Now as someone who writes both novels and scripts, this is a fairly obvious and totally accurate statement yet for some reason it seemed to cause confusion in certain writing circles and it struck me that it might be worthwhile expanding on it a bit. So what follows is a slightly tongue-in-cheek guide to the essential difference between the creative processes involved with the two very different disciplines.
As an author, when you write a novel, it is your baby. You sit, plot, write, edit, rewrite, edit again and then when you’re happy, you send it off to a publisher who more often than not, will be the first person to read it.
They will then come back with some comments to which your response will be to either reluctantly agree or to tell them to get stuffed. You then do a bit of polishing, send it off to a proper editor who, amongst other things, will fix your appalling grammar and then when everyone is happy, it heads off to print.
Yet from concept to shelf or kindle, as the writer you retain pretty much total creative control and as such, the finished article remains in essence, all your own work. From that point on, it’s all about you. Have you ever seen a book publicised as ‘edited by….’? Of course not.
It’s you who do the PR and you who get the accolades or the grief. Hence the immaculate conception.
A screenplay is totally different because in terms of the creative process, you as the writer have very little power over what finally ends up on screen. Yes, you might well come up with the initial concept and you will certainly put the initial layer of flesh on the bones but generally speaking, your place is and always will be on the bottom rung of a very long development ladder. Indeed, a script will go through so many rewrites it might as well be written in pencil and it’s certainly safe to say that by the time it gets to the point when a director calls ‘action’, the shooting script will be very different from your initial draft
There are of course, very specific reasons for this be they creative improvements the director has made or something as mundane as location, cast or budget. Yet however much it might irritate you as the writer, everything is underpinned by one very simple fact and that is that everyone involved in the process wants to get the best thing on screen that they possibly can.
And that is the key difference. For unlike a novel, a script is a true collaboration and your pages are usually the starting point. Or to use my original statement, the egg.
You see, simple.
This is of course, totally different if you write a novel and then adapt it for the screen as I have just done with Top Dog. But that’s an entirely different subject which I will no doubt end up talking about in therapy one day!
Mention of Top Dog leads me nicely into the latest news and that is that the release date for the DVD is 26th May. I’m also hoping that the novel will be reissued in print about the same time and that can be pre-ordered from Amazon but if you’re desperate, you can download it by clicking here.
There has been talk of a London premiere as well as some screenings and news of those will be posted on Twitter and Facebook as soon as the details are released.
Casting is currently underway on We Still Kill The Old Way with shooting due to start on May 5th. I’ve seen a provisional list and if even half of it comes off, it’ll be amazing!
Again, keep an eye on Twitter and Facebook for details.
Happy days indeed.
top dog, green street, sothcott, gang, gangster, violence, british film, self publishing, ibooks, indie publishing, martin kemp, spandau ballet, elijah wood, hooligans, england, sex, racism, krays, pornography, london
A little under 18 months ago, I wrote a blog about my experiences with some trolls on the Amazon forums. I won’t go into too many details (if you want to read the original post, it can by found here) but suffice to say, I was attacked by an organised group and as is my way, I took them on.
Now this battle went on for some considerable time and dragged in all kinds of people including authors and websites the majority of whom were based in the US. However, central to it all and the person who became my nemesis, was a troll who hid behind the moniker of Anna Karenina.
Anna, like most trolls, was an attention and power seeker. Using multiple identities on all kinds of sites relating to both reading and self-publishing, she built up a powerful network of equally disturbed people whose sole remit was to destroy the confidence (and sales) of authors through the simple tactic of posting poisonous and even fake reviews of their work then slaughtering them if they responded. And by slaughtering, I mean abusing to the extent where some actually became suicidal.
How do I know that? Well not because they had any impact on me because I have a thick skin and besides, my market is the UK, not the US, but because I stood up to them. And by doing so I encouraged others to do likewise, albeit less vocally than I.
Together, a group of us went on the offensive and over a period of months, by putting together all kinds of seemingly unrelated snippets of information we eventually discovered Anna’s true identity as well as her place of work. Yes, our Anna is a middle aged single woman who teaches second grade at a school in San Francisco. Yes, a teacher. And astonishingly, we also discovered that she carried out much of her trolling from the school whilst she was actually supposed to be teaching!
