Well, m’luvs, it’s that time of year again. You know, the time when TVWriter™ visitors start writing nasty emails to their fave site (um, that’d be this one in case you forgot) about their un-fave writer – moi.
Yeppers, it’s taken 8 weeks, but we’re back to where we were a coupla years ago when Yer Friendly Neighborhood Munchman did that “Love and Money” column about new TV series in development and hordes of interweb critics complained about my “attitude.” That last time around I was young and full of spunk and – truth! – was one of the stars of a hit TV show under my supposedly real name (actually an agent-assisted stage name (but that’s another story) so I didn’t care what anybody thought about anything and pressed on until I was simply too busy.
Now, though, I’m unemployed, my latest true love has left me, my agent only calls to yell at me to stop calling her, and all I have is this teeny spot on the interweb to use as a way of keeping my dreams of life and professional success alive, so munchamaniac clearly has to not simply respond to the criticism but bow down before it.
Which means it’s time for this week’s list of recent TV biz happenings that I’m musing about…but without the musings in the hope that your lurve for me will be rekindled and I’ll be able to hang onto this underpaid and even more under-privileged gig until my next ship finally comes in and takes me to join King Arthur and the other saviours of empire on the isle of Avalon.
Here ya go (ya bastards!):
Hot off the presses come the highly upsetting if not downright disgusting news that Jimmy Kimmel, the absolutely least like Oscar show host has in fact been announced as that very thing by ABC, which seems not to mind that Kimmel has never in his short, dull life had anything whatsoever to do with a successful or highly regarded film. Or, methinks, any film at all. Oh well, at least he isn’t Jimmy Fallon (who’s going to do the not-so-Golden Globes. Damn!).
Speaking of saviours, Netflix, long regarded by many, including meself, as the potential Great and Welcome Redeemer of All That is Wise, Witty, and Wonderful about electronic entertainment, has announced that it in addition to the praiseworthy fact that it has 30 new scripted shows in development it will also be releasing 20 new unscripted series in the coming year. That’s unscripted as in “crap TV,” boyz and girlz. Or, to put it another way, instead of continuing to realize its potential as an intellectual and relevant entertainment oasis, Netflix is hedging its bets by going completely batshit regressive, and there’s nothing any of us can do to stop them except, of course, refuse to watch shows like Ultimate Beastmaster, whatever the effing eff that is.
Here’s one muncharello can’t wait to tell yez about: Lifetime, the absolutely dullest pseudo network on TV, except maybe for House & Garden, has announced a new showrunner for season three of its hit series (as in it’s one the critics haven’t slaughtered) UnReal. And that new showrunner is – drumroll – Stacy Rukeyser, who has been an executive producer of the show for a year already, and since she’s younger and energetic enough to tweet a bit now and then has probably been secretly doing the showrunner’s job anyway for several months now. So all us fans will never even notice the diff! If that ain’t one of the glories of Hollywood production, I don’t know what is!
Now that we’re talking about the good side of life I’m happy to report that the U.K.’s Northern Writers’ Awards competition, sponsored by New Writing North is walking the “helping new writers” walk that so many U.S. orgz are just talking. The contest, which is oopen to new writers of fiction, non-fiction, children’s, Young Adult and even graphic novels, plus sholrt stories and poetry, offers £40,000 worth of prizes and is open till February 2nd of the coming year. Not a huge amount, but not exactly the proverbial chopped liver either…and the judges promise not to give any entrant any notes! More info on this route to a genuinely literary future is HERE.
Last but not least, the munchamatic one wants to recommend a website to loyal genre TV, film, gaming, and even – gulp – book and short story fans everywhere. It’s called AllTimelines.Com and has lists and lists putting all episodes, books, stories, whatever of just about every established franchise known to the human race into timelines making it possible for fans who don’t know how to do their own research (ah! the joy of learnin’!) to experience all their faves in the right order. Cuz the Almighty forbid seeing Series 18 of, say, DOCTOR WHO before Series 3, right? These folks clearly have worked their ganootchkies off, and I’m as impressed as can be and so desperate for your approval and love that I recommend without reservation that ya getcherselves over to THIS SITE ASAP. Don’t bother telling them who sent you. They never heard of me anyway.
