Alan Moore Advises New Writers to Self-Publish

…Because having to even acknowledge the existence of publishers sucks.

The writer of WATCHMEN, LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, SWAMP THING, MIRACLEMAN, and a host of other great comic books is known for his anti-publisher, anti-film studio, anti-who-knows-what-else feelings. Here he is expressing himself while protesting the closing of a library i his homeland, the UK:

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Way to say it, Gandolf. But be careful. Looks to this particular TVWriter™ minion like your cover’s just been blown.

Most Read TVWriter™ Posts of the Week Ending 11/20/15


The most clicked-on posts by TVWriter™ visitors during the last week were:

Peggy Bechko on National Novel Writing Month

Peggy Bechko on Dreams – Not the Night Time Kind

Kelly Jo Brick: Takeaways from the Austin Film Festival and Screenwriting Conference

Kelly Jo Brick: The Write Path With Manager Geoff Silverman

Diana Vacc Sees VACATION

And our most visited resource pages were:

Writing the Dreaded Outline





Major thanks to everyone for making this such a great week. Don’t forget to read what you missed. re-read what you loved, and, most importantly, come back for more soon!

Want to Read Some DOCTOR WHO Scripts?

DW scripts

Yeppers, we thought you would. And these scripts from the current season / series of DW are perfectly legal and cool to download because they’re being made available as a service of the BBC.

Check these out:

Doctor Who – Series 9, Episode 1 – The Magician’s Apprentice by Steven Moffat

Doctor Who – Series 9, Episode 2 – The Witch’s Familiar by Steven Moffat

Oh, and there’s also this one, from the RTD era:

Doctor Who – Series 3, Episode 1 by Writer Unknown

If these aren’t the perfect gift for the writer who’s trying to finish a DOCTOR WHO spec in time to submit it to this year’s SPEC SCRIPTACULAR, then we don’t know what is. But you’ve gotta hurry. The 2015 SS closes December 1st!

My Pilgrimage to Austin – Part 2

EDITOR’S NOTE: Before you start this, be sure and read Part 1 HERE

pitch contestants

by Lew Ritter


The Pitch Session:

I was selected to participate in a Pitch session at the church. The room was filled with people, but only ten lucky people per session would be chosen to pitch their script ideas.

Once your name was called, you had ninety seconds to be brilliant. You introduced yourself and then told the essentials of your story. During the Pitch session, time slowed to a crawl as you tried to be animated and tell a good story. Should I say more? Have I said too much? All of these thoughts exploding in your head, as your mouth moved faster than the feet of the cast of Dancing with the Stars.
The Judges stopped the speaker after ninety seconds.

Several of the participants were brilliant. They mesmerized their audience with their stories. Others bumbled their way through their ninety seconds of fame. Some of the participants floundered because they didn’t have much of a story to tell. They had either not thought out their story, or threw in too much irrelevant details.

It became my turn and the adrenaline rushed to my fevered brain. I was pitching a high concept disaster movie called EMP. The ninety seconds flew by in a blur. I tried to remember the story that I had rehearsed and then through in as much detail finish the pitch. What were their flaws? Why would we care about these people? The judges wanted to hear more of the character interaction between the main character and the other characters in the story.

Overall, it was another outstanding event for the day. It helped you get climb out of your shell and practice the art of pitching. You need to be proficient in order for the sizzle and the steak of your juicy story to get to some potential executive interested. The morning Improv session had proven to be a good warmup for the afternoon pitch session.

Saturday Evening

At night or between sessions, the premiere gathering place for the Festival was the lobby and bar of the Driskill hotel. Attendees were aggressive in mingling with other festival members. We exchanged business cards in the hope of a chance meeting with a Producer or Manager over their steamed lattee. They were all hoping to meet someone who could read their scripts and anoint them official screenwriters.

Unfortunately, most of the people that I met over the course of the weekend were regular folk like myself. As a Second Rounder, my status was elevated, but I was merely part of the eager masses seeking the favor of the industry royalty.

