Stephanie Bourbon on How to Craft A Great Ending

One of our fave writer-illustrator-screenwriting-vloggers, Stephanie Bourbon, modestly informs us of something we’ve all been, um, dying – metaphorically only, please! – to know:

by Stephanie Bourbon

Hello, Dear Writers!

Today I have this short blog about writing the perfect ending. 

Have you ever read a book, watched a movie, stayed up all night watching the end of a series on Netflix only to be left dissatisfied, angry, betrayed by the writer and or just plain icky??

YES, you have. All of us have! And it stinks. It’s the worst when you are like, “OMG that would have been amazing but he/she effed up the ending!!”

I can think of so many films and books that I loved until the last quarter. I don’t know if it’s laziness, or just not caring or what but OMG the ending NEEDS to be good. 


The ending of any story must have these elements to be strong….

Read it all at

Former Larry Brody student Stephanie Olivieri Bourbon has found great success as a writer, illustrator, and expert consultant. This article first appeared in her blog at

How Much Creative Control Does a Screenwriter Have?

The subtitle of this excellent article on the power – and lack thereof – of screenwriters is “3 things you need to know about the screenwriter’s relationship to the filmmaking process,” and believe us when we say the word “need” is right on the money.

by Lauren McGrail with the Lights Film School Team

“A reader experiences a novelist’s work directly. An audience experiences a screenwriter’s work through someone else’s lens.”

Throughout my years as a script reader and while working as Lights Film School’s screenwriting instructor, I’ve spoken with many screenwriters and students who share the same apprehension about the filmmaking process:

Will my script be changed by the director and actors?

In fact, one person went so far as to assume that – because they’d heard that the director and actors tend to change a script during production – they didn’t need to worry so much about their final draft containing writing they weren’t happy with. “If it’s going to change,” they asked, “Won’t it just get fixed anyway?”

Well, yes, the script may change during production – but no, you shouldn’t rely on that change to polish your draft. Where possible, your draft should be the version of the script that you’d be happy to have followed to the letter.

Scripts can evolve throughout the filmmaking process, including on set, for a whole range of reasons. In a best case scenario, those changes are made directly by the screenwriter, or – at the very least – involve their consultation.

Sometimes, however, the screenwriter isn’t involved in script changes at all. Even so, lack of involvement is not grounds for waving away the responsibility of producing an excellent screenplay!

It’s important to remember three key points, which we’ll explore here together….

Read it all at

Ken Levine’s Advice for New Showrunners

The Great Ken Levine gives us the most helpful advice any first-time show runner could ever want. Dunno about you, but this TVWriter™ minion is constantly finding herself grateful for Ken’s wit, wisdom, and – don’t tell him – his very existence.

by Ken Levine

Here’s some advice for first-time show runners.  Not that anyone asked….

1. Communicating with your staff. It’s not enough to have your vision for the show; you need to clearly share it with your other writers. Don’t just assume. It’ll be hard enough for them without trying to figure out what’s in your head. Same is true with your editor and directors.

2. Be very organized. Time will go by much faster than you think. From day one lay out a plan. You want so many outlines by this date, so many first drafts by that date, etc.

3. Don’t squander that period before production begins. It’s easy to knock off early or move meetings back. But this is golden time before the crunch when actors arrive, cameras roll, and a thousand additional details require your attention.

4. Accept the fact that the first draft of the first script you receive from every staff member will look like a script from the last show they were on. It will take them time to adapt to your show.

Read it all at

Listen to Ken’s podcast!

Do Hackers Really Battle in Real Time?

Here at TVWriter™ we don’t often present posts that originally appeared on tech sites, but in the absolutely best interests of TV writers everywhere, today we’re making an exception.

Because no, hackers do not fight across networks in real time. And now that we’ve given away the conclusion, here’s the article from (C’mon, you knew the minute you saw the title that the answer was “No”, right? Because if it wasn’t, why would anybody write this?

by Matthew Hughes

Everyone knows that hacker-attack scene from NCIS. Working in their dimly lit forensics lab, Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette) and Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) have to fend off a cybercriminal, hell-bent on stealing information about their investigation.

Amidst a torrent of indecipherable technobabble (He’s burned through the firewall! This is DOD Level 9 encryption!), the pair begin to fight back. Eventually, they end up typing simultaneously on the same keyboard. It is—for lack of a better term—ludicrous.

Take a Seat. We’re Hacking

Those scenes epitomize everything wrong with how hacking is portrayed in the world of TV and film. Incursions into distant computer systems take place in a matter of moments, accompanied by a variety of meaningless green text and random popups.

Reality is a lot less dramatic. Hackers and legitimate penetration testers take the time to understand the networks and systems they’re targeting. They try to figure out network topologies, as well as the software and devices in use. Then, they try to figure out how those can be exploited.

Forget about the real-time counter-hacking portrayed on NCIS; it just doesn’t work that way. Security teams prefer to focus on defense by ensuring all externally-facing systems are patched and correctly configured. If a hacker somehow manages to breach the external defenses, automated IPS (Intrusion Prevention Systems) and IDS (Intrusion Detection Systems) take over to limit the damage….

Read it all at

Shy characters don’t have to be passive

Nathan Bransford, one of TVWriter™’s favorite writers and writing consultants is here to talk about how you can – and should – create characters who are shy but not passive…because just between us, in TV (although not necessarily in novels, short stories, et al) the fact that a character can control their situation is what makes them a hero, don’tcha know?

by Nathan Bransford

Every protagonist in a novel should start in one place and end up in another irrevocably changed. Character arcs are crucial building blocks of novels.

One very common arc involves a character who starts off shy or timid and has to become brave or find their voice.

But here’s the problem that I often see when I’m editing novels with these storylines: protagonists need to be active. Even (or especially) characters who aren’t yet brave.

The problem with wholly passive characters is that they are very difficult to invest in. When characters don’t try to shape their destiny and don’t try to change their circumstances, they appear to lack any convictions whatsoever.

It’s tough to connect with characters who appear to have just thrown up their hands in the face of their problems. If they’re not trying they can’t care that much.

But this raises a conundrum: how do you make a timid character active?…

Read it all at

Need help with your book? Nathan is available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!

For my best advice, check out Nathan’s guide to writing a novel (now available in audio) and his guide to publishing a book.

And if you like this post: subscribe to Nathan’s newsletter!