Ask @Bang2write:

In sex scenes, I always tend to make the language a little more flowery than the act itself. Well, I am British :-) In this day and age, rather than me write something like 'Amy and Joe make passionate love...' can I write (for example) 'Joe f***s Amy hard and fast under the covers'? Thanks Lucy.

Hi, PLEASE DO! "Make love" and "fucking" are two different ways of describing sex, sure -- BUT they are two very different ways of HAVING IT OFF, yet as you rightly say most writers are rather flowery and I never get this ... We go out our way to ensure variety in our language, except on sex scenes. Noooo! My absolute pet peeve is when writers try and avoid sex scenes altogether and have characters "lying back, SPENT"! So write whatever you want my saucy friend, just make sure it matches what's going on and that it's not YAWNSOME! Good luck haha ;)

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Hi LVH! We're developing a screenplay that revolves around an actual event. Even though our characters and their actions are fiction, they will relate to the event. At what point can you categorise your screenplay as 'Based on a true story' or 'Based on actual events'? A thanking you!

Hi Anonymous Questioner! I believe the application of the term "based on a true story" is pretty woolly and generally a bit of a fib - I've seen spec screenplays (that have gone on to get produced) that have taken in a lot of historical stuff and others that are barely credible *as* true stories; I demonstrate this too with WOLF CREEK as a case study in one of my Bang2write site's most oft-hit articles, "How True Can A True Story Be?" So you could probably get away it as long as **something** is true THOUGH if the whole thing is fictional except for the backdrop, you might get a red face in meetings if people ask, "Well which bits are true, then?" if you then ending up saying, "Basically NONE of the actual story"! But if you don't care about that, then go for it. Good luck!

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Do you ever feel uncomfortable writing violent scenes? Have you ever avoided it?

I have wanted to avoid it, sure - but I don't. I have also facilitated the writing of violent scenes with Bang2writers, especially my collabro JK Amalou in our latest, which is about a Hitman (can't really not have violence!). Chances are, if you don't like writing it, people won't like watching or reading it ... but that's a GOOD thing, since if you're writing violent scenes people will LIKE (ie. without comedic factors) then something's probably wrong with your story. Hope this helps.

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im serious, i was asking the gesture name....

LOL, okay I'll give you the benefit of the doubt from a writing POV. I think in the UK it's simply known as "giving someone the middle finger", but in the US they have the much more colourful phrase, "flip [someone] the bird". Why someone's middle finger is a "bird" I have no clue. Also, if you're yanking my chain I WILL kill you with the power of mind via the interwebs ...

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My new short - a hired killer breaks into a snitch's house at night, enters the bedroom and is about to kill him when the duvet shifts next to the snitch. It's his 5yo daughter. The hitman shoots the snitch and then the girl (she's a witness). I'm quite uncomfortable with this - have I gone too far?

I've read far worse, TBH (which in itself is kind of horrible, if you think about it - what the hell could be worse than killing a kid?!? Oh the life of a script reader). I think it's about whether you, the writer, feels is JUSTIFIED in the story. Be honest with yourself over why you feel uncomfortable: if it's because you feel it's unjustified? There's your answer, you should get rid. If, however, you worry about people telling you you're a terrible human being or whatever, then keep it. We don't do this stuff for just the good feelz, we do it freak people out as well!

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I don't know if you are a big believer in fate and such, but how do you know if you are 'right' for writing? For example, if you're unsure of what path to take in life and writing is an option, are there any tips you'd give on knowing if it's what you're meant to do? Thanks!

This is a really interesting question and I think (unhelpfully) it's probably different for everyone. For me, I felt a strong "pull" (for want of a better word) towards storytelling even as a little child. I recall feeling I could live both in the "real" and the "fictional" worlds and I do remember adults telling me I was getting mixed up, or that I was fibbing. Certainly my memories are a mad mix of things and I do remember "seeing" cartoons in real life. That was all over by the time I was about ten, but I just knew I wanted to tell stories, however I could and I wrote and wrote and wrote, transcribing words off the television and off videos, or pretending I had my own magazine or newspaper. I'm sure that if the Kindle had been around 20 years ago I would have been writing weird fan fiction and killing off boy bands or making them having sex with octopuses in stories on there. So, in short, I never really thought of doing anything else ... Once I was a young single Mum I did TRY to have a proper job, working in shops & even in schools teaching, but my heart was never in it and I was always day dreaming about stories. So I had to get to it! That probably doesn't help, so in which case I'd suggest going with your gut - writing is a daft idea, it's badly paid and against the odds, so you really have to WANT to do it ... but if you do? THEN DO IT.

