Peggy Bechko: Into the Heart of Darkness


by Peggy Bechko

Our fiction writing, whether it be novels, short stories, screen scripts or whatever, needs good guys and bad guys. Either one can be very tricky, but for now let’s tackle the villain.

How easy is it to make your villain an unrepentant, painted-black totally negative figure with absolutely no redeeming features who no one can stand to be around? How easy is it to make it so that that ‘bad guy’ (or woman) makes very choice on the dark side, is so vile and depraved that he or she feels no remorse for what’s been done – ever – doesn’t car who gets hurt and manipulates and exploits every person, plant or animal that gets in the way?

Too easy.

Yep, at that point the writer has created a character who is so negative, so isolated, so unempathetic and terrible, so unbalanced that that character causes the reader (of book or script) to disconnect. Why? Because in real life the reader wouldn’t be able to grasp what anyone would see in this character. The reader can’t relate at all to that kind of villain’s goals or needs. And who the heck would care about his or her desires? No, this character has gone over the edge (egged on by the writer). This character can ruin your whole story.

What, you say? A serial murderer is a dark and tainted soul. Yep, that’s right, but if you’ll remember, most times that serial murder has a kitten, or he stops in the street to help an old lady across (presuming his target isn’t old ladies) or in his spare time he writes poetry or builds ships in bottles.

When you supply a dark character (no matter how unlikeable a character you’ve created) with a positive or redeeming attribute or two, something totally at odds with the ‘dark side’ of that character’s nature, you pen a more realistic and intriguing character.

Of course you don’t want your reader to applaud and cheer for the villain of your piece, but you do want to draw them into the story, get them to dig deep into their own psyches and understand, or make some attempt at it, what made him the dark soul that he is. When you create your darker characters don’t hesitate to reveal quirks, passions or sensitivities, maybe even amusing neuroses. Choose something, or maybe several somethings (but don’t go overboard) and let the reader into the mind of your characters. In the case of scripts you have to give visuals so the ‘reader’ is inclined to pass your script along but the tips here hold true.

Always look for balance. The ‘scales’ can tip back and forth, but if you, as the writer, don’t create a world and characters the readers can relate to in some fashion, then you lose them. And losing them isn’t good.

So, consider this post a reminder. Make your characters human. Even the dark and nasty ones. Most ‘bad guys have had family (they didn’t spring from an egg somewhere), possibly friends and pets; maybe the love of music or watercolors.

Give them a spark of light and all that darkness will be even more intense and intriguing.

Now go create a real villain, one who when he goes down you ask, “but who’s going to take care of the kitten?”

munchman: Oscar Winner Diablo Cody Gives Us All Some Advice

…And we’re publishing it cuz let’s face it, Oscar-winning writers have a tendency to know a helluva lot more about writing than mere munchmen:

diablo codyby Rachel Simon

To some people, Diablo Cody disappeared off the face of the earth sometime in 2008, right after she won an Oscar for penning JunoSure, they might’ve heard something about a new movie here or there, but when nothing became as big asJuno, they (wrongly) assumed Cody left Hollywood. To those who’ve paid attention, though, it’s clear that the filmmaker has been everywhere these last few years: writing, directing, producing (not to mention giving birth to two kids) and, most recently, sharing her secrets with Glamour’s Cindi Leive about building an “unconventional career path” and what lessons she has for women looking to have their own Juno-like breakthroughs. All ladies, whether filmmakers or not, should take note; these are coming from the woman who’s making a rock star movie with Meryl Streep, after all. Cody’s best pieces of advice:


The woman born as Brook Busey-Maurio changed her name early on in her career, when she was just beginning to blog and wasn’t yet a published author. She chose a “cool and intimidating” pseudonym for the purpose of Internet anonymity, but looking back, making the change so early, before she was established as a writer, “was honestly such a mistake.”


Cody knew she wanted to be a writer since she was a child, but when she graduated from college, she found herself working at an ad agency. And despite the “safety net” of her job and the feeling that it was what she was supposed to be doing, she decided to take a leap.

“I wanted to do something totally different and unexpected and scary,” she said. So she wrote.


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How to Self-Publish a Book

We here at TVWriter™ understand that writing is writing, regardless of the medium, and that many, if not most, of our visitors aren’t just looking to make it as television writers but also to make it as writers, period. So we mightily glad we found this article for all you little book novelists out there.

(No, we’re not making fun of you in any way. We’re referencing Sly Stallone’s acceptance speech when he won the Best Screenplay Oscar for the original ROCKY film and dedicated it to “All you little Rockys out there!” Of course, he probably was mocking aspirants everywhere, but that was him and this is…us, know what we mean?) Anyway:

sortofapublishingpicby Ian Lamont

Twenty years ago, if you were a new author interested in getting your book published, you had to shop it around with publishers and hope that someone, eventually, might not reject you. But nowadays you can choose to self-publish anything you’d like. Here’s how.

