2015 Spec Scriptacular Early Bird Discount Ends Tuesday Night


Time to remind y’all that the 2015 TVWriter™ SCRIPT SPECTACULAR Early Bird Discount ends tomorrow night.

The contest will continue until the end of the day, December 1, 2015, but your chance to get 30% off each and every entry into this year’s competition by paying $35 instead of the regular price of $50 comes to an end at 11:59 Pacific Time, September 1st.

We’d hate to see anybody miss this terrific bargain, even if your script isn’t ready yet. So once you’ve paid you have the option of unloading your entry or entries immediately or holding onto/finishing/revising and uploading any time up to that very last minute of December 1, 2015.

We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again (and again, and again because that’s how we, um, roll):

Past Winners, Finalists, or Semi-Finalists of TVWriter™‘s two contests are or have most recently been on the staffs of CHICAGO FIRE, PERSON OF INTEREST, THE WALKING DEAD, RIZZOLI AND ISLES, GREY’S ANATOMY, NTSF:SD:SUV, ANIMAL PRACTICE, ROME,  CHICAGO PD, KILLER WOMEN, THE LEFTOVERS, WESTWORLD, and THE BASTARD EXECUTIONER, to name a few. We’d love to see you join them!



More about the prizes HEREStarting Line


CGI Arnie  the Super Blow-Up Doll! And you know what blowup dolls are good for, right?

CGI Arnie the Super Blow-Up Doll! And you know what blowup dolls are good for, right?

by Diana Vaccarelli

When I heard they were doing another Terminator film my big question was, what else are they going to do to ruin such a great franchise?

After viewing the trailer I was hopeful that this film was going to reinvigorate the legend that is James Cameron’s Terminator. So one gloomy, rainy Friday night, I decided to see “Terminator Genisys” and find out for myself what the filmmakers had done.

Here’s what I discovered: In no way does it measure it up to the original.

“Terminator Genisys” centers on the mission the sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect Sarah Connor, mother of future human leader John Connor. When Kyle reaches his destination, he reaches a version of the time that he was not expecting. Not only is he immediately in trouble, he is saved by a warrior Sarah instead of the weak and timid woman living at this point in time in previous incarnations of this cracked tentpole. Sarah explains that the timeline has changed and she’s ready to help him stop Skynet before it comes into power.

Jai Courtney portrays Kyle Reese.  What I didn’t like about this version is that Reese was a sarcastic asshole and not the sensitive solider portrayed so brilliantly in the original “Terminator” by Michael Biehn.  The good news, though, is thatCourtney did a decent job with what he was given. Despite my disappointment of the change in the character, I was drawn into his version of Kyle.

Emilia Clarke of Games of Thrones fame, is the latest incarnation of Sarah Connor.  The writers did her justice, and I enjoyed her as the tough as nails chick that Linda Hamilton portrayed back in T2.  Clarke does an excellent job at portraying the toughness yet gives her vulnerability with Reese as well.   

The worst part of the film was Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the way I see it only the most diehard Arnie fan would be surprised by this revelation. (Or any of the readers of previous reviews of this film that somehow managed to neglect pointing this out.)

Not only are the CGI attempts to recreate his formerly glorious physique absurd, Ahnold’s attempts at giving the aging Terminator feelings and humanity are just plain awful. Unlike previous Terminator installments, this one actually has a few moments that call for him to smile…and the obscenely fake smile that appeared made me cringe more than any moment in any horror film ever has

Bottom line: Although there were entertaining moments and action that almost lived up to the franchise, the most I can give “Terminator Genisys” is three stars out of five. And as to whether I would recommend that anybody see it, well, I really think that if you’re tempted just keep asking yourself:


How to Write Better Dialog

The following article concentrates on dialog in video games, but the discussion is valid for all media. Yes, even TV writers can learn from gamers. Craft is universal, just like creativity itself:




Here’s a question for you. You’re reading a book and the pace starts to drag, but you’re still curious to know what happens next. What do you do? The answer for me is obvious: you skip to the next section of dialogue. Good dialogue takes the story forward and shows character. Good dialogue crackles on the page. A confrontational exchange can be like two boxers slugging it out, trading punch and counter-punch. But what makes “good” dialogue, and more importantly how do you write it?

’m going to try to answer those questions by looking at a series of computer games calledMass Effect. Many of you will be familiar with them already, but for those of you who aren’t, bear with me. For the purposes of this article, all you need to know about the games is that they have lots of dialogue, and that you get to choose (to a degree) what your character says, and therefore what sort of character he or she is.

When your character, Shepard, speaks in Mass Effect, a “conversation wheel” appears on the screen. At the top of the wheel you have the Paragon or “good guy” option (blue), whilst at the bottom is the Renegade or “bad guy” option (red). For reasons of space, you don’t get to see on the screen exactly what Shepard will say for each option. Instead you get an abridged version that gives you a flavour of what your character will come out with. The magic of the game’s writers is in turning that short, bland version into something more colourful. Here are a couple of examples:

Read it all at Fantasy Faction

Behind the Scenes Look at Motion Capture Graphics


This TVWriter™ minion may well be one of the few people in the U.S. who has seen the film CHAPPIE, and not only did I watch, I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw.

