My Town: The Movie

This resource is great for:
Writing about your home town.

Writer Daniel Gray shares his top tips for writing about your town, city or village – using a 500-word movie pitch as a way to get you started.

Author Daniel Gray says:Daniel Gray

“People and place. That is at the core of what I write and why I write. People and place now, people and place then; fables in pubs that make me chuckle, and social history that makes me gasp in awe. The very greatest thing about living in Scotland (apologies, obscenely beautiful landscape and tattie scones), is that here, all of that thrives.”

How does Daniel go about using place as an inspiration for writing?

“When I have an idea for a new book, but don’t know where to start, I distill my idea into a 500-word pitch. Just take the name, then add a colon and the words ‘The Movie’ (for example, My Life in Cumbernauld: The Movie).”

Activity – Writing the Pitch for a Movie of Life in Your Town

Write a 500-word pitch for the movie of life in your town, pretending you’re going to send it to producers.

Use the following headings as prompts:

  • Time and Place

Think about life in your town – either in the present day or from an earlier time in your memory.

What are your surroundings – the buildings, shops, parks, paths, trees, traffic, air like? Describe all of these features.

  • People

Place is, of course, vital. But is the feel of your town possible without those around you? Talk about the people in your town who are important to you – describe them, their names, nicknames, adventures you have together.

And where there’s people, there’s laughter. This film needs those one-liners and those stories.

What about the visitors to life in your town – what do your family and friends from other areas make of it all? Do they think you talk or act differently to them?

  • Happenings

We probably need a plot. It could focus on those people and places above, and they should certainly feature. But what is the overall story of your town?

And then what? Happily ever after for person and place? Think about the future of your town – find your inner sci-fi and imagine what you would change.

Once you have your 500 words, there’s nothing to stop you writing a whole book about your town!

Further information:

Daniel Gray has been working with members of Cumbernauld Action Care for the Elderly (CACE) as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival ReimagiNation: Cumbernauld residency. He has been helping them to tell the stories of their town. You can read more about our work in Cumbernauld on our Booked! blog.