Stephanie Bourbon on How to Write a Strong Opening

In this installment of her web series writing tips, Stephanie Bourbon solves all our film, TV episode, novel, short story, and stage play writing problems–

Oops, not exactly all of them, but certainly one of the most important ones. As in how to write an opening that grips the reader or viewer and compels them to keep on reading or watching.

Our apologies for getting carried away, but this is, you know, good stuff.

Stephanie’s YouTube Channel is HERE

And her website chock full of further instruction is HERE

Former Larry Brody student Stephanie Olivieri Bourbon has found great success as a writer and illustrator. Now she’s branching out into video with a series of extremely helpful ones about – surprise! – writing and illustrating.


by Bob Tinsley

Why should you as a visitor to TVWriter™ be interested in making audio fiction? Why should you be interested in making podcasts? Discoverability, that’s why.

The meaning of the word podcast is evolving to include any episodic, audio-only production whether nonfiction or fiction. Agents and major studios have started trawling through podcasts and their creators for new content and talent. 

So here’s the latest news to help you and your podcast get discovered: 

Music from
“The Builder” by Kevin MacLeod (
License: CC BY (

Why should you as a visitor to TVWriter™ be interested in making audio fiction? Why should you be interested in making podcasts? Discoverability, that’s why.

The meaning of the word podcast is evolving to include any episodic, audio-only production whether nonfiction or fiction. Agents and major studios have started trawling through podcasts and their creators for new content and talent. 

So here’s the latest news to help you and your podcast get discovered: 


Podcast sponsorship revenue continues to fuel NPR’s financial growth.

NPR projects that 54% of its sponsorship revenue, about $62 million, will come from podcasts and other digital properties next year.

Will NPR be looking for new content? I think so.


Cast Named For New “National Lampoon Radio Hour”.

The new National Lampoon Radio Hour: The Podcast will debut in late 2019 with head writer, Cole Escola, and senior writer, Jo Firestone. According to National Lampoon President Evan Shapiro, “The new show will be every bit as dangerous and subversive as the original… and far easier to get.”


Distributing Your Podcast to YouTube? Why You Should Be & How RedCircle’s Integration Makes It Easy.

Podcast host RedCircle wants to put your podcast on YouTube. It costs time and money for a podcast host to post to YouTube. If it didn’t pay off, they wouldn’t do it.

YouTube has a powerful audience and recommendation algorithm to bring in new listeners. If you start listening to audio material you will soon see more new audio in your recommendations. It also has a larger audience than any single, or even multiple, podcast apps. Why? Because it’s cross platform. No matter whether you’re on a desktop, iPhone, or Android device, YouTube is there.


What Happened To Flight 702? The Mystery of ‘Passenger List’.

This article on Medium provides a behind the scenes look at the production of the new fiction podcast, Passenger List, through interviews with the creators, Lauren Shippen, who started her first fiction podcast, The Bright Sessions, alone in her bedroom, John Scott Dryden, and Mark Henry Phillips. 

The podcast stars Kelly Marie Tran (Star Wars: The Last Jedi), Patti LuPone (Sweeney Todd), Colin Morgan (The Fall), and Rob Benedict (Supernatural). 

The interview covers the podcast’s journey from concept to collaboration to production. Read it all, then listen to the podcast, and visit the website. You won’t be sorry.


How To Build A Podcast Website With WordPress.

This is a three-part post that takes you through setting up a website, making it look the way you want, and making it capable of hosting your podcast episodes. Looks pretty straightforward, especially if you already are familiar with WordPress.


Finally. An Alternative To Patreon.

The Podcasting Holy Grail: subscriptions. Listeners send you small amounts of money every month in return for special content not provided to the people that listen for free. From the article: “subscription podcasting is one of the best business models we’ve ever seen.” 

Up until about a year ago, the 800-pound gorilla in this room was Patreon. Now there’s a new kid on the block called Supercast. The difference: Supercast was designed specifically for podcasters. 

Supercast has more advantages over Patreon in cost and ease of use for both podcasters and subscribers. Read the whole thing.


Podcasting Is On The Advertising Map.

Research firm, MAGNA, predicts that podcasting will bring in $850 million in advertising  in 2020 as major consumer brands invest in podcasts.


Dallas Public Library Staged to Open Podcasting Studio, Sewing Rooms and Other Maker Spaces.

