What Buyer & Agent Types Don’t Want from Writers

Ever notice how much clearer so many Industry pros are when they tell you what they don’t want than what they do? The fact is, that knowing what won’t work for you as a writer may well be even more important than knowing what does, which makes the following article worth its weight in gold:

by Lucy V Hay

What’s In the Spec Pile

Don’t know what to write? It can be difficult to understand what the industry wants, so sometimes it’s easier to work out what they DON’T want!

When human beings prize novelty, standing out from the rest can be half the battle for writers … Equally, so can utilising a tried-and-tested trope or character in a unique way. But what IS unique? I rounded up 20 Industry Pros I know and asked them:

What types of stories, tropes, characters, genres, story worlds (etc) feel stale, cliched or overused to you at the moment?

The Industry Pros below include agents, publishers, producers, script readers and script editors, proof readers, copy editors, writing contests, coverage and other writing service providers. They read our spec screenplays and unpublished novels every day. This means they’re in a good place to see what the spec pile looks like, plus they know what feels samey, cheesy, tired and old.

What Writers Can Learn

Whenever I post anything like this, some writers get irate and say, ‘Don’t tell us what to do!!’ But this is the thing: no one is doing that. You can literally write whatever you want. If you want it published or produced however … That’s a wholly different thing. Then it’s not just for you!

The Industry Pros below have some great pointers on what makes ‘good’ writing in 2019 … Note how many of them say similar things, especially when it comes to diversity and genre. Several also make the point you shouldn’t write stuff that emulates popular works, too.

Remember, it’s NOT about writing *to the market*, or ‘selling out’, but SELLING. It’s what professional writers do … ie. write stuff people actually WANT, in a way that showcases your talent and writer’s voice. Like anything, it doesn’t have to be ‘either/or’ … So, here we go:

 1) ‘Strong women who don’t do much’ – Kate Leys  

Hmm.  Apart from all the obvious clichés and stereotypes, the characters I’m almost done with are ‘strong women’ who are so busy being strong women, and bonding, and marching bravely forwards, that they forget to have a sense of humour or enough to actually do in the plot.  I don’t think I’m fed up with any genre now that the romcom has remembered to shut up and keep quiet for a few years.  Tropes: I’ve definitely had enough caravans, and I have long since banned the overhead shot of a woman lying underwater in the bath.

BIO: Kate Leys is a story editor (this year Pin cushion, American Animals and Benjamin), and can be found at www.kateleys.co.uk

 2) ‘Old-fashioned genre’ – Annabel Wigoder

 Old-fashioned horror scripts are ten a penny – it isn’t enough just to write a story set in a haunted house. I also read a lot of sci-fi scripts where the main child either turns out to be a cyborg or holds the key to saving the world.

BIO: Annabel Wigoder is Head of Development for Salon Pictures, working across film and TV. She has projects in development with Channel 4 and the BFI, and just produced her first feature documentary….

Read 20 more ‘Don’ts’ at bang2write.com

Drinking Habits of 8 Famous Writers

Because legends:

by Stefan Andrews

What is a writer, a poet, a novelist, without the love for a glass or two? The link between the two seems everlasting.

Among other vices, alcohol has sometimes helped great writers with getting their creative juices going. While a glass or two would have been enough for some, others were not so immune and succumbed to excessive drinking even at the cost of their own health.

Maya Angelou

Without a glass of sherry, Maya Angelou’s otherworldly poetry may have not been the same indeed. The poetess has listed sherry as one of the ingredients helping her wordsmithing, besides her copies of the Bible and Roget’s Thesaurus.

Angelou used her favorite drink wisely, however. “I might have it at six-fifteen a.m. just as soon as I get in, but usually it’s about eleven o’clock when I’ll have a glass of sherry,” she remarked on her daily routine in a 1990 interview with George Plimpton for The Paris Review.

Jack Kerouac

Other writers have not been so cautious with drinking as Angelou. Beat Generation icon Jack Kerouac was more than well-acquainted with heavy drinking.

The writer was already famous when he moved to Northport, New York in 1958. The New York Times writes that there, “the locals remember him mainly as a broke barfly who padded about barefoot or in bedroom slippers.”

And how much did Kerouac like his booze? He once said: “I’m Catholic and I can’t commit suicide, but I plan to drink myself to death.”

Eventually, Kerouac died out of cirrhosis of the liver, in 1969.

Oscar Wilde

The writer of The Portrait of Dorian Gray had a favorite drink that has a fair share of tradition among literary figures. It was absinthe, the same drink that fellow absinthe fan Arthur Rimbaud described as “sagebrush of the glaciers.”

The “green fairy” as this drink was also called, was loved by a troop of French authors such as Paul Verlaine, Emile Zola, and Charles Baudelaire, due to its properties to awaken the imagination.

In Wilde’s words, “the first stage” of absinthe drinking is “like ordinary drinking,” but the second stage is “when you begin to see monstrous and cruel things, but if you can persevere you will enter in upon the third stage where you see things that you want to see, wonderful curious things….”

Read it all at Vintage News

Video Interview: This One isn’t Just for ‘Beetlejuice’ Fans

This TVWriter™ minion has to proclaim the truth for all to hear:

I am a huge Beetlejuice fan and think y’all should be too!!!

That’s why we’re so delighted to have found the following recent interview with Beetlejuice producer and co-writer Larry Wilson. As we’ve said a time or two before, “Watch and learn, kids. Watch and learn!”

Yeppers, this time we really mean it.

As one of the YouTube commenters put it, “Larry [Wilson] is the friend every screenwriter wants to have.”

To which Larry Brody and TVWriter™ say, “Amen.”

Cartoon: ‘Personal Space’

Grant Snider’s insights keep getting deeper and deeper:



TVWriter™ Advanced Online Workshop

Yes it's true. Once upon a time we had our classes LIVE & you actually had to leave home to attend.
Yes it’s true. Once upon a time we had our classes LIVE & you actually had to leave home to attend.

Time to let everybody know that – as seems to be usual – we’re 7 days away from the first meeting of the 140th Advanced Online Workshop and – aw, you guessed – we have 2 openings left.

Come and get ’em! (And if you stick around for the 200th Workshop there’ll be a prize!)

All the info your could possibly need (or not) is HERE.