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Blog: A Professional Writer

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I've been doing my screenwriting course for about 18 months now, and last Thursday it started to pay off financially, for LO! I sold a piece of writing!

After session after session about the three act structure, the importance of character and conflict, and learning how to write within various formats, it all came to an incredible climax with the following JOKE, that I wrote and which appeared on Thursday night's episode of Newsjack on BBC 4Extra:
Later on it's the hilarious game show where teams of celebrities try to identify small Eastern European countries. Join us, for They Think It's Moldova.

I'm sure all of my tutors, lecturers and guest speakers will sleep well in the knowledge that all their effort has finally paid off! Actually I have to say I was, and am, REALLY EXCITED about it. Every Friday my friend Mr J Dredge and I have been meeting for lunch in order to FORCE each other to try and write sketches and one-liners for radio shows, and this was my first SUCCESS. I am now officially back to the stage I got to aged 21 when I sold a sketch to the Arnold Brown Radio Show - this time I shall do my best not to get distracted by BEER and BANDS and forget all about it again!

It's been a bit of a RADIO WEEK actually. On Wednesday I was at school for a talk by Paul Bassett-Davies, who gave an overview about writing for radio, mostly saying "It's a really good way to get stuff HEARD and also SOLD", and going on at some length about how important it is to get stuff sent to Newsjack. Then on Friday John and I were both at Dave Cohen and James Cary's "Writing Comedy For Radio" day, where they said pretty much the same thing.

They also said a LOT of other stuff, the main Take Home Message for ME being that sketches use the three act structure just like everything else. When Mr Cohen said this it was SO BLINDINGLY OBVIOUS that I cursed myself for a fool for not realising before. He also pointed out that topical sketches (there was a lot about Newsjack!) generally take a current theme, mix it with a FORMAT, and say "What if..?" John and I got ENERGISED by all this and came up for TWO ideas for sketches, which we've since written up and sent off, using exactly that PLAN. They're dead good, i reckon - we'll see if Newsjack think so later in the week I guess.

It's all GRATE fun - as stated earlier, I did have a small attempt at this sort of thing in my youth, having read TONNES of books about Monty Python and co, all of which said "You start off submitting sketches, then go to the Edinburgh Fringe, then get your own radio, and then THE WORLD IS YOURS!" It was a huge part of my DREAM FUTURE back then, but in all the excitement of the next two decades I rather forgot about it.

It seems a bit odd that the ideaa of radio as a starting point has only just sunk back in too. Every time I've been to a BBC event they ALWAYS talk about how important it is to submit sketches to shows like this, but I guess the fact that it's never been mentioned as part of the COURSE means I've only just come back round to the idea. It's a GOOD idea - I'm going to try and do some MORE of it!

posted 17/3/2014 by MJ Hibbett

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