06 July, 2007

Red Planet Prize Project - 2

Firstly in reply to Jay's comment in the previous post:

I agree it is hard to break into television but it is possible. While aspiring TV writers have to have some ability the main thing they must have is persistence to carry on despite rejections, dodgy competitions or horror stories of what it's like on the "typeface", as I call it.

Knowing the reality of the industry is better than believing in the fantasy even though it may sap your energy to carry on. But that just allows those people who have less ability than you but more motivation to take your place.

But I also see nothing wrong with writing as a hobby or as therapy. People learn guitar and write music with no desire to turn professional just to learn a craft and get good at it. If they play the odd gig here or there or win a contest or two and get some dollars they're happy. The same with some aspiring screenwriters.

Before this Prize the only UK screenwriting competition was a sort of tontine for shorts where you had to pay lots of money and so I just can't see this as a bad thing.

Personally I hate the design of the Red Planet site (white on black is wrong, it just is, on readability alone) and I don't believe in going live when you have pages under construction. But because they haven't had time to set that up properly it doesn't mean they won't have time to read scripts properly.

The top ten percent will be incredibly easy to narrow down because over 90% of people will either give in stuff that has been rejected previously or start something new which is plot-led and not character-led. It takes me only a page of reading scripts to know if something's good, you can tell if the writer is in control or not.

And finally, it's not about the winning, it's the taking part. It's writing what we want for the fun of it, which may or may not actually get us somewhere.


To those of you who want to try and write something new for the Prize (or otherwise) then this is the first stage.

Think about the best time of day you write and try to ensure you have about an hour free each day at that time. You won't need it yet but think seriously about finding some time for you to do what you want to do.

Do you really have to watch more than 10 minutes of Breakfast News? Is your lunch hour spent actually eating lunch for the whole hour? Can't your partner do the cleaning for a change? Can the kids do their own homework?

I know we all love surfing for news and pictures of Paris Hilton but instead of doing that for two hours can it be cut down to one? Actually, that last one is stupid, perhaps it's better to keep that at two hours and have an hour's less sleep instead. It doesn't have to be permanent, just until you finish this project. Does anyone have any tips on finding the time to write?

If you have any doubts about your ability just put them aside for a few weeks and trust the process.What have you got to lose?

Firstly, you'll need to get a newspaper every day for the next few days, any paper will do but tabloids work best. Once you get your paper, read through it and simply cut out all the stories that interest you personally - for whatever reason - and keep them. This is probably the most important stage and it might not be about what you think it's about. If you're following this on a different time-scale, please don't read the next Project post until you have done it.



Danny who is running the competition has posted about it.

Also full scripts aren't needed until October so you have some leeway if you're writing something new.



far away said...

Hear hear Robin.

plus there was also the (now defunct) Oscar Moore..

Oli said...

I write because I love doing it, sure, but I also write because I think I'm good. How horribly depressing would life be otherwise? I'm going to enter this competition because I think I can win - someone will, after all.

David Bishop said...

"white on black is wrong, it just is, on readability alone"

Back when I was training as a sub-editor [close to the dawn of time, IIRC], a guest speaker came and showed us results from numerous surveys into readability.

Unsurprisingly, black type on a white background was easiest to read.

White type reversed out of black was not as strong, but still readable for the majority of people.

Colour type on a plain white background was further down the sliding scale.

Colour type on a plain coloured background was worse still.

Coloured type on a patterned background was a disaster.

Multi-coloured type on a multi-coloured background? People will give up after about three words, unless it's a headline.

Obviously, this was long ago and the research was about printed text, not text to be read on backlit computer screens...

Robin Kelly said...

I just looked up research on the contrast for computer screens and it seems the same. But white on black can be improved if the white isn't too bright and the contrast not so harsh, apparently.

I suppose it comes down more to personal taste although I love white on black for headlines, letterheads, etc.

Sheikspear said...

Great Posting Sir Robin!

I found what there was of the RP website easy to read, although re your update, they should add the new one entry only to the site...

Re prev posts and "hobbyists" and "aspiring scribes"... So?
It's open to all, it's on offer, and someone has to win...

It's a submissions call from a UK production company that accepts unsolicited scripts anyway (see the vid blog), but this time it's giving out a cash prize, (scribes are always short of money!) a contract, and mentoring!

What's not to like?!

It's free to enter, unlike a lot of other script comps (which will still have the same 100,000 - 1 chance)
It inspires! (look at all the blogs buzzing away!)
It gets scribes writing, surely the main point, even if like me (most probably)what you create won't be good enough for this year's entry you'll still have it saved for next year ( and all the other drafts of it--it might end up becoming THE script you knew you had hidden inside anyway...

And, yeah, sure, Red Planet get some publicity...
This is showbiz, folks!

Anonymous said...

David Bishop

Can I just say, and I've been wanting to say this for a while now, I think your blog is brilliant but...I can't bear to stay on it long enough to read it properly because of the damn white on black... it may be just me but my eyes HURT after I've done more than ten seconds!! There...I've said it. Any chance at all you could change it so I can go back and read the archives ...even if just for a day??

Pillock said...


I'm on board with the project. Is this going to be roughly a weekly thing?

Robin Kelly said...

Pill, it's mostly twice a week, if my calculations are right, to end after a month or so.

After the first week it's flexible so if it takes people longer that's no problem.

Primal said...

Anytime I come across a website with white type ( more like grey in red planet's case - even harder ) on a black background, I simply select all the type, while scrolling down the page if necessary. You'll find this solves the problem.

Robo Studios UK said...

I've only written a handful of scripts, but my tips for sucsessful writing are:

1. Dont Scedule when to write, you'll only end up with writers block, just wait for insparation, THEN write.

2. Write every single stupid idea you have down, later it could evolve into a good plot twist, if not, oh well, no big loss really.

3. If you find at one point the pressure is too high, just give it a half or possibly whole week, to calm down, unless your agenced the wire and looking the deadline straight in the face.

4. Don't rush it, if you have an idea for a perfect ending, don't write it yet! wait until you get to that point in the story, that way the plot makes more sence.

5. Once it's sent, thats it. just sit back, relax, possibly stick BBC1 on for a while, and forget about it for now, this way you don't end up losing your saniaty in the inbetween time.

I hope this helps, and good luck to all.