In the old dynamic of getting your book in print, authors basically had three options:

  • Send a manuscript to publishers. If you were lucky, an editor at one of the big publishing houses would have plucked it from the so-called “slush pile” of unsolicited manuscripts. Your publishing contract may have included an “advance,” a sum of money that will be paid back with royalties earned from the sale of your book. The royalty rate? About 8-10% for mass market paperbacks.
  • Commission an agent to shop around your manuscript. A good agent would be able to get your book in front of the right people at the right publishing houses (for a price).
  • Have a vanity press handle publishing. You would send in your manuscript, and pay a large fee to get several hundred copies published. It would be up to you to sell them… or give them away.

That was then, this is now. The rise of tablets and the launch of self-publishing platforms have made it possible for anyone to release their own book to the world, without going through the traditional gatekeepers or costly vanity presses.

However, it’s still easy to get burned with self publishing. I learned some of the pitfalls, ripoffs and mistakes the hard way, when I began publishing the In 30 Minutes series of how-to guides in 2012. Since then, I have started a small publishing company and have heard from lots of newbie authors who are unsure about how to get started.

Whether you have a fiction masterpiece, a biography, nonfiction work or children’s book, these pointers will help you navigate the brave new world of self-publishing.

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Love & Money Dept – TV Writing Deals for 7/28/14

Latest News About Writers Who Are Doing Better Than We Are
by munchman

  • Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi & Bruce Campbell (if you don’t know at least 2 our of these 3 names you shouldn’t be reading this anyway) are writing-developing a TV series based on the EVIL DEAD series of films. (And if that isn’t the most interesting thing the San Diego Comic Con has to offer so far, then what is? Huh? Huh? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Ha!)
  • Robert Kirkman (THE WALKING DEAD) is adapting his comic book Outcast for a Cinemax series. (And if that isn’t good news for exorcism lovers everywhere, then what is? Huh? Huh?)
  • Nick McDonell & John Dempsey (yer friendly neighborhood munchaddict never heard of ‘em but the press releases says Nick’s a journalist and John’s a “politico”) have written an AMC pilot called WHITE CITY about the crap going down in Kabul, which is set to start shooting any second now. (And if that ain’t the best news in the world for right wing extremist war junkie fruitcakes, then what is?)
  • Big deal best-selling novelist James Patterson is adapting his thriller, Zoo, into a series for CBS. No pilot necessary on this one. It’s going straight to series. (And if that isn’t the the most exciting news any novelist with a few notches on his belt ever heard, than…well, you know the drill. As the munchman’s dear old daddy used to say, “Success brings success, kid, so keep on sucking!” Yeah, he was clever that way, he is.)

A Master Salesman Tells Us How to Master Pitching

James Altucher, acknowledged by admirers and detractors alike to be one hell of a salesman, puts us on the road to successful pitching. For reals:

pitchman.tvwriter.netby Mihir Patkar

Delivering an elevator pitch or even telling your boss about an idea can be nerve-wracking. Entrepreneur James Altucher has crafted “the six U’s of persuasion” to make sure your idea gets heard.

In case you don’t know Altucher, he’s also an investor, a hedge fund manager, an author, and has participated in our How I Work series. In a post on persuading anyone about anything, he expands on the traditional “four U’s” formula to add two more:1


Why the problem you solve is URGENT to your demographic. For example: “I can never get a cab when it rains!”


Why is your solution unique: “We aggregate 100s of car services into one simple app. Nobody else does this.”


Why is your solution useful to the lives of the people you plan on selling to or deliver your message to: “We get you there on time.”


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Peer Production: How Making Short Films Can Benefit Web Series Creators


by Chris Hadley

Web series have increasingly become the new calling card for undiscovered filmmakers who’ve long been hoping to break into the highly competitive film and TV industry. However, short films have always proved to be beneficial to the growth and development of writers, directors and actors alike.

In the case of the new short DANDEKAR MAKES A SANDWICH, both worlds come together in unique fashion as it combines the creative talents of two women who’ve enjoyed considerable success through a popular online sitcom – Leena Pendharkar and Jane Kelly Kosek, creators of the web series comedy OVERLY ATTACHED ANDY.

The film has successfully raised just over $7,000 through the popular crowd funding site IndieGoGo. The official pitch video for that campaign can also be viewed at the end of this article.

In addition, both Pendharkar and Kosek will shop it to various film festivals around the country and through online platforms like Short Of The Week sometime this Fall. DANDEKAR MAKES A SANDWICH will be a prequel to the full length film DAYS WITH DANDEKAR, one that Pendharkar and Kosek hope to produce sometime next year.

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