That’s it for this week. The facts and nothing but the facts, unvarnished by the usual, and mucho unloved Muncher stain. Did it work for yez, huh? (Whaddaya mean, I editorialized? Did not, did not did not! At least not by munchical standards.) Seeya soonish with more musings about Love, Money, and the dirty job of writing for TV!
Brace yourselves, online learning-about-writing fans, because I’m here to announce some changes in the TVWriter™ Online Workshop, um, thing.
Our various workshops, operating under the collective name of TVWriter University, have been up and running on the web, with occasional forays into the Real World (remember the various Brodystock Summer Intensive Seminars and the Secrets of the Writers Room held at the original Cloud Creek Ranch in Southern California, in Las Vegas, and even in Arkansas?) since 1999 or 2000. (Guess I should keep better records.)
Over the years we’ve altered the formats and added some activities from time to time, and this year the big news can be expressed in one word:
As of this month, there no longer is a Fundamentals of TV and Film Writing Workshop. Nor is there an Advanced TV and Film Writing Workshop. At least, not by those names.
Inside, we’re combining both of them into the new TVWriter™ Online TV and Film Writing Workshop. All the reasons for this are presented on its web page (which used to be the Advanced Workshop page) HERE.
Thanks to the current volume of electronic entertainment available to so many more people than ever before, and a more open and respectful attitude from institutions of higher learning, those who are interested in learning the fundamentals of scriptwriting, whether they want to use them for pleasure or profit or, of course, both, have much greater access to the knowledge they need than ever before.
I’m thrilled with this development, and just as contemporary scriptwriters can now take advantage of the fact that the viewing audience is so knowledgeable about video and film “language” and construct stories that shorten or bypass what used to be the standard Act One, now those of us devoted to helping the next generation of writers learn the craft/art/business thereof can jump into more advanced and, I think, interesting storytelling techniques.
I’m not abandoning complete newbies. The new Online TV and Film Writing Workshop is structured so that those who need that info will get it, not only from me but also from their more advanced classmates. And the more advanced writers will also benefit by getting the reactions and opinions of classmates who can remind them that not every viewer – or showbiz executive for that matter – loves, or even understands, the latest in experimental entertainment.
Bottom line, after a fascinating hiatus from teaching for most of this year, in which I re-entered the trenches of production and became far more aware of what’s happening in both the creative and business ends of The Industry here and now, I’m once again ready to pass it all on.
To “play it forward” in, I’m hoping, a more successful way than it was in a certain underachieving film by the same name.
The next TVWriter™ Online TV and Film Writing Workshop starts a 4-week session January 11, 2017. It’s limited to 5 students, so I suggest you shift into gear and check out the details ASAP HERE.
And, while you’re at it, why not take a look at our other offerings, including Larry Brody’s Master Class, which will also be ready to rock in January? Those details are HERE.
WGA TELEVISION AND NEW MEDIA NOMINEES
by Team TVWriter™ Press Service
The Writers Guild of America, both West and East chapters, announced the nominees for the 2017 WGA Awards yesterday, and all we can say is, “Whoa? What happened to the broadcast networks?”
The broadcast nets’ representation on the following lists is, to say the least, minimal. Does this mean that everything they put on the air sucks? Or is it just further proof of the vast chasm between what writers consider “quality” and what networks like?
Either way, yikes!
