Peggy Bechko: Goodreads

goodreads

by Peggy Bechko

I really like Goodreads. As a writer it offers lots of opportunities for exposure and interaction with readers, present and future and fans. And as a reader it offers lots of great new possibilities.

So if you haven’t visited before as a writer or a reader my might well say what’s all the excitement about?

Well, it’s a busy site with lots of page views and new pages going up all the time. There are lots of books, giveaways and links to authors’ pages where you’ll find even more links to giveaways, videos, author’s blogs and more.  There’s a heckuva lot to explore on GoodReads.

As a writer you’ll no doubt want (or maybe already have) a Goodreads Author Profile page with the author program. If you don’t, you probably will want to head on over there now and create your page with links to your books, etc. The process, as with most of these things, is easy. Poke around the site and you’ll see the links pretty quickly. Besides, it really is a good idea for you to learn your way around. I’ll admit, there are times when I kind of get lost myself with all those little buttons and sections of the dashboard and site in general. Mostly though it’s a fun lost wherein I usually discover a new writer or spot a question from a reader I missed. Once you find the way to announce yourself they’ll want a bit of info from you such as letting them know you’re an author. After you confirm it can take a couple of days to confirm you actually ARE and author so be patient.

Once it’s established it’s really you you’ll want to set up your profile page. Really, set it up. Give a little info about you, maybe a personal nugget or two that your readers would love to know about. Don’t forget to upload a photo since your readers love to get a look at you and the photo makes your page more engaging. Add your twitter name if you’re on it, a book trailer if you have one, link to a blog sit you run or your webpage; all the little things that make up you. In fact, while you’re poking around consider setting “Ask the Author” to on. It’ll provide a few basic questions you can answer or skip and gives a great opportunity for writers and readers to connect. In fact, if you like, head over to my Goodreads page scroll down just a little and ask away.

My advice to other writers is think about an answer before you just dash it off. Your fans will appreciate it more and share a good answer that actually contains insightful or useful information. Oh, and you don’t have to answer every single one. A little secret is the questions are visible only to the writer until said writer answers them. Email will go out to the person who asked the question once you answer and of course then it’s visible on your feed as well.

And readers – hey what’s the hold up? This is one great site for books. You can see new releases, discover new writers, put out your own reviews, join groups to share reading experiences, see what others are reading and share what you have next on your list.

A great reader’s community to join. And there’s the opportunity to dive into the “giveaways” under the “explore” button and see what book you have the chance to win. There are always pages and pages and pages of giveaways you can enter. Fiction and Non-fiction. Debut books, books by established authors, books in a series and how-to books to name a few. And at the same time you enter you can add it to your “to-read” shelf in case you aren’t a lucky winner and want to read it after the giveaway anyway. And bounce around in the many pages to find ones that interest you – if you simply start from the beginning you’ll never reach the end.

It’s a great way to have a never-ending list of books you hope to read. As if we readers need even more! Still, I like it a lot. And you help the writer as well since putting his or her book on your ‘to-read’ list gives it more exposure.

So if you haven’t investigated Goodreads – do, and join. Then get your reading and writing friends to join. You can find friends from Facebook and more there as well. Join groups that interest you and connect there with other readers and writers you enjoy. As a reader be sure to talk about the books you love and the ones you don’t. Be thoughtful and give reasons and don’t just slam a book because you’re in a bad mood. Writers be good to your fans. Don’t spam them and continually push your book. If you write a blog be sure to link it in so readers and fans can find out even more about you and your work.

Goodreads – a fun place to share the enjoyment of reading.


Peggy Bechko is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™. You can learn more about her HERE.

Jamie Mathieson Tells Us What It’s Like to Write for DOCTOR WHO

Cuz what TVWriter™ visitor wouldn’t want to know?

I Am Writing For Doctor Who
by Jamie Mathieson

Baker Tardis

Not Jamie. Just some sort of lookalike.

So for all the people who googled me solely because of that fact, and ended up here, this is what you need to know;

I am forty four this year, which means that I was five when the Tom Baker Doctor Who adventure Terror of the Zygons first aired. I have a memory of it being utterly terrifying. And strange. And wonderful. And too much for my tiny mind to deal with.

Out of pure fear, I then decided to avoid Doctor Who for the rest of my childhood. I don’t remember much else clearly from the Tom Baker years. I vividly remember literally hiding behind the sofa when the Daleks came on screen and still being able to see them in my head.