I spent the better part of both evenings at the bar in the hotel. It was like speed dating. If you didn’t find someone compelling, just find an excuse and walk over to the next group of attendees. Everyone mingled and exchanged business cards.

Again, the pattern for the convention was that some people might be worth keeping in touch with and others not so worthy. After three hours, I had reached the end of my endurance. I took a cab back to my hotel a few miles from town.

Sunday ( Day Two)

Wash, Rinse Repeat. I got up early for a hearty breakfast and traveled back to Festival Central.

Bloodlines Discussion: 


One of the panels that I had hoped to catch the panel discussion of Bloodlines: Family Noir. Todd Kessler, producer of the series on Netflix was going to give a behind the scenes look at the show. This was a disappointment, as I had binge watched the series on Netflix. I made special notes not to miss this seminar.

The casting was impeccable. Bloodlines was intricately plotted and grabbed my interest from the opening episode. Due to heavy rains, Kessler cancelled at the last minute. It was a huge disappointment. I was eager to learn the secrets of such an intricate show and perhaps even shake hands.

Second Rounder: Now What? This was the final panel for Second Rounders. It featured recent winners of the festival. They explained what happened to them after they won. Some of them were cheerleaders that encouraged the audience to use their status as Second Rounders or above to leverage agents and managers.


Overall, I enjoyed myself, but I was exhausted by the end of the weekend. My goal was to meet as many people as possible; and attend as many workshops as possible. The Festival offered a wide variety of workshops for Second Rounders and above.

I met lots of interesting people. I exchanged a large number of business cards. Some people would be worth staying in touch with. However, I was disappointed in the lack of real opportunity to network with decision makers.

Aside from the Roundtable, most of the people at the Festival were ordinary folks looking for the magic to rub off on them. Some of the contacts and people that I met may develop into something significant. It is way too early to pass judgement on the networking aspect.

Chances are good that I would return next year, especially, if I get another script into Second Rounder or above status.


My Pilgrimage to Austin – Part 1

by Lew Ritter

Twenty years ago, when I met my future wife, I told her with a straight face that “any day now, I would get a call from Hollywood.” At that time, I was writing screenplays that were frankly “ Not Ready for Primetime.” The chances of getting to Hollywood, much less leaving New Jersey were remote. However, after all those years, she humored me. Writing screenplays in her mind was safer relationship than with a guy whose hobby was stumbling out of bars or playing poker all night. Mark Goffman of SleepyHollow and WhiteCollar

Twenty years later, I finally got an email that put my destination to Hollywood closer. It would take me not to the West Coast, but at least as far as Austin Texas. My latest screenplay, Whistleblower, had been selected a “Second Rounder” for the prestigious Austin Film Festival. This was particularly impressive, as it landed my script in the top fifteen percent of scripts. This was out of over eighty five hundred submissions. After many years of trying, my writing had finally elevated itself to a professional level.

After much soul searching, I decided to take a chance and attend the Austin Film Festival. I felt that I could only afford to take off one day from work, so I purchased a Weekend Badge. I had printed over two hundred business cards. They featured my contact information on the front of the card and on the back were a compendium of the numerous scripts that I had written.

After much preparation, I took off on an evening flight out of Newark’s Liberty Airport bound for the promised land, well okay, Austin Texas. My flight landed around midnight on the Friday. I arrived in my hotel at 1:00 A.M. I tried to sleep on the plane, but that is difficult at best. At the hotel, I slept maybe five hours that night and got up early. I wanted to make the most of my trip. This meant cramming as many events as possible during my weekend in Austin.

Saturday: Day One

I arrived at the Driskill hotel around 9:00 AM in time to register. The Driskill was a magnificently decorated hotel with marble floors, high ceilings, the epicenter of the festival. It was no normal hotel. It was impressive, a sort of Taj Mahal of hotels.