What the Dallas Public Library calls their Story Center has podcasting studios, video editing bays and computers free for use by Dallas residents. What’s even better, users have access to the entire Adobe Creative Cloud suite of programs, including Audition for audio editing. 

So if you’re in the Dallas area, no excuses!

Many libraries have set up similar facilities. Check yours.


Podcast Movement Meetup in Los Angeles.

The Podcast Movement team will be holding a meetup in Los Angeles at the Arts District Brewing Company, 828 Traction Ave, on Wednesday, October 2 from 6 pm to 9 pm PT. This will be a great opportunity to meet and get to know some of the movers and shakers in the podcast arena.

So, until next week, same Pod-time, same Pod-channel, keep listening and keep creating.


Did you know that all audio fiction entries in TVWriter™’s PEOPLE’S PILOT 2019 pilot script competition are eligible for the two major category prizes plus special prizes and a reduced entry fee?

Learn all about it at:

PJ McIlvaine: The Summer from Hell

We like this image because it’s about searching, see, but not via Google, and this post is also about searching about something very, very, very important, and…we like this image. There.

by PJ McIlvaine

It’s a warm late summer night on the cusp of the fall season, and I for one will not be sad to see summer go.

May-July was busy. Heck, every month was busy. But I put my nose to the grindstone and burned through a revise and resubmit on a project very dear to my soul. I had a self-imposed deadline and was determined to beat it. Now no one was pushing me to work so hard except me.

But once I got started, I went into that wonderful writing zone and when you’re in it, you just have to ride the wave like a surfer. And once it was done, I breathed a sigh of relief and put my faith in the Universe.

And it was a good thing I hit THE END on that project because the minute I did, the Universe decided to unleash a proverbial horse potato storm over my head.

Now the summer wasn’t all bad. There were a few (a few) bright spots.

LITTLE LENA AND THE BIG TABLE, my debut picture book, got great reviews on Amazon. I did a couple of author events and didn’t embarrass myself too much.

I had a couple of really good hair days.

I have no cavities.

Succession on HBO came back, the best show on TV. As much as the final season of GOT rankled, Succession exceeded my expectations. Each week the writing and acting is superb. Brian Cox is KILLING it as Logan Roy and should win every Emmy in the book.

And after that…uh…

There were some weeks I thought it couldn’t get any worse, and it did, like a bad horror movie.

But even with all the drama and mayhem and chaos, I wrote.

Exhausted, some days I thought, why bother? No one cares if I write. If I stopped writing tomorrow, would the world as we know it cease to exist?

Jeopardy bonus answer: probably not.

But I’d know. And it’s not me. Writing is in my DNA. Even when I’m not writing, I’m writing. I have too many ideas taking up precious real estate in my head.

So though some days were a tough slog, I wrote, even if it was just a sentence or to jot down an idea.

I know it’s a cliche, but if you want to write, I mean, really and truly want to write, you’ll find a way.

Even in a Summer of Hell

Pj McIlvaine is a prolific writer/author/screenwriter/writer/journalist. She has been published in The New York Times, Newsday, and a host of other places. Her Showtime movie, My Horrible Year (with Mimi Rogers, Karen Allen and Eric Stoltz) was nominated for a Daytime Emmy. Find out more about Ms. McIlvaine HERE. This article first appeared in her most magical blog.

Peggy Bechko: What Every Writer Needs To Know About Rejection

NOTE FROM LB: One thing I’ve learned during my long (Yikes! Sooo long indeed!) career is that unlike other so-called verities, artistic truth is for all practical purposes eternal.

In this article from 2013, one of TVWriter™’s favorite writers and even more favorite human beings, Peggy Bechko, gives us a thoughtful lesson  we all need, in practical and creative truth.

Writers Dealing With Rejection
by Peggy Bechko

battle angelOkay, the truth hurts. The fact is no matter how good a writer you are, no matter how persistent and devoted to your writing, you’re going to receive rejections.

Probably a lot of them over time.

Naturally every writer would like to have all his or her writing recognized for the incredible gems that they are and published forthwith, but here’s where reality intrudes: it ain’t gonna happen.

Even if your writing is perfect in every way, a gem, polished to sparkling perfection (yeah, like that’s going to happen) it might not be to an editor’s taste or the editor could be having a bad day and not like anything coming across the desk, or a lowly reader wouldn’t pass it on to said editor.

So, what to do?

How to avoid becoming depressed, frustrated, and one of those writers who fall by the wayside and give up?

