Getting back to some gritty basic English grammar, it struck me that it would be useful to publish some of the tips from The English Tenses Practical Grammar Guide to help with general creative English writing. Though aimed at foreign learners of English, these fundamental building blocks of the language offer some handy tips for anyone trying to master the craft. For example, a solid understanding of the past perfect can be essential to building an effective narrative. The past perfect helps to create atmosphere, feeding new information into a narrative at crucial moments. Continue reading
Con artists and their elaborate cons are rife in fiction and film for obvious reasons. Tales of trickery and the sort of guile it takes to pull off a good con are clear fodder for suave characters, a bit of danger and a good old-fashioned twist in a story. And they’re rich in interesting vocabulary that is, of course, always exciting to pick apart. If you’re into that sort of thing. Part of what makes the language of cons so interesting is that a lot of it has filtered out of criminal, underground and travelling circus slang. Which are areas whose origins aren’t normally well documented. Continue reading
Grammar is a fun loving thing. Not everyone may think so, but starting out pondering over when to use each tense and discovering a year later you’ve just about decided on how best to explain constitutes a fascinating journey for me. It was around a year ago that I started writing a short English grammar guide for foreign students, which should have been around 14 pages long. Now I’m about to release it as a resolute eBook, at some 114 pages, and feel that, if only for having more time, it could’ve been so much longer…
The Six Lips Theatre troupe returned to Brighton this Fringe with their latest offering, The House Of Tragic She. I was eager to catch up with their work after last year’s grandly gothic Poe, and this latest adaptation promised an even deeper visual representation of the madness that seeps out of literature and art. Described as an ongoing research project presenting the constant reinterpretations of loneliness and insanity over the last few centuries, in literature, film and art, the group set a high bar for this hour-long performance. And, to my satisfaction, they were more than up to the task. Continue reading
It’s been fifty years since Joe Orton’s Entertaining Mr Sloane graced stages in London (May, 1964). The black comedy was a controversial satire with a strong ability to shock back then – and still is now. And the Emporium, one of Brighton’s more eclectic theatres (and in a town like this, that’s saying something) is putting on a run of the show as a testament to the timeless success of its themes. It’s a simple but intense story of four individuals in one apartment; spiralling around a strangely alluring young man, his seductive landlady, and her controlling brother. Continue reading
There are a lot of things that can go wrong when you’re making a couple of tea. These are some of the worst things that I’ve encountered in my years of tea drinking. This list should go some way to teaching others to avoid making some of the same mistakes I have. Some of these merely waste your time, others waste valuable resources, such as teabags or milk. All of them, however, have the potential to inspire that most soul crushing feeling: dashing your hopes of having a cup of tea.
Please note these points mostly assume a traditional mug of tea making process, involving a teabag and water in a mug and a splash of milk. There would be additional points typical to those who use a teapot or sugar.
The worst things when making tea
- Leaving the tea brewing, going away to do other tasks and returning only when the water is at its stagnant cold worst.
- Waiting for the tea to brew, performing other tasks, only to come back and find that you never put the water in the cup.
- Attempting to tear two joined teabags apart, only to rip one or both bags and spill the leaves.
- Preparing your cup, kettle and milk and discovering there are no teabags left.
- Brewing your tea and then discovering there is no milk left.
- Pouring water into the cup only to realise you forgot to boil the kettle.
- Pouring water into the cup only to discover the teabag has split.
- Pouring the kettle too soon, and having the steam rise back over your hand.
- Looking away for a moment and turning back to see you’ve added too much milk.
- Looking away for a moment and turning back to see you weren’t pouring the water, or milk, into the cup at all. But onto the work surface.
- Realising too late that the milk is off. Either as you see the freshly brewed tea populated by unnatural solid white lumps, or, worse, as you take your first sip with the one-two punch of the stench of rot and the taste of festering wounds.
- Leaving a spoon in the cup while the tea brews, and attempting to take it out only to discover it has become extremely hot.
- Stirring the tea too quickly and causing it to spill.
- Picking up your tea but catching your arm or finger on an unseen obstacle, spilling everything.
- Removing your hand from the cup handle, but not realising one finger is still partially hooked around the handle, pulling it sideways and creating a spill.
- Pouring milk into a herbal tea.
- Having the cup or mug split at any point in the process. Worst of all if it comes at the very end, as you pick up the complete tea and empty its contents in a rain of shattered porcelain. Bonus misery points if the tea lands on an electrical appliance.
- Stirring the tea and discovering too late that the spoon was dirty.
- Drinking the tea and discovering too late, on seeing the bottom of the cup, that the cup was dirty.
Perhaps the worst of all, though, for me, has to be this problem – in part because it happens so terribly often:
Making a complete cup of tea perfectly, then turning your attention to a task and forgetting to drink the tea until it is too late.
Disclaimer: this list was made in the interests of providing a realistic and representative sample of the worst things when making tea. There could, in theory be far worse things, like spilling the scolding tea on a newborn child, or somehow using the tea making process to cause a situation whereby all life in the universe becomes eternally damned to perpetual pain and suffering.
Every wonder what it was like when people started raving about the end of the world before the age of the internet? Well you’re in luck. On behalf of my post-apocalyptic books website, I’ve been doing some research into apocalypse fears through history, and happened upon a rather interesting book called Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions: The Madness of the Crowd. This tome was written by in 1841, by a Scottish journalist named Charles Mackay, and chronicles a massive number of events driven by the popular delusions of the crowd. Haunted houses, witch-hunts and economic bubbles especially feature – but the prophesies are especially interesting. Here’s a summary of a few from the chapter:
Here’s a great scene from Sophia Coppola’s The Bling Ring that I think says a huge amount about how not to write movie dialogue. It’s the sort of forced, totally unnatural piece of dialogue that only makes sense in a script, where the writer wants to tell us something but doesn’t know how to succinctly show it. Looking at it on paper, it might not seem that bad. It apparently worked for everyone involved in making the film. But if you read a little between the lines, it’s a textbook example of how not to write dialogue.
Posted in Screenwriting, Writing tips
Tagged bad dialogue, films, how to write dialogue, movies, screen writing, screenplays, scriptwriting, sophia coppola, the bling ring, writing tips
It’s a commonly known fact that the most interesting places in the world are underground. In some cases, this is because nature sneakily creates vast, weird and wonderful formations of rock and water and whatnot beneath us, unseen. In other cases it’s because man has built impressively intricate subterranean structures that most people don’t even know are there. The latter is the case for Brighton’s Victorian sewers, spanning some 44 miles of tunnels, leaving the hapless souls above clueless as to their existence. Southern Water are noble enough to trudge through with members of the public from time to time, however – so I got a look at what’s down there. Continue reading
Another writing extract from my post-apocalyptic steampunk novel, Wixon’s Day, this passage sees the introduction of the iconic wasteland machine, the gyrocopter. Marquos and his group are resting in the Hypnagogia canal boat when the military catch up to them. This is the tipping point of the novel; from the introduction of the gyropcopter captain onwards, their ambling journey turns into a fast-paced adventure: Continue reading