The Americans, Written by Peter Ackerman, Tanya Barfield, Joshua Brand, Joel Fields, Stephen Schiff, Joe Weisberg, Tracey Scott Wilson; FX
Better Call Saul, Written by Ann Cherkis, Vince Gilligan, Jonathan Glatzer, Peter Gould, Gennifer Hutchison, Heather Marion, Thomas Schnauz, Gordon Smith; AMC
Game of Thrones, Written by David Benioff, Bryan Cogman, Dave Hill, D.B. Weiss; HBO
Stranger Things, Written by Paul Dichter, Justin Doble, The Duffer Brothers, Jessica Mecklenburg, Jessie Nickson-Lopez, Alison Tatlock; Netflix
Westworld, Written by Ed Brubaker, Bridget Carpenter; Dan Dietz, Halley Gross; Lisa Joy; Katherine Lingenfelter, Dominic Mitchell, Jonathan Nolan, Roberto Patino, Daniel T. Thomsen, Charles Yu; HBO
Atlanta, Written by Donald Glover, Stephen Glover, Stefani Robinson, Paul Simms; FX
Silicon Valley, Written by Megan Amram, Alec Berg, Donick Cary, Adam Countee, Jonathan Dotan, Mike Judge, Carrie Kemper, John Levenstein, Dan Lyons, Carson Mell, Dan O’Keefe, Clay Tarver, Ron Weiner; HBO
Transparent, Written by Arabella Anderson, Bridget Bedard, Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster, Jessi Klein, Stephanie Kornick, Ethan Kuperberg, Ali Liebegott, Our Lady J, Faith Soloway, Jill Soloway; Amazon Studios
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Written by Emily Altman, Robert Carlock, Azie Mira Dungey, Tina Fey, Lauren Gurganous, Sam Means, Dylan Morgan, Marlena Rodriguez, Dan Rubin, Meredith Scardino, Josh Siegal, Allison Silverman, Leila Strachan; Netflix
Veep, Written by Rachel Axler, Sean Gray, Alex Gregory, Peter Huyck, Eric Kenward, Billy Kimball, Steve Koren, David Mandel, Jim Margolis, Lew Morton, Georgia Pritchett, Will Smith, Alexis Wilkinson; HBO
Atlanta, Written by Donald Glover, Stephen Glover, Stefani Robinson, Paul Simms; FX
Better Things, Written by Pamela Adlon, Louis C.K., Cindy Chupack, Gina Fattore; FX
Stranger Things, Written by Paul Dichter, Justin Doble, The Duffer Brothers, Jessica Mecklenburg, Jessie Nickson-Lopez, Alison Tatlock; Netflix
This Is Us, Written by Isaac Aptaker, Elizabeth Berger, Bekah Brunstetter, Dan Fogelman, Vera Herbert, Joe Lawson, Kay Oyegun, Aurin Squire, K.J. Steinberg, Donald Todd; NBC
Westworld, Written by Ed Brubaker, Bridget Carpenter, Dan Dietz, Halley Gross, Lisa Joy, Katherine Lingenfelter, Dominic Mitchell, Jonathan Nolan, Roberto Patino, Daniel T. Thomsen, Charles Yu; HBO
LONG FORM ORIGINAL
American Crime, Written by Julie Hébert, Sonay Hoffman, Keith Huff, Stacy A. Littlejohn, Kirk A. Moore, Davy Perez, Diana Son; ABC
Confirmation, Written by Susannah Grant; HBO
Harley and the Davidsons, Written by Seth Fisher, Nick Schenk, Evan Wright; Discovery Channel
Surviving Compton: Dre, Suge & Michel’le, Written by Dianne Houston; Lifetime
LONG FORM ADAPTED
11.22.63, Written by Bridget Carpenter, Brigitte Hales, Joe Henderson, Brian Nelson, Quinton Peeples, Based on the novel by Stephen King; Hulu
American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson, Written by Scott Alexander, Joe Robert Cole, D.V. DeVincentis, Maya Forbes, Larry Karaszewski, Wally Wolodarsky, Based on the book The Run of His Life by Jeffrey Toobin; FX
Madoff, Written by Ben Robbins, Inspired by the Book The Madoff Chronicles: Inside the Secret World of Bernie and Ruth by Brian Ross; ABC
