Monday, 17 December 2012


I don't normally do this, but at the request of the fabulous Screenwriting Goldmine, I've been asked to post some of the feedback I've received over the years for my Script Doctor services.... I'm blushing...

Matt Percival

"Cracking script coverage packed with good advice to help make it the best it can possibly be! “

Andy Smith

"Have to echo all the comments on here, Si's input on two projects currently in development, has been invaluable and, to be honest, absolutely essential. Thank you Mr Spencer! "

John Ellis

"More helpful than anyone I've come across in the biz for improving my script -- including my professional "friends." If you need someone to guide you into the deepest parts of your story, Si is the man! "

James Power

" Si has a rare gift for encouraging other writers to hunt for what is most crucial and interesting in a script. His notes are highly perceptive, concise, full of humour and are always helpful. Si has given me a master class in tv and film writing. Since working with him on a number of projects, I have been accepted on to a BBC academy and have completed several scripts for Channel four and the BBC. I am also developing a series for Sky. It has been a privilege working with him and I hope to do so again in the near future. "

Margarita Felices

""Thanks for the critique - exactly what I needed. You have inspired me to think a little more outside of the box with my genre and I am back at the keyboard enjoying my manuscript once again.”

Cllr Keith Martin 

" I've had Si's help on shorts, treatments and a screenplay. It's a pleasure to work with him. His expertise and experience is obvious. I cannot speak highly enough of Si's professionalism or his friendly and supportive editing and criticism. He is the bee's knees!”

Keith Storrier

“Si is a lot better at reviewing scripts than I am at reviewing script reviews (which is good for me, not so for Si). But here goes anyway... Si's review of my feature script was both honest and encouraging. After reading his notes I was re-energized, educated, uplifted, motivated, and lots of other positive sounding adjectives, and I got the impression that he was SINCERELY interested that I produce my best possible work as opposed to "Thanks for the cash, here's your notes, now piss off". He addresses both the good and bad points of your script (because you need to know what you're doing right as well as what your doing wrong). His suggestions for improvement are clear enough to be understandable but 'hands-off' enough to allow you room to maneouver (i.e. he doesn't write it for you). I'd have no hesitation in using Si's services again and recommending him to my struggling screenwriting chums.”

Adele Kirby

"As a dancer I paid for dance classes from a great dancer who didn't really know how to teach. As a horse rider I have, at times, paid for riding lessons from people who were better riders than coaches, or better coaches than riders. But luckily as I writer, I pay for what is essentially coaching from someone who is not only an excellent writer, but outstanding critiquer as well.

Si has assessed both my prose and scripts, and has not been afraid to throw down the gauntlet in either case. That can sting, but his enthusiasm for books and television imbues his reviews, as does his wide-ranging knowledge of both. He is able to look not only at the project as it is presented, but in the context of current, past and possible future trends and markets - ie what might happen when you get the damn thing finished, and how to maximise your chances of making those things happen. He talks about your project, in the real world, and I found that both daunting and exciting.

It's always a nerve-wracking process waiting for critiques to arrive, but in the end, I have found that Si provides a constructive road-map forward, identifying and highlighting potential in the projects that even I have not seen. He asks me to think bigger and better, and those are the challenges writers must always remember it is our duty to rise to.”

Peter Finlay

"So you've written the script that's been in your head for all that time and you let the trusted friend read it and even say "Tell me what you really think". If you're like me, your ego's been treated fairly well, but what you do next is a struggle, because all you've been told is what you probably already knew. So get the script to Si!

... He knows what he's talking about. I learned far more about my script in the time it took me to read his two page analysis than I'd figured out over the previous year. He won't re-write it for you, but he asks the questions about your plot and characters that you should probably have asked yourself. Plus, he has the skill and experience to point out, fairly gently, where you, if you'll forgive the pun, have lost the plot. I went back to my story with my enthusiasm doubled and am now half way through a re-write that is surprising me by what it's producing.”

Alexander Stewart

" If you need fair, constructive, honest, sensitive and an often brilliant review on your work, this is where you need to get your report. Simon's honesty and advice is exactly what I was looking for - to push me and my script into much better territory. It all chimed with the voice at the back of my head. Highly recommended.”

Markus Wills

"Was very impressed with the review, and most of all the honesty and advice that was given on all different aspects of my script. It’s the kinda stuff you wanna hear and learn off to make it as a writer, and it delivers just that.”
Mason Phillips

"The best aspects of Simon's appraisal were the honesty and insight. I don't want anything sugar-coated as that's not going to help me but I do want a tough message delivered with sensitivity. He's Good Cop, Bad Cop and Parole Officer rolled into one.”

