What Buyer & Agent Types Do Want from Writers

About 10 weeks ago, TVWriter™ ran a piece we called “What Buyer & Agent Types Don’t Want from Writers. Today we’re going to take the positive approach because what good or “don’ts” if you don’t have some “dos.” So without further ado (or even adah):

by Lucy V Hay

Wanted: Great Stories & Fresh Voices

What we all want is a ‘good story, well told’. That’s a given. But what does this really mean? In part 2 of my expert panel this week, I asked the industry pros a second question …

What types of stories, tropes, characters, genres, story worlds (etc) would you like to see MORE of in 2019?

Here’s what they replied with, below. Again, as you will no doubt see, these are not the prescriptive demands many writers believe they need to ‘sell out’ to. As with the previous post, diversity, new takes on genre and fresh perspectives are all top of their wish lists.

It’s also worth remembering what we’re talking about is GOOD RESEARCH and a proper submissions strategy. There’s no point submitting your fantastic novel or script to someone who doesn’t ‘dig’ that kind of story! Don’t forget to check out the submissions checklist in the PDF gallery on the B2W Resource page, too. Here we go …

1) ‘Surprises and humour’ – Kate Leys

What I’d love to see more of are stories that surprise me with their awkward characters and awkward truths (even huge budget action movies).  Scripts with big, punchy stories (even if they’re set in one tiny location).  And stories that are genuinely funny.

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) ‘Surprising genre’ – Annabel Wigoder

More interesting, original horror – where’s the British Get Out? Smart ideas like The Guilty (a Danish thriller set entirely in a police emergency call centre) or I, Tonya, a female-led biopic executed in a really unexpected, blackly comic way.

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.

 3) ‘More proactive diversity, including class’ – Hattie Grunewald

I’d love more class and income-diversity in protagonists. Fiction is becoming so filled with affluent middle-class characters, across all genres, while readers are finding it harder and harder to make ends meet. I’d like more love stories – I worry we’re losing in touch with the great epic romances readers always connect with. And I’d like to see more proactive diversity in the characters in stories – people of colour, disabled people, LGBT people… Fiction reflecting the wide variety of experiences in life.

BIO: Hattie is an agent at Blake Friedmann agency, representing women’s fiction, crime and thriller, YA and Middle grade, and non-fiction. Read more about what she’s looking for, HERE….

Read it more, more, more writing DOs at bang2write.com

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:

personal-space-by-grant-snider