I remember Weetabix releasing tie-in Doctor Who cereal boxes and cards when I was seven. Their images are burned indelibly into my mind. They evoke childhood to me in a way that shows of the time never can. In many ways, my Doctor will always be two dimensional and made of cardboard (a fact I truly hope is not reflected in my work on the show).

Fast forward to 2014. I am writing for the British institution, children’s nightmare factory and infinite narrative sand-pit that is Doctor Who. Which is an honour. And a joy. And a huge pressure. And very, very cool. And a chance to shine in front of the biggest audience I have ever had. (Or fall flat on my face, but let’s not dwell on that.)

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Peggy Bechko: Hooked From The Beginning

No, not hooked on a feeling. Hooking the audience. Dammit!

No, not hooked on a feeling. Hooking the audience. Dammit!

by Peggy Bechko

AKA The How to Do It Syndrome

Okay writers, listen up.

How many times have you been told you can write a screenplay (or novel or whatever) if you just find the formula and follow the directions? How many times have you read articles and even books on the subject?

Is it true? Is there a magic formula?

No.

And yes.

Things vary from discipline to discipline and genre to genre, but the basics are really pretty common sense. A lot depends on marketing, how you present your work (presuming its good work to begin with).

So, what are a few ways of nurturing that formula? What are the methods that can help produce success?

Whether it’s your first or your one hundredth of anything, success is more easily in reach if you consider the market. That doesn’t mean you have to write what everyone else is writing – heck, that train has already left the station anyway. But it’s a good idea to keep your eye on the ball in the sense that you think about what the movers and shakers will buy. You want something that’s unique and will appeal to a broad audience.

Scripts, novels, it applies to both.

Yes, you can write something that’s appealing to a small audience, and it could well sell and if it’s your heart’s desire, go for it. But if you nail the marketability and (in the case of scripts) think in terms of what bankable stars might be interested in playing the big parts, the A-list folks, and so create characters to that end, success in a sale will be that much more attainable. But you say a smaller movie is less expensive to make. Yes, true, but think about the movie-goers. They tend to go to movies because they like a start, which is why those stars get the big bucks. If those are the kind who want to play the characters you create you have a giant leg up.

There are no actors attached to books, but the idea applies, just to the reader instead of the watcher. In the case of the reader when you create a magnificent character, the reader identifies, gets drawn in, sees him or her self in the role of that character. So the editor who’s reading it for possible publication approval looks for that identification.

You need to create a great beginning. The reader of the book needs to be hooked thoroughly within the first few pages. The script reader, ditto. Make a fantastic impression on your first page. Really. That’s the place. After that comes a variety of scene structures to keep the story unpredictable. You want the reader to read on. You’re a professional, BE one. Oh, and keep your descriptions tight, brief, and concise. Novel or script. These days it doesn’t really matter. You want a great story told clearly and tightly.

Now for the marketing part. Once what you’ve written is as complete and polished as you can possibly make it, you’ve nailed the concept, make your characters outstandingly appealing and told an amazing story, you have to switch gears and become a marketer. I know, I know, there are many who view that as a dirty word, but the reality is you need to sell what you’ve written unless it’s just a hobby with you and you stick it in a drawer for your old Aunt Edna to read.

Finally, in the great course of things, you have to be prepared to work with others, to cooperate. You have to be willing to accept ‘notes’ be they from a producer or from an editor. You must develop the skills to evaluate those notes, to work with them to make your writing better…and better.

So here’s the thing about marketing. You want to build anticipation and curiosity. Your story is amazing. It’s High Concept so let’s not let all the cats out of the bag at once. You want to hook that producer or editor. You want them to demand your script or book, be willing to bid for them in fact. So when you’re putting together a query letter remember selling is different than telling. You want to dole out small bits that are captivating, engaging and make they pant for more, you don’t want to do a dry telling of that great story you’ve written.

Once you accomplish that do your research. Find out who in Hollywood (for scripts) or amongst the publishers (for books) would be interested in your story. Don’t approach someone who specializes in comedy with horror or someone who loves producing science fiction with a detective drama. You’ll do nothing but waste everyone’s valuable time.

And always remember, you’re building a career, not selling one project. If this one doesn’t sell, create another, and another, and another.

Everybody has unsold projects, It’s the sold ones that count!

Now go out there and write and sell.


Peggy Bechko is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™. You can learn more about her HERE.

“Writing is easy!”

So says April Kelly, who is, btw, a helluva writer, even if she has retired to, um, Lynchburg, TN.

Here at TVWriter™, we’re not quite sure that it’s actually “easy.” But as LB says, “It beats working. Beats not working too.” Close enough?

