The TVWriter™ February E-Newsletter

Yesterday’s e-newsletter for those of  you who missed it in your e-mailboxes:

TVWriter™ Newsletter – February 2013



Like everyone else in the world, I’m a regular visitor to websites that cover my interests. One of those interests is drumming (I’ve been playing for over 50 years. Ouch.)

On a recent visit to my favorite drumming site, I saw a forum post about television that, stripped of its specifics, boils down to, “Why is television so bad?” Considering how often I’m asked that question, I couldn’t resist answering. Now, though, I realize that it’s been awhile since I addressed that issue here on TVWriter™, so here’s my latest update on the state of the medium everybody loves to hate.

The best kept secret in showbiz in general is that it’s a business. It’s not about entertaining/informing/enlightening, it’s about entertaining/informing/enlightening at a profit.

Understanding U.S. television becomes easier when you know its business model. With the exception of HBO and Showtime, which make their money from viewer subscriptions, that model boils down to the fact that the advertisers are the customers, the viewers are the products being sold to those customers, and the shows are simply the bait used to lure the viewers to their sets which are, of course, the traps.

So for the networks and cable/satellite channels it’s never about how well the shows perform their proclaimed function – you know, the entertaining/informing/enlightening thing – but their real function, which is to bring in viewers and get a ton of money out of the advertisers.

Just as interweb tracking ability has increased over the past decade, so has the ability to track TV viewers. Nielsen can and does give networks and sponsors minute by minute breakdowns of shows so that analysts can see exactly what specific events/scenes/performers etc. attract the most eyes and what attract the least.

Armed with that info, the various “reality”, documentary, and news shows can be “optimized” to give the advertisers the biggest possible bang for their buck. Fiction can be done that way too, but so far most writers and directors have refused in that arena have refused to play ball. Well, that’s not totally true. We play it in a general way, following orders about what types of material to emphasize and what to omit (otherwise we’re, you know, collecting unemployment), but tailoring scene by scene breakdowns in police procedurals, sitcoms, et al, doesn’t happen much – yet.

The way I see it, the best thing that’s happened to American entertainment is the web because it allows for niche viewing that’s independent of advertisers. Whether that will become a stronger or weaker situation, of course, depends on how well sites like Netflix and Hulu and, soon, Amazon, can monetize interweb shows via direct viewer/visitor support instead of advertising.

So here’s why TVWriter™ pays so much attention to web series and peer production. It may or may not be what the future of entertainment is all about…but I sure as hell hope it is.

What do you think? Email me and let me know.





The big news here is that the Early Bird Entry thing is coming to an end. Right now, the entry fee for both contests is $30 per entry instead of the usual $40. That, however, ends at 11:59 pm Pacific Time on March 1st, which is only a few days away. FWIW, we think the $30 fee is the best deal in town and that it’s worth it to pay now even if your spec pilot/episode/movie script isn’t finished because we’re absolutely cool with you submitting/uploading your masterpiece any time between making your payment and the June 1 entry deadline for both the People’s Pilot and the Spec Scriptacular.

And lest we forget: Free Feedback is yours for the entering. We’ll be sending out the individual scores and the criteria for those scores to all entrants after the Winners are announced. (And boy are we proud of ourselves for doing this.)

For more info:

The People’s Pilot is here.
The Spec Scriptacular is here.

Or just go to TVWriter™ and click on the contest of your choice in the righthand index.



More About Editing Yourself
by LB

Beginning writers, accustomed to thinking of all stories in terms of the three act structure of beginning, middle, and end, often make the mistake of believing that the scenes within their teleplays and screenplays must also have beginnings, middles, and ends. While it’s certainly true that scenes need to build to a specific point or effect, don’t forget to make use of another old homily: Less is more!

