Thanks to all those who cast a vote about my next project. I'm setting myself the goal of writing a first draft feature this year, as well as working up more ideas for Doctors and pulling finger with regards radio drama. Having decided all of that, I spent most of the day developing an entirely new idea, though I've no idea yet which medium best suits the story I want to tell. Probably TV drama, if I'm honest - it's my bag.
Then came an announcement of Scotland Writes, a new BBC TV drama writing opportunity for writers born or resident in Scotland. Click the link to get all the facts, but here are the headlines: 60 page script, pilot for a series or serial, any genre, suitable for broadcast on a BBC channel, deadline: Monday November 7 this year. Open to all over the age of 18, so long as you don't have two or more hours of broadcast drama to your credit.
It's long been a frustration for Scottish writers that there are so few TV drama openings north of the border. The local BBC soap River City did invite submissions back in 2006, with the promise of a weekend workshop for the best candidates. Instead entrants waited a year for their rejection letters. The show's now a 60-minute weekly drama, not a place for newcomers to cut their teeth - closing that doorway.
STV soap High Road gave a generation of writers their first taste of scripting TV drama, but that's long gone now. Crime drama Taggart was never really an option for emerging writers, but even that hardy perennial is all but gone, according to rumours. That leaves London-based schemes like the Writers' Academy, and Channel 4's Coming Up - slim pickings in an industry crippled by cutbacks.
When Kate Rowland - the BBC's Creative Director of New Writing - came to Edinburgh last summer with the writersroom roadshow, she talked about establishing a shadow scheme or new opportunity for scribes north of the border. So it's great to see that come to fruitition with Scotland Writes. The lengthy deadline [more than 15 weeks] offers no excuse. First prize is £1500 to develop your idea, with another £500 for the runner-up.
Even if you don't get a cash prize, up to 20 of the best entrants will be invited to a masterclass where they will have a chance to meet the BBC Scotland development team. I reckon this opportunity will get around 200 entries. That means you've got a one in ten chance of face-time with the people who can open doors for you. Now's your chance, so get off your arse and start writing. Onwards!