Friday, 5 June 2009


When I was looking into how they story-lined episodes of Star Trek at Paramount in the late 1990s I learned they used a wall-full of dry-wipe boards on which they wrote every "beat" for the episode being worked on.

Well, here's my single board. Although it can't be completed with a keyboard and mouse-clicks, it has the advantage of getting you away from the PC and gives some much-needed exercise.

First block done

That’s it the first study block at UCF is completed and the pace has been relentless: two 4000-word portfolios, two 1500-word critical rationales, the bibliographies oh, and not forgetting the binding. And the envelope... and the extortionate cost of postage.

So there it is; all done. I suppose four-and-a-half months isn’t too bad for getting 40 credit points (always assuming I have passed) when, studying part-time with the Open University (the acknowledged expert in distance-learning), it takes around nine months to get 60 points. When you put it like that I suppose it has been worth the late nights and all the other stuff that can go wrong.

Now it’s time to decide in which area we will specialise; I have chosen scriptwriting. Why? Partly because book sales are down and the number of new manuscripts waiting to be published is up. With a growing number of satellite and freeview channels there will always be room for new drama on television and if it’s possible to cut a deal for royalty payments for every broadcast then overall it should be a better way of earning a living than writing a book. Once a novel is out of print (and some publishers tend to shove books in for remainder even before the ink has dried) that’s it: finished; a novel can end up with a ridiculously short lifespan and authors tend not to get paid royalties on remaindered copies, whereas a television programme can be regularly aired twenty or more years down the line (e.g. episodes of Shoestring and Bergerac), each time producing a payment for the writer.

All this makes me sound as though I’m writing only for the money, doesn’t it? Well, I’m not. But maybe I should be...