Hi There,

A bit of a hotch-potch this week. Various stories have come up in the past few weeks that have grabbed my attention –

This is a link to the latest…Mcdonalds TV advert. Yes that’s right. I’m suggesting you watch a Macdonalds ad – clearly not because I think you should all be rushing down to your local Maccy-D’s to stuff your faces with greasy high-carb crap, but because I happen to think this ad, apart from the cheesy Mcd conclusion, is a bit of a narrative gem.

One of the most frequent notes I seem to give writers is to try to tell stories more visually and more economically. This ad is a rather wonderful example of visual and economical story-telling at its best.

Within 60 seconds, it manages to establish – 2 characters and a situation we (I) engage with, AND a STORY – with a beginning, middle and end. Even if we positively don’t all ‘have McDonalds in common.’!

The dialogue is minimal (and mostly one banal, repeated line) but it works as a piece of film narrative. It’s deceptively simple.


Reading the excellent Nicholas Pileggi interview in last Sunday’s Observer review

I was reminded of the Nora Ephron book I’d recently read – ‘I Remember Nothing’ and how the book ends with two lists – ‘What I Won’t Miss’ and the very poignant ‘What I Will Miss’.

At the risk of getting a bit maudlin \ morbid here (!) I think drawing up our own ‘What I Will Miss’ list is a great idea – reminding us to make the most of the things we really value while we still can!

Here’s a link to the two lists.


Right, so I’ve covered fast food outlets and morbid sentimentality …next…failure.


Another story that ‘resonated’ with me recently.

A real ‘flip-side’ story, of Olympic Games ‘disaster.’ I think this story has real lessons for dramatic story-telling. Without a ‘set-up’ of failure like this, the ‘pay-off’ story of success has none of the richness it should have. It’s salutary to remember that alongside all the stories of Olympic success over the summer, this story of lack of success was far more common – but mostly invisible. And there’s such great character material in here too.

For most of us (certainly for me!), this story will feel far more universal, have far more meaning, than the stories of the multiple gold medal winners. But also, as screenwriters, we need to remember – to achieve success, we have to be prepared for (some) failure. You have to risk one to achieve the other!


If you read my newsletter about the Channel 4 screenwriting course 1st weekend a couple of weeks ago (Jan 25th), this may be of interest. An alternative view from one of the writers on the course, the excellent Dave Scullion. Like the brilliant script he wrote to get on the course, it’s very funny – and, importantly, it tells you about the C4 course from the writer’s POV. Oh yes, and I did pay him to say nice things about me.


Jim Hill, who, together with Chris Walker, runs the excellent TV Scriptwriting MA at De Montfort University Leicester, and who has himself written a lot of very successful TV drama, is running a one day course in TV drama in Nottingham on Feb 16th. It will be good! Here are the details –

WRITING TV DRAMA SATURDAY 16th FEB: 10.30am to 4.30pm


VENUE: Broadway 14-18 Broad Street Nottingham NG1 3AL

COST: £45.00

This practical one day workshop offers an insight into writing for television drama. The workshop will assist writers in clarifying their projects and demonstrate practical steps towards an original first draft script. This workshop offers a step by step guide based on the commissioning process for drama scripts, from initial idea to scene by scene breakdowns.

Tickets available though the Nottingham Festival of Words Nottingham Writers’ Studio 0115 959 7949

Writing TV Drama


And finally…Phil Gladwin and I have launched a new website dedicated to the courses that we run

One of the features of this new website is a fortnightly newsletter. As a taster, here’s a link to the first newsletter

To receive the newsletter from now on, you’ll need to sign up for it on the website.

And, as you’ll see on the website, we are now taking bookings for courses in London in March, May and July.

Until next week

All the best



Feb 8th 2013