Marc Pye at Speaker’s Night 24th February 2016

When I was asked to write the blog, I couldn’t scribble my notes fast enough as our guest speaker, Marc Pye gave insights into the world of screenwriting.

Marc began by telling us about his own personal writing journey, progressing from page to screen. He had been working with photo printing, enjoying the security of a regular wage to provide for his family. However, his dream to become a professional writer was never far away. Marc scribbled his ideas during lunch breaks and converted them to scripts when he was home.

Marc said there is always a catalyst to set a story in motion which can often happen in real life too. Marc’s own story began when a close relative became ill, making him really think about his own life and what he wanted to achieve. He sent a script away and after several months of waiting, he was finally offered an option. He sold his first script.

From then Marc was offered job after job, and wrote the scripts for many soap operas and dramas such as: River City, Eastenders, Hollyoaks, Doctors, High Road, The Bill and Holby Blue. He also wrote short and feature length films, books and many of his own TV dramas, including ‘The Street’ which won several awards, including a BAFTA.

As in any story, there is always a crucial decider when one is faced with an almost equally balanced choice. Before Marc could do all of the above, he had to decide whether to keep the security of his full-time salary or to ‘go for it’ and be readily available to accept a commission. Since the money from his writing was providing enough for a house move and a good life-style, Marc left his job.
‘Did you have any regrets?’ I asked him.
‘No,’ he said. But Marc did explain his decision was not without its pitfalls. ‘Sometimes there can be long spells without work and TV companies can easily drop you without explanation.’ As well as this, often Marc found himself chasing the money and writing thirty or more episodes for a drama without the time to pen out his own ideas. Advice to other writers in this case, is to perhaps decide whether you want to write for TV on an existing show without an alternative source of income, or if you are set on working on your own ideas, then it’s probably wise to have another steady wage, at least until your name is known; thus, it is of paramount importance to network.

Marc has met many people in the industry and through his connections, he has secured a number of contracts and accepted teaching positions at bothStrathclyde and Caledonian Universities.

Marc taught us the vital points in any story structure: hooks, cliff hangers, and plot points. He said there is a formula which applies to all stories, whether it’s film, telly, novel or radio, the same pattern applies. Marc said he would send the details to the club but I suspect it will only be available in the members’ section. So if you want to find out the secret formula to writing effective stories, and of course, meet the professionals like Marc, I guess you’ll have to join Ayr Writers’ Club!

Gail McPartland

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