March 14

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HEAR HERE?

Jerry MacGuire GifFor those of you who follow screenwriting blogs on a regular basis, you have a pretty good sense of what each blogger brings to the table. On this blog, I don’t do much gossip. I don’t give out names of producers or agents. I don’t have a magic answer for how to make it in the industry. I don’t have a strong enough career to justify the sorts of high-level insights found at Artful Writer or Josh Friedman’s blog.

On the other hand, I do have extensive experience with agents, managers, production executives, producers and working writers. And, I’ve written a lot. All of my scripts, whether they have sold or not, have been championed by strong agents and producers and, on occassion, A-level talent. I do have extensive training in the craft of writing. I do know, more or less, how the industry as a whole functions and how that affects the emerging writer. I do have the experience that comes with regularly submitting scripts and pitches to the mainstream Hollywood motion picture industry. I do have the background of having worked on the producing side of the business, both as a producer and in legal affairs for a studio.

I do love the craft of writing and enjoy its highs and lows: the awful feeling of putting everything I have into a draft and realizing it lies their, flat on the page, no movement, no character, nothing (what the hell was I struggling for?) followed by the incredible high of seeing that awful draft turn into something incredible through deep, hard work. It is the kind of high that is earned and, therefore, lasts. I love the feeling of reading an old script I haven’ looked at in a couple years and saying, “Wow, I did that?”

And, while nobody really knows what the hell they’re doing, I like to write about whatever orts of insight I’ve gleened over the years. In the future, I plan to continue my main focus here, namely posts that assist emerging writers in understanding what is expected of them in the industry and how to deliver it.

With all of that in mind, I throw it out to you. What would you like to see more of on this blog? What would you like to see different? This is your opportunity for feedback.

Don’t be cruel….




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Posted March 14, 2006 by TW in category "General

18 COMMENTS :

  1. By Chris on

    Let me be the first to thank you for putting all this effort into helping a bunch of anonymous wannabe’s. :) I think your website is one the best, in terms of actaully helping us become better writers, and for that I’m very grateful.

    Please just keep posting great lessons on crafting quality stories. That’s more than I could hope for.

    And maybe a post or two about how folks in Canada (like myself) can ever hope to break into the business, given the constraint of a family and having to hold the 9-5 until it financially makes sense to move. (Of course assume we have spent all our effort into writing a dozen screenplays, the last 2 or 3 of which are commercial quality and ready to be sent out.)

    That’s all. 😉

    But thanks again!!

  2. By Fred Mitten on

    I love the site. A nice blend of craft stuff and real-world business stuff would suit me perfectly. Keep up the good work. Thanks.

  3. By Chris on

    Err, an addendum to the above: I realise the Out-Of-Towner’s question has been asked before. 😉 I just wanted to make sure you know that the problem is very serious and unsolved for those of us with families, jobs, and student loans to repay. I know there isn’t an answer, but any bit of advice helps.

    Thanks again, and keep up the great work!

  4. By odocoileus on

    You may have done this already, but I’d be interested in a detailed account of how you broke into the business, how you went from legal affairs and producing to writing,what your training is etc.

    Other than that, more of the same, cause it’s good stuff.

  5. By alan green on

    am i the only one who will admit they had to look up ‘ort’?

    i like your site. it’s introspective, and a bit quite – not usual qualities online. the thing i’ve always noticed is that we (or i) don’t get a feel for who you are. on other blogs, the posts reveal a lot about the author. here, you answer questions and discuss theory. it tends to put you at a bit of a distance. i’d like to know how you feel about a professional encounter during your day — a phone call to an agent, running into a director — that kind of thing. i understand you don’t want to gossip, but isn’t there a happy medium that would allow you to include such experiences without spilling all the beans?

    while there have been some very fine exchanges concerning character, structure, (etc) here, i think some insight into your personal life as a writer would be welcomed.

  6. By Devin on

    I, too, am very appreciative for those, like yourself, who are gracious enough to open up and let the rest of us in on a few tidbits of relevant, professional information and advice.

    It’s daunting to go up against a sea of seasoned writers with degrees in journalism, or a dozen screenplays under their belts already! I’ve written ONE, which I consider to be both original and entertaining (but as of yet, it has not been read by anyone who could jump-start my career… nor do I expect such a thing to ever really take place). I’m entering it into screenwriting contests I read about in “scr(i)pt” magazine and research on my own, with the hopes that it will be read by industry professionals and allowed to either sink or swim on its own merits.

