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.


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