Stephanie Bourbon Reminds Us – Story First!

One of our fave TV writers-illustrators-screenwriters-vloggers, Stephanie Bourbon, explains why great storytelling should be your focus from the time you sit down to write to…you know, that time when somebody yanks you out of your chair and forces you to stop.


by Stephanie Bourbon

Have you ever picked up a book that has been on the bestseller list for months and months and the author is all over the publishing news because all the movie deals coming in and how rich they are—and then the writing is bad, like really bad, and you think—WTF???

Yup–been there, done that.

Have you ever gone to the movies and so many things are wrong and yet the film is bringing in millions and millions and you cringe at the story mistakes?

Yup–been there, done that.

This has been my philosophy for as long as I can remember.

There is nothing wrong with being great with words or wordsmithing. I admit, it’s not my thing, but if you allow it to get in the way of the story, that is where you will have problems.

The reason is that people come to you for the story not the words.

STORY IS ALWAYS FIRST.
The words should come LAST.

The sequence of writing a novel should go something like this.

FIRST DRAFT

REVISIONS

REVISIONS

REVISIONS

NEW FULL DRAFT– I do this from memory with a blank page.

REVISIONS on story, character, at the chapter level.

REVISIONS

Then workshop it.

Then critique group.

Then if you are really sure this is the best version of your story you get to line edit. (usually about the 8th or 9th revision)

Sounds like a lot of work right?

Yup, it is.

Writing novels is hard.

Think of it this way, if you were to make a wedding cake, you finish with the tiny details you start with the eggs, flour, sugar, etc.

It’s the same with your story.

Now, for the screen and TV writers out there, this is the same for you.

if you waste your time writing clever dialogue, scenes, and jokes but the story isn’t working, your movie or your episode will most likely suck.

Why? Because story always needs to be first. Great sentences and super clever jokes won’t and can’t carry a story….

Read it all at stephaniebourbon.com

Promoting Your Kickstarter

By Bob Tinsley

My Kickstarter funded! I’m a happy camper. Here are some of the things I learned.

Yes, you must promote your Kickstarter, otherwise it will sit there with your mom’s $5 languishing alone until your campaign goes down to ignominious failure. Yeah, I know I just kicked your dog and rubbed your cat’s fur the wrong way, but the truth’s the truth.

I contemplated a post whining about the usual things that make promotion hard. Then I stumbled across the following. Of course I didn’t find it until the campaign was half over.

The Kickstarter Dashboard has a section on it called “Referrers.” This tells you where your contributors come from: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Direct to Kickstarter, and that catchall enigma, “Direct Traffic No Referrer Information.” I still don’t have a clue how that’s helpful.

As you can tell, the sources are pretty general. For instance, one of my contributors (a big one!) came from Twitter, but I don’t know when or what post led that person to me.

Just below the Referrers section is another section called “Custom Referral Tags” that allows you to “create a referral tag to monitor successful backings from each link you share.”

I had to go look that one up in the Handbook, and I’m glad I did. Basically this allows you to create up to 500 unique links to your Kickstarter. I’ve been using it thusly: for each post I make about the campaign whether on Instagram, FB (each of my pages on FB), Twitter, or somewhere else, I create a custom tag by giving it a name with a date: Twitter0831, FBPro0831, FBEscape0831, FBRWT0831, etc. Press the “Generate Tag” button and you get a unique link.

When someone clicks on a link, that leaves a track that tells me the specific post that induced them to take a look. This would be a great thing for A-B testing for answering questions like: Where do you get most of your traffic? Did a different illustration or different wording make a difference?
Apparently this feature doesn’t get much use, though I don’t know why.

Now for some things I learned over and above all the reading and research I did before launch.

  1. Adjust your attitude on promotion. My attitude was “Gah! Promotion. What a PITA.” Promotion is telling people about things you believe they might like. That’s a good thing! Right? Right? Who doesn’t want to find out about things you would enjoy? So, adjust. And plan.
  2. Planning is critical. I did not plan well enough. In fact, planning the promotional aspects of this campaign was non-existent. I had not plan past the launch. I thought I’d just handle it on the fly, which I did, but not nearly as well as if I had thought out the 21 days of promotion before I even launched. If I had, I would have been less stressed. Putting things together on the day they go out is stressful. I would have had more promotional posts ready to go and know where to put them when. If I had planned, I would have had more time to do all the other things I should have been doing during the KS. Planning does not end with filling in all the blanks KS gives you. You also have to plan for the fulfillment part of the campaign. It takes 3 weeks for KS to distribute the collected money after the campaign ends. I’ll be using that time to plan. I should have already done it. So, PLAN!
  3. Make the promotional posts different and fun. I made audiograms and podcast episodes with my characters interacting that segued into a call to action using the custom links. Even after starting with the custom links over halfway through the campaign I can trace 30% of my income back to those particular posts, two from Facebook and one from the podcast feed.
  4. Plan for Stretch Goals. I didn’t. I didn’t expect for a minute that I would fund before the end of the campaign. When I was notified that I funded 60 hours before the end, I was left flat-footed. Nothing to put up as a Stretch Goal that I could pull off in that amount of time. Might as well have left money on the table. So plan Stretch Goals before launch.Now the real work begins. Stay tuned.

Read Bob’s previous articles on kickstarting a podcast HERE and HERE


Bob Tinsley is an artist, writer, boataholic and new audio/podcast fiction writer-producer. A mighty fine one too, as his 2nd and 4th place People’s Pilot 2019 finishes demonstrate.

