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HOW TO TURN YOUR SIMPLE IDEA INTO A BIG STORY IDEA BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

Every story starts as an idea. It might start off as a big fully formed idea, most times though, it starts as a small unclear idea. It can be from something you observe about yourself or someone else, it can be from an incident that happens, it can be from an object, it could come from a trending news item or a small news item at the corner of the newspaper that no one is talking about.

In short, story ideas come from anywhere and whether they end up seeing the light of day by moving from just an idea to a script and eventually to visuals on a screen is dependent on several factors e.g how persistent and aggressive you are, luck, networks, great idea.

Let us focus on a great idea because if you have great networks and luck is on your side but the idea is weak then chances are it won’t see the light of day.

So how exactly then do we turn our simple idea into a big idea? There are a couple of techniques you can use to achieve this.

  1. Change your story’s location: Is your story about domestic abuse set in a rural setting, how about setting it in an upwardly mobile location, with the character being battered a big shot lawyer or vocal human rights defender. This in itself brings to your story a great contradiction that immediately makes the idea fresh and intriguing and we want to find out more.
  2. Change The Genre: Have you considered changing the genre of your story and how it could switch things up for your story idea? Think about how the genre you have chosen impacts your main character’s behaviour and the kind of choices they are going to be forced to make.
  3. Character Swap: From male to female or female to male. Try that and see if that helps with moving your idea from just okay, to a bigger idea.
  4. Start with the Theme: Taking a closer look at the theme of your story can open up your story from a small idea to something really big. Theme in this case can be defined as writing from the writers POV, what are those moral issues you want to address through your story?

Theme will come from moral issues that interest you or affect you as a writer. What are some of the things you feel passionate about? What things are you curious about? What theme is coming out of your story? Is it Injustice, Is it coming of age? Sometimes writers don’t think much about themes unless it’s really coming out strongly, but the thing is every story has a theme coming out, it might be very subtle, but if you as the writer don’t pick up on the theme coming out of your story then you will write on and miss out on crucial elements that would have propelled your story to the next level. Think of theme as the foundation of your house. You need a very strong foundation to support your building. Without a strong foundation, a building will collapse, this applies to your story as well. 

  • 5. Your character’s profession: I watched an entire film where characters woke up and just talked and went about their day, there was nowhere we knew what the characters did professionally etc. A character’s profession reveals something deeper and meaningful about them. A miserable banker who is a closeted artist gives us something to work with, a struggling writer who went against her parents and took the arts instead of the sciences at school gives us something to play with and opens up your world and story idea. Carefully consider this as you go along.
  • 6. What If: I love going into dream world with this question. I ask myself ‘What If’ and I get many ideas, some good, some bad and some really worth paying attention to. I think asking yourself ‘What if’ helps the mind relax and trick it into thinking it’s not working, this in turn helps the mind not to feel limited and goes into imagination mode, which is something we all need badly as creatives.  Hope you’ve found those tips useful. If you’d like more tips on writing. Head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com You can also subscribe to my email list for your free guide on writing plus a weekly newsletter that inspires, informs and educates, on the business and craft of writing. You can also buy my book on writing. Get writing, A beginner’s guide from Idea to First draft on Amazon. Or if in Kenya, order a hardcopy by whatsapp text only to 0707 651546 for your hard copy at Kshs 850. Happy Creating!

SUBPLOTS: WHY THEY ARE IMPORTANT BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

An Excerpt From My Book: Get Writing, A Beginner’s Guide From Idea To First Draft

Subplots are what most people consider the secondary story or the least important stories in your script, yet that is not true because most subplots carry the emotional and thematic content of a story. Without thematic and emotional content, the story will end up as a linear story. 

Your story needs a subplot or two. There are other stories that carry more than two subplots but if you are at the beginning stage of your writing career, I suggest you keep it to a maximum of two subplots to avoid confusing yourself. Master the craft then experiment with the various ways of writing.

Just like the main plot of your story has a beginning middle and an end, your subplot needs the same. Stories that work best are the ones that introduce your subplot right after your plot has taken off, when your character needs time to breathe then introduce the subplot to bring in dimensionality of your character.

 An example of a subplot is a relational subplot. After you’ve introduced your main plot/story, you then introduce the complication of your main characters’ relationship with his GF, husband, parents, siblings etc.