The Night Of, Written by Richard Price, Steve Zaillian, Based on the BBC Series Criminal Justice Created by Peter Moffat; HBO
Roots, Written by Lawrence Konner, Alison McDonald, Charles Murray, Mark Rosenthal, Based upon the Book by Alex Haley; History Channel
SHORT FORM NEW MEDIA – ORIGINAL
“Episode 101” (Now We’re Talking), Written by Tug Coker, Tommy Dewey; go90.com
“Escape the Room” (Life Ends at 30), Written by Michael Field; vimeo.com
“Itsy Bitsy Spider” Episode 1 (Thug Passion), Written by Motrya Tomycz; vimeo.com
“The Party” (The Commute), Written by Linsey Stewart & Dane Clark; youtube.com
SHORT FORM NEW MEDIA – ADAPTED
“Passage” Part 4 (Fear the Walking Dead), Written by Lauren Signorino & Mike Zunic; amc.com
“Under Siege” (The Strain), Written by Bradley Thompson & David Weddle, Based on the novels by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan; fxnetworks.com
“Barthood” (The Simpsons), Written by Dan Greaney; Fox
“First Day of Rule” (Elena of Avalor), Written by Craig Gerber; Disney Channel
“Fish Out of Water” (BoJack Horseman), Written by Elijah Aron & Jordan Young; Netflix
“A Princess on Lothal” (Star Wars Rebels), Written by Steven Melching; Disney XD
“Stop the Presses” (BoJack Horseman), Written by Joe Lawson; Netflix
“Gloves Off” (Better Call Saul), Written by Gordon Smith; AMC
“I Am a Storm” (Shameless), Written by Sheila Callaghan; Showtime
“Klick” (Better Call Saul), Written by Heather Marion & Vince Gilligan; AMC
“Switch” (Better Call Saul), Written by Thomas Schnauz; AMC
“The Trip” (This Is Us), Written by Vera Herbert; NBC
“The Winds of Winter” (Game of Thrones), Written for Television by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss; HBO
“Kimmy Finds Her Mom!” (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Written by Tina Fey & Sam Means; Netflix
“Kimmy Goes on a Playdate!” (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Written by Robert Carlock; Netflix
“Pilot” (One Mississippi), Written by Diablo Cody & Tig Notaro; Amazon Studios
“R-A-Y-C-Ray-Cation” (Speechless), Written by Carrie Rosen & Seth Kurland; ABC
“Streets on Lock” (Atlanta), Written by Stephen Glover; FX
“A Taste of Zephyria” (Son of Zorn), Written by Dan Mintz; Fox
COMEDY / VARIETY (INCLUDING TALK) – SERIES
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Writers: Dan Amira, David Angelo, Steve Bodow, Devin Delliquanti, Zach DiLanzo, Travon Free, Hallie Haglund, David Kibuuka, Matt Koff, Adam Lowitt, Dan McCoy, Lauren Sarver Means, Trevor Noah, Joe Opio, Zhubin Parang, Owen Parson, Daniel Radosh, Michelle Wolf; Comedy Central
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Writers: Kevin Avery, Tim Carvell, Josh Gondelman, Dan Gurewitch, Geoff Haggerty, Jeff Maurer, John Oliver, Scott Sherman, Will Tracy, Jill Twiss, Juli Weiner; HBO
Late Night with Seth Meyers, Writers: Jermaine Affonso, Alex Baze, Bryan Donaldson, Sal Gentile, Matt Goldich, Jenny Hagel, Allison Hord, Mike Karnell, Andrew Law, John Lutz, Aparna Nancherla, Chioke Nassor, Seth Meyers, Ian Morgan, Conner O’Malley, Seth Reiss, Amber Ruffin, Mike Scollins, Mike Shoemaker, Ben Warheit, Michelle Wolf; NBC
