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Interview with writer Andrew Newall


Andrew Newall was selected as a runner-up in the American Gem Literary Competition in 2008. Since then, has had short fiction published several times online and in print. Most recently, the short story version of Not So Fast was published by Bright Flash Literary Review early in January.  In addition, he has written and co-produced two short films, Cool Blue (2002) and Someone Else (2010). He lives near Falkirk in Scotland.

  • What is the first story you ever wrote?

I can’t remember the first ever. I was obsessed with writing and drawing comics from a young age so it would likely be one of them – one of the ones I actually finished.

  • Growing up, what movies or stories inspired your creative passion?

The creative passion was always there as far back as I remember but it was comics at first, particularly the superhero comics. I would write and draw the characters I liked. After a while, I’d start to invent my own characters. In terms of movies that inspired me, one that has always stuck with me is Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train because it was the first film I saw where I liked the bad guy better than the good guy. That’s got to be good writing.

  • For an unknown writer, what is the best way to get their screenplay seen?

Screenplay competitions sound like the obvious choice. Having said that, I’ve only ever entered two of them, Tincan being one. Another thing you can do is try and get your own script shot and get the film out to a couple of festivals (especially a short film). I’ve done that here in Scotland and it didn’t cost much. If you search online, you might be surprised to find a local filmmaker who shares the same passion and then your screenplay is being seen by someone who can help get it made.

  • What experiences from your life influence your characters?

Something always creeps in there. You can’t help it. More than a few of my characters will have my own traits in them or traits of people I’ve met.

  • Can you explain your character development process?

For me, character development happens as the idea develops. I’ll quickly give them their gender, job, etc, to start off. Later on, it’s the predicaments you put them in that cause the changes. I might think it would be better if they had a certain skill that would help them. That can mean a quick rewrite to introduce the skill earlier so it doesn’t come completely out of left field.

  • Do you write bios before you start writing?

I do for the main characters after I’ve thought the idea through – only a paragraph or two, not pages and pages. You do need to have a bit of background for them to give them some depth and it helps you decide how they would act or what they’d say later.

  • How emotionally involved are you with the characters you create?

I’ve never really thought much about that one. Next time I kill one of my characters off, I’ll see how I feel and let you know.

  • What are your thoughts on structure?

If you mean the three-act structure that Syd Field talks about in his Screenplay book, it makes perfect sense and that’s why it’s so well publicised. Every story needs a beginning, middle and end, and that’s what the three-act structure is – setup, problem/obstacles and resolution. I don’t write thinking “this is act one” etc. It just happens. You can go into each act and break it down even further but that’s the basic structure.

  • Do you outline before you start writing?

Yes. Not too in depth though, otherwise I’d be outlining forever and not starting any work. I need just enough to start me in some direction. That direction might change but at least I’ve started. I need to have a good idea how I want it to end as well.

  • What is the most important aspect of building a great character?

Make them likeable, even if they’re a bad guy. Give them something readers can relate to – their job, a personality trait, a bad habit, a speech impediment – something. I’ll let someone else decide if it’s a great character or not.