Cartoon: ‘Advice to Writers’

Because Grant Snider of Incidental Comics is absolutely the finest visual philosopher…ever!

More Grant Snider wit, wisdom and posters at Incidental Comics

Kelly Jo Brick: The Write Path with Rashad Raisani – Part One

A series of interviews with hard-working writers – by another hard-working writer!
by Kelly Jo Brick

Aspiring writers often wonder how the pros got where they are. The truth is, everyone’s story is different, but there are some common elements: dedication, persistence, hard work and not giving up.

An alum of NBC’s Writers on the Verge, Rashad Raisani originally moved to Los Angeles with the goal of becoming a feature writer, but found television to be a much better fit. He got his first writing job on the USA Network show BURN NOTICE where he rose from staff writer to co-executive producer. He also wrote for WHITE COLLAR and was executive producer on the NBC drama ALLEGIANCE. Currently he is developing projects as part of an overall deal with Universal Television.

WHEN DID YOU FIRST KNOW YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER?

I think I have always known I wanted to be a writer since I was a little kid. We moved around a lot because my dad was in the military. Between the ages of 3 and 10 we were living abroad, so the only connection I had to America, a place where I really didn’t have any memories of actually being, were the TV shows that were the same no matter which base we were living on.

When I’d move to a new place and feel really lonely or displaced because all my friends had changed over, I’d go back to movies and TV shows because they were the one source of comfort that stayed the same no matter where we lived.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY?

The first thing I did, because I had no other resources, was become an assistant to a literary manager. This guy had exceptional taste and had all these great writers. The first thing he said when I started working for him was, “I want you to read everything that all of my writers have written.”

He had this whole bookshelf full of scripts, so I just read all of them. I saved all the TV people for last because I had no interest in them or television, but the very last script in the entire bunch completely blew my mind and I can even remember where I was when I read it and screaming, “Holy shit,” on a plane when I read this moment. It was by this young story editor on a show called THE SHIELD and the guy’s name was Kurt Sutter. That’s when I started to say, “Wow, I’ve really been sucking it up in movies.” At that time I’d been out here for a about year and not only had I not gotten traction professionally, but artistically and creatively I was struggling with the form of features, specifically the second act of a movie. It was just eternally vexing to me.

When I read that SHIELD script, there was just something so intuitive about how they had broken the story. They had like four or five plots. When one of them started to peter out a little bit, they’d cut to another exciting one. I just thought this is a great way to tell stories. From that moment on I decided okay, I’m going to try TV.

WHERE DID THAT FIRST ASSISTANT JOB LEAD TO?

I kind of fell for all the trappings of the wrong things, meaning an expense account, an office and an assistant of my own. I started working as a literary manager/development executive for two years. On the positive side, I was working in television actively. We were trying to set up projects. We represented some real talent, but on the negative side for my own artistic development, I wasn’t writing. I didn’t write a word for about two years.

WHAT WAS A BIG TURNING POINT IN YOUR WRITING CAREER?

It was a confluence of a few things and kismet played a strange role. For example, when I was temping and unemployed, but was sending scripts out everywhere, I talked to my wife and I said, “Listen, I really think it would be worthwhile for me to be an assistant on a television show.” And she said, “Well, I get it, but you really need to now think about writing. You’ve done the assistant thing for years. It’s been four years and really I want you to rise on your own merits at this point with your own writing.”

We made a deal that there was one script I had read by a guy named Rand Ravich on a show called LIFE. I said if anything opens up, I don’t care if it’s sweeping the floors, I want to work on that show. I think the world of Rand Ravich’s writing and also that script. Wouldn’t you know it that completely out of the blue I get a phone call from Glen Mazzara, who was in THE SHIELD DVD that we watched. He had gotten my resume through a friend of a friend and said he needed an assistant. So I started working for Glen.

That was a big break, just to be working for a bunch of incredible writers. I ended up working for 3 co-executive producers, there was Glen Mazzara, Jonathan Shapiro and Marjorie David, all of whom were exceptional talents and had very different approaches to writing, so I was able to not only make relationships with those incredibly talented and generous people, but also sponge up all their different approaches to the craft.

Within two months of that, I got my first agent. That was another big break. That was because I had sent scripts out, even some of them nine months before, and they just sort of worked their way up at agencies. Within just a few weeks of starting to work on LIFE, I started to meet agencies. Then within a week of that, I got my first showrunner meetings.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST WRITING JOB?