The subplot is not to be confused with a filler. The subplot plays out parallel to the main story, hence the reason it needs to be introduced right at the first act or at the end of the first act.

If you are somewhat confused about what the main plot is and what the subplot is, ask yourself which plot gives your story the most action, which one specifically gives your protagonist movement towards his/her goal. The answer to this question gives you your main plot, once you identify what your main plot is then now you can plan it out separately and see how your subplot affects your main plot.

Your subplot should not feel like something random and not connected to your main plot, if anything, the emotions involved in your subplot are what will propel your characters’ actions in the main plot. So make sure the two are interwoven for maximum impact.

Subplots also mostly deal with the softer issues in your story. They are a necessity for your script and without them the story will become linear and one dimensional. Give your subplot (B story and sometimes C story) as much attention as you give to your main plot as it plays a major role in the emotional connection to your film.

A RECAP

  • Sometimes writers are confused about what is their main plot and what is the subplot. The way to distinguish is by knowing that the main plot is the one that gives your story the most action. Which story gives the protagonist specific movement towards his or her goal? Which story asks the MDQ or Central Question?
  • Subplots carry the emotional and thematic content of a story.
  • Subplots are not fillers. They play out parallel to the main story, hence the reason it needs to be introduced right at the first act or at the end of the first act.
  • Your subplot shouldn’t feel like something random and not connected to your main plot, if anything, the emotions involved in your subplot are what will propel your characters’ actions in the main plot. Make sure the two are interwoven for maximum impact.
  • Subplots mostly deal with the softer issues in your story. They are a necessity and without them the story becomes linear. Give your subplot as much time and attention as the main plot.

Look at your story carefully and see how many subplots you have? Are they working in harmony with the rest of the story? Do they feel like fillers? What themes does your subplot explore and where have you placed the inciting incident of your subplot? It needs to come in after the inciting incident of your main plot.

This is an excerpt from my Book: Get writing, A beginner’s Guide From Idea To First Draft.

Get your copy from amazon @$3.99 or order a hard copy at Kshs 850 if in Kenya via whatsapp text to 0707651546

Subscribe to my free weekly e-newsletter for more inspiration, Information and education on the business and craft of writing. Head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com

Happy Creating!

RESEARCH DO’S AND DON’TS BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

Research is an important part of the writing process and there are various ways of researching your project. Today though, I want to talk about some Do’s and Don’ts of researching.

I’m currently working on a project that is heavy on the research end, it is fueled by research and therefore I can’t start writing until I have some facts in place. As I go through this process, it sometimes becomes difficult to stay focused and I find myself digressing from the main topic which in itself can be a good and a bad thing. That’s why I’ve decided to share some do’s and don’ts of researching. Read on below.

  1. Don’t forget you are a storyteller and not a researcher:  You are first and foremost a storyteller and not a researcher. While digging into researching you might find yourself bogged down by too many facts. I advise you to use that research, combined with your imagination to propel your story to greatness, find the twists and turns. Yes, even when telling stories inspired by Real Events, you have to allow your imagination engine to work.
  2. Research the emotions: As storytellers we are in the emotional delivery business. This means it is our job to not only research the facts, but to research on the emotional beats to accompany the facts.  
  3. Find Your WHY: Why is this story important to you? Why do you want to tell that story? Why does it have to be you to tell that story? Finding a personal connection to the material you are researching will help give you a stronger angle.
  4. Remember to apply the rule of Cause and Effect: (This happens and then that happens) How does what you have discovered now in your research affect the next part of your story?
  5. Every Research has an End: Conclude the research before you stop being a storyteller and you become a historian/Anthropologist/ArcheologistJ. If you’re like me and you love research you might end up forgetting that you’re meant to be writing. You should research just enough to help you get on with the story and you can always come back for more information or you can get an expert in that particular topic to read your work and help give it a polish.

Hope these pointers inspire you on your writing journey.

For more inspiration, Information and education on the business and craft of writing, head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com and sign up for my FREE WEEKLY E-NEWSLETTER(Unsubscribe at any time)

Grab your free guide on writing while there.

You can also buy my book on writing ‘Get Writing, A beginner’s guide from Idea To First Draft’ from amazon at $3.99 or if in Kenya order your hardcopy from me for only Kshs 650.

