Katie Mccullough Talks and Writes

Words will get written here and some videoblogs will appear. You don't have to look but it would be nice if you did.

CBBC and War June 16, 2009

Ooooh hark at me I’ve gone all multi-media what with talking and writing. (Sometimes Katie forgets that these are natural ocurrences in real life, but humour her please). I’ve added these tidbits from the CBBC Q&A last night at the Royal Court but I’m pretty sure people elsewhere (notably here ).

These are the bits that stuck out for me either because it’s stuff I already knew but dressed up differently or because it was simply put:

*We need to further expand the minds of the future generations; we need to provide them with something that keeps them talking about it in the playground or in the pubs years later.

*A fresh perspective and engaging storytelling – we need it to be relentlessly exciting.

*Get into children’s head; nothing is always as it seems. They have worries too like adults but we have to not talk to down to them. They’re clever and we need to give them more credit.

*Keep scenes tight as well as dialogue. By law children cannot work long hours so to keep in line with production they need to have maximum effect in scenes they are in and give them strong short dialogue. Not only will it keep pace up but will be extremely brilliant for kids to deliver.

*Remember to keep it child centred AND child driven. If problems arising in the script are solved by the adults no one’s going to keep watching… It’s called Children’s TV for a reason, stick to it.

*Rooted in the world of the child. Remember the emotional core of the characters – this can run parallel with the fantastical.

*Writers need to have a clear sense of wanting to explore a character or arena/theme. This will filter through into the writing and make your work more solid. Give the reader characters they care about, it’s only human. Characters you hate or love, anything to provoke a reaction.

*”Cliche can be your friend” – we and the audience need that familiarity in comedy. “Cliche can be your enemy” – In drama it falls flat and adds no texture.

*Beware of shorthand stereotypes. Make them different to what’s gone before and don’t make that the essential crux of your character.

*Five genres that kid’s TV falls into: Action/adventure, modern morality, classic, comedy, multicultural.

*Keep cast small.

*With regards to character descriptions make sure what’s in your head is on the page, don’t leave the reader doubting their setup or character motivation.

And probably my favourite group of analogies to motivate me (horribly paraphrased courtesy of yours truly)….

“We’re after something as magical as waking up and seeing the world cover in white, the first experience of snow. Thrilling like a brilliant rollercoaster ride at Alton Towers and exciting like Christmas Eve awaiting Father Christmas”.

Now… I write.


8 Responses to “CBBC and War”

  1. Just found your great blog via Robin’s – thanks for the wonderful vid-report on the CBBC Q and A – it’s really helpful that you, Neil and the others have written it up for us non-attendees.

    You deserve masses of cake, the lot of you.

    Good luck with your entry.

    • Hallo Paul, thanks for watching. I think it’s great that we’re all helping each other because if I’m honest it was a long shot that everyone that wanted to attend would be able to. What are fellow scriptwriters for?

      Cake would be nice. And I hope you’re entering too?

      • I certainly am, yes – I’ve gone down the action-adventurey type idea for my pilot – I think it works so far.

        Not long now until we all leave it up to fate…

  2. Antonia Says:

    Thanks very much for this. I’ve read the other write-ups, and every one tells something a little different, so very useful.

    There’s so much to think about with any script, but I think especially so with children’s tv.

    • That’s quite alright Antonia, thanks for watching/reading. I think it’s valid that everyone honed into different aspects of the talk, somethings struck more than others so reading around is always useful.

      And you’re completely right about children’s TV. I hope you’re entering too…?

  3. Glad to hear it Paul. Mine’s turned into something quite magical which wasn’t where I intended it to go but somehow it’s feeling quite natural and fun.

    All the best with your script, I’ll meet you in fates hands, yeah?

    • Antonia Says:

      Yes, I’m entering, determined to finish the beast! Good luck to you and anyone else who enters.

      • Excellent! That’s brilliant news! I’m desperate to finish mine too (still on first draft) but have work this weekend so it’s going to be a rush attempt tonight just so I have it down on paper. Good luck to you too!

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