Writing is Work! (Why didn’t somebody tell us sooner? $#@!)


by Rita Karnopp

If you’re honest . . . you’ll agree . . . writing is hard work. If it was easy – everyone would be doing it.  Actually lately it seems everyone is.  The problem I’m seeing with that is those new authors think all there is to writing is to write.  For them writing is going to be a breeze.

There’s a lot more to writing than one would think.   There is plotting, dialog that’s exciting, pacing, internal and external conflict, character development, a beginning, middle, and an end?  Really?  Yep!

Wait ‘till you’ve been dragged down the bumpy road toward finding a publisher a few times.  It’s not easy at all.  You can’t get into the door – unless you write a good book.  They don’t expect it to be perfect, but they do expect you to know ‘basic writing skills.’

Might I add a pet peeve of mine that has developed after months . . . even years of writing?  Maybe you’ve seen it too?  The author who decides their book is the next Gone With The Wind (Maybe we all think that).  They can feel a bidding war over their book coming on.  If that doesn’t happen right away – they decide those publishers and editors don’t know what they’re talking about (even though they’ve been in the business successfully for umpteen years).  This author won’t want pay to have his/her book professionally edited, so they decide to self-publish!  Yep!  It’s going to be so much better in print!

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TV Writing Deals: Does TV Need Yet Another Version of THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO?

old monte cristo tvwriter.net

No, this isn’t bad photoshopping. It just looks that way.


by munchman

Spike TV is developing this ancient but exciting story as some kind of undetermined limited series thing, and yer munchy one, for, um, one, is unimpressed. The pic above is from the 1934 film version starring Robert Donat.

There was no WGA to make the studios put writer’s names on the posters back then but the writers of this, the first talking version of the novel to go to film, were Philip Dunne, Rowland V. Lee, and Dan Totheroh, who may or may not have been household names back then.

I’ve seen most of the versions of ze Count and have even read the book, which is loong, let me tell ya. This particular film probably is the best telling of the story ever, and because of that I’d planned on doing a rant about how worthless re-tellings are.

But then I realized that I’m always attracted to re-dos, whether I want to be or not. When it comes to stories of any kind, yers truly is like a 2 year old who wants his (can’t say “her” if it’s about me, can I?) daddy to read the same book the same way every night. So why should I be surprised that studio executives and, yes, it’s true, audiences go in for the same thing?

No writer is attached to the Spike project yet. Who knows? One of us could even end up with the gig. If you get it, promise you’ll try to make it good, okay? I’ll do the same. Because you asked for it, or would’ve if you could, here’s a taste of the target we want to outdo:

YouTube Preview Image


TVWriter University has a few openings!

No, not really TVWriter U. This is Harvard - which some folks think is almost as good.

No, not really TVWriter U. This is Harvard – which some folks think is almost as good.

If you’ve come to TVWriter™ in the past, you probably know that we have a kind of sub-site we call TVWriter University. It’s listed to the right, under the bigger heading “OUR WORKSHOPS.”

TVWriter University is a thing we do online throughout the year. Recently, we’ve been focusing on two specific workshops:

  1. The Advanced Online TV and Film Writing Workshop
  2. Larry Brody’s Master Class

Both classes are, in fact, taught by the Boss of this site, Larry Brody, whose credits you can find HERE and HERE. LB’s been teaching online (and running TV writing contests and slaving away at this website) for about 15 years now. It’s a retirement gig with a vengeance – producing 1 Acme Ton O’ TV Shows can create a lot of bad karma, and he’s trying to claw his way out of the hole he’s worried that he’s fallen into.

We, the loyal minions of TVWriter™, have very little reason to believe that LB’s immortal soul is in any danger and suspect that he’s been joking about that. What we’re sure of is that he knows his stuff and genuinely wants to share that knowledge with as many people as he can.