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Writers: Mike Brumm, Nate Charny, Aaron Cohen, Stephen Colbert, Cullen Crawford, Paul Dinello, Eric Drysdale, Ariel Dumas, Glenn Eichler, Gabe Gronli, Barry Julien, Jay Katsir, Daniel Kibblesmith, Matt Lappin, Opus Moreschi, Tom Purcell, Jen Spyra, Brian Stack; CBS
COMEDY / VARIETY – SKETCH SERIES
Documentary Now!, Writers: Bill Hader, John Mulaney, Seth Meyers; IFC
Inside Amy Schumer, Writers: Kim Caramele, Kyle Dunnigan, Jessi Klein, Michael Lawrence, Kurt Metzger, Christine Nangle, Claudia O’Doherty, Dan Powell, Tami Sagher, Amy Schumer; Comedy Central
Maya & Marty, Head Writers: Mikey Day, Matt Roberts, Bryan Tucker Writers: Eli Bauman, Jeremy Beiler, Chris Belair, Hallie Cantor, David Feldman, R J Fried, Melissa Hunter, Paul Masella, Tim McAuliffe, John Mulaney, Diallo Riddle, Maya Rudolph, Bashir Salahuddin, Marika Sawyer, Streeter Seidell, Martin Short; Emily Spivey, Steve Young; NBC
Nathan For You, Written by Leo Allen, Nathan Fielder, Adam Locke-Norton, Eric Notarnicola; Comedy Central
Saturday Night Live, Head Writers: Rob Klein, Bryan Tucker Writers: James Anderson, Fred Armisen, Jeremy Beiler, Chris Belair, Megan Callahan, Michael Che, Mikey Day, Jim Downey, Tina Fey, Fran Gillespie, Sudi Green, Tim Herlihy, Steve Higgins, Colin Jost, Zach Kanin, Chris Kelly, Erik Kenward, Paul Masella, Dave McCary, Dennis McNicholas, Seth Meyers, Lorne Michaels, Josh Patten, Paula Pell, Katie Rich, Tim Robinson, Sarah Schneider, Pete Schultz, Streeter Seidell, Dave Sirus, Emily Spivey, Andrew Steele, Will Stephen, Kent Sublette; NBC
68th Primetime Emmy Awards, Written by Jack Allison, Tony Barbieri, Jonathan Bines, Joelle Boucai, Robert Cohen, Gary Greenberg, Josh Halloway, Sal Iacono, Eric Immerman, Jimmy Kimmel, Bess Kalb, Jeff Loveness, Jon Macks, Molly McNearney, Danny Ricker, Jeff Stilson, Joe Strazzullo, Alexis Wilkinson; ABC
73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards, Written by Barry Adelman; Special Material Written by Dave Boone, Ricky Gervais, Jon Macks, Matthew Robinson; NBC
88th Annual Academy Awards, Written by Dave Boone, Billy Kimball; Special Material Written by Scott Aukerman, Rodney Barnes, Neil Campbell, Matthew Claybrooks, Lance Crouther, Mike Ferrucci, Langston Kerman, Jon Macks, Steve O’Donnell, Nimesh Patel, Vanessa Ramos, Chris Rock, Frank Sebastiano, Chuck Sklar, Jeff Stilson, Michelle Wolf; CBS
Triumph’s Election Special, Written by Andy Breckman, Josh Comers, David Feldman, R J Fried, Jarrett Grode, Ben Joseph, Matthew Kirsch, Michael Koman, Mike Lawrence, Brian Reich, Craig Rowin, Robert Smigel, Zach Smilovitz, Andrew Weinberg; Hulu
QUIZ AND AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION
Hollywood Game Night, Head Writer: Grant Taylor; Writers: Michael Agbabian, Alex Chauvin, Ann Slichter, Dwight D. Smith; NBC
Jeopardy!, Written by John Duarte, Harry Friedman, Mark Gaberman, Deborah Griffin, Michele Loud, Robert McClenaghan, Jim Rhine, Steve D. Tamerius, Billy Wisse; ABC
General Hospital, Writers: Shelly Altman, Anna Theresa Cascio, Andrea Archer Compton, Suzanne Flynn, Janet Iacobuzio, Elizabeth Korte, Daniel James O’Connor, Jean Passanante, Dave Rupel, Katherine Schock, Scott Sickles, Chris Van Etten, Christopher Whitesell; ABC
CHILDREN’S SCRIPT – EPISODIC AND SPECIALS