Happy Creating!

AMATEUR HABITS SLOWING DOWN YOUR WRITING SUCCESS BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

If you are reading this, then my assumption is that you want to succeed as a writer. Most of us want to make a living from our writing and have the freedom of creation.

To be successful means we have to put our best foot forward everyday towards that. It is easier said than done and when the rubber meets the road a lot of writers who consider themselves professional writers would easily fall in the category of Amateur writers.

 Read below on some Amateur habits that could be slowing down your success.

  1. Wrong mindset and attitude: Amateurs blame others for their failures instead of owning up to them. To succeed at anything, you need the proper mindset and the first thing is to take total ownership of yourself and your life choices, and how those impact your success or failures. Listen, we were not all born with a silver spoon in our mouths, that means for some of us we have to grind harder i.e work on projects that don’t excite us so that we can find a way to fund the projects that excite us, funding doesn’t necessarily mean shooting a film but being able to curve out some time to work on your passion projects because you are not worrying about bills. ‘The government has failed us, the education system has failed us, the broadcasters have failed us,’ these are just but some of the comments I see being floated around by creatives who feel failed, but I urge you to stop pointing the finger outward and instead adjust your attitude and take ownership of your life to succeed as a writer.
  2. You are swayed by the wind:  Do you stay the course and commit to finishing a project or do you change course immediately a trend changes? E.g. perhaps horrors are hot and you start writing a horror then midway the trend is out and now comedy is hot and you switch to that. Listen, if you want to succeed, you have to be a finisher. You have to see things through, ignore trends and just finish your projects.
  3. You are all faith and no works: Are you a dreamer, dreaming of how success will find you miraculously without getting the work in? Even the Israelites in the wilderness had to bend down and collect the manna. God didn’t ask them to lie down and open their mouths and the food would land in their mouths. So yes, you absolutely have to put in the hard work. Hard work means you stay committed to what it takes to be a professional writer, and not letting yourself get discouraged. Get intentional about putting in the work; daily.
  4. Being a taker and not a giver: Before you ask someone for favours and anything you need, what have you given them first? Before you ask a friend to read your script, did you offer a similar service to them? Amateurs are takers, professionals are givers. Look deeper within yourself and see if you are more of a taker than a giver and adjust accordingly.
  5. Ignoring your peers: Do you think you’re too good for your peers and ignore them in pursuit of higher level people in your field? Yes, it is good to look for mentors but most likely those mentors are too busy for you. What you need to do is to hook up with your peers, read each other’s work, give each other constructive criticism, share resources with them and grow together. I love the African proverb: If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go further go together. I believe that’s true for us in the creative space.
  6. You don’t invest in yourself: The only shopping problem I have is buying more books than I have time to read. I buy books, fiction and non-fiction because I understand that I have to always re-fill my creative well. I apply for workshops and labs both free and paid for, because I am keen to grow as a writer and creative. Amateurs could not be bothered to spend any amount of money on their craft. They would rather spend it on other things that don’t propel them to the next level in their craft, then complain about how tough the industry is for upcoming creatives.

The question is; how badly do you want to succeed as a writer? You have to invest in yourself to grow if you ever want to make a living from your craft.

That said I have my book on writing ‘Get Writing, A Beginner’s Guide from Idea To First Draft’ Available as an e-book on Amazon.

 If you’d like a hard copy and are in Kenya you can order from me through my email damaris@damarisirunguo.com and we can take it up from there!

Feel free to head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com and subscribe to my email list for your weekly dose of inspiration, information and education on the business and craft of being a writer.

Grab a free guide on writing while at it!

Happy Creating!

HOW TO RAISE STAKES IN YOUR STORY BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

I’ll define ‘stake’ here as something your character stands to gain or lose in your story.

The definition of story that I stumbled upon years ago and love using is ‘Someone wants something and is having difficulty getting it’ I added the word BADLY in there and so the definition I use is ‘Someone wants something badly and is having difficulty getting it.’

Stakes are crucial in your story because without clear stakes and raised stakes then your audience quickly get bored which gets them switching off your show/film/book.

How then do we as writers raise stakes in our stories to make sure the audience stay with us until the end?

