TVWriter™ Contributing Editor Emeritus (because he’s so busy with other great things these days) Herbie J Pilato has a lot to say about social media and its impact on showbiz and, not surprisingly, he says it oh-so-well:
More tips from top writers courtesy of Author Learning Center are HERE
I recently gifted an advance reader copy of The Eidola Project, my first published novel, to TVWriter™’s Larry Brody with a huge thank-you for providing the impetus to write it.
He responded a few days later with a review of the first twenty-five pages, saying how much he was enjoying the book. He also asked me to write a piece for TVWriter™ on how I came to write this “wonderful” (his word!) novel at the cusp of qualifying for senior discounts at various retailers (I’m 63). So, move in a little closer to the screen boys and girls and I’ll tell ya.
It all began with a twinkle in my folks’ eyes. OK, perhaps we shouldn’t go that far back. It began with an honest appraisal of my life in my 50’s and acknowledging that I missed writing.
I had written three plays that were published for the school market years before. Since then I’d always had that nagging thought that I wanted to put it back into my life, and by gum, I wasn’t getting any younger.
So, I wrote three pilots and submitted them to the People’s Pilot 2014 Competition, which resulted in having two scripts in the top five in 2014. I spent the next year pitching the scripts and getting lots of requests, but things went no further, so I wrote Larry and asked for advice.
Larry wrote back saying that with my talent I needed to move to L.A. “Do it. Do it now,” he said, because there were people there I should meet.
As a result of hearing that, my wife and I had an interesting discussion over dinner in our Seattle home the very same night, after which I wrote back asking Larry if the fact that I was 60 years old, a frisky 60 but 60 nonetheless, bear on what he, my wife, and I were talking about.
To my chagrin Larry wrote back to say, “forget it.”
He said that he’d been a plaintiff in a class action lawsuit about showbiz ageism, which the plaintiffs won, but this didn’t change the culture in Hollywood. He mentioned it was difficult, but not impossible, for someone long in the tooth to break-in.
Larry went on to suggest I find other avenues. He suggested making movies of my own or perhaps writing a novel—cue the chorus of demons! (Hey, I write horror, OK?) And the rest as they say was history.
The transition to writing novels was not smooth. I had a lot to learn.
Yet the visual style of writing inherent in TV and movie scripts can be a real plus. There are many genres that benefit from this style, which lends itself most closely to plot-driven books.
Other novels choose to dive deep into a character or a set of characters. They are introspective titles that are centered around what the character is thinking and may have very little plot.
One task of a TV and movie writer is to show character motivations and thoughts through actions, choices, and, yes, through dialogue.
The introspective approach is a very different one from scripts, yet it provides new opportunities along with the challenges.
As a novelist, I needed to learn to let the reader know what a character was thinking and to utilize all the senses. How did things smell, taste, sound, feel, not just how they looked.
Nevertheless, one complement I truly appreciate is hearing that my writing is cinematic, that the reader can see my book in their mind’s eye.
Some people make disparaging comments about plot-heavy books, claiming they are facile and not truly literature. Others say that introspective books with little plot are boring.
I recommend avoiding this either/or approach. Both offer opportunities. Find the approach that works for you. Feel free to mix. One thought to consider: Most classics were best-sellers in their day, and often have a strong plot and compelling characters.
My first novel, The Eidola Project, is about to be published, my second novelinvolves a werewolf and is currently at the editor, and I am 100 pages into book number three.
I’m having a blast!
Do I wish I got started earlier? Yes and no.
Honestly, I probably wasn’t ready to do the hard work it takes to be a writer when younger. I also wanted to raise a family and was worried about the vagaries of being an artist.
Now that my kids are grown, I am nurturing that side of myself that was always there. And, as I said, I’m having a blast! If this leads to something on television, that would be fantastic. If not, I’m enjoying the journey. What more can one ask?
It’s not who you “stick it to,” it’s sticking to it, no matter what “it” is, that is essential for you to achieve your goals. Perseverance for the win. Here’s the plan:
by Nicole Dieker
The next time you worry that everything you want to do creatively has already been done by someone else, or feel anxious about the amount of time it will take for you to become as good at your creative work as you’d like to be, tell yourself that you’re on a bus. In Helsinki, Finland. And the most important thing you can do for your career is not get off the bus too soon.
There are two dozen platforms [at the Helsinki Bus Station], Minkkinen explains, from each of which several different bus lines depart. Thereafter, for a kilometre or more, all the lines leaving from any one platform take the same route out of the city, making identical stops.
These bus lines are roughly analogous to creative careers, in the sense that anyone beginning to pursue a creative path will often find themselves arriving at “stations” that other creative artists have reached before them. Early creative work is often derivative, whether or not we intend it to be, and some people may get frustrated by the idea that everything they want to do creatively has already been done by someone else.
Not only is the bus stopping at well-frequented stations, but it’s also still pretty full. With all that competition for seats and nowhere to go but places other artists have already been, why stay on the bus?
Because if you ride the creative bus long enough—as the metaphor goes—it takes you somewhere unique….
A Hollywood pro steps up to tell us how the TV/Film writing biz really works. Our suggestion is that you read it carefully and relish the insight this knowledge gives you.
by Tennyson E. Stead
For almost 10 years, I worked as a development executive for Unified Pictures and Exodus Film Group. One of my chief sources of income over the last year has been writing script coverage, writing development notes, and in general parsing screenplays for writers and producers. My friends, I have read a LOT of screenplays. If you’re an undiscovered screenwriter with more than three our four scripts out there on the market, there’s a fair chance I’ve covered you at some point.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve read a lot of discussion on Stage 32 about how and why institutional Hollywood has come to regard the overwhelming mountain of screenplays currently being produced by aspiring writers as a burden, rather than as an opportunity to discover the next great cinematic voice. Is it really even possible that the percentage of “bad writing” versus “good writing” is high enough to justify ignoring or throwing away literally an entire market full of spec scripts? How did we get here?
How the Spec Market Fell Apart
Most people working in development today, whether we’re talking about screenwriters, executives, or representation, did not come from a show business background, so we need to preface this conversation with the understanding that a huge majority of the people working in Hollywood today either don’t know or can’t articulate just what the hell is wrong with our development process. Most executives today come from business school, and most writers of substance come from a literary or journalistic background. To a literary or an advertising mindset, bad screenwriting is usually a problem of tone.
Nope. Good dramatic structure is about action, motivation, and conflict – scene work, in other words – just as surely as it is about act breaks and turning points. Most actors, directors, and writers who come from a classical performance background know these practices as a matter of habit, and we usually take it for granted that Hollywood greenlights productions with an eye constantly cast towards the fundamentals of drama. Because the vast majority of writers, executives, agents and managers never actually learned those fundamentals in the first place….