Want to See Some Commissioned Professional Pilot Scripts?

We’ve talked about the Google TV Writing site as one of the major interweb resources for professional pilot scripts, many of the  for our favorite shows, before. But now, thanks to FOTV (friend of TVWriter™) James Kelly, we’re here to tell you that there are even more – and newer scripts than  before.

Including these, from 2013-14:

How cool is all this?

Oh, c’mon. It’s even cooler than that. Right? Right?

Read and learn and write and prosper, gang!


Why You Never Want to Write a Novel for Hire

…Or a short story, or a screenplay, or a comic book, or a TV series.

But we do write for hire. Unfortunately, at one time or another just about all writers do.

This article, however, has a great twist. We think it should have been called, “The Vamp Writer’s Revenge.” Bwahhh:


‘Vampire Diaries’ Writer Bites Back
by Alexandra Alter

When Alloy Entertainment fired L.J. Smith from the popular young-adult book series “The Vampire Diaries” and replaced her with a ghostwriter three years ago, a civil war broke out among fans. One camp swore fealty to the characters and embraced the new books, which still feature Ms. Smith’s name prominently on the cover as the series’ creator. The other, more vocal faction sided with Ms. Smith and boycotted the ghostwritten novels.

“I would not read those books if they were the last books on earth,” said Christina Crowley, a 35-year-old substitute teacher in Riverview, Mich., and a staunch L.J. Smith fan. “I didn’t want to read her characters written by someone else.”

Now, in one of the stranger comebacks in literary history, Ms. Smith is independently resurrecting her stories about the adolescent undead. She’s publishing her own version of “The Vampire Diaries” digitally on Amazon, as fan fiction, creating a parallel fictional universe that many hard-core fans regard as more legitimate than the official canon.

“I wanted to finish the story,” Ms. Smith said. “So many people still wrote to me constantly saying, can you just tell me how it ends?”

The fact that Ms. Smith can now legally publish and sell her unofficial Vampire Diaries novels highlights a dramatic shift in the way publishers and entertainment companies view fan fiction. Fan fiction, or works by amateur writers that feature characters and settings from their favorite books, TV shows, movies and comics, has thrived online for decades. But it’s always existed in a sort of legal gray zone. Selling stories based on other people’s copyrighted creations is illegal, unless it’s a clear parody, which is protected as free speech under the First Amendment. It’s also permissible if the characters and setting are altered so much that the story no longer seems derivative

Read it all


monsterplotby Dennis O’Neil

The day is bright, the Earth is coming back to life – Tuesday was Earth Day, even there are a flurry of birthdays in the offing… I mean, you don’t really expect me to work, do you?

So, instead of trying to be original (and good luck with thatmi amigo) we’re going to delve into the innards of the computer and see what we can haul out.

Ah, what have we here? “Seven Basic Plots.” Okay, that’ll do, but first… a small and probably totally unnecessary spoiler alert: If you’re a person who feels that looking at things like plot lists, taking writing classes, reading how-to-write books will compromise your vision or creativity or wreak some other harm… maybe you should cut out now and return, if you like, next week, when the topic will be completely different, unless it isn’t.

And one more quick caveat: there may be other versions of what follows somewhere and and it’s okay by me if there are. And just one more itsy-tiny observation: what follows the rules are my examples of stories that employed the rule, and you may disagree with my choices and if you do, you have my blessing

Where were we? Oh yeah, the basic plots:


A. Overcoming Monster



Star Wars

B. Rags to Riches

Ugly Duckling

My Fair Lady


C. The Quest

Lord of the Rings

Treasure Island

Raiders of the Lost Ark

D. Voyage and Return

Alice in Wonderland

Wizard of Oz

Gulliver’s Travels

E. Comedy

One of more characters trapped in a dark state. Change of heart/exposure/punishment.

F. Tragedy

Hero commits some grave offense. Is drawn down and pays the price.

G. Rebirth

Hero falls under shadow of some dark power, has a miraculous redemption.

Christmas Carol

If exposure to the foregoing utterly destroyed your magnificent prose masterpiece, I’m sorry. But I did warn you.

And here comes another list, one complied by the great Mark Twain that, I think, originally appeared in an essay on James Fenimore Cooper.