LB probably would tell us that we’re taking way too long to get started. His mantra, which those of you who know him or have taken his classes – which, yeppers, means you know him, is “Could be shorter, could be cleverer.” Clearly, we’ve fallen short of that so we’ll cut to the last scene:

  1. Beat One: The next Advanced Workshop starts Thursday, August 28th, and as we write this there are several openings left – mostly cuz the Boss is feeling pretty generous these days and is looking to increase the number of students he can reach by offering two separate sessions of the class. That means that potentially there are 10 spaces to fill instead of the usual five.

    You can find out more about what goes on in the Advanced Workshop HERE. We suspect that it’ll fill up quickly, so our suggestion is that you get in touch with LB about your interest ASAP. You can do that HERE.

  2. Beat Two: The next Master Class will start sometime after the first week in September, by which we mean whenever LB has enough students to hold it, by which he means 2 or 3 writers who either are pros or write like pros. So if you’ve been a Winner or – maybe – a Finalist in either the People’s Pilot or Spec Scriptacular, are successfully freelancing, or are thisclose to getting a writers room gig, odds are this one’s for you.

    You can find out more about what’s expected of you in LB’s Master Class HERE. And you can get in touch with him HERE.

Seeya on campus?

Cara Winter: The Anglo Files 2


by Cara Winter

As we established in my last post, I am an unabashed Anglophile.

My friends, rather than shunning me, or trying to get me to watch LAW & ORDER: SVU, or finding me an A(ng)A meeting to attend… are full-onenablers.  Case in point:  on a recent trip to LA, my best friend (who long ago introduced me to BLACK ADDER) sat me down, and told me I was about to watch a show from the UK called MIRANDA.  It was February, 70’s and sunny in LA, I’d just left behind sub-zero temperatures behind in Chicago…  so naturally, instead of frolicking on a beach somewhere, I remained seated while she queued it up.

MIRANDA is a fantastically funny and gloriously absurd sitcom written, created by, and starring comedienne Miranda Hart.  Pretty much everything takes place in the title character’s tiny flat, and the joke shop she runs in the floor below. Miranda’s best friend Stevie (played by Sarah Hadland) helps her run the shop.  Occasionally they venture down the block to a restaurant where the chef is her other best friend, Gary (played by the dishy Tom Ellis) – who Miranda is secretly in love with (of course).  Within the first minute of S1 /Ep1, I felt something of a kinship with Hart – as would anyone who’s ever tripped over their own feet, passed gas at an inopportune time, or forgotten their underpants.

Hart has a masterful wit, both as a writer, and performer.  The character she’s created is at once lovable, cringe-worthy, absurd, and spectacular.  It’s like someone spliced Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball, and Buster Keaton together, then sent her to an all-girl’s boarding school and told her men were aliens.  In a TV comedy landscape full of busty, tiny cupcakes who all start to look like the same person, Hart stands out.  Not just because of her tall personage, but because she shimmies, sings (enthusiastically, and off key), sashays, and shuffles-off-to-Buffalo like she’s been possessed by Tim Conway. (Yes, I know he’s still alive.  I was merely trying to paint a—never mind.)

Miranda never misses an opportunity to laugh at herself, or anyone else.  But it’s all in good fun; it’s never at someone else’s expense.  And even more refreshingly, MIRANDA openly attacks “adulthood” itself, with childish mania.  (Why would you spend time balancing your checkbook, when dressing up in a full-body Velcro suit and catching Nerf balls with your body is so much more fun?  Why would anyone go clubbing, when you can stay home and paint your bestie’s face to look like a cat’s?  Who wouldn’t want to dress up like Where’s Waldo, and go to the mall?  And isn’t cake just …awesome?  It’s this element of fun that I appreciate most of all; makes one feel free to be a ridiculous and silly, and embrace the absurd.  Because life is absurd, and so are all of us. Aren’t we?  Absurd, are we?  (Sorry, catch phrase– watch and you’ll understand).