First, remember a few simple facts. Agents and editors are swamped with submissions by dabblers, those who pursue writing for amusement and not as their life’s work. This can be good news for the serious writer who’ll find the more professionally he or she approaches an agency or publisher, the more seriously a submission will be taken.

Secondly, the bad news is established agents get over one hundred submissions a week. Top publishers who still accept unsolicited manuscripts directly from writers are equally buried. Good news from the perspective of the professionally minded aspiring writer is more than ninety percent of the submissions received aren’t worth looking at twice. Make sure your writing is in the 10% category.

Consider how many writers (read dabblers) put out sloppy work filled with errors; typos, grammatical, or form. Others don’t give a thought to whom they are submitting.

Whether to an agent or a publisher, it’s the writer’s responsibility to know to whom he or she is talking. Know if the publisher publishes the kind of story you are submitting. Know if the agent handles the type of book you are proposing. If you send a science fiction book proposal to a publisher of romance novels you can be certain that proposal will be in the trash can or zapped off email within moments.

Don’t go thinking your work is somehow magical and when you submit a romance to a western publisher (assuming it isn’t a western romance) that it will somehow slip through and be published. Same thing with an agent.

If you mail a query or proposal to several places at once, personalize each one. If they figure you’ve mailed your submission to every agent or publisher in the known universe that, too, will land your submission in the trash heap. Even if you DO submit to every agent and publisher in the known (and perhaps undiscovered) universe they don’t have to know that so take that extra moment and don’t give them reason to guess.

If you do your job right, if you research and rewrite until you know to whom you’re sending your writing and you know it is the best that it can be, then you’ll find you’re not competing with all those hundreds of writing submissions, but rather with only perhaps the ten percent who comport themselves as professionals.

So, you’re doing everything right. Cool!

You’re still going to get rejections. Expect it. Simply put, the chance that what you write will be exactly what any single editor or agent is looking for today is usually very small. Remember, even big-name writers get rejections. Comforting, huh?

Don’t take it personally. Perhaps your piece just wasn’t the right thing for that publication at that time. Perhaps they have something similar in the works. Perhaps that particular editor is going through a very nasty divorce, is drinking heavily and nothing would look good to him/her. It isn’t necessarily a rejection of YOU, nor is it a put down on your writing abilities.

Develop a thick skin, ride it out and when you receive a rejection think of it as an opportunity. Send out a new query immediately. If it is a novel, send it to a new publisher or agent for consideration. If it’s an article, send a new query to the editor from whom you’ve just received the rejection, then tweak the original and send that out to a new editor.

Oh, and did I mention don’t call an editor or agent to argue how they’re wrong about rejecting your article, novel, script or whatever. Won’t help, will only hurt.

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle.

How My First Novel Became a Movie

Yeppers, kids, it happens. Sometimes first novels turn into very big scores. And/or big stories.

Or not such big scores and/or stories. As the old saying goes, “You don’t need to be smart if you’re lucky. But even if you’re smart you still need lots of luck.”

No, this TVWriter™ minion isn’t all that certain of what she’s saying, but Caren Lissner, author of Carrie Pilby sure is, and it makes good as well as very helpful reading.

by Caren Lissner

Five years ago, I got an email from two Hollywood producers who wanted to turn my first novel, Carrie Pilby, into a movie. I was thrilled, but reminded myself not to expect much. After all, in the years since the book’s publication in 2003, two other production companies had paid me a few thousand dollars each to option the rights for a year, and nothing had come of it. Should I really fantasize about my characters living and breathing on the big screen?

The novel tells the story of the nerdy 19-year-old Carrie, who graduated from Harvard three years early and has no idea how to date or make friends in New York. It was published in the middle of the “chick lit” craze, when offbeat single-gal books like Bridget Jones’s Diary and The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing were taking over the publishing industry.

Luckily, reviewers said mine was one of the more original novels in the genre, and it went on to sell 74,000 copies worldwide. But nearly a decade later, I was struggling with revisions to a new book, still living in a tiny apartment in the town I’d moved to after college, and about to turn 40. I really wanted my writing to reach a new audience. Actually, I really wanted to be able to afford furniture.

Another colleague, a best-selling novelist, saw her project green-lit and script completed, but the project fell apart when, supposedly, two of the main producers became romantically involved and ran off together. Neither story was a complete tragedy; the authors got a little extra publicity for their books and some option money, usually $500 to $5,000 for each year the producers held the rights. But these stories had taught me to manage my expectations….

Read it all at