Improv Your Morning:

My first event was “ Improv Your Morning.” Led by an experienced Improvisation teacher. We were paired up and went through a variety of theatrical exercises. We were told to create a nonsense sentence. The other person had to respond with another nonsense sentence to keep the routine going.

The purpose was to loosen us up and teach us how to think on our feet. The results were wildly unpredictable. It prepared us to handle events like Hollywood pitch meetings, when an executive made an outlandish suggestions about how to improve your movie. Of course, such events would never happen in real life.

Sleepy Hollow:

The next event was a panel discussion on how the classic short story ‘Sleepy Hollow’ was transformed into a hit movie and then a popular TV series. It featured Andrew Kevin Walker, the writer of Seven, and the 1999 movie starring Johnny Depp. The other participant was Mark Goffman, Executive Producer of the TV show ’ Sleepy Hollow’.

Walker talked about how he built up the elements of the classic short story into an intriguing movie. He had done extensive research into the early days of forensic science. Ichabod Crane was transformed from a gawky schoolteacher into an early Sherlock Holmes with a forensic science approach to fighting crime.

Walker created a detailed outline of the story before going to a screenplay. Once he had the outline, he began to write the script. He acknowledged that even though he got credit for the script, the final shooting script had been rewritten by others. Even the greatest writers must deal with the collaborative nature of filmmaking.

Goffman talked about the behind the scenes events that shaped the narrative of the show. They took the events of the American Revolution and translated them into a mythology of a battle of unleashing the coming Apocalypse. They researched mythical ghosts and goblins and events during the American Revolution.

The Headless Horseman would not be the main nemesis. It was merely the first harbinger of the Apocalypse. During the second season, the Horseman was further humanized by the introduction of a back story of his rivalry for the affections of Ichabod Crane’s wife, Katrina. However, by the end of season two, the producers had decided that the Horseman story had run its course.

At the end of the panel discussion, they were ushered out of the room. There was not much chance of handing either writers a business card. I was disappointed that the first event hadn’t been the meet and greet event that I had hoped for.

Second Rounder’s Roundtable:

The next event was the Second Rounder’s Roundtable. It was sort of speed dating for screenwriters. Several Second Rounder’s sat around a table. An Industry professional would rotate to each table. They would present their stories, and how they broke into the business.

After about fifteen minutes, they would leave, and another professional would sit down at the table. Ann Saunders from 24 and Kelley Fullerton from The Fosters were the standout professionals. This event was the best event of the festival. It put the industry professionals in front of the eager participants.

Tomorrow: Part 2! 

Diana Black has More to Say About Archetypes

archetypes cult

by Diana Black

As mentioned in a previous article: “Archetypes Are Here to Stay” – storytelling in one form or another and the ‘characters’ created therein, have been around for a very long time. Homo sapiens, radiated out of Africa into Europe by around 700 000 years ago, into Asia by 400 000 years ago and then onto remote island-continents like Australia, at around 80 000 years ago. So, we’ve had ample time to hone the craft. Important to note, we’re all related – thanks to our common ancestry way back on that African savanna.

“So what!” you say? Well, it’s interesting to note – and Joseph Campbell did, that archetypes within ‘stories’ in whatever form and across cultures, are essentially the same: – Hero, Villain, Messenger etc. Did story-telling and generalized archetypes in the form of memes, go along for that ancient ride? Hard to say, but recent brain research has provided important implications for us as writers – although we intuitively knew it all the time – the way the human brain thinks and responds, regardless of cultural nuance is essentially the same.

Story-telling could have been passed down through the generations as memes but that for us, is now inconsequential – the human brain seems ‘hardwired’ to be receptive towards storytelling and able to recognize archetype.

This is great news folks! Take just about any country in the world and the viewing audience – regardless of cultural diversity, will have in their noggin, a common ‘garden-variety’ brain with which to ‘get’ the story we’re telling AND, easily recognize ‘the’ Goodie, Baddie, Fool, Lover etc.