While it has been reported that MIRANDA will not be taping another season, they’ve promised Christmas specials, and currently there are 3 seasons (18 episodes) available for free on HULU.  If you know what’s good for you, if you’re interested in comedy, or if you’ve ever had your skirt pulled down exposing an extraordinarily hard-working pair of Spanx, or if your mother outwardly seems to hate you and everything you do… check it out.  The kind of laughter MIRANDA elicits is just plain good for the soul.

What Does the Modern Day Showrunner Really Do?

We here at TVWriter™ are constantly being asked that question. In fact, it’s 3rd on the list of TV writing things newbies who corner us at bars and stoplights (don’t ask) want to know, right after, “How do I get an agent?” and “What do you mean you won’t read my script?” Now, the most insidery of insider showbiz publications supplies us with the 3rd Most Important TV Writer Question in the Universe. Yay!

Ooh, it's Matt Weiner running his show. What's its name again?

Ooh, it’s Matt Weiner running his show. What’s its name again?

by Bryan Lowry

The late Aaron Spelling was modest and courtly to a fault. So when asked about his storied career at the TV Critics Assn. tour years ago, he gave most of the credit to the actors, writers and artisans with whom he’d worked.

When a rather naive reporter wondered what he contributed if that were true, Spelling spoke at length about approving and overseeing every aspect of production down to the smallest details, then added, “Other than that, I don’t do anything.”

Despite the 56,000-sq.-ft., 123-room mansion producing helped him furnish, Spelling was never referred to as a “showrunner” — since by all accounts the term didn’t exist through most of his career. Indeed, it’s not precisely clear when the designation began to be widely used, with most pegging its coining to the late 1980s or early ’90s, as writers exerted greater influence over the medium.

Still, the modern generation of TV auteurs — those associated with writing or rewriting every episode of high-class dramas in particular — has helped burnish the image of the showrunner, without necessarily shedding light on the true scope or evolving nature of the undertaking.

Whatever the doubts about its origins, “showrunner” joined the lexicon as a response to the more promiscuous granting of “executive producer” credits, as managers, big-name actors and (in the case of reality shows) network executives increasingly began to claim the title. With a half-dozen or more people sometimes sharing that designation, sorting out who was ultimately in charge became an issue.

What’s changed, mostly for the better, is the more intricate nature of TV storytelling, and the recognition that keeping a show on track creatively often required placing the whole enterprise in the hands of the people guiding its vision.

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Have You Read “The EQUALIZER?”

Yes, we said read. Cuz not talking about a script here. We mean a book.the-equalizer-novel

The book.

As in the new novel, The Equalizer, written by Michael Sloan, the co-creator-writer-producer of the ’80s TV series of the same name.

Yeah, we didn’t think so. But that’s okay cuz today’s the date of its actual release.

We haven’t read it either, but one of the TVWriter™ minions is at Amazon right now, closing the deal for the Kindle version, and then we’re jumping on this baby. How can we not? This was one of our favorite bits of ’80s TV, and let’s face it, ’80s TV was sensational. All of the action and heart of the ’70s without the funny hair and bell bottoms.  Hey, what’s not to love?

According to Sloan, the novel “took about seven months to write…I already had his voice in my head.”

In the book, the character Robert McCall (played on TV by Edward Woodward) is a former covert operations officer for the CIA who tries to atone for past sins by offering, free of charge, his services as a troubleshooter (often literally), a protector, and an investigator. People in need find him through a newspaper ad and on the internet: “Got a problem? Odds against you? Call the Equalizer.”

Aided by a group of sometimes-mysterious contacts (some of whom date back to his spying days), McCall traverses the streets of New York City, visiting justice upon those who prey upon the weak.

In other words, it’s just like the series! Yes! (Fist pump.)

You can order your copy in hardcover, Kindle, Audio Book, or audio CD HERE. And, no kidding, we think you should. (We also think you should review it and send us a copy of your review to post, so c’mon already, c’mon.)

We return you now to the 21st Century.