Now, at this point I stepped away from the fight primarily because the amount of time it was consuming was impacting on work. However, yesterday I took a fresh look to catch up on the latest news and lo and behold, it appears that queen troll has got her comeuppance. Not only have some of her victims and a number of high profile anti-troll campaigners been in direct contact with the school authorities complaining about her but a number of parents at the school have been made aware of events and are far from happy at the idea of their offspring being taught by such an obviously disturbed woman. Indeed, as far as I can tell, she is close to losing her job for contravening the schools policy regarding IT use. As if that wasn’t bad enough, her personal details have been spread all over the web which can’t be much fun.
Sympathy however, is in short supply from me. I’ve seen the kind of misery this woman created for people and if you believe in karma as I do, the worm turning on our ‘Anna’ is the very least she deserves.
In other news, as you may have seen if you are following things on either Facebook or Twitter, Top Dog will be released in DVD format on May 28th. You can pre order it by clicking here.
A number of people have asked me about cinema screenings as well as possible events surrounding the release and whilst I can confirm that there will indeed be some, I can’t as yet give you any details. Keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter and all will be revealed!
Ahead of that, the end of April will see filming commence on the urban revenge thriller We Still Kill The Old Way which will again be produced by Jonathan Sothcott (Top Dog, Vendetta) and will be directed by Sacha Bennett who many people will know from the movie, Bonded by Blood.
I’ll post more about that over the next couple of weeks but if all goes to plan, it’s going to be an amazing experience and tremendous fun to work on!
These next few months are going to be quite something. Happy days indeed!
troll, greenstreet, sex, porn, pornography, oral, top dog, british film, screenwriting, author, actor, action, hooligan, violence, trolling, amazon, goodreads
Love this blog! It’s so true….
Originally posted on Tara Sparling writes:
There’s a lot of talk at the moment about earnings in the arts – or to be precise, the lack of them. This article from The Guardian is particularly whiny. It literally does depict an author in his garret. If it weren’t for electricity, you might imagine him setting his fingerless gloves on fire whilst trying to light his candle stubs.
Apparently, we are supposed to be sorry for the literary fiction writer who wants to write full-time, but can’t make a living from writing alone. Now, I had a mild dig at this before – but I’m in a different mood today.*
There are 3 types of writerly whinging, coming from both published and unpublished authors, and 2 of them need to be outlawed immediately. (When I am President of the World, it will be my second directive; right after I institute compulsory halitosis…
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Just click on the link marked Publications on the bar at the top of the page.
And for those who have asked, a movie tie in of Top Dog will be issued in paperback at the same time as the movie hits the screens! More details of that will be published shortly.
I know this might seem odd to some, but believe it or not, there are people who don’t actually follow football. To them, it’s simply a game awash with obscene amounts of money which is played by morons and watched by fools.
To be fair, that’s a pretty close summary of things at certain clubs but it misses the point. Being a football fan isn’t just about watching great football, in some instances it isn’t even about watching crap football. It’s about everything else that goes along with it. Be it the emotional turmoil, the time spent with mates, the laughs, the tears, the moans and a million things between.
Trying to explain all that to someone who doesn’t share your passion, especially when there are parts of it you question yourself, is incredibly difficult if not impossible. But there is one subject which is beyond explanation because in many ways, it is totally nonsensical. It is the subject of local rivalry. Or to be more specific, how that rivalry manifests itself in every day life.
Now if you know about this, you know. It’s as simple as that. But if you don’t understand why the sight of a local rivals shirt in the local Tesco can be so irritating or grasp the concept of refusing to employ someone purely because they support the club up the road, nothing I say can ever enlighten you. We know it’s irrational, stupid and even childish, but it’s what we do.
And that brings me to the point of this blog. You see as I was trawling through my folders this morning looking for something I still haven’t found, I stumbled across a piece I wrote for one of my very early books, Derby Days. It refers to an experience I had whilst serving with the Royal Air Force and if anything I’ve ever written highlights the stupidity of following football, it’s this.
