Crime dominates the airwaves and rules our TV schedules. From Broadchurch to Midsomer Murders, the genre is making a killing.
The Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival is the world’s greatest celebration of crime fiction, so where better than to mix with giants of the genre, and learn from the best.
Before the likes of Lee Child, Sally Wainwright and Val McDermid take centre stage, the festival kicks off with a day-long crime fiction workshop, Creative Thursday.
This year, the focus is on script writing with a programme of workshops and seminars led by TV and radio industry professionals, featuring the annual ‘Dragon’s Pen’ – a chance to pitch your script synopsis directly to the producers on broadcasting’s frontline.
The day kicks off after a welcome from author Ann Cleeves, with an Intensive Writing Workshop on writing for radio with Shelley Silas – the British playwright renowned for award-winning radio plays on BBC Radio – and Simon Brett. Brett, a crime author and radio producer, produced the first episode of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, as well as many episodes I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue and Just a Minute. He is a prolific writer of sitcoms and detective dramas for BBC Radio.
With their very different skills and methods, Shelley and Simon will tell you what works for them. They’ll talk about developing your ideas, working on structure, character, dialogue, POV and other areas specifically related to radio writing.
For those with their eyes on the goggle box, there’s an Intensive Writing Workshop: How TV crime differs from crime fiction, with Gaby Chiappe, who has adapted Ann Cleeves’ Vera and Shetland for TV, and Isabelle Grey, a writer on Wycliffe, Rosemary & Thyme and Midsomer Murders.
Using a dark fairy tale as a template, they will show you how to structure an episode of a crime drama, how to create a protagonist that an actor will want to play, and how to write for a visual medium.
Short Stories for Radio is a seminar by BBC Radio 4 producer Kirsteen Cameron, who will talk through the process of selecting and recording short stories for broadcast. There are fewer opportunities for new writing on the network now, so this is a great chance to find out what works best and what producers are looking for.
A lucky few Creative Thursday participants with a completed concept will then have the opportunity to pitch their script to the Dragon’s Pen.
Not for the faint-hearted, Dragon’s Pen is hosted by Mark Billingham – author of the Thorne detective series, adapted by Sky starring David Morrissey (both of whom feature at the Festival for a Special In Conversation event on Friday 17th July). The panel of Dragons comprises of Allegra McIlroy, Producer at BBC Radio 4, Rebecca Watson, agent at Valerie Hoskins Associates, Michael Dawson, executive producer for ITV studios who has worked on the adaption of Ann Cleeves’ Vera and Christine Glover, agent at Blake Friedmann.
2015 Creative Thursday: Thursday 16 July, 9am – 5.30pm at The Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate. £99.00 per person – limited spaces available.