I share some suggestions below on how I work on stakes in my stories.

  1. Cause and effect: Something happens, then something else happens as a result. The obstacles you throw at your characters have to follow some logic, you can’t just throw them for the sake of it. There has to be a clear goal your character is going after or the story ends up losing focus. Ask yourself if your story is progressing logically.
  2. Set up before you pay off: You shouldn’t have a moment where there’s no conflict going on in your story. This means that before you resolve a problem your character was dealing with, you have to introduce or foreshadow another problem for them, and this time, a bigger problem to complicate things for your character. This helps with the pacing of your story.
  3. Introduce a bigger problem: The more your audience experience something the less effect it has on them. E.g If the problem is the death of a loved one, then you throw in another death, then another, by the 2nd death we will be all cried out and will experience the emotions passively. In short be wise with the kind of obstacles you introduce to your character’s world and how that moves the emotions of the audience to the next level.
  4. Balance between external conflicts and Internal conflicts: What’s happening internally to your character and how does that affect how they react to the external challenges you throw their way? We are not robots, what goes on inside affects a great deal our reaction outside, so make sure to motivate the external reaction of your character with the internal emotions, for richer stakes.
  5. Character Development in relation to handling raised stakes: Under developed characters are dangerous to your story.  Make sure you dig deeper into your character so that as you raise the stakes, the audience go the journey with you believing that even if the odds are stacked so highly against the Protagonist, there’s still a chance of them succeeding.

Hope these pointers inspire you on your writing journey.

For more inspiration, Information and education on the business and craft of writing, head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com and sign up for my FREE WEEKLY E-NEWSLETTER(Unsubscribe at any time)

Grab your free guide on writing while there.

You can also buy my book on writing ‘Get Writing, A beginner’s guide from Idea To First Draft’ from amazon at $3.99 or if in Kenya order your hardcopy from me for only Kshs 650.

Happy Creating!

WRITING FOR TV VERSUS WRITING FOR A STREAMING SERVICE BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

Some writers say that there isn’t a difference between writing for TV and writing for streaming services, but from my observation I believe there is.

More so for us in Africa where streaming is picking up, as writers we cannot be left behind.

Whereas TV viewers have some patience, streaming viewers don’t. They hold the remote in their hand and are ready to switch to something more engaging the moment they sense boredom.  

While I was attending one of Robert Mckee’s story seminars, a participant asked a question about how to deal with the dwindling audience attention span, and Robert Mckee was quick to correct the participant by saying that the audience were not losing attention span, but interest span. This was obviously brought about by the myriad of options the audience has in this day and age.  

I couldn’t agree more with Robert McKee and more so when it comes to writing for streaming services. You have to grab us from the start and hold our attention to the end. A whatsapp message coming in shouldn’t be more important than what’s on the screen.  Below I share some ideas on how to ensure your show on a streaming service hits its intended mark.

  1. Get your audience invested in the characters and the journey they are going on right away: Gone are the days when we could do long set ups, and drag a show along. Right now, if you’re not grabbing and getting your audience connecting with your characters in the first six minutes, you’ve lost them. If as an audience I don’t care and I’m not rooting for your characters, then why am I there?
  2. Heighten stakes:  If the stakes stay at the same level, it leads to boredom, this is where the audience leave the TV playing and go fix themselves a snack. And it’s not about car chases, or explosion, if Bridgerton, a love story manages to grab us that way, then really it’s not about the genre.  Feelings are universal, if we feel something for your characters and the story, and we want them to succeed, then we stay the journey with them, because we are invested in what happens to them.
  3. Tension and Release: Make sure you are giving the audience the right amount of tension and release. If an audience is feeling suffocated as they watch an episode of your show, because you are not giving them any release, then that’s how they switch to the other show and say they will come back to yours, and chances are they might never. And it works the same for tension, the opposite of tension is relaxation, and we all know too much relaxation leads to boredom. So finding this delicate balance between tension and release should be one of your goals.
  4. Show Don’t tell: I can’t overstate this. Unlike in TV where you could get away with telling us more, in streaming you have to be intentional about showing us and not telling us. Reread your script and re-edit to make sure you are showing us more than telling us. It is not up to the director; it is up to you, the writer, to give your show the best chance of holding its rightful place in the streamers platform.
  5. Tell us something new: Most audiences want to learn something new so that they can go and use it in a conversation and brag about how knowledgeable they are. If a show tells them something new that they didn’t know, then they will be coming back for more.

