Peggy Bechko sez “The Truth is in the Sayin'”

just saying

by Peggy Bechko


As I’ve gone through life writing I’ve heard a whole lot of sayings and quotes on the subject of writing, publishing, screenwriting…you name it, and I’ve stopped to ponder a few I thought were worthwhile. Heck I’ve pondered a lot I thought were full of it.

Here are some I’ve liked; or not.

“You need tools in the toolbox to write.” Yep. All righty. And what might they be?

“Better to write one superb sentence than a hundred mediocre ones”. Now that one hits a bit closer to home. I can’t deny that one. But I will say we writers frequently have to write a hundred mediocre sentences in order to finally create that singe superb sentence.

Here’s another. “Whatever you’re in the process of writing, it always plays better in your head than it does on the paper.” True? I think this one can apply well to scrip writers. How many times have you or I thought, wow, what a great idea, what a great scene, then got it down, reread it and went ugh!?

“Every published writer (every script writer) has produced some unsalable work.” Some? Wow, that’s kind. It’s my guess that we writers have all produced a whole lot of unsalable work. Some has to be rewritten time and again and others just disappear into a deep, dark drawer never to surface again. The truth is the truth. Embrace it and move forward.

“Never excuse your work as just a draft.” Really. You’re a writer. You write. Drafts. First drafts, redrafts, final drafts. Why would you, either script writer or novelist want to bow your head and say in a small voice this is just a draft? How about this is my current draft. Or just stick with the facts. Here’s my latest manuscript or screen script. You’ll get enough criticism from others, no need to heap it on yourself. But I have to admit I agree with the statement, “it’s the final draft that creates a first impression.” In other words what you put in front of a prospective publisher/producer had better be your best work.

Here’s a down to earth truth we’ve all heard in a million ways and have no doubt told ourselves without coaching, “If you write it, there is at least a chance it will be published/produced. If you do not write it, there is no chance it will be published/produced.” It’s amazing how many great ideas never see the light of day because the writer simply talks about it but never actually makes the decision to write it. Seriously. If you don’t write it, it won’t do anything other than spin in circles inside your head. For crying out loud, write it already!

And lastly for today, I love Elmore Leonard’s quote, “Leave out the parts readers skp.” That one applies to pretty much any writer of anything. Edit well. Consider what you might skip over were you reading it for the first time. Whether Fiction novel writing or script writing. Take out the extras, write tight and to paraphrase Walt Disney, “keep moving forward.”

Have at it guys.

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor.  Learn more about her HERE. And don’t forget Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle.  Grab your copy now!

The Real Costs of Current TV Pilots & Films

The Hollywood Reporter shares fascinating financial info that we know is for reals – cuz they got it from the Sony email hack:

battlecreekby Austin Siegemund-Broke, Paul Bond

Cameron Diaz is a bigger star than Jamie Foxx. At least that’s the way Sony saw it when paying the actress $7.5 million to appear in Annie, $2.5 million more than her male co-star.

To illustrate the state of Hollywood salaries, THR analyzed two full production budgets revealed in the Sony hack — one for a midrange family movie, the other the pilot for Battle Creek, a CBS series that aired this spring — chosen not because they represent excessive spending, but rather because they exemplify what it costs to make an average piece of American entertainment.

battle creek budget

Read it all at Hollywood Reporter

EDITOR’S NOTE: Y’all may have noticed what’s missing in this breakdown, and in the rest of the article too: Who the writers were and what they got paid. A sign of the high regard in which the Reporter holds us poor, floundering scribes?

Why superhero TV shows are so reluctant to include romance

Alice Walker wows us with this insightful analysis of the sad love lives of TV superheroes:

RomanceSuperheroesby Alice Walker

It’s been nearly 15 years since superheroes first conquered the big screen — and the small screen is next. Today, almost every major network has a comic book superhero, from Netflix’s critically acclaimed Daredevil to Fox’s shaky Gotham.

Like their movie counterparts, the broad outline of each of these shows is the same: do-gooders trying to save humankind from megalomaniacal villains. Since that’s what the entire genre is based on, that’s pretty much expected. But there’s another, much stranger quality that these shows share, one at odds with the rest of television’s current trends: They have eschewed romance to the point of near non-existence.

To be clear: Romance hasn’t been eliminated altogether. However diluted, the classic love interests — culled from decades of comic book stories — are still around. Daredevil has its Night Nurse, and Gotham has its Barbara Gordon. Relationships are teased, and longing glances are exchanged. Occasionally there’s even a hook-up. But from show to show, in episode after episode, these connections between characters have been unceremoniously thrust so far into the background that they barely touch the main story arcs. It’s a baffling choice, undercutting dramatic tension and diminishing fan engagement.

Let’s start with the worst offender: ABC. Despite Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s creative resurgence in season two, the show’s relationships are still largely one-directional, lacking the steamy flair that drove Whedon family shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly. As the second season ended, the only existing romance was between ex-spouses Lance Hunter and Bobbi Morse, who — while perfectly fine on their own — have not been particularly engaging as a pair. Watching two characters we barely know bicker and reunite is hardly the stuff fandoms are built on. And it’s not like the appetite isn’t there; fans have been reduced to rooting for non-existent couples (see: SkyeWard) in the absence of an actual compelling love story.

Then there’s the S.H.I.E.LD. spin-off prequel Agent Carter, whose star Hayley Atwell is so charming and charismatic she could have chemistry with an empty chair. But despite the obvious potential, the series settles for the specter of her relationship with Captain America — a plot that we’ve already seen played out across the two Captain America movies separated by more than a half-century of story. Are we really supposed to believe Peggy Carter had no romances during the 70 years when Captain America was frozen — when she believed he was dead?