But if the same thing happened today, I wouldn’t hesitate to do exactly the same thing. Enjoy!
In 1993, I suffered the unimaginable horror of being posted to serve a four-month tour of duty on the Falkland Islands. Normally, such things are great fun but 16 weeks on Mount Pleasant airfield means a time of unspeakable boredom punctuated only by work, homesickness, excessive bouts of drinking and, depending on which Army regiment is there at the time, fighting.
As someone who stopped drinking some years ago (not because of any alcohol-related problem, but because I am crap at it), who avoids any kind of work with a passion and who would now rather have a decent cup of tea than become involved in any kind of violence, the four months stretching before me as I walked off the plane seemed like an eternity.
But holed-up in a single room, living with loads of blokes in a permanent state of either drunkenness or hangover, I soon took a decision the like of which I never thought would be forced upon me. I decided to use the time to get fit.
Now one thing I do have to say about the Forces is that they like their people to be fit and able, and as I fitted neither of those descriptions, the superb facilities available in the Falklands were soon being put to good use by yours truly. Within a few weeks, I had lost weight and was ‘pumping iron’ and circuit training with the best of them. Something else happened as well, which was a bit scary: I even started to enjoy it.
It was at this point that I met a bloke called Paul. He was, like me, a reluctant regular in the gym and, like me, looked as out of place as a copy of Playboy in a dentist’s waiting-room. But he was a decent bloke, like me in the RAF and married and lived in a town about 40 miles from where I was brought up. Eventually, we decided to work on our fitness together and soon got to the point where we would partner each other in the weekly competitions which could be anything from badminton to basketball.
We were both doing well, weight was falling off and I was feeling healthier than I had for years but because we were different ranks (I was a SNCO, he was an oik), Paul and I never saw each other outside of the gym. This was to change one weekend, when I managed to get hold of a daily paper (like gold dust back then) and decided to go to the Christian reading rooms for a coffee while digesting the news from back home.
As it happened, Paul was there and we started chatting about families and back home, as you always do in those situations. Now, for some reason, we had never got round to talking about football. I have absolutely no idea why not, but when we did, the truth came out. For some reason, I had expected Paul to be a Spurs fan, but no, he calmly announced to me, as if it were normal, that not only was he a L*t*n Town fan, he was in fact a season-ticket holder so attended every home game.
I looked at him in abject horror as the realisation that I had been fraternising for weeks with one of the enemy hit home like a Mohammed Ali right-hander. When I asked him if he was joking, the look on my face clearly had a similar effect and after an exchange frequently peppered with the word ‘scummer’ I did the only thing I could do. Holding onto what dignity I had left, I got up, grabbed my paper and walked off.
We never spoke again.
Like all of my books, Derby Days is available to download through Amazon, iTunes and all decent online stores. Full details can be found by clicking here.
Work on the movie adaptation of Top Dog continues apace. The finished film looks awesome and has been delivered to Universal Pictures whilst only yesterday, Martin Kemp, Jonathan Sothcott and myself recorded the commentary for the DVD version. Full details of the release will be passed on as soon as they are finalised.
The development of We Still Kill The Old Way is also continuing at breakneck speed with filming due to start in a matter of weeks. I won’t go into details of what’s happening at the moment as it obviously changes on a daily basis but as always, Facebook and Twitter are the places for all the up to date information on both projects. Click on the links to visit the respective pages and please give them a like and a share. You can also follow me on @dougiebrimson if you’re on Twitter.
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I’m not usually one for taking part in online debates about writing, mostly because I’m not that clever. However, this week I’ve been involved in a fascinating discussion with a group of writers on the use of gratuitous violence in both books and film. Or to be more specific, the duty of the writer in the way they portray it.
I won’t go too deeply into the way it unfolded other than to say it veered from one extreme to the other and back again at least more than once. But whilst it was extremely interesting to learn how others perceive their creative responsibilities, little or nothing was said which made me change the way I think about mine. And mine, as I see them, are relatively simple. Indeed, they can be encapsulated in one single sentence. For when it comes to anything fictional, my job is to tell a decent story as honesty and realistically as I can.
