Word on a Whim

Opportunity to become a script writer

Alongside starting another novel I am having a bash at writing a film script.  The BBC offers ‘windows of opportunity’ for writers to submit scripts – not only for films but for TV drama, Radio drama, TV sitcom, Radio sitcom, Children’s drama and Children’s sitcom.  It is unlikely that submitted scripts will become productions as the BBC is not looking for ideas but for script writers who show strength and originality and can deliver their idea effectively in script format.

Since “The Rise of Serge and the Fall of Leo” is still firmly etched in my mind, it makes sense to me to base my script on this story.  (You are only allowed to adapt a novel into a script if the novel is your own work).  When I was writing the novel I could see it played out as a film and I can still see the images, so my challenge now is to convey the images within the script but without explanation or narrative.

The action sections in the script must be concise, and the characters must be portrayed through their dialogue and not through my description of how the actor should deliver the lines, since actors apparently resent being directed by the script writer.  I struggle with this and find it tempting to use parentheticals (‘wrylies’) to put across the tone of the dialogue; (brightly, sadly, flippantly, wryly) and, just looking critically at the excerpt in the photo above, I think my action sections might be too detailed.

Feature films are generally 80-120 minutes long; the length being important to fit into scheduled time slots between regular TV programmes, or to allow optimum screening at the cinema. I guess this is why, when you watch a film after you have read the book, you keep thinking (or saying out loud if you’re very annoying) “That’s not what happened in the book”.  The length of a film is gauged approximately by the length of the script, a rough guide being one page per minute, so I will have to butcher my story quite ruthlessly to fit it into 120 pages of script, and the story line may have to change so that essential characters can be retained when their key scene in the book has been excluded.

The BBC states that the competition is extremely tough and they receive thousands of scripts every year and can only concentrate on a selected few, but nonetheless, this is an opportunity for new writers to get a foot in the door.  The manuscript must adhere to a strict format, but don’t be put off by this; there are plenty of examples on the internet and on the BBC website, and once you get started it does begin to flow.  I downloaded a free template called Script Smart, but I have read that templates are available in Microsoft Word.

The next opportunity to submit a script will be some time in the autumn (dates to be provided).  Here is the link if anyone else fancies giving it a try:


Good luck,



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2 thoughts on “Opportunity to become a script writer

  1. Jules ! is this really you ? reminds me of gentle George Harrison’s record label !

  2. Ah, “Dark Horse”!
    Well, it’s not really Jules but it is me 😉

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