These are just but a few of the techniques you can apply to make sure your show on a streaming service doesn’t disappear in the sea of other shows. Give your show a fighting chance by carefully working on your craft.

For more inspiration, Information and education on the business and craft of writing, head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com and sign up for my FREE WEEKLY E-NEWSLETTER(Unsubscribe at any time)

Grab your free guide on writing while there.

You can also buy my book on writing ‘Get Writing, A beginner’s guide from Idea To First Draft’ from amazon at $3.99 or if in Kenya order your hardcopy from me for only Kshs 650.

Happy Creating!

HOW TO THRIVE IN A WRITERS’ ROOM BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

Writing for a TV show/streaming service is not a one-wo/man show, though there are some like ‘The Crown’ where it’s said the writer works on the show alone, but then there is an entire research team behind him.  

For most of us, a writers’ room is the way to go, I will be honest and let you know that in the past I’ve had to work on some entire shows alone because of budget constraints, but things are opening up now and we are able to afford writers rooms.

Unlike in Hollywood where the writers in a writers’ room have various titles like Supervising producer and so forth, In Kenya and in some other African countries, the only titles we currently use are Writer and Head writer, the head writer wears two hats, that of the head writer and of the Script/story editor because again, our budgets don’t allow for more.

What is a writers’ room anyway? This is a space where writers and creatives meet to flesh out story ideas, from strenghtening the character bible, the story arcs and everything it takes to get the story from just a concept to the final shooting script.

Okay, so with the technicalities out of the way, let’s get into a few tips on how to thrive in a writer’s room.

  1. Be a team player: You are not competing with your fellow writers; you are working together to create a great story that you can all be proud of. Have that at the back of your mind as you build on other writer’s work, use polite language. It’s not about outshining your colleagues, it’s about having a great story and unique characters.
  2. Come prepared: The way to shine in a writers’ room is to be prepared. What’s the show about, what’s the topic, what are some of the themes? How knowledgeable are you on some of these topics? Don’t be a prop in the writers’ room, come ready with knowledge. This is why I insist that writers have to read widely, you have to interact and live life so that you are able to tap from that and enrich the story ideas in the room.
  3. Be vulnerable: Most writers’ rooms are safe spaces, you need to be somewhat vulnerable, to share from some of your own life experiences, good or bad to be able to help make the story relatable to your audience. This is also a good way to connect and become friends with your fellow writers. There’s no shame in being vulnerable.
  4. Be courageous: When you find yourself in a writers’ room with more experienced writers, you could get intimidated to the point of not wanting to share your ideas because you feel they’re not good or won’t make an impact. A writers’ room is not the place to keep your ideas to yourself, you have to share them, doesn’t matter if they are half baked, speak up, someone else will build on your point and that idea could end up being a big turning point in the story, so please speak courageously. There are more no’s than yes’ in a writer’s room so keep sharing.
  5. Don’t take things personally: An idea getting rejected could feel like a personal attack on you. It’s not (most times) the best thing you can do for your career is not to take things too personal. Go with an open mind, get the story done, you are there for the story, not for ego massaging.
  6. Have Fun: Enjoy the process. The beauty of being a writer is being able to work on various projects. Be in the moment, be present, enjoy the story, give it your all and the positive energy you send out will repay you back.
  7. Keep learning: Never stop learning. There will be more experienced writers, better storytellers and so forth in the room, instead of competing with them, learn from them. That’s one of the ways to keep growing as a writer.

I’m hoping these tips have inspired you to do more and be more. For more inspiration, information and education on the business and craft of writing, head over to my website and subscribe to my FREE WEEKLY E-NEWSLETTER. (unsubscribe at any time)

Grab a free guide on writing while there.

You can also purchase my Book on writing. Get writing ‘A beginner’s guide From Idea To First Draft’ Available on amazon at 3.99 dollars.

If in Kenya, you can buy the book directly from me for Kshs 650 or Kshs 850 for the workbook.

Happy Creating!