Tara Byrne

“I was given my first commission by Si Spencer. I was nurtured through the process by him but he didn't make me feel like the 'new writer' or highlight my newbie mistakes. He encouraged me to put what I wanted to into the episode while he steered the structure and story to the best place”.

Sean Ryan

“Your review (of my work) was very detailed and very well written and much appreciated”.


P. Maher


“I am so grateful for the material you sent. A Master Class in screenwriting… your ideas are really resonating and hitting some very true notes in my mind… blooming genius”.

Thursday, 5 July 2012


I was an early reader, and a voraciously precocious one - Huxley and Orwell, Salinger and Asimov before the age of ten, intercut with Professor Branestawm, Uncle the Elephant and Molesworth. At puberty I discovered Catcher in the Rye and its infinitely more relevant and enriching British counterpart Billy Liar. In retrospect, in my current 'fine and joyous mood', those two books probably changed my life for the worse  more profoundly than if I'd been hit by a car or contracted polio.

There's a lot written and said in defence of books (and from hereon in, please assume the word to include all literature, art, comics and music), but increasingly in recent years I'm beginning to think they've ruined my life far more than any narcotic I've ever dabbled in, more than of my other dubious lifestyle choices. Indeed, I'm convinced that without books, I wouldn't have got anywhere near those unsavoury practices in the first place. Books are a gateway drug and sure, like cannabis, many people can happily read books for many years with no ill effects, but for a few of us, books and all those bastard siblings mentioned before are a life-destroying addiction.

I'm not being flippant here - I was an academically bright kid, above bright, I was in the top three of my peers and not merely artistically. I was a brilliant mathematician for my age, chemistry and biology, physical geography, geology and astronomy - I was well versed in all of them way above my years as a youngster. It was the astronomy that did it. Without the astronomy I would never have fallen for a small collection of short stories called 'The Golden Apples of the Sun'. Ray Bradbury, you horrible fucking mind-poisoner, you lied to me! I expected rockets and gravity and mechanics and you gave me murderers and relationships and religion and magic and hopes and dreams way beyond a normal person's aspirations. And you talked about Twain and Poe and Lovecraft and Shakespeare and so many other pushers of your twisted fantasist genre and sucked me deeper and deeper into your shooting gallery of dissolute strays.

Since then I've been bingeing on the lies of people who tell me that life is so much more dark or beautiful or sinister or kind, more glorious, more depraved, more rich and more infinite, in short more interesting than it actually is. They have reprogrammed my expectations till I now believe in ultimates of good and evil, that beauty exists, that honesty, decency and kindness are universal traits throughout humanity, but at the same time duplicity, corruption and self-interest are just as prevalent - worse I believe these things have structure, patterns and logic. I live in a life of narrative, light years from any concept of reality, just as sure as if I was permanently hallucinating on some psychotropic drug. I've dabbled in most narcotics to some extent or another (of course I have! Books told me it was okay! Books told me they were cool, sexy, enlightening!), but even during a brief dalliance with heroin, there were periods of lucidity and when it began to infringe on the reality of my social life and income, I gave it up with relative ease.... Oh but not this...

 Books never let you go; they're in your bloodstream all the time, more potent and more dangerous than any drug and while they feed you incredible highs and what feel like genuine emotional experiences, once you let fiction under your skin it takes over. Soon your politics, your emotions, your spiritual beliefs, your opinions on friends and all your human relationships become tainted by the disease. I do my damnedest to behave the way I believe my favourite characters will behave and am constantly amazed when the world responds differently.

Worse still, like one of those ridiculous ghosts or aliens that these horrible purveyors of unreality peddle, I've become part of the whole sick machine; my DNA is now programmed to think in narrative, character and structure. After 25 years of writing professionally, I genuinely can't even eat without it; it literally puts the food on my table... I'm a pod-person inhabited by the need to carry on the cycle of lies. Instead of being a doctor, or a chemist, or a pharmacist or a marine biologist or astronaut or any of the myriad of useful things that were potentially in my life's path before Books, I spend my days locked in my head constructing perfect murders, ideal fucks, imaginary people falling in imaginary love before their imaginary hearts are broken, I slice and dice, lick and suck and wound and savage and destroy... and then foist it on others to feed their habits. I live in a world of ghosts and mermaids and beautiful owls and demons and magick and endless similar bullshit while outside an entirely different universe kicks me around from pillar to post failing to grasp why I'm unable to comprehend it.

In short, I'm beginning to believe that Books have destroyed my life and my sanity and I fear that unlike other drugs, there is no withdrawal, no treatment program or rehabilitation.

Friday, 13 April 2012