BURN NOTICE was my first staff job. I got the job 3 weeks before the writers’ strike. My first Writers Guild meeting was the president of the Guild announcing that we have decided to strike. It was a big bummer, but at the same time at least I felt like being on a young show that had some real promise and I was also a diversity hire to the show so I was free, so I felt like at some point entertainment would have to resume. The strike would have to end and I would have a job waiting for me.

I used the strike to read as many books about spy games and stuff like that that BURN NOTICE was about so that when the writers’ room resumed, I could hopefully have some things to contribute.

WHAT WAS THE BEST ADVICE YOU RECEIVED AS YOU WERE BREAKING IN?

One of the greatest pieces of advice was by Glen Mazzara after I came in from my first agency meeting. He said that every meeting you’ll step into, chances are they’ll ask you some version of tell me about yourself, but Glen said nobody wants the facts. They don’t want to know what year you graduated from college, what you majored in.

They want your story and they want to know that you’re the underdog in your own story and your story ideally answers all the factual questions that they need to know and it has some deep crisis/soul kind of moment to it and then it culminates with a triumph and ends up with you on their couch. You give somebody a story like that and you entertain them, you make them like you. They’re going to remember you, which will set you apart from the thousands of meetings they have that month to staff that show.

Coming soon – more from Rashad including what he looks for when hiring writers, advice on getting representation and tips on taking meetings.


Kelly Jo Brick is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. She’s a television and documentary writer and producer, as well as a winner of Scriptapalooza TV and a Sundance Fellow. Read more about her HERE.

munchman: Better Days are Coming?

munchman’s TV Musings #11
by munchman

I was shocked – shocked, I say! – to look over TVWriter™’s Google Analytics this past weekend and discover that munchman’s TV Musings is far and away the least popular of all regular features on this site. Not just for this new year, oh no, but for all time. Even if you include my old Love & Money column, which held the title up till now.

So thank you, friends and neighbors, mates and exes, for you continued lack of support. I promise to continue bugging the shit out of you for many days, weeks, months, possibly even years to come!

Which brings us to:

  • Life in our oh-so Phil-Dickian Universe of black comedy and ennui (and who’d a-thunk those two concepts could co-exist so well?) continues to bring a simultaneously disgusted and bored smile to Yer Friendly Neighborhood Ubermuncher’s face. Case in point: Recent news that the Coen Brothers are going to write and direct their first TV series. It’s called The Ballad of Busty Scruggs, and guess what, ya illiterate bastids? Sucker that I am for anything that’s the ballad (or even ballade) of anything, I’m intrigued as hell and looking forward to what they end up giving us. Welcome to the Binge Watching Brigade, balladeers!
  • OTOH, recent news that Constantine, a successful comic book about a very successful and un-Doc Strange or even Harry Potter type wizard that has failed in all previous attempts to bring it to both film and TV is coming back as an animated series reaffirms my suspicion that my eternal depression is justified. Don’t get the munchadingus wrong. I lurve the comic book incarnation of everybody’s favorite bi-sexual magicker and would love to see it on my laptop, but this time around it’s appearing on the farm team’s farm team. By which I mean on the CWSeed website, which is where the morons-who-consider-themselves-ultrahip-geniuses show stuff that even they understand isn’t good enough for their grossly inadequate attempt at being a television network, the CW itself. I’m thinking, “Yikes!” and worrying that I’m being too optimistic.
  • Speaking of comics, BleedingCool has a list of the top selling comic books of 2016 that probably would tell me a lot if I bothered to analyze – that means think, if any Trumperfuckers are reading this – it. Turns out the numero uno seller of last year was Big Trouble in Little China/Escape from New York #1 by Greg Pak and Daniel Bayliss, which beat not only Marvel’s Civil War #1 but D.C.’s first issue of Harley Quinn. A non-tentpole winner, guys ‘n’ gals! A property with no toys, no games, no recent successful film or TV series! Maybe there’s some hope in this world after all, yeah?
  • While we’re on the subject of hope, I noticed that Wil Wheaton – yeppers, that Wil Wheaton – last week posted a short, uh, post on his website about a subject that should be near and dear to our hearts. It’s called “Three books that helped make me a better writer,” and I’d say it’s a must-read except…sorry, Wil, I love you as a mid-range almost-threatening mildly-irritating evil boss in most if not all of your recent TV play acting, but this writing thing? Better writer than what? Any other almost famous in another area beginner? Keep hoping, pal. Dreams can come true!
  • Ooh, Drew Barrymore is coming to the TV series meatmarket next month with a series called Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix. Methinks that’s cooler than shit but what’s this thing where she’s playing the MOM of the lead character? No way is she old enough for that. No way can I, Ms B’s absolutely biggest fan who thought she was fantastic in Guncrazy no matter what anybody sez, be that old either. Curse you, Phil Dick! Get yer universe outta here and go!
  • I’m gonna go now too, but first one last cooler than shit bit of showbiz newz. For reasons that my former significant other could never understand and to be honest I’m not so sure I do either, I’ve become a fan of a tumblr blog called Left,Write, LeftAnd as that selfsame ex can attest, when I’m a fan I’m as fanatic as they come. So not only am I recommending the blog, I’m also here to officially congratulate its writer, Adi Blotman (whose name, come to think of it, may be as real/unreal as munchman itself is or is not) for having what it takes to write a full length pilot script of some sort or other, as opposed to just thinking about it in bed at night and falling sleep while trying to decide what color hair the protagonist has. And, further, for entering it in the 2017 Launch Pad Pilot Competition. Hey, Adi, have you thought about entering this in the next PEOPLE’S PILOT as well? I know the head guy over there pretty well, and…