Novelist, former TV writer enjoys life in Lynchburg
by Kelly Lapczynski

“Writing is easy,” former television writer and producer April Kelly told members of the Tullahoma Woman’s Club Wednesday. “Good writing is hard.”April-Kelly-

Kelly would know.  For nearly four decades, her writing has been tested in comedy clubs, Vegas acts, and on television, earning her two Emmy nominations and a current nomination for the Private Eye Writers of America Shamus award.

Her Hollywood career began in 1975, when she read that novelty Western singer Jim Stafford (Spiders & Snakes) was going to have a summer variety show on ABC. As the executive director of a Tampa, Fla. advertising agency, Kelly decided that her 30-second ads were “funnier than what was on the air,” and she took a gamble. She knew of Stafford and felt that, though he was certainly Country, he was not “hayseed.”

Fearing that Hollywood writers would take Stafford in a distinctly Hee-Haw direction, Kelly felt that she could find a more appropriate voice for him. And though there weren’t many women working in comedy at that time, she took a creative leap. She sent 100 pages of spec material – songs, sketches, monologues – to the show’s producers. When she hadn’t heard anything two weeks later, she sent another 80 pages.

On a Friday afternoon, a producer called from Los Angeles: “Can you start Monday?”

“Opportunity like that does not knock twice,” said Kelly. “I said yes. I quit my job. I gave away everything including my car, I put my books on a Greyhound bus, and I got on a plane Sunday night. Monday morning, I was at ABC and I was a comedy writer.”

“It was a 10-week job. I had $1,500 to my name and no car, but it was 10 weeks guaranteed work.”

For the next few years, Kelly wrote variety shows for John Denver, The Jackson 5, Donnie and Marie, The Captain and Tennille and Paul Lynde among others while also honing her comedic skills as a stand-up comic.

Her stint as a comic was relatively short-lived. “If you’re a singer and you go out, you can stink and at the end they’ll all applaud politely. If you’re a comedian pitching jokes and you don’t hear laughing, you know you suck. You can’t pretend they like you.”

So, because writing paid “actual money,” where stand-up did not, in 1978 Kelly accepted a position as the only female writer on the quirky ABC television series Mork & Mindy.

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Writing the Genre Show Script

The devil’s in the details when you’re trying to make it as a writer. And so’s the success. Which is why these details are here for you:

zombiehationscriptpage

by Craig Engler

In the last installment of How to Make a Genre Show I took you up to the point in the show-creation process where you had detailed outlines (approved by the network!) for the episodes of your series. Now it’s time to take that outline and turn it into a script — which I did, when I wrote episode six of Z Nation, which airs tomorrow night.

I’ve previously co-written two TV movies from relatively scant outlines and those scripts were painful to write. The ideas were solid but when it was time to flesh out our meagerly detailed acts into 100 pages of compelling writing, the gaps and shortcomings of our story structure became hideously evident. Thank god I had an awesome co-writer to help sort it all out.

By contrast, working from the detailed outlines created in the Writers’ Room makes writing a TV script much easier. Since we’d already broken the plot, character arcs, themes, etc., I knew exactly what I needed to do and could actually focus on just writing the sucker, which was utterly refreshing. In TV you generally spend way more time preparing to write than actually putting fingers to keyboard. And if you do run into problems, a quick chat with our showrunner or a fellow writer could solve the issue.

That’s not to say it was a breeze. Interestingly, writing my first script for Z Nation was tricky because of the unusual fact that we didn’t have a pilot script…or any other scripts for that matter. I was in the strange position of writing episode six in a series where episodes 1-5 hadn’t been written yet. That made for some unexpected challenges. For instance, while I knew the continuity for the season-long plot and the broad strokes of the character arcs, the nuances of our characters’ lives hadn’t been developed yet.

I couldn’t reference, say, a running joke between our gang that started in episode two because there was no episode two. And if the writer in episode five got to the end of his script and suddenly decided to leave one of our gang with a bullet wound, I wouldn’t know about that until after I’d written mine. Sure, we talked ahead of time about all the stuff we planned to do, but one of the joys of writing is that you find new, interesting moments as you go along. And your characters are often revealed in those moments.

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The WGAW is hard at work for Interweb Writers

In case you’ve been wondering what the Writers Guild of America has been up to, interwebwise, wonder no more, bunky. The Guild is proud to announce it’s gotcha covered.

Sorta:

wgaw-internet-Capture

But, see? It’s a good “sorta.” If you’re just on the web, doing your own thing, nobody from the Writers Guild of America, West is gonna bug you. And if you end up working for the BigMediaMeanies, hey, they got your back.