While I was watching, unbeknownst to me at the time, I was also getting a slightly, hmm, altered look at an actor who since become one of my faves: Sharlto Copley. (And if you don’t know who he is or what he’s done that’s so great, well, first there’s CHAPPIE, and in a very close second, then there’s POWERS, a terrific TV series seen by even fewer people who’ve seen CHAPPIE. (But that’s a story for another day.)

My Sharlto Copley adoration has kept me busy google for every mention of his name. This most recent interweb find is my best yet because not only does it work for me it also should be really damned interesting to anyone into writing/directing/producing the next big CGI sci-fi masterpiece:

from Image Engine

Image Engine provides world-class visual effects for feature films. Film credits include District 9, which earned the company an Academy Award Nomination in 2010; The Twilight Saga: Eclipse & Breaking Dawn Pt. 1, The Thing, Immortals, Battleship, Zero Dark Thirty, Fast & Furious 6, White House Down, R.I.P.D., Child 44, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Elysium, Lone Survivor, American Sniper, and Chappie. Current films in production at the studio are: San Andreas, Jurassic World, Point Break, and Straight Outta Compton

2 Tips for Creating Compelling Characters

Another helpful post in SSN Insiders’ remarkable Screenwriting 101 series:



by Michael Schilf

A good story is driven by its characters. But if your characters are not compelling, the audience simply won’t care if a character achieves his or her objectives: destroying the Death Star, becoming a real boy, getting back to Kansas… or in the case of The Dude (Jeff Bridges), seeking restitution for his ruined rug, because “that rug really tied the room together.”

In order for us to care about a character, the writer must create a compelling character for whom we will hope and fear, and this is accomplished essentially two ways:

(1) First, the character must have a clear GOAL; this is his or her objective or desire, and depending upon whether the character is a protagonist or antagonist, we should hope/fear they accomplish the objective or hope/fear they will fail.

(2) Second, LIKABILITY becomes a key ingredient. When we like a character, we naturally begin to hope and fear for them. However, when a character is not likable, which is often the case with anti-heroes and villains, we at least need to be able to sympathize and/or empathize with them along the way.


When a heroic protagonist is created, he/she is usually likable from the beginning. In most genres, the hero who fights for good is introduced with charm, appeal, or magnetism. Moreover, if a character is likeable, sympathy and empathy follow close behind.

In Elf, it’s nearly impossible not to like Buddy immediately. He’s a 6’3? man-child. We like that he’s so innocent, and we can’t help but feel sympathy for him when the truth is revealed that he’s not really an elf.

However, when a character is not likeable, such is the case with anti-heroes or villains, empathy and sympathy are created in other ways.

Sympathy can occur when something awful happens, and it’s out of the character’s control. For example, if a young street thug robs a store and runs out only to be hit by a car, we will probably feel sorry for his injuries, despite his act of thievery.

Read it all at SSN Insider

Discovered: Agatha Christie’s Whodunnit Template

No one has ever written mystery stories more interesting and difficult for the reader to solve than Agatha Christie. But don’t let that get you down because guess what. As of this week – right now – the mystery of how she did it has been uncovered. And with enough patience, we can all do it too.



by Haroon Siddique

agathachristieequationFor almost 100 years, Agatha Christie has beguiled readers with her much-loved mysteries. But now a panel of experts claims to have worked out how to answer the perennial question: whodunnit?

To celebrate the 125th anniversary of the birth of the world’s best-selling novelist, academics have created a formula that they claim will enable the reader to identify the killer before the likes of Hercule Poirot or Miss Jane Marple have managed the feat.

The research, commissioned by the TV channel Drama, analysed 27 of the prolific writer’s books – 83 were published during her lifetime – including classics such as Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile. The experts concluded that where the novel was set, the main mode of transport used and how the victim dies were among the key clues.

One of the panel, Dominique Jeannerod, from Queen’s University in Belfast, said questions had long been asked about whether Christie followed a pattern. “We gathered data including the number of culprit mentions per chapter, a ‘sentiment analysis’ of culprit mentions, transport mentions and several cross-references with other key concepts of the novels,” he said.

“We were able to discover patterns emerging in several aspects of Christie’s novels: trends formed when we grouped our data via year, detective, gender of culprit, motive, cause of death.

“We also assessed the sentiment of the first mentions of the culprit in each work, using a sentiment analysis program, Semantria, to unmask themes in Christie’s word patterns and choices when mentioning the culprit. We found that, generally, for example, she employs more negative sentiment when the culprit is female, whereas a male culprit has higher levels of neutral or positive sentiment.”

Read it all at The Guardian