    I also have an A-list acquaintance from my college days that I’m trying to reconnect with… as of yet, she hasn’t responded to my email query (which doesn’t surprise me… with the amount of fan mail she must get on a daily basis, I hardly expect my note to be a blip on her radar). Her husband is an Academy Award winning screenwriter… so if I were able to have them read my script (and if they thought it was good), that would be a nice angle to play! We’ll see.

    Best of luck out there, for writers both seasoned and novice. We’re all in the same boat together. Let the better idea and pitch rule the day!

  7. By William on

    Add me to The Thinking Writer Appreciation Society. It is one of my regular stops in the scribosphere and I find it very helpful. I would have to side with Alan. Without burning your bridges to the ground, let’s hear your take on the biz. I think your advice for all of us is very helpful, truly, but it would be nice to hear an anecdote every now and again to put it all in the real world. Let’s hear about your highs and lows so we can gauge them with our own. Are we acting irrational or is this the gig? People trying to break in lack the experience these blogs offer but we all know that everyone in the world of filmmaking has different experiences. Let’s hear some of yours but also keep doing what you are doing with character, structure, etc. It’s all very good.

  8. By Joseph on

    I would also like to thank you for having this blog. It’s one of the few I check regularly. Like odocoileus I would also be interested in hearing how you broke in and also your take on what separates the people with great scripts who make it and those that don’t. What qualities do the people who make it have that the people who don’t make it lack?

  9. By Devin on

    Where are all of you guys (and gals) located? Are you all working in LA, or do you live all over the place? I’m sitting pretty (and COLD) in Cleveland, Ohio.

    Is it absolutely necessary to relocate to LA in order to be a successful screenwriter; or can I remain in Ohio and travel if and when my work is being considered?

    What is your experience with this? I’m just curious. I have a full-time job, and write screenplays on the side for now.

  10. By Chris on

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I enjoy the practical advice for the emerging writer pretty much as is. Without getting into the gossip aspect of things, however, maybe some war stories from your own experiences (with names redacted to protect the innocent/guilty). Some “here’s how it happened with me” illustrations of your themes are always helpful.

  11. By MaryAn on

    A Comprehensive Idiot’s Guide of What Not To Do? Or, just keep on keepin’ on. You got readers. We’re learning stuff.

  12. By Dave on

    I agree with the above, you offer very practical articles on screenwriting, for which I am extremely grateful.

    As for ideas on articles, perhaps any little tips or tricks (not shortcuts) you may have developed that assist you in areas such as fleshing out characters, challenging them more, and defining your structure or story.

    I am also happy to just ask for more of the same.

    Again, many thanks for your efforts, it is genuinely appreciated.
    cheers
    Dave.

  13. By Adam on

    I love the practical advice you offer, and your focus on writing as a craft. It helps take out the mystery and to look at writing screenplays from a real world perspective. Sort of makes the whole thing seem achievable. I know I’m a good writer based on feedback I’ve gotten, I just need to work on my craft, and when I found your blog it really helped.

    The big thing I like about my favorite blogs is frequent updates. I know you’re busy and it’s not like you’re getting paid for this, so I’m not complaining. But frequent updates, when you’re able to do it, are greatly, greatly appreciated. In general though, thanks for doing this at all.

    I’m always interested in things like stories and developing ideas.

  14. By Devin on

    This is a great blog. Thanks for being thoughtful enough to share with the rest of us!

    As an aspiring scribe, I have also created a blog (with some FLASH animations and various things of interest). I invite all of you to check it out and comment, if you like: http://devinbennett.wordpress.com

    Writing doesn’t have to be a lonely endeavor, you know!

    ~Devin

  15. By TW (Post author) on

    Thanks everyone for the input. It is very helpful. I will try to address many of the things mentioned here in the coming months.

  16. By Chris on

    Character motivation — how do you make sure the characters are sufficiently and plausably motivated?

    Too many of my stories start with the main character deciding he “wants to do something,” and this leads to the main plot. I’m starting to realize this type of motivation isn’t very strong, and I haven’t been able to make a good story about someone who just “wants to do something,” no matter how bad they want it.

    Does that make sense? I think it’s a problem of motivation, and I think people can tell when a story hinges on a character doing something that they really didn’t have to do, particularly when there are many other things the character could have done that were a lot easier, less dangerous, but unfortunately less interesting.

    For example, to make money the character decides to start a porn business intead of simply taking a job as an accountant, for which he has training. Or any other job. Like flipping burgers.

    Thanks!

  17. By Buffy on

    Sorry. Haven’t actually made it to the post yet. Got stuck on the pic.

    I do love Cuba. *Sigh*

    Now back to the blog.

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