Twain’s Rules of Writing

1. A tale shall accomplish something and arrive somewhere.

2. The episodes of a tale shall be necessary parts of the tale, and shall help develop it.

3. The personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others.

4. The personages in a tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there.

5. When the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be talk such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighborhood of the subject in hand, and be interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say.

6. When the author describes the character of a personage in his tale, the conduct and conversation of that personage shall justify said description.

7. When a personage talks like an illustrated, gilt-edged, tree-calf, hand-tooled, seven-dollar Friendship’s Offering in the beginning of a paragraph, he shall not talk like a Negro minstrel at the end of it.

8. Crass stupidities shall not be played upon the reader by either the author or the people in the tale.

9. The personages of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author must so plausibly set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable.

10. The author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones.

11. The characters in tale be so clearly defined that the reader can tell beforehand what each will do in a given emergency.

The author should:

Say what he is proposing to say, not merely come near it.

Use the right word, not its second cousin.

Eschew surplusage.

Not omit necessary details.

Avoid slovenliness of form.

Use good grammar.

Employ a simple, straightforward style.

Goodbye now.


Whoa! An animated rock operetta web series! We love this. Way to go, STEVE’S QUEST team!

Try it. The animation’s kinda so-so, but the music has RENT beat all to crap:


Official Website:



“Metro City Meltdown (Gain’s Theme)” single available at:
“I’m a Dreamer” single available at:

Composed, Written and Directed by Chris Edgar
Animation by Hoyt Silva
Artwork by Michelle Poust
Logo Design and Animation by Consuelo Griego
Concept Art by Michelle Poust, Whitney McEown Sanford, Connie Chin, Kat Valliant and Eugene Clewlow


influencesby John Ostrander

Every artist has their influences. The ones who came before that make an impression on you. They blow your mind, they lift your heart, they power your imagination, they open your soul; you want to be like them and influence others as they have influenced you. The influences come from everywhere – real life, film, media, other artists – but ultimately you filter them through your own consciousness. You borrow from them but you make it your own. For myself, part of the reason I wanted to become a writer is because of the joy I got as a reader. I wanted to return that energy that I had gotten from my reading.

By the time I was ten, I had read all the Sherlock Holmes stories by A. Conan Doyle. The puzzles fascinated me, yes, as did the characters of Watson and Holmes but what I took away perhaps more than anything else was the setting and the time – the fog-shrouded street, the hansom cabs, the gaslight, the apartment, the back alleys. London of the late 1800s. When I think of that era, I think of the Homes stories. My takeaway was the importance of place in a story and it shows up most in my work with Cynosure in GrimJack. The city is the most important supporting character in the series; it has defined GrimJack and there is no relationship in the stories more important than the one between GrimJack and Cynosure.

Chicago has also influenced Cynosure as well. It is a city of neighborhoods and the ethnic culture changes from one area to the next. That’s how I understood the various dimensions that make up Cynosure; it was my experience of Chicago.

Robert E. Howard also was a major influence on me, especially theConan stories. My takeaway here was the pell-mell sense of storytelling, the breathless sense of excitement and action. In a similar fashion, Peter O’Donnell also influenced me with his Modesty Blaise comic strip. He might spend some time setting up a given story but he never wasted a panel or a word. It all drove the story, the characters, the action forward like a juggernaut.

Shakespeare showed me how to marry theme to the plot. Yes, there are the great soliloquies, the great speeches addressing deep philosophical questions but they are all tied to the specific moment in the plot. When Hamlet launches into his “To be or not to be. . .” speech, it’s not an idle musing. This is a guy who is contemplating killing himself. It’s a debate, it’s an argument with himself. It’s actually full of suspense. His life is at stake. The language used, the questions raised, all advance the character and the plot.

Our own Dennis O’Neil in his classic Green Lantern/Green Arrow series with Neal Adams showed me how comics could marry the important topics of the day with superheroes. Without those stories, without Denny, I would not have written the Suicide Squad or the Spectre as I did.

There are many many others in all fields – in movies, in TV, in music (Aaron Copland! Beethoven! The Blue Nile! Kate Bush!) – that have had a bearing on me, on who I am, and thus into my work. Others have told me I have an influence on them (which I sometimes have trouble dealing with) but we all have to be open to outside influences if, ultimately, we are to realize our own voice. We come from others, we give to others. That’s part of the wonder of it all.