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Barcelona to host biggest screenwriter conference

on Friday, 26 October 2012 18:39. Posted in Film

Second World Conference of Screenwriters takes place on 9 and 10 November

The Guild is gearing up for the biggest-ever international conference of screenwriters next month. The Second World Conference of Screenwriters will be held in Barcelona on 9 and 10 November.

The conference brings together more than 150 screenwriters and their representatives from more than 30 countries around the world to discuss issues of common interest with a focus on the impact of new technologies on the production and distribution of the stories we write.

Read more about the agenda and speaker on the World Conference blog

Winds of change

on Monday, 22 October 2012 08:17. Posted in Theatre

Writer and producer Ade Solanke on the African new wave


It’s made Afrobeats a global sensation and Nollywood the second largest film business in the world. Now the vitality and verve of Nigerian popular culture is set to burst onto the English cultural scene.

One day in August a friend tweeted, ‘D’Banj is playing on EastEnders,’ and I had to stand still for a moment to process the news. An African song on a British soap about the East End but with no African characters? What the Dickens?!

But if you’ve been paying attention, it’s no surprise really. More like the first gust onto these shores of a massive wind of change that’s blowing worldwide; a wind generated in Africa but equally propelled by the energies of the Afrospora – the African diaspora – especially its younger generation.

Afrosporans, Afropeans, Afro-Saxons. They live in London, New York, Paris, Munich, but are keen to connect with their roots as much as they are in - and into - western culture. The result? An explosion, a veritable renaissance of African culture, mashing up and remixing African, American and European influences.

How to self-publish your book

on Thursday, 18 October 2012 10:51. Posted in Books and Poetry

Screenwriter and first-time novelist Ølivier Nilsson-Julien on what he learned from The Guardian Self-Publishing Masterclass

olivier-nilssonForty-eight participants arrived at The Guardian HQ in North London on a Saturday morning in June. Rebecca Swift from The Literary Consultancy started proceedings by asking about our backgrounds and it appeared that most of us had tried a traditional publishing route before turning to self-publishing: a published crime writer wanted to break with the pre-formatted crime books being churned out; an established author of self-help books had decided to publish independently for increased royalties; a serial novelist was fed up with the lack of control in publishing – essential information had been taken out of her last novel by the publisher without her consent, and the cover was horrible. It was obvious from talking to fellow writers that a wide range of genres and interests were represented. There seemed to be extensive industry experience and most participants had some degree of professional writing background.

Paperbooks tanking, ebooks taking off

The quality of the participants seemed to reflect the competitive nature of publishing. In fact, Swift told us that publishers usually rely on one or two bestselling authors to fund their whole business, which is why taking on a new title isn’t done lightly. During her session on ‘Evaluating and pitching your book’, Kate Roden of Guardian Books gave us some humbling figures. According to Nielsen Book Scan, only 76 print books sold more than 100,000 copies in 2011; 106 between 50,000 and 100,000; 465 between 10,000 and 50,000; 389 between 5,000 and 10,000; 2,000 between 1,000 and 5,000; 1,000 between 500 and 1,000; and 1,700 up to 500 copies.

‘Paperbacks are tanking and being replaced by ebooks,’ according to Roden. Confirming this trend, publisher and marketing specialist Edward Pettitt predicted that by 2015 e-books will represent 50% of book sales. To give an indication of the growth of self-publishing, he added that since 2009 there are more self-published than traditionally published books in the US. In 2010 there wasn’t a single self-published book in the Kindle top 100. In 2011, there were 18.

Off the Shelf at Black's - Matt Thorne

on Friday, 12 October 2012 16:17. Posted in Events

29 October, 11am-4pm - Black's club in London

matt-thorneThe latest author to be featured in the Writers' Guild Off the Shelf at Black's series is Matt Thorne.

Thorne is the author of six novels, including Eight Minutes Idle, which won an Encore Award, and Cherry, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. He has also written three children’s books and co-edited two anthologies, All Hail the New Puritans and Croatian Nights. He recently co-wrote the screenplay for the adaptation of Eight Minutes Idle, and his critical study of Prince for Faber & Faber is published this month. He is head of creative writing at Brunel University.

Coming soon

  • Monday 26 November - Tibor Fischer
  • Monday 16 December - poets Leo Aylen and Alan Brownjohn

Each day starts with coffee at 11am, then the writer reads from published work, a Q&A, then some work in progress. There is a two-course lunch in the restaurant after which we hear short readings from audience members who will each receive valuable feedback on their own work. Each event is chaired by Jan Woolf of the Writers’ Guild.

Price: £25 including a two-course lunch

To book a place or for more information, please email Jan Woolf on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., but hurry - there are only 20 places for each event.

Arts are a lottery for Tories

on Friday, 12 October 2012 14:43. Posted in General

Jayne Kirkham reports from the Conservative Party Conference 2012

Three conferences in three weeks and I’ve reached the point where I feel like writing, ‘Tories, Birmingham: went’. Partly because I’m tired but mostly because there really isn’t an awful lot to write about. I arranged my stay around any Culture, Media and Sport speeches and activities both within the main conference agenda and the fringe. They were, however, far and few between and then mainly concerned with the OIympics Legacy with celebratory cheering scheduled as a warm up for the Prime Minister’s speech.

It was all rousing stuff: I cried. However, I think the tears were justified when, having told us that jobs, influence and investment are the real legacy of the Olympics and rolling out two wide-eyed medallists to prove the point, sports minister Hugh Robinson said, ‘The message is clear: please go out and buy your lottery tickets.’ It was a stark reminder that no matter how much culture, media and sport bring communities together, or enrich our understanding of who we are or who we can be; there is no real government support. Lord Coe may highlight the “nourishing and sustaining role of laughter”, but we have to pay for it ourselves through the Lottery. We could spend hours in the pub debating the merits of the Lottery but here, all I’m saying is Mr Robinson neatly summed up how the Conservatives view themselves as the party that helps people who help themselves.

Most over used word of the conference? ‘Strivers.’ I think everyone had been schooled to use it, including the barista in the coffee bar. Although, blessings upon him: he used it with delicious amounts of froth and irony.

Rethinking mental illness on TV

on Monday, 08 October 2012 18:48. Posted in TV

Ming Ho reports from the Time to Change ‘Meet the Media’ Event

Mental health: does TV perpetuate negative stereotypes? That was the question posed by Time to Change, an anti-stigma programme run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, at an event for television drama professionals held on 1 October at the Hospital Club in London.

The evening began with a new training film presented by broadcaster Alistair Stewart, which aims to promote good practice in the portrayal of mental illness, and includes interviews with writers and directors involved in high-profile stories such as the bipolar disorder of Jean and Stacey Slater in EastEnders and the breakdown of Dr Ruth Winters in Casualty.

Kate Rowland, BBC Creative Director of New Writing, then chaired a panel discussion with writers Danny Brocklehurst (Exile; Accused), Dana Fainaru (Casualty), and Bill Lyons (Emmerdale), and mental health nurse, Lol Butterfield, who had advised on Emmerdale’s Zak Dingle storyline.

Research into a three-month sample of TV drama, led by the Glasgow Media Group, revealed that 74 programmes contained storylines on mental health issues – and these featured 33 instances of violence toward others and 53 examples of self-harm. While almost half were deemed to be sympathetic portrayals, the characters tended to be shown as tragic victims; and 63% of references to mental health were thought to be ‘pejorative, flippant, or unsympathetic’. How can we, as writers, redress this disproportionate image of a link between mental illness and violence and dispel the fear that it engenders?