- Evan Endicott & Josh Stoddard (pretty much newbs) are developing a sitcom called BETAS for Amazon Studios, about a group of nerds on a quest for nerd fame by cracking the ultimate code. (This series is greenlighted, possibly thanks to the participation of Ed Begley Jr. and several other old pros. Congrats to the newbs!)
- Charlie Kaufman (your favorite weird feature writer, right?) is developing an FX sitcom called HOW AND WHY about a genius who is clueless about life. (We’re hoping like crazy that this one gets on the air, not just because it’s Kaufman – although that’s reason enough – but because it, heh, obviously seems to be about us.)
- Bob Boyett & Robert Horn (both of FAMILY MATTERS, FULL HOUSE, etc.) will be writing and running an unnamed and unattached new comedy starring Kelsey Grammer and Martin Lawrence based on their concept that only Grammer, Lawrence, and the money men have heard. (Don’t get all envious. They will, after all, be working with 2 famous, well, madmen, you know?)
- The Guardian U.K. recently pointed out that no woman has written for DOCTOR WHO since 2008. This means that the show is under some pressure to come up with a hot femme writer. And this in turn means that if you’re a woman and are up to the gig now is definitely the time to get your people on it. (Just some friendly insider advice from TVWriter™, aka The House of Weird Networking.)
- Speaking of writers who aren’t writing but should be, a study commissioned by the Writers Guild of America reports that during the 2011-12 season only 30.5% of working TV writers were women and only 15.6% were minorities of either sex. The study also discovered that almost 1/3 of all shows had no writers over 50 years old. (And this was a statistical improvement. For the life of us, we can’t figure out if that’s a good sign or a bad one. Oy…)
The beauty of telling a story with the written word is that you can always change it. You can improve upon the story if it lacks intrigue, you can make it more exciting, you can crank up the drama or ratchet down the sexiness. Whatever you want to do, you can do. A world of choices is available to you at the click of a keyboard key.
Most importantly — especially for the career-minded screenwriter — you can take this opportunity to fill in the plot holes. According to Wikipedia:
a plot hole, or plothole, is a gap or inconsistency in a storyline that goes against the flow of logic established by the story’s plot, or constitutes a blatant omission of relevant information regarding the plot.
Plot hole much? Sure you do. We all do. We’ve all done it. We’ve gone on a raging stream of consciousness writing frenzy with little regard for logic, sense, or the laws of physics. When we finally come up for air we look down at our magnum opus and realize that we never set the stage for our hero’s ability to fly, or shoot laser beams out of his eyes. We realize that we’ve never truly laid the proper foundation to reveal our hero is actually a woman in men’s clothing.
Give yourself a break. It’s impossible to think of everything at once, so what do we do? We scale down the possibilities, we reel in the net, we shorten the story. We may want to go big, but we end up going extra-large instead.
And it’s fine.
Screenwriting is a fluid and dynamic endeavor. Our stories evolve as we do. In March it’s a sci-fi fantasy, in June it’s a coming of age period drama, in December it’s an epic fantasy martial arts adventure.
In 2010 I cranked out two scripts in the month of October. The first one, Deterrence Theory has undergone many revolutions, evolutions, incarnations and SEAL incursions. I sit on it now, in its current state and I humbly call it, A Perfect Weapon. No, seriously. That’s the new title. For obvious and not so obvious reasons I changed it (see my blog post, “What’s in a name…“), and now with recent changes to the story and the filling in of plot holes, I believe it is a tighter, less imperfect story.
In fact, considering the recent option of one of my other screenplays (which shall be nameless) I’m happy to work day and night to get A Perfect Weapon ready for the first serious offer from Paramount, Universal, Focus Features or Revolution. Brooklyn Weaver? Call me, maybe?
by John Ostrander
Writing can be fun. Most of the time. Even writing for profit. Or writing for fun like I do here.
And some days, it’s not. You sit down with the best intentions and nothing happens or nothing good. Like this time. I’m in a bad mood, my cats are nagging me, I feel tired and everything I write seems like crap and probably is. However, the column is due and I’d better not go back to Casablancaagain. I told Mike I wouldn’t.
So I’m doing what I usually do. Sit down and type stuff and see if there’s anything useful in it.
I’m betting that, on some level, you know what I’m talking about. Doesn’t matter if it’s about writing. You’re trying to get something done and, for whatever reason, it’s just not working. It could be work, it could be a relationship, it could be just trying to fix something around the house – whatever, the fates are not aligned and it just doesn’t work and it’s frustrating as hell, isn’t it? We all know that feeling.
That’s what makes storytelling work, I think. We may not all have the exact same experiences but we know the feelings that come out of those experiences. Do I have to kill someone in order to know how a murderer might feel? Of course not. What I have to find in myself is how the murderer might feel in this given situation. Have you ever killed a fly? How did you feel about it? Most of us would feel nothing or might feel a bit of triumph or glee. It’s a pest that annoys you or it might be a threat that will bring some illness or lay eggs in your hamburger. (One of the reasons My Mary hates flies; that happened.) Different folks, different motivations.