The human mind is a wonderful thing, and generations of film and TV have taught all of us to accept film shorthand so that our brains can fill in big blanks. Start your scripts as close to the middle as possible, and end them as soon as you can. Start your scenes the same way. Don’t show two people meeting on the street and saying, “Hello.” Instead, cut to them with their conversation already underway. And don’t have anyone say “goodbye” either. End the scene as soon as it has made its emotional or story point. And please don’t tell us what’s going to happen next. Just let us see it. Our minds will immediately make the connection better than any written dialog ever could.

Speaking of not telling us things, whenever possible avoid repeating information. Show the audience what the characters are learning. Then, once it has been seen, don’t let the characters stop and tell each other what we already know. That’s for off camera, for the moments between the scenes. You’ve got a limited number of pages to use to tell a story to an audience with a limited attention span. Don’t waste them!



The next TVWriter™ Advanced Online Workshop, for writers who know a little something about teleplay/screenplay format and have either taken TVWriter™’s Basic Workshop or can show an example of their current work, starts Thursday, February 28, 2013, at 6:30 pm Pacific (9:30 pm Eastern) Time and will meet for 4 weeks. As of this writing enrollment is wide open, but the Advanced Workshop always fills up so we ever-so-respectfully suggest that you hurry to:
Advanced Workshop info and sign-up form

Larry Brody’s Master Class will be start meeting again on March 13th. This is the online workshop for professional level writers who want to spend a very intense month perfecting your current work. 60 pages a week! Story, plot, and characterization analyzed by our Fearsome Leader, LB himself! He accepts a maximum of only 3 students at a time in this one, and there may or may not be 1 opening left. Yes, we know that sounds vague, but we’re waiting for final confirmation (translation: the money) from the third writer who reserved a place.
Larry Brody’s Master Class info

Or find out more about everything TVWriter University is currently offering here.


That’s it for now. In the words of the immortal Michael Knight of KNIGHT RIDER fame (AKA the equally or perhaps even more immortal David Hasselhoff), we’re “Outta here!”

Team TVWriter™

Learn what’s happening at TVWriter™ in real-time on Facebook.

Ditto by following us on Twitter.

Larry Brody – Head Dood
Tim Muncher – Keeper of the Faith
Various Volunteers – Mucho Appreciated Scapegoats
Gwen Brody – Beautiful Dreamer

Now a few words about folks we believe in:


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  • Unlimited number of webpages to promote ALL your screenplays.
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Subscribe for just $9.95/month

For more information, please visit
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Daily spec script sales reports! Info on getting started as a screenwriter! Writers’ software! Literary submissions! See what’s for sale!

Hollywoodlitsales.Com is a full service website you don’t want to miss. Check it out here.


Television Writing from the Inside Outhas been revised and updated. What more could any screen or television writer ask for?

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One thought on “The TVWriter™ February E-Newsletter”

  1. I think social media is going to have a big affect on this model in the very near future. We already know that ad dollars drive the TV business and now that Twitter is getting into the TV metrics space – it’s only a matter of time before social chatter about and around a TV show or web show will be another factor in what gets made and what doesn’t.

    The upside for creators is that a large social following should help, but only if it proves to drive sales for those companies that advertise in relation to that show. Twitter hashtags in commercials are an attempt to gauge audiences willingness to take to social to interact with a brand due to a commercial and the logical next step is to try and entice audiences to use available devices to spend more time interacting with a particular brand than the show or other brands. All of this leading to better ROI for the advertisers, but even more “business” in show business.

    New media and distribution outlets like Netflix change this equation because the model is less concerned with people viewing a show at the same time and engaging each other (and advertisers) in that specified window. Now viewers can engage a show on their own time and a large social following becomes attractive to brands – and should give more power to the creators (if they’re business savvy to take advantage). I know more and more new media successes turning down traditional offers because they have a more lucrative opportunity staying in the new media space where the “business” is on their own terms and they’ve made a deal with their audience instead of advertisers.

    The game will always be to attract a large enough audience to sustain a show, but there are more options now to do this without having to “sell out” to the networks and “suits” as they say.

    Good stuff!


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