Oops, I’m outta time and space for this week. (My ex sez I’m always outta time and space, but what the hell, I kinda like the dimension I’m in. Tune in next time to hear me quietly rage about Love, Money & The Industry…and the goddamn Philip K. Dick multiverse we’re fucking stuck in!


Yer Friendly Neighborhood munchman is the official TVWriter™ scapegoat and has been getting kicked around here since the very beginning of this site. He wants us all to know that he’s cooler than we are. And we think you’ll agree when we say to him, “Dood, we don’t effing care!” You can learn more about muncher (but not all that much, really) HERE

TVWriter™ Online Workshopper Scores in Terror Film Festival!

by TVWriter™ Press Service

We got some good news last week and would like to pass it on. Dawn McElligott, an occasional contributor to TVWriter™ and frequent TVWriter™ Online Workshopper, has placed 2nd in the Feature Length Screenplay category in the 2016 Terror Film Festival.

Here’s what Dawn had to say about it:

“Movin’ On Up” Again!

I started with “Honorable Mention” at the 2010 Terror Film Festival for “The Fool of Muncaster”, then went up to 3rd Place for “Lady of the Lake” in 2014.

Now a revision of said screenplay has earned me 2nd Place in the Craft of Screenwriting for the 2016 running of the Terror Film Festival!

Both screenplays and revisions were workshopped in your class!  Thank you so much!

The Terror Film Festival is, in its own words, “a blood-chilling, alien-probing, online international film festival designed for filmmakers and screenwriters, that runs every October on the worldwide web.

According to the organizers, the fact that the Festival is online “removes the shackles of venue limitations …and increasing the potential for you to gain more fans.” Its Claw Awards screenwriting competition “is a great feather in the cap for any screenwriter.”

Congratulations, Dawn. And we thank you too, for keeping us in the loop! (Which reminds us – when are you going to write us another fine article?)

More about the TVWriter™ Online TV and Film Writing Workshop HERE

More about the Terror Film Festival HERE

2016 PEOPLE’S PILOT Semi-Finalists!

25th PEOPLE’S PILOT SEMI-FINALISTS
For contest ending November 1, 2016

1/2 HOUR (or Less) SERIES SEMI-FINALISTS
(alphabetically)

ANTONIA ALLWAYS: Antonia Joins the Union by Gordon Charles Phipps

ANTONIA ALLWAYS: Who is Merlin by Gordon Charles Phipps

BAD PRESS by Adam Santa Maria

FERAL: by Bryan Kett

iNEFFABLE by Laura Richardson Reilly

KICKING & SCREAMING by David Young

OPEN by Erica Lies

QUEENS by Raul Martin Romero

TONY ST. SQUATCH, PRIVATE EYE by Andres Jose Smith

STAR ACADEMY 3013: CROTCH BUSTERS by Eugene Ramos

STAR ACADEMY 3013: WHAT ARE SEX ROBOTS MADE OF? by Christopher Valin

1 HOUR SERIES SEMI-FINALISTS
(alphabetically)

CRUISE by Wayne Johnson

DARK FOREST by Kenyon Geiger

DARKWICK DOWN by James Hancock

DREAMS OF HAVANA by Jorge c Perez & William Garcia

HOMEFRONT by Alexander John Stathis

INCOMPATIBLE by J. Faye Yuan & Robert Raffety

MATRYOSHKA by Angela Berliner

MEPHISTO’S PROTEGE by Diana Black

NEVADA BLUE by Vin Morreale, Jr.

