Lucy V Hay
Latest answers

Hi Lucy. Where do you stand on mockumentaries? I'm reading Marc Blake's 'How NOT To Write A Sitcom' and he believes that the format is done. A LONG way beyond done, in fact. Would a commissioning editor really cast aside a piece of work solely because it's in this format? Thank you, Happy New Year!

Hi, Happy New Year! TBH, I don't think I could comment with any real authority on this because I've never worked in sitcom. That said, I don't get many mockumentaries across my desk in ANY format (features included), so I wouldn't believe they were especially in demand. BUT if somebody wrote a HILARIOUS mockumentary that's of "our time", I'd bet real money it wouldn't get turned down - no one would want to miss out on "the next big thing". But it would be a calculated risk, plus it's got to be something REALLY special.

I've somehow secured a BAFTA-winning TV Director for my next short (yay!). I'm a newbie, and my shorts were written to be stand-alone films only, not 'teasers' for features, tv shows, etc. My man says this is folly, and that all shorts should be preludes to something bigger. What say you? Thanks :-)

Sorry for the delay on this. The short answer is, it depends. Yes, shorts can act as teasers; there's no reason they shouldn't ... But no reason they SHOULD, either! I think it depends on your gut instinct here re: the story and whether you can spin them out. If this guy thinks you can though, it's all power to your mill. Good luck!

Hi Lucy. I'm looking to get some expert feedback on one of my feature scripts - are you able to point me in the right direction? I'm looking for two or three different sources. Thanks in advance.

Andy Keen

Hi Andy. In terms of paid-for readers, besides my company Bang2write, I always recommend WriteSoFluid, Script Angel and Script Advice Writers' Room in the UK. In the US, "Coverage Ink" and Scott The Reader from "60 Buck Notes" are also good. If you're looking for peer review, try my Facebook page "Bang2writers" for a straight script swap. Post on the wall at

Is there anything you care less about as you have grown up? What is it?

Whether other people know I'm right or not (cos I always am).

Spec script question- if I have a twist towards the end that I want to be properly set up from early on in the film, should I give it away early in descriptions, or let it be a surprise on paper too?

Including the ending of a story is always a must when pitching, BUT how you do that is up to you. I have seen both revealing twists and holding them back for the screenplay (but saying there *is* a twist) work equally well in one page pitches and in pitch meetings. Whatever you do, ensure you hook your pitchee's interest. That's the only "rule". Good luck!

Post one of your favorite quotes and who it's by!

"I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life's a bitch. You've got to go out and kick ass" - Maya Angelou

Hi. I was offered an internship at a company to be a script reader. I am a college student studying film and I think this internship is a great opportunity. However, I am wondering if there is room for advancement? Can you elaborate on what it means to be a script reader and the opps it has?

Hi, script reading is an entry level job, so there is definitely room for advancement/professional development. Ask anyone in the industry and they probably started as a script reader (and if they didn't, it was probably a runner). That said, you have to handle your professional development yourself and decide where you want to go with it. Myself, I started as a script reader because I wanted a job where I could also handle my other commitments easily, but I always knew I wanted to move into script editing/producing as well, so early on I looked for collaboration partners and decided what my remit was in terms of the types of story/characters I was interested. More info here:

Hi, I never wrote a script before, but I want to take my chance and try it. I was thinking about writing an adaptation of a series from another country. What do you think :)?

Adaptation has a lot of complications, including (but not limited to) copyright and what you "should" leave out in terms of the story and characters, so if you've never written a screenplay before I don't recommend you START with an adaptation to be honest with you. I would recommend starting with your own idea as a short film (5 pages or less) and building up your knowledge and skills-base from there. If however your heart is set on adapting something first off, here's some more info: Good luck!

Hi Lucy. In my scripts, I tend to use 'Joe smiles', 'Frank nods' and other action between lines of dialogue. I use them to slow the pace of a scene but am guessing that they're probably frowned upon. Am I not giving the reader enough credit to gauge the pace for themselves? Thank you :-)

Andy Keen

Using actions like "nods" and "smiles" can be very prescriptive in scene description (or as parentheticals) and contribute to a phenomenon I call "false movement". Scenes become rather static and a series of moving body parts" eyesbrows raising, fingers wagging, mouths turning up and down. This is a bit dull and usually happens because a writer thinks they have to have EVERYTHING as an image (or bust), but in reality there's loads you can do instead. Scene description is scene ACTION, yes, but it also reveals character and pushes the story forwards. These articles, plus their linkage, will help advise you further on getting the most out of your scenes and description, good luck!

What is a static scene?

3 tips to get rid of static scenes:

10 ways to revitalise your scene description:

If you were candy, what would you be?

Probably these. Homemade & peppermint flavour, obvs.

Are you ready?


What's the last book you read?

Find out at

OK first sorry as I'm sure this is asked to death but... one horror film and one TV comedy script ready, what really is the next best step? There's so many conflicting opinions...

For my money, it's gotta be short films. A well written, original short that does well at festivals is a great way to get noticed. Check out my article, "How To Maximise Your Portfolio" at for more about shorts, why they're a great bet and how to avoid the traps so many shorts fall into.

