until next week

All the best



Twitter: @PhilipShelley1

Oct 3rd 2014