6 TIPS TO GET YOU AHEAD WITH YOUR WRITING CAREER BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

  1. Make time for your passion projects: It’s been said that you are as good as your last project.  This means that as you go ahead with your career, you need to be continually building on a body of work that you can be proud of; balancing carefully the ‘write for hire gigs’ with your passion projects that are uniquely you and have your voice in them. A time will come when the world will be ready for it and having it ready will get you ahead of many other writers.
  2. Get help from Mentors: This doesn’t mean nailing down a mentor and insisting that they mentor you. Most mentors are very busy. The beauty with the internet is that it has made everyone accessible, and their thoughts on various subject matters available. Are you following those you consider your mentors on social media? Do they have a blog and do you follow it and read it? Are you buying books to help sharpen your craft? How are you getting inspired as a writer? Learning indirectly from your mentors has great benefits and can help you get ahead in your career.
  3. STOP saying YES to everything: If you are starting out in your career then by all means say yes to everything. But as a professional writer with some credits to your name, you have to stop saying yes to everything and start saying no to some things, so that you save up headspace to be able to work on things that will reward you in the future. Don’t just think about today. Build a portfolio of work that can take you to the next level.
  4. Over deliver: I feel sad when I see people comfortable with mediocrity. Listen up, even if the producers you are working with have lower standards, you should have higher standards and over deliver. I do my best to over deliver, I never miss a deadline, I always put my best foot forward and go over and beyond. You are a writer, you love writing, why should the amount of money you are being paid for the particular project dictate how much you deliver? Go over and beyond, as long as you said yes to the amounts offered, as long as you took the job, you have to over deliver. And I guarantee you, over delivering pays off later on in your career.
  5. Eliminate Excuses: A lot of us entertain excuses, ‘I am not ahead because I don’t know anyone, I am not this or that.’ The minute you take responsibility for your life, the faster you will go up that ladder. I didn’t know anyone when I started my career. I have had two careers as a journalist and as a TV writer, as a journalist, in my very early 20’s I got to write for Saturday Magazine, I found a way in by my resilience and impressed the then editor Rhoda Orengo and at Kiss FM got internship from Carol Radull, they didn’t know me but I got IN!  If you look for excuses, you will not see opportunities. Eliminate excuses and you will go far in your career and life in general.
  6. Never Stop Learning: The moment you feel you know it all, marks the beginning of your downfall. It’s a fact. To get ahead and stay ahead as a writer you have to be continually learning. Enjoy the process, keep growing and keep flexing those writing muscles. That’s the name of the game.

I hope these tips inspire you to get ahead with your writing. For more inspiration, information and education. Head over to my website damarisirunguo.com and sign up for my FREE WEEKLY E-NEWSLETTER.

Grab a free guide on writing while at it.

Happy Creating!

A SCRIPT EDITOR’S PERSPECTIVE ON MISTAKES WRITERS MAKE WHEN WRITING BY DAMARIS IRUNGU OCHIENG’

As a script editor and head writer for over a decade, I notice mistakes that could easily have been avoided, if the writer just worked a little harder on their craft.

In this blog I’ll point out seven mistakes in the hope that you’ll avoid them and increase your chances of making it as a writer out here.

  1. Lazy writing: Things that fall in this category are things like un researched material and facts, careless spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and such like things, that distract the script editor from fully being immersed in your written story.
  2. Un-relatable Characters: The surest way to make your story fall flat is to give the audience characters they can’t relate with. Your characters are the ones driving your story, so make sure they are carrying us along emotionally in their journey.
  3. Not beating deadlines: I can’t overstate this, if you don’t beat a deadline as a writer on a TV show, it’s not just your episode that gets affected but the entire series. How do you expect the Script editor to read episode 4 before reading episode 3.  Not meeting deadlines is one of the surest ways to get yourself ‘not recommended’ for other gigs.
  4. Predictable twists and turns: The reason the audience is giving you half an hour, one hour or ninety minutes of their time is because they want to be immersed in some journey and forget about life for a moment. When your story is predictable then what’s the point, they might as well check their phones for the jokes and memes in their whatsapp groups.  Robert Mckee once said that the audience is not losing attention span, it’s losing interest span. There are so many things competing for the audience attention, make sure you grab and hold your audience interest. The predictable twists and turns also weaken any conflict.