How to trick people into thinking you’re good looking

Regular TVWriter™ visitors may recall a certain editor who variously called himself Muncher or muncher or Munchman or munchman or even Tim Muncher in his earliest days here.

Tim is still a great TVWriter™ friend and total bud to our Beloved Leader LB. He’s just too busy being amazingly cool, rich, talented, and successful to mess around with this site anymore.

Recently, this TVWriter™ minion (who, for whatever it may be worth to y’all, is female) got to talking with the munchy one and asked a question that I may regret to the end of my days. The convo went like this:

CIS Woman TVWriter™ Minion: How did you make it up to your lofty heights, muncharito? What’s the secret of your success? Tellmetellmetellme….

Tim Muncher: It was destiny, that’s all. My secret isn’t a secret at all. I just learned the secret of making people think I’m beautiful, from Jenna Marbles.

CIS Woman TVWriter™ Minion: Jenna Marbles? Are you fucking kidding me?

Munchaderrio: Hell no, bitch. It’s right here–

And here, from my unbeautiful but newly hopeful self to your probably not so hopeful selves, is what turned the tide for the formerly ugly and currently so successful that everybody pretends he’s beautiful Tim the Munchito.


More from Jenna Marbles is HERE.

More from munchman is everywhere you look. But this minion isn’t allowed to show you. Dayam!

Is It Time to Rekindle Your Passion for Writing?

Last week LB  tweeted his “secret” for regaining the thrill of writing (assuming, of course, that you’ve lost it. As is his wont, it was simple and direct:

No longer feeling the thrill of writing? Try using a yellow pad. Writing by hand changes the way your brain experiences the process. Enjoy the words flowing from your fingertips.

Sometimes, however, writers need something more, well, more philosophical. So we searched the web and found this most helpful piece on one of our fave sites, Bang2Write.Com. Hope it helps!


by Jerry Jenkins

Rekindle Your Passion

Are you slogging through your writing and feel you have no gas left in the tank?

Have you trashed everything you’ve done and find yourself back at square one?

Maybe you’re so overwhelmed that you that you can’t picture ever finishing.

Or perhaps you haven’t been able to motivate yourself to even start.

I can tell you from experience, you can rekindle your passion for writing—even when you want to quit.

Even Stephen King Wants To Quit

Ever notice that Stephen King announces his retirement almost every time he finishes writing a novel?

This from a guy who has written more than 60 novels and enjoys a net worth of over $400 million.

Yet even he comes to feel as if he’s finished, spent, unable to write another word.

I felt exactly that way after finishing one of my own novels, and I mentioned that to Stephen.

His response was priceless.

“Whatever you do,” he said, “don’t make any decisions—or worse, any announcements—right now.”

He told me he finally learned to quit going public with his retirement declarations when he realized how short-lived were his exits. “Take some time for R&R,” he said. “Think about anything but writing.”

Stephen said he would kick back, do nothing, read, watch TV, and try to keep up with the news. And then a thought would start niggling at him, eventually becoming the germ of a story idea.

It might be based on something he’d heard or read, or it might come out of nowhere.

But it triggered  what-if questions….

Read it all at bang2write.com

Kelly Jo Brick: On Building a Creative Career

It’s been over a year since Kelly Jo Brick graced this site. We would have said “well over a year,” but there’s nothing “well” or even okay about it.

Anyway, direct from her FinalDraft.Com column, some helpful advice about the “bricks of breaking in.” Rock on, KJB!


Andrea Ciannavei of Mayans M.C.

Bricks of Breaking In: TV Writer Andrea Ciannavei on Building a Creative Career
by Kelly Jo Brick

While there is no one path to break in as a film or TV writer, there are a lot of similar challenges — both internal and external — that aspiring writers have to confront. Below, Mayans M.C. writer Andrea Ciannavei shares how she faced the odds to grow her career as a television writer.

“I’ve always written; I’ve always wanted to be a performer of some kind. That impulse has been with me since I was a very small kid. I didn’t know what any of that meant, I just did it,” Ciannavei said.

Harnessing her writing interests became difficult without her mom’s support, though.

“I wanted to go to college for acting and my mother was absolutely against that,” she said.

It was only after a longtime friend reached out to Ciannavei’s mother to say, “You need to let her do something creative in college or she’s going to flunk out” that her mom got on board, and Ciannavei went on to study dramatic writing at Tisch and attended Juilliard, where she studied to be a playwright.

While transitioning from plays to TV, Ciannavei dealt with a wall of self-doubt that many writers face.

“My agents were like, ‘You gotta write a pilot so we can try to get you a job or at least a meeting.’ I had such a hard time with that; I procrastinated on that for years,” she said.

“I was like, ‘I’m not smart enough to write a pilot.’ I think it was just that I have a severe handicap when it comes to self-confidence. So I had every reason in my mind why I couldn’t write this thing.”

With encouragement from showrunner Liz Tuccillo, Ciannavei began to reflect on her own life, asking herself about things she had done over the years…..

Read it all at the Final Draft Blog


Kelly Jo Brick is a former TVWriter™ Contributing Editor and current writer for the Final Draft blog. She’s a television and documentary writer and producer, as well as a winner of Scriptapalooza TV and a Sundance Fellow. Read more about her HERE.