Web Series: GRIDLOCKED

A show that really, really works, about freeways that don’t. Somewhere in here is the key to the future of creative transportation, or transportive creativity, or…something.

Enjoy! We here at TVWriter™ sure as hell did!

And here’s Episode 1

How to be a Unique Screenwriter

Some people say that the key to screenwriting success is to stick to the template established by other successful writers. “Don’t make waves.” “Don’t be original.” Time now to hear from someone who said “Stuff it!” to all that and, well, so far so good:

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How I Broke the Rules and Survived
by Craig D. Griffiths

ving a unique and compelling voice as a writer is something we all desire to have. Yet we are told (in forums and by so called gurus) that “We must follow the rules” to be a screenwriter, we must do everything exactly the same as everyone else.

People have looked at great screenwriting and found commonalities. However, commonality is not causality. Because if these common things are all that is needed to create a great script, writers wouldn’t be needed.

How the Rules came about

The rules came about by people looking at previous works and analyzing them to see what they could discover. (As far as I can see) Christopher Volger was credited with sending a memo that outlined some rules, which is what I think kicked off this entire rule concept.

This was intended as a way of quickly weeding out the vast number of bad scripts and making a studio’s workload less. It works, as bad writers do break these rules, but of course, so do some great writers.

People seem to point at the vast number of movies that comply with the rules, so therefore, the rules must be correct.

It is also a bit of a self-weeding garden, meaning that if everyone believes the rules must be followed, then all scripts and all movies would be following and complying with the rules.

The truth is, bad writing is just bad writing and squeezing it into some rules or structure would just make it well-structured bad writing, but there are commonalities between bad writing and good writing, which very few people are willing to admit or acknowledge.

As you can see by the graph above, Bad Writers and Great Writers don’t consider the rules when they are creating their work. They are focused on the work, but the only difference is that the great writers have craft and skill. It may be true that the rules outline the thousand-year-old patterns that have evolved in storytelling, but they are not rules. They are at best-accepted norms and as such are easy to recognise and are comfortable, but they are not mandatory, which is after all the definition of a rule.

What I have a problem with is people saying that things MUST happen or that you MUST never do something. Those are the rules that I think are wrong and don’t need repeating….

Read it all at Stage 32

WGAW Career Longevity Special Event

wgaw lear and lorre

by TVWriter™ Press Service

What can we say but “These guys are giants!?” This looks to be the most valuable evening of the year for WGAW members and non-members alike. TVWriter™ heartily recommends it. Hey, maybe we’ll see you there?

WHY HOLLYWOOD A-LISTERS ARE FLOCKING TO TV

The showbiz paradigm probably has changed more in the last year and a half than in the preceding decade. And we owe it all to the fact that TV isn’t merely TV anymore. Witnesseth:

true-detectiveby Christine Persaud

Flip on your television any given day, and you might think you tuned into a feature film. The once-held stigma about “real actors” appearing on the small screen has virtually vanished, and high-quality television programming has been attracting a swarm of A-list Hollywood talent. Christian Slater, Matthew McConaughey, and James Franco have all recently made the move to TV, and the shows in which they appear are doing very well. This begs the questions: What started this migration, and will the trend continue?

The rise in TV quality

Last summer, Variety interviewed several A-listers appearing in television series: Jessica Lange (American Horror Story, FX) Taraji P. Henson (Empire, Fox), Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex, Showtime), Julianna Marguilies (The Good Wife, CBS), Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder, ABC), and Clive Owen (The Knick, Cinemax), to name a few. They all declared that it’s this supposed “golden age of television” and cited “the material” as the key that unlocked the TV world. Owen noted that, while he wasn’t actively looking to do TV, he “couldn’t put down the script for ‘The Knick.”

“Television is raising the bar on the character-driven drama series.”

During his 2014 Critics’ Choice Awards acceptance speech for Best Actor in a Drama Series for HBO miniseries True Detective, accomplished Hollywood film actor Matthew McConaughey said that, “television is raising the bar on the character-driven drama series.”

In an interview last year with The Independent, veteran film actor and seven-time Academy Award nominee Dustin Hoffman sang the praises of television. “I think right now, television is the best that it’s ever been,” he said. “And I think that it’s the worst that film has ever been – in the 50 years I’ve been doing it.”

Jane Fonda, who appears on Netflix original series Grace & Frankie, says actors simply want to go “where the good writing is.”