This is underpinned by something I have said many times and that is the fact that the most important person in publishing is the reader. And when you write the kind of things I do for the kind of people I primarily write them for (lads), then my sole duty is to give them something which they can not only recognise but hopefully, put themselves into the centre of.
In the case of hooliganism, that means street fighting and anyone who has ever been involved in a row at football knows that it isn’t Queensbury Rules Boxing or Tae Kwon Do, it’s short periods of scruffy, disjointed mayhem. It’s still violence, but it’s real violence as opposed to the stylised fighting we see in too many films and computer games and whilst for some it’s little short of terrifying, for others it’s bordering on hilarious.
That’s how I have to write it because that’s how it is. Anything else would be a betrayal and I’d lose my readers in a heartbeat.
Quite rightly too.
The next few weeks (maybe even days) will see a couple of announcements on the movie front. The first will almost certainly be the name of the director signed to ‘We Still Kill The Old Way’ and the second will be the release date for ‘Top Dog’.
Assuming all goes to plan, it’s going to be an exciting few months on both fronts.
There have also been a couple of developments on the book side of things the most important of which is that the novel I’ve been working on for the last few months has been scrapped.
I won’t say much about the subject matter for now and normally I’d advise any writer to finish everything they start working on because you never know if it will click into place and come right. However, in this instance, I was happy to go against my own advice purely because I just wasn’t enjoying writing it and with two other books lined up, I was keen to get stuck into one of those which is exactly what I’ve done.
Indeed, the book I’m working on now is actually the one I should have written last year because it’s the one that genuinely excites me.
Yes, Billy’s Log 2 is finally on the way.
I was asked this morning how I come up with names for my characters and since I haven’t blogged for a while I thought it might be an idea to kill two birds with one stone by writing something about the process and how I go about it.
It is important to stress however, that this is how I do it. As I’ve written before, I have never studied the craft of writing and so have no idea if there is a standard ‘way’ or not. This works for me and that’s all I need to worry about.
Character development is actually one of the most fun parts of the writing process for me because it allows me the opportunity to play god. And given that it’s fairly certain that he and I will not be meeting in the afterlife as I’ll almost certainly be heading south, it’s an opportunity I tend to relish for all kinds of reasons. Revenge being just one.
Now, I know that in both Billy Evans and Billy Ellis I have created characters which have and will make return appearances but that’s a different blog altogether. This is about the first time they make an appearance in my psyche but be it a novel or a screenplay, initially it always starts with the same thing, the story. Be it tightly or loosely plotted, it is vital that you, as the writer, have some idea of the journey you’re going to take your creations on before you start putting them together. Once you have that, then you can start putting flesh on bones. It is however, important to understand that to all intents and purposes, your characters are, and must be, real people with real histories, personalities, flaws and fears. They have to be for reasons which should be obvious. And key to that is making them ‘real’ in every sense of the word.
For me, the first stage of that process is to give them a name, a face and a voice. The name is the easier of the three because all it has to do it fit the individual and the world you want them to inhabit. Can you imagine Billy Evans being called Tarquin Selby-Green? Of course not, it would never work. Billy is short, sharp, blokey and slightly cheeky so it was perfect for the main man in both The Crew and Billy’s Log.
I also wanted the christian names to be short and punchy. Evans was my former agents name and Billy Ellis rolls off the tongue. Simple as that. But in the past I’ve found names for my characters simply by scrolling through Facebook and finding something which I think fits. However, a name can be changed fairly easily, usually with a few clicks of a button, the face and the voice are far more important because as you spend more and more time with these imaginary people, they will fairly quickly come to haunt your consciousness.
When a character first appears in your head, he or she will inevitably have a certain look and Billy Ellis was no exception. From day one he was medium height, stocky, dark haired and had a cheeky face. In essence, like any one of a hundred lads I know. I also knew immediately what I wanted him to sound like and so once I had the plot tied down, I went looking for him.