Here in the United States, perhaps the most culturally diverse nation on Earth, we could safely assume that everyone has access to a ‘little box’ and across a variety of media platforms. These lovely and willing recipients have the potential to make or break the longevity of a television program via the ratings. So, we had better get on their good side and ‘deliver’.

While we’re busy with that, let’s also be mindful of the fact that everyone viewing our fabulous TV program is adhering to an archetype profile – via their own personal ‘life-script’, which is partly why they’re able to identify and empathize so easily with at least one of our characters.

We know as writers that the character is intimately associated with the narrative arc/plot – via the choices they make (you made them do it – don’t blame them). Why? Their choices will drive the story forward and in a specific direction. That choice they’ve made (and continue to make) is largely dependent on, or at least strongly influenced by, the nature of that character type – the archetype. Circular, huh…

So if we were to line up the usual gang of archetypes and present them with a specific event/ scenario, their response is likely to be somewhat different. For example: arriving at the scene where a baby is about to be murdered or, finding an overstuffed wallet lying unattended on the side-walk. Being of a particular ilk – in terms of character not cultural persuasion, they’re likely to behave in a specific manner (make a choice) that is most likely, predictable.

If we have two characters in the scene, ‘Character B’ must quickly learn to know and understand how ‘Character A’ thinks and once known, is counting on ‘Character A’ to react in a certain way (make a choice). That will make ‘Character A’ predictable and thus all the more easily manipulated.

The audience (recall they’re an archetype too) is dependent on that knowledge/understanding of the character archetype on their little screen and tee-hee…we can fuck with them. We can lull them into thinking that under ‘this’ specific circumstance such-and-such is going to happen. For the devoted
viewer this is a source of great comfort and validation because that’s what they would do under that specific circumstance.

As the writer, we’re stroking the viewer’s ego – making them feel awfully good about themselves or pleasurably guilty. We’ve helped them along in this by ‘setting up’ the character as per archetype – via past episodes/events in which their ‘characteristic’ behavior is established.

When the character doesn’t deliver in line with archetypal behavior, the viewer is surprised – hopefully delighted, but they’re likely to raise immediate questions…wtf? Why did that happen? What made the character do ‘that’? Hopefully, the viewer will be intrigued enough to invest in further viewing to try and determine the answer/rationale. For the actors amongst us, try it in the audition room – the CD is probably going to love it.

But what if we introduce character ‘unpredictability’ just a tad too often? If there’s not a strong rationale for doing so – alluding to sub-textual complexity in relation to that character, the viewer may no longer be able or willing to identify with that character and dismiss them. Hopefully they will ‘latch on’ psychologically, to another character. Worse-case scenario they lose interest in not only following the character/s, but the entire series…Yikes!

So, can you recognize the archetypes in your own TV Pilot? The Hero (possibly tragic) of either gender should be bleeding obvious as should the Villain who, according to Jonathan Truby – Anatomy of Story, defines the hero and is just as important. What about the others – ‘the’ Mentor, Joker, Guardian, Messenger, and again according to Mr. Truby – ‘the’ Mother, Father, Warrior, Magician/Shaman, Artist, Lover, Rebel, Friend, ‘Fake-Friend’ Opponent, and ‘Fake-Opponent’ Friend?

Are they, if present in your script, behaving true to form – with just enough surprises to spice up the viewing experience but not too many that the viewer is going to get pissed off? A table-read exclusively with professional actors can help determine this prior to pitching.

If you haven’t written a TV Pilot script yet, choose a current television program, don your analytical ‘hat’, and in the Aussie vernacular, “have a go, mate” and map out the character web. Then, for that same episode, remove systematically, one of the archetypes.

If they were missing, how would their absence change the nature/plot of that episode? What if the character was removed entirely from the series? Which one/s appears to be essential and which don’t?

Happy dissecting!

Diana Black is an Australian actress and writer currently taking Larry Brody’s Master Class.