“Girl Meets Commonism” (Girl Meets World), Written by Joshua Jacobs & Michael Jacobs; Disney Channel
“Just Add Mom” (Just Add Magic), Written by John-Paul Nickel; Amazon Studios
“Mel vs. The Night Mare of Normal Street” (Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street), Written by Laurie Parres; Amazon Studios
“Mucko Polo, Grouch Explorer” (Sesame Street), Written by Belinda Ward; HBO
CHILDREN’S SCRIPT – LONG FORM OR SPECIAL/h4>
Dance Camp, Teleplay by Nick Turner & Rex New and Cameron Fay, Story by Nick Turner & Rex New; youtube.com
Once Upon a Sesame Street Christmas, Written by Geri Cole & Ken Scarborough; HBO
R.L. Stine’s Monsterville: Cabinet Of Souls, Written by Billy Brown & Dan Angel; Freeform
DOCUMENTARY SCRIPT – CURRENT EVENTS
“Chasing Heroin” (Frontline), Written by Marcela Gaviria; PBS
“The Choice 2016” (Frontline); Written by Michael Kirk & Mike Wiser; PBS
“Inside Assad’s Syria” (Frontline), Written by Martin Smith; PBS
DOCUMENTARY SCRIPT – OTHER THAN CURRENT EVENTS
“American Reds,” Written by Richard Wormser; WPTS Dayton
“Jackie Robinson, Part One,” Written by David McMahon & Sarah Burns; PBS
“Netanyahu at War” (Frontline), Written by Michael Kirk & Mike Wiser; PBS
NEWS SCRIPT – REGULARLY SCHEDULED, BULLETIN, OR BREAKING REPORT
“Ambush In Dallas” (World News Tonight With David Muir), Written by David Bloch, Karen Mooney, David Muir, David Schoetz; ABC News
“Brussels Under Attack” (World News Tonight With David Muir), Written by David Bloch, Karen Mooney, David Muir, David Schoetz; ABC News
“Muhammad Ali: Remembering A Legend” (48 Hours), Written by Jerry Cipriano, John Craig Wilson; CBS News
NEWS SCRIPT – ANALYSIS, FEATURE, OR COMMENTARY
“CBS Sunday Morning Almanac” June 12, 2016 (CBS Sunday Morning), Written by Thomas A. Harris; CBS
“Chernobyl: 30 Years Later,” Written by Andrew Evans; ABC News Radio
“Summer of 2016,” Written by David Shapiro; CBS News Radio
RADIO NEWS SCRIPT – REGULARLY SCHEDULED, BULLETIN, OR BREAKING REPORT
“6:40am News” November 13, 2015, Written by Philip Pilato; CBS Radio Network/1010 WINS
“Legends of the Game,” Written by Thomas A. Sabella; CBS News Radio
“Muhammad Ali: A Tribute to Greatness,” Written by Gail Lee; CBS Radio Network
“World News This Week” August 26, 2016, Written by Tara Gimbel Tanis; ABC News Radio
RADIO NEWS SCRIPT – ANALYSIS, FEATURE, OR COMMENTARY
“Dishin Digital on WCBS-AM,” Written by Robert Hawley; WCBS-AM Radio
“Morley Safer: A Journalist’s Life,” Written by Gail Lee; CBS Radio Network
“Vin Scully”, Written by Jerry Edling; CBS News Radio
“Vin Scully Hangs Up The Mic,” Written by Andrew Evans; ABC News Radio
PROMOTIONAL WRITING NOMINEES
ON-AIR PROMOTION (TELEVISION, NEW MEDIA OR RADIO)
“Big Brother Over The Top Launch & NCIS: Special Agent Tony Dinozzo’s Top Moments,” Written by Erial Tompkins; CBS
“CBS On-Air Reel,” Written by Brian Retchless; CBS On-Air Promotion
“The Dollmaker, Halloween,” Written by Jennifer H. Kaas; NBC
“Limitless Promos 15/16” (CBS), Written by Jessica Katzenstein; CBS On-Air Promotion
“Mom,” Written by Dan Greenberger; CBS
TELEVISION GRAPHIC ART AND ANIMATION
“The Real History of Cinco de Mayo,” (Gawker Media Group), Graphic Animation by Elisa Solinas; youtube.com
No, not your belly or you glutes or whatever – your script or novel.