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Is it wise to assemble the actors, directors & co. before looking for a producer? I am a writer, with little experience in casting or hiring. I have finished a script that is low-budget feature. A director approached me with interest in working on script, but I don't know what my next step should be

Congrats on getting a director interested in your work! Your next step shld be getting a producer on board I'd wager - this *should* be easier with a director on board, especially if s/he has won recognition or awards for features or associated work (ie. shorts, adverts, virals, web series, music videos etc). Make sure you get out there and network like crazy, wherever you can - producers can usually be found where there are writers and filmmakers, so go to meetups; get on social media; advertise on bulletins; talk to all your contacts; check out sites like The Directors' Guild and Women In Film And Television; google search terms like "new producers to watch out for" & add them on Linkedin and so on. Good luck!

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With the growth of the Act for Change movement, encouraging more diversity in casting in the UK, I'm making a concerted effort to create a diverse ensemble for my new screenplay. I'm worried this might be seen as tokenism, but my plan was always to have a black main character (not race based story)

Good for you! I'm right behind you. It's important to note that it's difficult to find a solution on this matter and that even people of colour may feel this is an unneccessary or pointless step. However, I think it's important to try, rather than ignore, the issue of representation and as mentioned before, do not see how or why casting PoCs in (non race themed) screenplays is in any way different to casting the different genders. White males are not the only "real" people and women and PoCs, the LGBT community and people with disabilities (etc) are not representations of themes and ISSUES as far as I am concerned.

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Hi Lucy - is it acceptable to mention a particular song in a screenplay? For example, a song sung at a karaoke, which is fundamental to the storyline? Thanks

I think it depends. In (commissioned) TV scripts, networks in particular have copyright agreements in place that mean songs are fine because it doesn't cost any "extra". However, TV scripts that are independently produced and in features, songs often cost money - a LOT of money! For perspective, it may interest you to know that the makers of BASIC INSTINCT paid a whopping $700K for the rights to "Sympathy For The Devil" ... yikes! As a result, songs mentioned in spec screenwriting have - rightly or wrongly! - become a kind of shorthand for "this writer doesn't know the realities of the industry as well as s/he should". As a result, when it comes to songs in specs, I always recommend my Bang2writers replace them with songs of their own creation for karaoke moments, or characters in bands, etc.

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What is the fee for a screenplay development done by an outsider? Are there any contracts fixed by the industry which I could consult?

If you mean a rewrite done by a screenwriter, then yes there are - check out your country's Writers' Guild, which will have negotiated rates and should have listed on their website. Regarding script editing, or as a Producer/Dev Exec, this is harder to track down and is often negotiated between the prodco and individual on the basis of things like referrals and experience, but again the Writers' Guild (or Producers') is probably a good place to start.

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Hey Lucy Any advice on writing LGBT literature, like a book on writing within the genre or articles on the subject or how to find books within the same category

I think my first port of call would be Good Reads and the list function - check out readers' choices for the top LGBT books, for starters. LGBT themes on TV and in movies are often highly allegorical, uniting fantasy, science fiction and/or metaphor to present the struggles and worldviews of the LGBT community; TRUE BLOOD, X MEN and BUFFY are just a few examples of this, so viewing them again and breaking down HOW they do it would not only aid your own ideas, but also help you avoid simply retelling theirs. I would also think about my own experiences (if appropriate) and/or talk to friends and associates about theirs, including on social media. I don't believe I've ever read a writing book on this subject - perhaps there's a niche for it?? - but there are lots and lots of articles on the representation of LGBT characters, some are on the main Bang2write site listed under "characterisation", plus I have added others from the web to the B2W Pinterest Boards about representation "Girls On Film (And Betond)" and "The Boys Are Back In Town", which you can find at www.bang2write.com/resources. Good luck!

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Is it normal to mention a character's race in a British script if the race is what you'd like them to be/imagine them to be but serves no particular purpose story-wise? And do you mention if they're white? Sorry if obvious. Thank you very much.

This is a debate that goes round and round in British circles. Those who are "for" mentioning a character's race are of the opinion that it's more *likely* to be cast or imagined that way if it is; others (which incidentally include some people of colour) insist that the "best actor" should be picked for the character, regardless of race. However, historically it is obvious PoC are *generally* relegated to stories about race and/or secondary role functions. On this basis then, I am one of the people who believes - rightly or wrongly - a character's race SHOULD be mentioned regardless of story, since I think characters are "more" than their race and that it is patronising to suppose the "only" supposedly "normal" people are white, whereas other races are representations of "issues". I believe the same across the board - gender, sexual preference/trans or disabled, too. We rarely hear objections to writers choosing a character's gender (many stories don't "need" a female protagonist, for example, yet we insist we should more for representation's sake!), yet the SAME people will argue against mentioning race, LGBT status or ability, citing "story" as the reason. I find that very curious. I've talked about this a lot on my website, check out the "race" label. And never apologise for questions! :D Hope that helps x

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