And the good — no, great — writing has made its way to television, across genres, from drama to comedy; and through various platforms, from broadcast network TV to premium networks and streaming originals.

Who’s making the move?

Screenwriters, directors, and producers, like J.J. Abrams, known for directing such massive movie blockbusters as Star Trek, Mission Impossible III, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens, have long recognized the potential of the television format. Abrams’ hit series Lost (2004-2010), which won two Emmys, could never have been as compelling and complex in the movie format as it was able to be as a television series, which ran for a total of 121 hours over six seasons. Shows like Dexter, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones have proven that the quality of writing in the television space has dramatically improved from the days of cookie-cutter cop dramas and mystery thriller programming….

Read it all at Digital Trends

A New Approach to TV Diversity

These days, diversity representation in and on TV is a huge issue, on which many experts, mayvens, stars, et al have weighed in. Time now for a word from somebody we respect even more: A genuine member of that very diverse population known as…the audience!

from gothlolilunitic 

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Whatcha think?

Let us know!

John Ostrander: You/Not You

You-Not-Youby John Ostrander

One of the interesting facets of talking about writing is the contradictions you find in the craft. For example: All your characters are you. All your characters are not you.

All of your characters are you.

Every character you write must have some of you in it. All of them. Not just the ones you like to identify with. All of them. The large and the small, the good and the bad, male and female, no matter what age, race, or nationality. If you’re going to write honestly about the character, you must be in the mix.

This can get uncomfortable. Once, when I was writing a white supremacist  in an early issue of Suicide Squad, I had to look into myself and ask, “What in me is like this man?” Look, I’m an aging white guy; there’s going to be something there. No matter how much I’ve worked at freeing myself from that, and I have, there’s going to be something there.

I found it. It’s not enough to understand such a character’s point of view; it’s necessary to find what is in you that is like that. However much I dislike that aspect of myself, it is there to some degree and it can be used. It was.

We all have multitudes within us. We are slightly different people depending on who we are with; with our parents we’re slightly different than we are with our siblings than we are with our friends than we are with our lovers and partners. Each of them know a slightly different aspect of us. That’s one of the purposes of supporting characters; they bring out different aspects of the protagonist.

We play so many different parts in our own lives on a daily basis, we should be able to find some aspect of ourselves – good or bad, laudable or disreputable – that will allow us to identify, to be, the character that we are writing.

I’ve often said that writing dialogue between several characters is the writer having conversations with his/herself. We are all our characters.

All of your characters are not you.

You have to have some perspective on the characters that you write and that requires some distance. The differences are important.

There is, mostly in fandom, a form of criticism pertaining to a “Mary Sue” (among female characters) or a “Larry Stu” (among male). Generally, it means a character is an idealized and unrealistic version of the author. For the most part I dislike the term; it’s too easy, too lazy, and too pat a critique. The person using it generally only has to accuse the author of either having a Mary Sue or Larry Stu and that’s it; no further discussion is needed or, often, allowed. The accusation is made. End of story.

However, as with most stereotypes and clichés, there is a germ of truth. A good character can be very seductive. Few people believe themselves to be evil; even Shakespeare’s Richard III, who describes himself as a villain, believes he has a right to do what he is doing. I met someone once who believed that if he could take something that you thought was yours, he was within his rights to do so. “You only have a right to what you can hold onto,” he would claim. Not someone I wanted to spend any time with, but an interesting idea for a character.

I saw a TV interview with a guy who was doing time because he was a hired killer for the Mob. Coldest son of a bitch I’ve ever seen. Literally would just as soon kill you as look at you. “My life doesn’t matter to me, so why should yours?” was what he said. Again, not a person I would ever want to meet, but it became part of my core concept for my version of Deadshot in the Squad. Lawton doesn’t have a death wish; he just doesn’t care if he dies – or if you do.

The whole “You are your character/you are not your character” thing is a dichotomy and that’s fine by me. I think that most often you find the truth in contradictions. It’s what Del Close taught in his Second City and iO improv classes. Del held this contradiction as a rule: it’s not either/or; it’s and/both.

Finally, don’t try to reconcile or explain the contradictions. State them and trust to your reader to dope it out. Do your job right and the reader will think that the character is them… and not them.


John Ostrander is one of LB’s favorite writers in any medium. This post originally appeared in his most excellent blog at ComicMix.