Show me on the doll where the bad script touched you.

Balls Out is a screenplay that does exactly what it says on the tin.

You’ll love it or hate it. I think I can safely guarantee you won’t have a neutral opinion.

The script did take a little while to go all the way with me, but once it got into a rhythm, it was the most mindblowing read I’ve had in a long while. So don’t give up too soon. And make sure you have plenty of lube.

The quotes on THE ROBOTARD 8000’s homepage, by the way, are genuine. BattleDolphinZero, half of THE ROBOTARD 8000, has described the writers as being “A-list adjacent”.

Now pass me the doll. I need to push my fingers deep into its heart.

Dear John

Paying a reader to give you notes on your script is like paying a prostitute to give you notes on your sexual technique.

Yes, they’re a professional.
Yes, they’re good at what they do.
And yes, if you’re just starting out there’s a case to be made that advice from someone who’s been around the blocks a few times is going to help.

But in the long term, both of them have a vested interest in continuing to receive your custom. And that means two things.

One: You’re never going to be told you’re that bad
Two: You’re never going to be told you’re that good.

To keep your custom, they have to always see that there’s room for improvement, while also approving of your current skills and grasp of technique. Especially the techniques that they happen to like.

Now, if they’re being paid by someone else to judge your work, then you can trust ’em – to a point at least.

They might not like redheads, or muscleboys, or people who dress to the left, but that’s just life. If someone else is paying them to evaluate your performance and they don’t like you, that’s just incompatibility. Bad luck. And they can be as sharp as they like with their critique, because you never get to see it.

But if you’re the one paying for the evaluation, they’d be a fool not to give you what you’re asking for. Really asking for, which is recognition of the skills you’ve got, tips for improvement, and a haven’t-you-done-well.

Whether you actually have any skills, or need any improvement.

In other words, you get what you pay for. Not necessarily what you need.

State of Play

Been a while since I mentioned what I’ve been working on recently… So here they are.

Con Anon – Sitcom with Christine Patton
Done, dusted, finito. Next thing is to start sending it out to radio producers with a note saying “We are teh funny”.

Con Anon has only had one rejection. That’s because we’ve only sent it to one producer so far. (All of the radio people have been busy recently due to the Radio 4 Offers round.) I want to get at least a dozen rejections for this before bottom-drawering it. Hopefully more.

Decaying Orbit – Horror Feature
Previously known as Persephone. The current version has been entered into the Script Market at the Screenwriters Festival. It’s big and expensive, and is my current spec for the US market.

I’m going to do a table read to locate any final problems before declaring this done. Then it’s time to start schlepping it around to agents and producers.

Bingo – TV Calling Card
Pensioner gets over the death of his wife by heisting a Bingo hall. It’s reasonably solid, I think, and I’m using it as my sample for the BBC Writers’ Academy. This one’s my spec for mainstream TV drama.

Shield – TV Series Bible and Spec
Aliens attack Earth. Our heroes defend. Currently at first draft, this one needs a bit of work to bring up to scratch. The antagonists aren’t smart enough, and two of the characters are performing the same function – which means they need to be differentiated or merged. I want to use this as a sample for shows like Torchwood and Primeval.

Breaking Out – One Act Stage Play
Three characters, two rooms, one prison. Haven’t looked at it since I wrote it, but I suspect it badly needs a redraft. There are a lot of theatres dedicated to new writing, so when it’s done this one will start working its way through them.

My plan for last year was to try and get a lot of first drafts done. So we’ll mark that as a success.

Now that I’ve got a bank of completed drafts, the plan for this year is to finish them up and start sending them out to agents and producers – while adding extra new projects to the back of the line.

What we have here, people, is a pipeline.