Really, let’s trim it down and see how much better it can be.
I know, I know, it’s the holiday season, you’re tired and ready to take a break. Okey dokey go ahead and do that – THEN think about the ideas I’m going to present for getting that writing sharpened up. A break will do you good – then dive in and get to work.
First up. Let’s face it, rewriting is where it really is at. Most of the time the first draft isn’t where it stops. I mean as a writer you no doubt vomited out the first draft – got that story on the page, but that means you’re only part way there.
It’s a marathon to go to polished script or manuscript from rough draft. Sorry, but there’s no way to tell the newer writer how the rewrite process should go. That’s up to every writer, and what it boils down to is, well, just fix it.
So let’s look at how.
I’m going to use the ‘script’ as example and not manuscript only because we’re on TV Writer after all! But it all applies.
First question to ask yourself after completion of a script is whose story is it? You’ve purged yourself of story – got it down on the blank page – so who’s the hero? Truly, now is the time to reread that draft with an open mind.
What if, for example, in the newly released movie, the script for Dr. Strange gave much of the action and dialog to one of the more minor characters? What if the storyline had fixed more on someone other than Dr. Strange? I mean his cloak almost stole the show (but in that case it was a good thing and in small doses).
My point is if you chose the wrong hero you need to fix it. You need to make sure the principal character gets the majority of the storyline and dialog. You’d be surprised how easy it is to mess that up. And Ensemble movies can make it that much more tricky.
Secondly, and you’ve heard this many times before but it can’t be overstated, the consequences, AKA the stakes, need to be high. Life and death high. Death could mean disaster, literal death, or any other failure that has genuine, and powerful, negative consequences. Make sure those stakes are high and don’t let the storyline go soft. And…
In line with the second point, remember the third – make the obstacles worse and worse, harder to overcome, more threatening. Once more, as example, Dr. Strange.
In this one we’re literally looking at the end of the world if he doesn’t succeed. But, a different genre doesn’t require violence or action to keep the stakes high. I happen to be a big action/SciFi/Thriller/Paranormal/horror fan so I write more in those areas.
But if the story you’re writing revolves around romance then plainly you need obstacles that work with your story. An old boyfriend or girlfriend turns up with problems for the main character. A parent dies at the wedding. Any number of life’s obstacles. Just make sure they’re intense and engage the reader/watcher to the point they can’t turn away.
If there are no obstacles there’s no story. Reread that draft and see if the obstacles you’ve thrown up offer your main character some real challenges and doesn’t go off to whimpy-diddles world.
Do another reread with your dialog in mind. As writers it’s easy for us to cause our characters to spit out exactly what they mean in their dialog. But Subtext adds so many nuances.
How many times in life do you say ‘yeah, sure’ when you’re being sarcastic and mean ‘no way in hell’. So it’s okay to do that in your first draft (the on the nose dialog), but think about what you’ve written and how, in places, you can add subtext to that dialog.
Watch a couple of movies you really liked or reread a book and watch for that dialog that isn’t ‘on the nose’ but conveys much more meaning where the people don’t always say exactly what they mean, but offer nuances of what was meant.
The dialog needs to be a bit off kilter yet clear enough so the audience, whether movie or novel, can follow what’s really intended. It can take a bit of practice, and you don’t want to do it through every scene, but it adds so much, makes the characters so much more human, that it will really put teeth into the script.
Finally – let it rest again. Come on, you know you want to walk away from it for a time anyway. Work on something new. Give it a few weeks. I’ll bet when you come back to it you’ll find it’s yours – and yet not quite.
One more run through and now when you rewrite it will be a bit less like, as one writer said, ‘killing your darlings’. It’s a bit more like doing in someone else’s and it can turn into great fun!
Got it now? Rewrite – go for the throat emotionally and turn out a great script.
And while you’re at it, don’t forget to have Happy Holidays along the way!
Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. blog. Learn more about her HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.