Tag Archives: series

The serial, the novella and the cliffhanger

I wrote the other day about ‘the book of the film’ – my original inspiration for writing ‘White Cairns’:

It was earlier this year that I realised that it might be feasible to release my stories as a series of novellas, rather than as TV scripts.

At the end of last year, I started reading G.R.R Martin’s ‘Game of Thrones’ series.

G.R.R Martin’s fame as an author is such that, when the books were optioned to become a TV series, he became heavily involved in the production, as co-executive producer, and scriptwriter of one of the 10 episodes for each season’s story arc.
The lesson I learned from that was that if you’re good enough as a writer, then you can be both a novelist and a scriptwriter, if you want.

Then, on holiday in May, I read my first ‘proper’ eBook – until then I’d been a bit of a traditionalist, preferring paper books, and had borrowed the ‘Song of Ice and Fire’ series from the library.

I was recommended ‘The Martian’ by Andy Weir, which was 77p on Kindle but only for a few more days as he’d been offered a traditional publishing contract (sadly it’s going to be £11.64 when it’s published by Ebury Digital in February).

It was a gripping read, and, from following one of the ‘you might also like’ links, I ended up reading the ‘Desolate’ series by Robert Brumm.

Those weren’t quite so well-written as ‘The Martian’, but they had real cliff-hanger endings, and I just had to know what happened next. Plus, they were relatively cheap – and quite short, which is when I had the ‘light-bulb moment’ and realised that perhaps I could do this too…

And thereby hangs a tale. Or a novella…

The book of the film

The astute amongst you might have noticed that I refer to the various parts of the “White Cairns” series as Episodes. And those that are fond of a bit of detective fiction (or just clever!) might have worked out from that clue that the original idea was for White Cairns to be a TV drama series.

A couple of people have questioned why I don’t just carry on with my idea to make it into a drama series. But the reasons I originally shelved it are still valid – firstly, another series came out which was very similar in feel and setting, called “Rockface”:


Once that started, I couldn’t see White Cairns being commissioned – it would already have been difficult, due to the amount of OB  (outside broadcast) filming that would have been needed, and the (sadly) unreliable Scottish weather and snowfall.

A second reason was that, as a newbie writer, the chances of getting a drama series commissioned are practically zero. Most scriptwriters serve a sort of ‘apprenticeship’; working on recurring dramas like “Doctors” before perhaps being promoted to “Casualty” or similar, and then, with a solid track record, they might have a chance of pitching an original idea.

The other main reason I stopped writing scripts was that I realised that it would be difficult to make a name as a scriptwriter whilst still being part-time – if you are lucky enough to get a commission, from what I was told, the time-scales and deadlines are extremely tight, and I couldn’t see how I would fit that around a full-time job plus family commitments.

So, for all of these reasons, I shelved the dream of writing for TV drama, and White Cairns was consigned to the dusty recesses of my laptop.

Until, that is, G.R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” came along, and then I picked up on the burgeoning popularity of eBooks… but that should probably be the subject of another post!