Jack Thorne's 7 top tips for writing drama
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Jack Thorne is an award-winning writer for television and theatre. He’s been part of the writing team for such shows as Skins, This Is England ’86, The Fade and The Last Panthers. Most recently, he also penned the script for the West End sensation that is Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. Whatever your opinions on his works, it’s obvious that he has skill in writing drama that engages wide audiences both on the British Isles and internationally. From his talk at the BFI and Radio Times Television Festival, here is a list of Jack Thorne’s top tips for writing drama for the small screen. 1. Find Your Author’s Voice To any writer, having your own style and your own voice is incredibly important. No matter how unoriginal your plot might be, it will be how you tell the story that will make people want to read or watch what you’ve created. However, this isn’t something you have to develop by yourself. “Authorship can be shared – you just have to know that you’re both on the same page.” Thorne has worked with other writers and directors as well as the actors who take on the characters he has helped to create, and it is all these visions working together that have created the wonders of television that we’ve seen. “You’re all holding the pen,” he says. Whether you write in a group or write alone, it will be the support of those around you – to listen to you talk out your plots or character arcs, or to read over something you’re uncertain about – that will help form your final masterpiece. 2. Start With The Plot Twist When writing a drama, create your storyline around one major plot point. In the case of This Is England ‘86, Thorne and co. formed the story around one moment – the inevitability of a character taking the fall for another’s murder. "We said, okay, what needs to happen for this to happen? And then we framed this with the weddings at the beginning and end – both of which didn’t happen.” By starting with your plot twist, you know where the story has to go. This will help with foreshadowing and coherency in your story. 3. Know Your Characters Something that sounds simple but is often quite difficult. Creating characters sometimes gives them a life of their own – they go through your own arcs over the course of the stories and one relationship might drag you further and further away from your original idea.
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