Post a picture of your favorite sci-fi character!

Hi, is your service fees in british pounds? Thanks

Hi, yes - you can convert £ to your currency via a converter like the one at

I am a freelance student writer. I would like to produce a magazine with my own articles in it, if I will be using an famous singer's photo in it, will the management sue me even though I will be crediting them for using the photo?

Hi, I'm not an expert on copyright when it comes to photos, but as far as I know you should be fine, especially if you credit the photographer/company. As I understand it, from my own time writing at magazines and newspapers, often images of movies, famous people etc are essentially advertising - they WANT you to use those images to disseminate them far and wide. If ever any issues, you will usually get issued with what's known as a "takedown notice" - either officially or unofficially (ie. an email, asking you to remove the picture). If this happens, just do it and then it's sorted.

How can a reader decide if a script idea is original or not? I mean there are so many movies out there, one just cannot know all of them.

A great point and yes, it's absolutely true a script reader cannot possibly have watched ALL movies or TV shows (that said, it annoys the crap out of me when someone wants to work in TV or Film - including screenwriters! - and it's clear they haven't watched even HALF of the latest releases, or the classics; or they DON'T have a niche interest - ie. creature features; J-Horror inspired movies; representations of women etc - The short version is: be PASSIONATE or WHAT'S THE POINT! Back to your Q ;).

So instead then, I think it's key to think of originality as being "cyclical" - we see LOTS of the same idea all at once (and for various reasons), both produced and spec ... On this basis, something will jump out at us when it's DIFFERENT to the rest in the pile. Sometimes it will be obvious why, like the latest interest in female protagonists is a concerted kick back against the tired hero's journey; other times it will not be so obvious, but nearly always it will create a race for "the same, but different" (if it's successful) ... Until everybody gets sick of it and then the search will be on again for "original".

Would it be okay if I put a link to your bitly bundles on my website. It's such a great resource. Its' at if you want to make sure it's not offensive! It's just getting started right now. Resume piece. You know how it is.

thx for asking, of course you can x

Hi Lucy, I'm at the 'foundation level' of developing a period drama feature. I read on Script lab that period dramas can have up to 9 sequences (within the 8 sequence practice) and wondered why this was the case. Do you know? Loving the book btw. :)

Hi, I'm afraid I don't really "do" period drama OR the 8 sequences, so I'm probably not the right person to ask for this - I tend to stick to traditional elements of structure / mapping (ie. via scene breakdowns, the paradigm etc) so wouldn't want to confuse you as it would just be conjecture on my part. Glad you like the book, thanks for letting me know! If it's the drama book you're reading, I'd hazard a guess that what I call "episodic" structure may help with period drama, as that often takes in large swathes of time, especially when it comes to biopics? Perhaps if you applied what's in there to your script or any period dramas you're watching atm, that could help. Good luck!

Hi Lucy. I have a short amount of time to learn as much as I can about directing. Money is tight so school is out of the question, and therefore I'll be relying on books, the interweb and any other resource you might suggest. Any advice would be gratefully received. Thank you :-)

Hi, sounds as if you would benefit from books like The Guerilla Filmmakers' Handbook series by Chris Jones; Business Models For Filmmakers by John Sweeney and how to articles from places such as Raindance. If you can, try doing Chris Jones' Guerilla Filmmakers' Masterclass that takes place in one weekend, or his ongoing online course about his Oscar shortlisted film, GONE FISHING. I would also recommend attempting to make short films by any means necessary, on low or no budgets, including on your smart phone and building up from there. There is NO substitute for doing IMHO. Good luck!

Would you rather be a vampire or a werewolf?


I recently discovered The Black List which I think is a brilliant 'shop window' for scripts. But they can't accept my script because it's 'only' a 1 hour TV 'special.' It got 'Honourable Mention' from Industrial Scripts. Do you know of any other sites like Black List with the same industry respect?

Why not try @ScriptBoutique or @inktip - I've had a cursory look on their sites and I don't see any mention that 1 hour TV specials are not allowed. In addition, you may like to consider TV writing competitions, of which there are plenty nowadays ... The Red Planet Prize, Screenwriting Goldmine and Scriptapolooza are all well established and well regarded. Good luck!

Hey guys, I just want you to know you're wonderful.

Thanks :) Kinda scared there's apparently more than 1 of me though ...? I didn't realise this, haha

Did I read on your site,that 2 scenes average per page is common these days? I have 1 1/2 scenes 'average' for a 110 page FEATURE. 155 headings. 70 % are inside a hospital or outside on the grounds (108). Also 60 % of all the scenes are the same repeated location. From a commercial pov.

Sorry for the delay on this, it didn't show up on my phone for some reason. Yes, 2 scenes per page is common, especially for fast-paced stories but TBH that's just it - it depends on the story and many things within it, such as pace, tone, genre, character arc etc. So I would look first to story and characters, as worrying about guidelines etc can prove arbitrary. Hope this helps!

What would be the title of your autobiography?

"LE DUH: It Doesn't Have To Be Hard (ooooh matron). TRUE STORY"


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About Lucy V Hay:

Novelist & Script Editor.
Ask me a Q, in confidence :D