Month: March 2012

Spitbank with The Three Belles

Today I took a RIB out to Spitbank Fort in the middle of The Solent with The Three Belles.  The talented trio are performing out there this Saturday, and I tagged along because I am considering writing a story starring our musical girl heroes set on the manmade island.

The place was a building site still, so no photos of the interior, but the potential is absolutely extraordinary. There’s an open-air jacuzzi, a plunge-pool, recreation room and numerous really lush bedrooms, along with little hidey-holes to chill out in.

The Three Belles - Boatalicious!The Fort will be the ultimate getaway for the wealthy and for those wanting privacy. No papparazzi will get near it. The secluded location also makes it a fantastic spot for a story… so watch this space, for The Three Belles And The Spitbank Mystery..!

Issie was also keen to get me to write a story with vampires in, or a werewolf. Which is something I have been considering. The skill will be finding something fresh to do with these strange supernatural creatures. But then, I also have a Bond movie style of story to think about too!

I’ve got to say it was a fantastic day to be going out on the water and Belles added their own Bond Girl glamour to proceedings. Sparkling water, big smiles and a certain chic – what more is there to life?

The low line of Portsmouth Point from Gunwharf Marina and the harbour mouth looked great with its old Georgian buildings as we headed out on the water. I imagined the raucous, crazy, wild times that happened there, when sailors came home, laden with prize money after capturing a ship. It’s different today, but the ghosts linger still!

The Belles were as the Belles always are – funny, smart and quickwitted. I really respect the way they’ve taken what was a university project and are, step by step, turning it into a career.

They were striking as ever today: Sally, elegant with flaming red hair, Issie, pale in the sunlight like a flower wilting in the heat, and Anneka with her cloche hat and her tweed jacket, like a picture from the 1930s.

The building was low in the water and looked impressive as we approached during a five minute skip across the Solent. The RIB was driven by Mark Watt, who’s organizing the rebuild of the Fort to luxury standards. It’s really going to be something special

 when it’s done, and it’s going to be a fantastic venue and hideaway. Wonderful to see these places being refurbished.

Well, Saturday night is going to be a hoot for The Belles – I do, as ever, wish them the best of luck. As if they need it!

Screen Writing and Writer In Residence – Portsmouth Writers’ Hub 7th March 2012

There was a good turnout today for Barbara MacKie and Denyse Kirkby’s joint talk, that gave two very different views on the business of writing.

Barbara, an ex-BBC scriptwriter and editor, gave an analysis of the process for “building” a full length film script, starting from research and taking you all the way through to the finished product.

Barbara took as her starting point the idea that the writer was aiming to produce a film conforming to the classic Three Act Structure – comprising a First Act of 20 minutes to half an hour with a plot twist, a Second Act of about an hour with a point of no return, leading to a second plot twist that leads to the denouement in the Third Act.

The elements of story writing were identified throughout, and a methodical approach to scriptwriting advised. So, reseach, develop a main idea, decide on a starting point and an endpoint, identify the main Protagonist’s emotional drive and his purpose, the same of the Antagonist and secondary and tertiary characters, map out the plot structure and then – only then – commence dialogue.

The exposition was clear and straightforward, and a host of resource materials was quoted at the end of the session. In all, a useful and to-the-point set of points, well covered!

After the break DJ Kirkby talked about the work she does as writer in residence for Portsmouth libraries. Coming from her background of autism and an awkward childhood, DJ talked with real passion about her love for libraries – which had provided her a sanctuary. Disturbed by the low level of literacy in Portsmouth , DJ decided to put forward the idea of the residency to the council – and was delighted to find that she was successful.

She spoke with passion about how she has been running workshops for kids to allow them to tell their stories, and is inviting anyone in the city to storytelling sessions.  It is her avowed intention to make reading relevant to kids, and to teach them the freedom it can provide.

Feeding on from this was a passionate debate between the hub attendees about how that could be done. In all, it was an interesting evening that threw the floor open to established and new members.

Two very different presentations giving very different angles on writing, and highlighting two of the talents who are members of the hub.

In all, a fascinating night.