I’ve in the past written a blog post on how to hold your readers’ attention. Find it on my website www.damarisirunguo.com

Or Click on this direct link to the specific blog post https://wordpress.com/post/damarisirunguo.com/489

  • Telling Us instead of showing us: TV is a visual medium, make sure you are utilizing it. Think of your story movements in terms of actions and see what you can show us instead of tell us. E.g If a character is angry, instead of them saying they’re angry, how about they clear the stuff on their desk in a huff or throw something to the wall. Show don’t tell. Make sure you’re showing us more than telling us in your script.
  • Not sticking to the Tone of the show/story: If you’ve never written in a certain tone, research on it, eat, sleep, dream with that kind of show to make sure you are nailing the tone of what’s expected.
  • Not taking Notes given by the Head writer: There’s nothing more annoying than this. There’s a reason the head writer is the head writer and not you, so even if you don’t agree with their notes, examine whether it’s your ego or stubbornness, then put your feelings aside and work on the notes given. One day when you are the head writer you can call the shots. For now, the easiest way to get yourself fired is to give your head writer/showrunner a hard time. I’m not saying don’t push back on notes at all, but know which battles to pick, if it’s something you are deeply passionate about and can’t sleep if you take that note then by all means raise it with the head writer, we are humans and we understand and listen.

 Hope you’ve found those tips useful. If you’d like more tips on writing. Head over to my website www.damarisirunguo.com

You can also subscribe to my email list for your free guide on writing plus a weekly newsletter that inspires and informs to get you on the right track on your writing journey.

You can also buy my book on writing. Get writing, A beginner’s guide from Idea to First draft on Amazon. Or if in Kenya, order a hardcopy by whatsapp text only to 0707 651546 for your hard copy at Kshs 650.

Happy Writing and Creating!

A SWOT Analysis of Yourself As A Professional Writer By Damaris Irungu Ochieng’

 A SWOT analysis is mostly used by corporations to check if their business plan or idea is going in the right direction. If you’re a writer making your money from writing, it is important to do the same to check if you are heading in the right direction and if not, how to get your writing career back on track. Read on for my thoughts on how to do a SWOT analysis of your writing career.

S – Strengths: What are your strengths as a creative? Do you even know what your strengths are or are you comparing yourself to those around you? I love this famous saying that ‘if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will grow up knowing it’s stupid’ Do you feel like you’re a bad writer because perhaps you wrote in a genre that is not you? Perhaps you didn’t put enough time into the work? And that has made you feel inadequate? Work on stories that let your light shine through, what are those stories that make you come alive? What genres do you love most and can shine through them? Tiger Woods didn’t win numerous records by focusing on his weaknesses? He focused on perfecting his strengths. Perfect your strengths as a writer so that you may shine through.

W- Weaknesses:  What are your weaknesses? A person who is not able to look at themselves sincerely and point out their weakness won’t go far in life. Spend time examining yourself as an individual and find any weaknesses that could be stopping you from reaching your fullest potential. Are you a glass half-empty person? I’ve worked with writers who give half of their zeal on projects because it’s not their original idea, this lack of passion in turn ends up hurting the prospects of them being called for other gigs. Let’s take time to look inward at our weaknesses and find ways to create a balance.

O- Opportunities: Sometimes we miss out on great opportunities because we let fear of the unknown control us. ‘What If I fail? What if (insert your fear). Listen, a lot of us are doing it afraid, so go for it, don’t let opportunities pass you by because you’re afraid of what others will think of you if you fail.

Look around you, what opportunities can you see in the market place around you and globally, how can you leverage that for your win? How can you synergize with others for a win, in the spirit of Ubuntu? I am only because you are?  An African wise saying goes ‘If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.’

T- Threats: What are the threats that could render you irrelevant as a writer and bring an end to your career? How are you approaching the threats to make sure they don’t end your career? Is the threat imaginary or is it really a threat? What can you do about it? Do you have friends or acquaintances who can help you overcome the threat? Do you have mentors who you follow to stay inspired and to see how they are handling the threats that come their way? Remember the reaction to the threat is what will determine your outcome. Threats will always be there, so how will you react to them?

Hope this article has helped with you some tips on how to navigate your career as a writer.

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Happy Creating!