Turn the dial to Fox’s Gotham, which spends plenty of time on villain back-stories and convoluted chase scenes, but only lip service to the many couples you’d find in the Batman comics on which it’s based. Gotham‘s ostensible lead is James Gordon, and while he has several dalliances, they’re almost always underdeveloped and secondary to the motivations that actually drive him….

Read it all at The Week

The Secret Behind How BLINDSPOT Got on the Air

Master blogger – and, not incidentally, comedy writer, Ken Levine tells us how much he enjoyed the premiere of NBC’s hottest new inevitably going to be cancelled show:

by Ken Levine


Don’tcha luv seeing TV heroes having a good time? Can’tcha just feel the chemistry?

I have obtained the transcription from the NBC pitch meeting for BLINDSPOT:

WRITER/CREATOR: We got this totally cool idea. It’s like a mix between the Bourne movies, PRISON BREAK, MEMENTO, the old game show CAMOUFLAGE, and what shows do you like?


W/C: It’s also like BLACKLIST.

NBC: We’ve been looking for another BLACKLIST. And another HEROES.

W/C: Ours is that too.

NBC: That’s okay. We’re remaking HEROES.

W/C: Well, if you ever want to remake THE BIONIC WOMAN ours is also like that show.


W/C: Wait. I forgot. We took out THE BIONIC WOMAN elements.

NBC: So what’s the series?

W/C: Well, we don’t actually have a concept yet – what’s it about, what happens every week, who all the characters are – we still need to tackle those details.

NBC: So what are you bringing us?

W/C: An opening scene.

NBC: An opening scene? That’s it?

W/C: Yep. Something with sizzle that you can promote all summer. Who cares if it has legs?

Read it all at Ken Levine’s sensational blog

How To Edit Comedy Scenes for Max Laughs

Editing for comedy is a very specialized skill. One wrong shot – too wide, too close, whatever – can ruin the laugh. Here’s an excellent primer for new comedy writers, directors, producers, and editors. Read on and avoid all-too-easy to make beginner mistakes:

seinfeld-curbby Noam Kroll

No matter what genre they’re working in, an editor’s job is undoubtably a difficult one. That said, editing comedycomes with its own set of principles and challenges that can often make it that much harder to tackle. Unlike many other genres that have a lot of leeway in terms of pacing and timing, comedic edits need to be extremely tight and specific in order to land well with an audience.

For those of you out there cutting comedy, whether it’s in a commercial or feature-film format — these tips on how to edit comedy scenes are for you!

1. Go Multicam Whenever Possible

Comedy scenes are often shot with a two or three camera setup in order to catch spontaneous moments and have proper coverage on improvised dialogue. If you’re fortunate enough to be given source footage for more than one camera on the scene you’re editing — always take advantage of that.

In other words, don’t simply edit your scene as you would have if it were shot with a single camera… you won’t be taking advantage of the material you’re given. Great comedic actors will most often have near-perfect comedic timing. When working in a multi-cam session, you’ll be able to maintain the beats in the scene much more organically and effectively.

2. Know When the Beats Aren’t Landing

Whether you’re cutting a multicam project or not, there will be times when the comedic timing of a scene simply doesn’t work. Perhaps it takes too long to get to a punchline, or there isn’t a long enough awkward pause after a joke has been dropped.

As a comedy editor, it’s your job above all else to be the authority on what’s working and what’s not. When things just aren’t landing, you need to know when to cut or when to pad the scene. It’s amazing how just a few extra frames added or trimmed can be the difference between a joke landing or not, so always stay sharp with regards to timing…

Read it all at Premium Beat

Peggy Bechko on “Self Editing, the Writer’s Friend”

by Peggy Bechko

keep-calm-and-editAll kinds of writers (fiction, business,  non-fiction, etc.) have all kinds of reasons they need to self-edit.

For starters – well it’s the place to start. Even if you have it in your budget to hire a professional editor or you have friends in the office standing by to do a read through, the fact of the matter is you need to do a self-edit first…and maybe last.

Great news is there are all kinds of helps you can use.  But, of course there are advantages and downsides to using those tools.

The advantages?

Many tools are free or low cost, yep, you can use many of them for nothing. These tools aren’t human so if you have a difference with them it is quite impossible to insult them or cause hard feelings. If you pay attention to what you find when using these tools you’ll learn stuff. Really, you will. And a tool won’t judge you for misspelling the same word over and over, it will simply point that out for you to correct.

The disadvantages?

One is the same as the advantage – the tools aren’t human.  They won’t think for you. A tool may give you a heads up regarding potential problems, but it’s you as the writer who needs to decide what to address and how or if you should ignore it altogether.  A tool isn’t going to fix it for you. Sometimes a tool unearths something that isn’t clear and you’ll have to dig around  in craft of writing books or style guides to figure it out.

So why don’t you give some helpful tools a try?

Check out the Hemingway App   It will highlight adverbs in blue. After that you can dump them or leave ones you think are important leading the way to showing your reader instead of telling a story.

When you approach self-editing remember first it’s good to begin with the overview then work your way down to sentences and fixes for words. Use only one tool at a time or you’re really going to confuse yourself. And it isn’t necessary to use every tool in your toolbox every time you write. Think about which ones will do the job the best.

Here’s a link to eight proofreading tools you might find useful.

Meanwhile don’t forget my new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle.  Grab your copy now! 


Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor.  Learn more about her HERE. And don’t forget to visit her sensational blog, where this post was first published.