Oh yes, every character in everything I’ve ever written is based on a real person. In the case of Billy Evans, it was a mate. Now I won’t say who he is (he knows, but he is very different from Leo Gregory which is why I had so many initial problems when I began adapting the book for the screen) but I follow this same model for every character in everything I write. The reason being that if I ever find myself struggling, I can either ring up that person or YouTube them. Trust me, it’s amazing how quickly and easily a quick chat or a short video clip can free up the mind and spark something off.
Of course as work progresses the characters begin to take on lives of their own which is exactly as it should be but as a starting point, basing them on real people certainly works for me and in all honesty, that’s all I care about!
Work on Top Dog is all but complete now and having seen an initial edit, I have to say it’s looking brilliant. I’m not going to get all gushy about how amazing everyone looks and what a fabulous job Martin has done suffice to say, I could not have asked for better from anyone involved. I certainly can’t wait to see it on a big screen and whilst I have a rough idea of release dates I’m not going to pass them on as that isn’t down to me. However, as soon as I’m allowed to pass them on you’ll be amongst the first to know.
The new novel is also progressing well and should be released in a few months in both eBook and paperback formats. I can’t say anything about it as the moment but I think and indeed, hope, it’s going to cause something of a stir. Indeed, we believe that in some respects, it’s something of a first!
In a little over a week, I will be 55 years old. Fifty bloody five!
To some reading this, such an age will be considered not just old, but ancient. However to me, as someone who has always had problems showing any kind of maturity, it’s far from it. I certainly don’t feel old nor do I act it as most people who know me well will be only to happy to testify.
Yet amazed though I am to have made it this far along my own particular rocky road, the truth is that fifty five is a significant milestone for one very specific reason. For had I stayed in the RAF and completed my full service, January the 7th would be the age at which my time in uniform would have come to an end and I’d have retired. And by retired, I mean just that. I would never have worked again.
Now even though I left the RAF many moons ago, I recently realised that I’ve continued, albeit subconsciously, to work toward this point and in doing so, I also realised that with an increasingly full diary for 2014 and beyond, I’m not only going to be working longer than I had been planning, I’m also going to be busier than I ever really expected to be. Not just now, but at any point!
As a naturally lazy sort this was, as you can imagine, something of a shock. But as I reflected on it, it suddenly struck me that it might actually be a good thing. After all, I’m way past the point where I care what anyone says or thinks about me and since most people expect me to be a certain type of person on account of my favoured subject matter, this could be the ideal time to start playing up to that particular persona. Or to put it another way, I’m going to start having some proper fun with this career I’ve somehow forged for myself.
Therefore, on this day where resolutions are made, here is mine; from this day forth I will be both living and writing armed with a new sense of purpose and freedom. If that doesn’t sit comfortably with some people, guess what?
So happy new year folks. I hope 2014 turns out to be as epic for each of you as I plan it to be for me!
Bring it on.
So that’s it, almost done. Another year, another 12 months of highs and lows which when bundled together, forge the latest instalment of the soap opera that is my life.
I’m not normally one to look backwards and indeed, recently tweeted ‘just because the past taps you on the shoulder, it doesn’t mean you have to look back’ which kind of sums up my outlook on life these days. However, 2013 is worthy of a bit of retrospect if only because in terms of my career, it was a game changer.
Key to this was inevitably Top Dog. Indeed, 12 months ago the very idea of my ten year old novel hitting the big screen was little more than a very distant pipe dream yet here we are, teetering on the edge of a first screening and all the furore which will (hopefully) come with a release. Thanks for that must go largely to Jonathan Sothcott, Martin Kemp and of course, Leo Gregory who have driven it through from concept to reality and along the way taught me more about the creative process than any college or university could ever have.
To say it’s been an experience would be an understatement but unlike working on Green Street which was nothing less than a bloody nightmare, this time round it’s been a blast and I can only say thanks to everyone who made it so. The entire cast and crew were magnificent to work with and fingers crossed, we’ll do it all again very soon.
On the publishing front, it’s been a brilliant year and I’m very proud of the fact that I now have books going back into print with more lined up to follow. That would not have happened without the combined efforts of Matt at the eBook partnership and Darren of Caffeine Nights Publishing and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to you both.