Maybe that’s how the murderer feels about taking a human life. On the other hand, have you ever said or done something that you instantly regretted and knew you couldn’t take back? Hurt someone, perhaps ended a relationship beyond all possibility of revival? Maybe your murderer feels something like that.
As I write, I have to figure out what the character might feel and then find in myself some situation, some memory, some feeling that is similar and extrapolate from that. If I do that correctly, the reader will also – hopefully – find some feeling in themselves with which they can respond to the scene or the story and it will have greater impact.
It’s why so many men have the same reaction to the end of Field of Dreams that I get. It tears me up every time I watch it. (And, yes, I understand many women have the same reactions.) It’s about the complicated relationship between fathers and sons/daughters and what was, what might have been, what maybe could be.
Can you have stories without that? Sure. You can use a formula, you can connect the dots, and have something perfectly serviceable and even entertaining. You can make money doing that. The stories that stay with us, however, are the ones where we connect on some emotional level. I, as a writer, turn to the reader and ask, “Have you ever experienced something like this? Have you ever felt something like this?”
It’s the moments were that happens that a connection is made. It’s like flipping a light switch – the electricity flows, the connection is completed, and the lights come on. We share something together. We need that sharing – that empathy –to live with one another. We do that and we create something special – whether it’s a story or a civilization. One of my rules is that “Nothing that is human is alien to me” and when we deny that we deny our common humanity.
Huh. Look at that. Guess I found something to write about after all.
Every once in awhile we come across what can best be described as “good, old-fashioned, sound advice. This is one of those times.
Which means you should read it, y’know?
by Rob Pilkington
If you’ve logged even just a couple years in this whole “aspiring screenwriter” thing, you’ve probably discovered that revisiting your old material isn’t always a picnic. Sure, there are lessons to be gleaned from some of those crude, bumbling, early pages, but the spirit of learning is likely trumped by the urge to lock those embarrassing attempts forever inside a fireproof safe – and to drop that safe into some shark-infested waters.
If nothing else, it’s comforting to know that even the most successful professional screenwriters were once just like us. We now have proof: a few online resources have cropped up that allow us to examine early scripts by actual working writers. Show Us Your Specs is a new online library of the spec scripts that first got now-showrunners noticed. Early entries already include Revenge’s Gretchen J. Berg & Aaron Harberts, Once Upon a Time’s Jane Espenson, and Don’t Trust the B’s Dave Hemingson.
That’s because we just found the site and, well, you know how we are, we fell in love with it. HJC is loaded with articles that we found not only helpful but vastly entertaining. These writers are funny. So funny, in fact, that we wish we could get them to work for us.
Here’s what the site has to say about itself:
Hollywood Journal is about the power of entertainment to inspire us, to change our lives, to shape our world. It is about the emotional and spiritual journeys that the people who create entertainment undertake, and about the way those journeys — through movies, television, theatre, books, music and games — affect the lives of their audiences.
The true power of Hollywood is not fame or money, box office or celebrity, but its ability to shape our perception of the world, to sharpen our empathy, to broaden our understanding, to bend our hearts and open our minds.
When Napoleon said, “Imagination rules the world,” he was speaking of the power stories have to determine who, what and how we love, what we fear and what matters to us most.
Hollywood Journal is where the people who dream up these stories — writers, directors, actors, musicians, artists, producers, story creators of all sorts – reveal the insights, experiences, inner resources and outer struggles that shaped their works and their lives. In Hollywood Journal they can explore how spirituality and creativity are inextricably linked.
Hollywood Journal is where those who enjoy Hollywood can talk about its impact on their lives. How a movie changed the way they see the world, how a single scene opened their heart or a TV show set their life on a different course.
Bold claims, right? But here at TVWriter™ we love bold claims, especially if they’re substantiated, and, yeppers, Hollywood Journal does just that. Some of the recent posts we wish had been written for us instead include:
- It’s not always sunny in Hollywood
- Stupid questions
- My very first job in the movie business…sort of
- WHY I CAME TO HOLLYWOOD…HE SAID
- WHY I CAME TO HOLLYWOOD…SHE SAID
We laughed, we cried, we learned. What more can you ask of a showbiz site?
Oh, yeah, right, it should get you an agent. Nope, afraid HJC can’t do that. (Dirty Little Interweb Secret: No website can.)
The bottom line here is that we think it would be worth your while to check out Hollywood Journal.Com. And if you do, couldja please tell ’em TVWriter™ sent you? Because they have no idea we’ve written this, and unless they find out this article is useless as a Hollywood networking ploy. Yeah, you got it. We learned this all-important rule at: