Peggy Bechko: Stuff Writers Shouldn’t Do If They Plan on Being Successful

by Peggy Bechko

 

Writers of all stripes get feedback from all sorts of people – sometimes it’s solicited and sometimes it just jumps out at you. We handle all that feedback in a lot of different ways. But, there’s the feedback from knowledgeable sources we all have to pay strict attention to.

When a screenwriter gets it from on high and is told where a script may be lacking, that’s not a time to argue. When a novelist gets feedback from an Editor or Publisher, that is not the time to argue.

I know, I know, the web says this and the web says that. It’s a font of information – and a lot of it is wrong unless you’ve researched your resource thoroughly and know it is dependable.

So back to my original statement. There is no ‘secret’ to getting a script sold or a novel published. There’s no magic wand awaiting you out there on the web. So, don’t argue.

Look, if you, as writer, have presented a work for consideration and the person on the other end, be it Editor for books or producer looking for the next great script, gives you some tips and feedback it’s not a personal attack. You’re actually a step ahead.

Someone with the ability to help you toward your ‘destiny’ took enough interest to give ‘notes’. A serious screenwriter or novelist doesn’t argue with that. Watch out for that ego we all have and don’t let it make you feel like honest criticism is a personal attack.

If you’re secure in what you do you can take feedback, analyze it and tweak your written work accordingly; or not. I’m not saying ALL feedback is the best. But if we take the time to sit on it for a while, consider, then move forward.

Maybe it will make sense. Maybe you won’t want to change to accommodate or maybe you’ll need to find another person to critique the script or book. Whatever you, as the writer you are, decide, curb that first reaction and then decide.

Do you want to completely alienate a script contact or an Editor reading your manuscript? Well, then, just keep calling and bugging that contact about the progress of their read through.

Yeah, yeah, some folks you send your precious writing to may promise to read it right away or maybe next week or even tonight. Don’t believe them. Be patient.

In my experience the person who requests a script wants it yesterday…but then takes weeks to get back with approval or notes or whatever. Don’t get upset, it’s not worth it. Politely follow up in maybe three weeks and if still nothing, give them another week.

Beyond those couple of check-backs I’d say if there’s still no response it’s probably time to find another reader.

Let’s be clear. I’m saying this to keep you from getting frustrated and doing something to sabotage yourself. These folks aren’t doing it to annoy you. They’re busy people and more often than any of us would like they can underestimate the time it will take to get back to you.

Another tip? Don’t do what other writers do. Don’t follow the path of another writer in an attempt to find ‘success.’ You have your own individual goals, needs, talents and life circumstances which are totally different from those of another writer, even one who has already found success.

Quick example: If you are,  say, writing mysteries, patterning yourself after a superhero action writer most likely isn’t going to work.) Do what fits you. Write what fits you. Pursue your dream your way.

Finally, don’t discourage yourself, which we all know is far too easy to do. Believe me, there are plenty of negative folks out there who’ll be happy to beat you up. You don’t need to give them a helping hand.

Motivate yourself. Keep writing, even the really bad stuff. Avoid those who constantly tell you how unlikely it is that you’ll ever succeed. Don’t let those people into your writing bubble. Don’t ask them to read your work. Eliminate them from your contact if you can.

In other words, save yourself. Don’t waste your time with negative people. For that matter, don’t waste your writing time, period. Don’t let distractions get in the way. Take a break, sure, we all need them. But don’t turn a 15 minute break into an hour or more.

This list of ‘don’ts’ isn’t set in stone. These are suggestions. As you think about them, be honest with yourself. See what applies to you, and what doesn’t.

Then do what you need to. Your drafts and final polished product will thank you.


Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career 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.

It’s Writing Meme Time!

Don’tcha just hate all those writing memes about grammar? Not-so-confidentially, so do we. But this one, found on God’s Gift To Social Mayhem, aka Facebook, does make a few points of writerly importance:

Waitaminnit! Judged? By whom? I dare she, he, it, or they?

Oh, you’re talking about our readers. The people we’re trying to entertain, edify, and show off for. Well then yeah, okay. Let’s all write one for the reading Gipper!

LB’s Writing Credo

Ah, but is it???

by Larry Brody

We all see and hear, all the time. I’m talking the dreaded BAD WRITING, self-indulgent, uncommunicative stories, poems, TV shows, films, web series, YouTube videos.

I’m not saying everything being presented to us is bad. Most of it isn’t. But there’s enough of the let’s-call-it-“disappointing” stuff to make even the most open-minded pop culture fan cry.

(Pop culture? Where did that expression come from? Oh yeah, the 1960s, before everyone living in the world today but a few old rock stars and obsolete movie stars were born.)

Anyway, after a week spent not finishing the latest books I bought for my Kindle and removing at least half a dozen critically acclaimed series from my various streaming watchlists, I thought about my reaction – and realized that for most of my career I’ve been accused of the very self-indulgence I mentioned in the first paragraph above.

This, of course, gave me pause. And it was a long, self-deflating pause at that. I thought about what I’ve tried to accomplish with my own writing. Then I started going through buried files, where I found examples of where my head was at in terms of what my responsibilities as a writer were at various stages of my career.

And discovered that, whoa, I had been pretty damn guilty as charged. But then something happened, and my outlook changed.

Because I became a producer.

Not a writer with a producer title, but a working, getting-up-early-and-being-on-the-set-worrying-about-the-budget-reading-all-the-actors-supervising-all-the-writers-sitting-with-the-editors-to-pare-down-the-final-cut and all the rest of that stuff producer.

Not only did the 12 hour a day, 7 days a week work schedule give me absolutely no time to regard my work as “my work” alone, because I’d worked so closely with so many others who knew way more than I did about most TV and filmy things, so did the fact that I was accountable to cast, crew, studio, and the network for the success (or failure) of each show I was on.

And “success” meant being accessible to the largest, most devoted audience we could get.

During that time, I wrote a kind of “Credo” for myself to go by. It was intended as a way to keep my perspective on what my job was all about. Years later, first while writing a column for a now defunct film magazine called Screentalk, then while doing a column for the Final Draft website, I shared that credo.

And now that I’ve rediscovered it, I’m putting what I wrote out there again.

Here we go:

TO THE AUDIENCE

I want to express my inner truth, my vision of life in this universe – not only for myself but for YOU. My goal is to share, to communicate so others can learn and feel and taste and appreciate and be moved in the most positive way my experience as a human being out in the world trying to do the best I can for that world and everyone and everything on it before I’m gone.

To do this I can’t write merely to please myself. Talk about preaching to the converted! Instead I must express my truth in a way that will get to you, the audience. A way that will stab you right in the heart and go to your soul.

I have to write using all the tricks I know that will help you be entertained and enlightened.

If I don’t have some effect on you, don’t lift one or two of your burdens, make you feel better about being alive, or just plain move you in some way for even one small moment, then I will have failed. My purpose, won’t have been fulfilled. There will have been no sharing, no joint experience, no art or salvation.

So here we go again, with me giving it all I’ve got, hoping like hell it works.

Audience, this one’s for YOU.


Larry Brody is the founder and boss of TVWriter™. Learn more about him HERE

TVWriter™ Don’t-Miss Posts of the Week – February 19, 2018

Good morning!

Time for TVWriter™’s  Monday look at our most popular blog posts of the week ending yesterday. They are, in order:

Empty Promises: My experience submitting scripts to Amazon Studios

Kate G’s Top 5 Queer Lady Couples – Happy V-Day!

Writing Basics: How to Write a Story

Herbie J Pilato: Thank you, “The Flash!” It looks like the dark and dingy days of TV may be over!

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

And our most visited permanent resource pages are, also in order:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

The Logline

The Outline/Story

PEOPLE’S PILOT 2017 Writing Contest

SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED SECOND SEASON ARC

Major thanks to everyone for making this another great week at TVWriter™. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!

Herbie J Pilato Reminds Us that a Writer’s Work is Never Done

Writing is your life.

You can stop writing when you’re dead.

That’s the way you have to look at it.

Pay your rent, your mortgage, and all of your bills on time, and then go out and have a good time with your family, friends, and colleagues.

Then when you return home, rest, and then the next day, start-up the writing machine once again.

For me?  I do that in the morning, from around 4:30 AM to 11:00 AM.  Those are my core hours.

Other writers are night owls.  But not me.  I’m exhausted by at least Noon.

Although I spend the rest of the day and sometimes early evening working the tasks that surround and support the actual act of writing; things like making phone calls; research; or taking lunch meetings.

But as far as actual writing, there’s only so much room in my brain every day for the creation, shaping and communicating of words, be they fictional, fantasy or based in reality.

And that’s okay.  Because we all work at our own pace…every day, without ever really feeling we have a completed manuscript, book, poem, or essay.

That’s what sequels, re-dos, revisions, and reprints are for, all of which brings us back to our central message:

A writer’s work is never done.


Herbie J Pilato is the Founder and Executive Director of The Classic TV Preservation Society and author of several classic TV companion books.  He has been part of TVWriter™ for almost 20 years and is Contributing Editor Emeritus. Learn more about Herbie J HERE.

Writing Basics: How to Write a Story

Okay, so we’re not big Ted Talk enthusiasts. You’ve probably heard our drill: “Too facile. Too superficial. Too pompous. Too overblown.”

But sometimes they get it right. Like now:

This one’s definitely worth watching especially if you’re a new writer just getting your bearings.

Writers Guild Awards Presenter Kathy Griffin Calls Out the WGA

The WGA Awards were announced at a pretty spectacular ceremony last Sunday night, all things considered. (Those “things” meaning…writers, as opposed to the glam before-the-cameras award-givers and takers we’re all used to.)

And, these being awards for and by writers, naturally all wasn’t exactly sweetness and light. Or, as Munchman put it while watching from backstage (don’t ask how he got there, and we won’t bore you with the telling), “Go, Kathy, go!”

Anyway:

by Jenna Marotta

At Sunday night’s untelevised Writers Guild AwardsKathy Griffin smiled through ongoing anger about the lack of Hollywood defenders she has had during a colossal public outcry that resulted from a 2017 photo shoot. On May 30, a picture in which Griffin appeared to be holding President Donald Trump’s severed head was shared on her social media accounts. In response, Griffin received death threats and was quickly fired as co-host of CNN’s annual New Year’s Eve telecast.

“It’s me, Kathy Griffin — I got a haircut and I lost my career in a day, hi!,” she began, taking the Beverly Hilton’s International Ballroom stage to present the night’s animation award. “I just want to thank all the powerful writers and show runners in this room for fucking no support, where the fuck have you been?…I was supposed to thank everyone for their support, and no one [lifted] their finger.” (During her ordeal, Griffin’s champions did include Jim Carrey and Alec Baldwin.)

Griffin offered her personal backlash — following a career of “little fights [that] nobody gives a shit about” — as a cautionary tale. “I want you to learn from my experience, honestly: if you think it can’t happen to you, it can, and it can happen like that,” she said, snapping her fingers. “You may have hated that photo and that’s okay, but if one of your 12-year-old kids puts it on Twitter, they shouldn’t have to be under a two-month federal investigation, be on the No Fly List, and the Interpol list….”

Read it all at IndieWire