NIGHTMARE by Lance Wayne

OUT OF BODY by Gabriel Meyer

KYLA’S WAR by Hank Isaac

SERPENT’S ROW by Chance Muehleck

SNAPBACK by Ned Vankevich

SOUTHERN GOTHIC by Jared Ronin

SUGAR LAND by R. B. Ripley

SWING, YOU SINNERS by Caroline Klimczuk

THE RECOVERY by Angela Berliner.pdf

TONGS OF CHINATOWN by Nadia Madden

OVER 1 HOUR SERIES SEMI-FINALISTS
(alphabetically)

DREAMERS by Allie Theiss

EMILIA by Marlena Brown

HOSTAGES byJohn Gorski

KODAK MOMENT by John Alarid

OF KINGS AND KINSMEN by Mark William Meredith

VENOM by Ned Vankevich

TVWriter™ congratulates all the Semi-Finalists. Your work is awesome.

As in years past, the overall quality of the entries was superb. Once again, the judges had some very difficult choices to make. Literally every Semi-Finalist this time around could have been a Top 5 placer in previous runnings of the PEOPLE’S PILOT.

The competition was closest in the One Hour Series Pilot category where 5 different scripts scored 9.00 points or more out of a possible 10.00 and the cut-off point for Semi-Finalists was an incredibly high 8.55. Very Professional Indeed.

In fact, the professionalism in all the categories amazed everyone who read the submissions. The judges had an even finer time than usual reading them. And, of course, the judges’ work still isn’t done as they fight tooth and nail regarding Finalist and Winner placings. We wouldn’t be surprised if you could hear the arguing from the relative safety of your own home or office.

Be joyful, Semi-Finalists. You have done yourselves proud!

NEXT WEEK: The 2016 PEOPLE’S PILOT Finalists

Larry Brody’s Poetry: Dog And Cat

image via Youtube – Bengal Cat Grooms Poodle Pup by XYumekoX

by Larry Brody

NOTE FROM LB: 

Looking through The Return of the Navajo Dog, I saw this poem about the death of a cat I had sometime in the mid-1980s. I’m confused and a little embarrassed because although I remember the cat very well and loved her because she was so gentle with me and considerate of my cat allergies, I can’t for the life – or death – of me recall the dog I speak of – oh, crap, I just did. He was a wonderful dog, allowing for his need to hump everything in his path. And his path, like all of ours, was filled with twists and turns.


Dog And Cat

I had a cat that died suddenly one day.

She seemed to be fighting a great

Battle with spirits only her cat-eyes

Could see.

The battle exhausted the cat. She hid

Under a loveseat, and shuddered, and groaned.

I felt close to the cat as she went. There was a

Bond that hadn’t been between us before.

I was not what you’d call a good guy (at the

Time, the worst human being I’d ever met

Had just told me to, “Be a better person),

But it seemed as though the cat was doing

All this for me.

This morning, my dog woke me with his barking,

And when I went outside to yell I saw his eyes

Fixed on a nothingness in the middle of the yard.

The dog growled, and feinted, and attacked his

Invisible foe. He shook the air triumphantly,

Then grinned at me and circled back to sleep.

I don’t know if I’m a better person, but I suspect

The dog is nowhere near as good as the cat.

She died for my lack of virtue,

While he has killed for my sins.


Larry Brody is the head dood at TVWriter™. Although the book whose cover you see above is for sale on Kindle, he is posting at least one poem a week here at TVWriter™ because, as the Navajo Dog herself once pointed out, “Art has to be free. If you create it for money, you lose your vision, and yourself.” She said it shorter, though, with just a snort.

TVWriter™ Don’t-Miss Posts of the Week – January 16, 2016

Here we go, TVWriter™’s  latest look at our 5 most popular blog posts of the week ending yesterday. They are, in order:

Herbie J Pilato: The Glory of Wonder Woman

Looking for TV Pilot Scripts?

Web Series: ‘Brains’

Peggy Bechko’s World of Backstory

8 Tips for Writing for Children’s TV Shows

And our 5 most visited permanent resource pages were, also in order:

Writing the Dreaded Outline

The Logline

THE PEOPLE’S PILOT

The Outline/Story

Online TV and Film Writing Workshop

Major thanks to everyone for making this another great week at TVWriter™. Don’t forget to click above and read what you missed and re-read what you loved!