But equally, I have to say a massive thank you to everyone who has continued to support me by buying my books because in many ways, you are the most important people of all in my creative life. I certainly wouldn’t be sitting here writing this without your support and rest assured, you are and always will sit firmly at the top of my ‘keep happy’ list because without you, god only know’s where I’d be!
And so it’s onto 2014. A year which will see Top Dog hit the screens, the filming and release of We Still Kill the Old Way as well as the publication of at least two books. And that’s just what I have confirmed at the moment because the truth is, there could be more. Much more.
Indeed, whilst I’ll long remember this last year for all kinds of reasons, the one thing that will stick with me forever is that fate has method in its madness.
So goodbye 2013, you really were something special. But 2014 is going to blow you out of the water.
Happy new year everyone. Bring it on.
Despite having been around for what seems like forever, The Crew continues to sell well in both paper and eBook format which I suspect has much to do with the revised cover featuring a certain Mr Gregory. To answer a number of questions on the subject, no, the picture is not a still from Top Dog (you can see lots of those by clicking here) but was actually taken before filming commenced. When Top Dog is reissued it will feature a similar style cover as will the third book in the series which will hopefully be ready for publication late next year.
Wings of a Sparrow is also selling well in both formats and yes, I totally agree with everyone who has told me it would make a great movie! Sadly, whilst I have a script written it is not I who has to put up the money to make it but trust me, finding that finance is high on my ‘to do’ list for 2014!
I read somewhere that the Christmas holidays are supposed to be a joyous time when we are all apparently meant to be… well, joyous.
Given that my twitter and Facebook timelines are awash with people moaning about everything from chaotic shops to equally chaotic weather, joy is something that is clearly in short supply today. It’s certainly absent here in Brimson towers although to be fair, I’ve never really been a fan of the festive season anyway so ironically, having something else to moan about is actually a bit of a positive.
However, in the interests of fair play, I have been giving the point of Christmas some thought over these last few days and whilst I appreciate the religious significance (even though I am not in any way shape or form religious) I am increasingly baffled as to why we bother with the rest of it.
After all, there can be few more stressful times than late December and let’s be honest, if you have kids or grand kids, the impact on the old bank balance can be catastrophic. More to the point, now that we can buy Brussell spouts pretty much all year round even the delights of Christmas dinner can be replicated whenever we feel like it.
Yes, I know there are all kinds of other reasons why the holidays are ‘special’ but when you sit down and think about it, most of them are bollocks. We’re all far more mobile these days so most family can get together relatively easily and even if we can’t, the internet allows communication in forms we couldn’t even imagine when I was a little ‘un. Equally, thanks to Netflix, Love Film and catch-up even the once highly anticipated post-pig out TV experience is largely a thing of the past.
OK, there’s the issue of time off work but when when you’re self-employed and work in an industry which tends to commence winding down at the beginning of December, the fact is that the whole month is lost which can be a pain in the arse.
The more I think about it, the more it strikes me that as a society we are being led not by the church, but by the supermarkets and the online stores and in these times of austerity, the question is, why do we do it?
Would we not be better of binning the annual spend-fest that Christmas has become and holding it once every four years instead?
It works for the World Cup, the Euro’s and even the Olympics and would it not be better all round to have something to really look forward to as opposed to dreading?
A couple of bits of news: the editing on Top Dog is well underway and a rough cut should be ready for viewing soon. I’m actually dreading this as it’s the first time I’ll have ever seen one of my books brought to life but I have every confidence in Martin Kemp so I’m sure my worries will be unfounded.
More to the point, once the rough cut has been viewed firm decisions will be taken regarding release dates etc, so as soon as I have news of those, I’ll pass them on.
I’ve also taken a positive decision about my next book. I don’t want to say too much at the moment as things may change but suffice to say that it’s an idea I’ve had ticking over in my head for a long time and in many ways, it will be the book that I’ve always wanted to write.
Finally, could I take this opportunity to wish everyone who reads this a very merry Christmas and if you could do me one favour over the coming week it’s to take the decision not to drink and drive.
2014 is going to be a massive year and I’d like to think you’ll all be around to share it.