Peggy Bechko’s Writers World

writers-worldRemember the Basics
by Peggy Bechko

Admittedly, I write and I write about writing. I write a bit of everything – at different times – and I’ve given basic mechanical advice at times.

Today I want to revert to the very basics and give a few reminders. How basic?

Well, for starters the writer needs to show up. Every day. And by that I mean write every day. Have a place where you can sit down and write and do it. And if you can’t do it every day, have a schedule and stick to that. Barring an ultimate emergency, stick to it no matter what happens. You simply have to ‘show up’ if you want to get it done.

Along with that, you need to bring your energy. Doesn’t matter if it’s at the end of a ‘day’ job day, you need to dig deep and summon that energy to write and enjoy doing it. It’s the only way you’re going to be effective and create the story you have bouncing around in your head in such a way as to engage readers who’ll help propel your dreams forward.

Don’t forget about your confidence. Suck it up and know what you’re capable of, and that’s the very best. Don’t let someone read your work who you know either thinks you’re crazy for even trying to write a great script or book and for sure don’t let a ‘friend’ who fancies him or herself to be an editor but only does it for ‘fun’ edit your work. You don’t need a script covered in red-inked suggestions and admonishments from anyone but someone in a position to help you move forward.

Don’t go out looking for ways to ding your confidence, instead seek out the positive. I’m not saying someone who only strokes you, but rather someone who is honest and you can learn from. A bad ‘review’ can be worth its weight in gold when it comes from a reliable source and you put the negatives to good use transforming them to positives.

And along with that last paragraph, keep in mind that fears aren’t real. All too often writers harbor fears they will succeed, or fears they won’t. Reality check. We’re way past the cave man days. In general we don’t fear for our physical safety while we bang away on the keyboard. That leaves only emotional safety. That being the case, we have to remember who we are, be conscious of our own thoughts, and wrestle the mind into the place we want/need/deserve it to be.

Have a talk with yourself. Examine your fears. Understand them. Then see how you can twist and turn them into a better reality; one that creates a solid underlying base for your writing instead of tearing yourself down. Thoughts control behavior, it’s a simple fact. If you can’t pull yourself out of your negative thoughts regarding your writing and your dream of a writing career, then it’s going to be one heck of an uphill battle to attain your goals.

Aside from ‘showing up,’ the writer also needs to make him or herself accountable. Writers are independent and as such don’t have a lot of parameters they have to work within. So, it’s wise to create some. Set yourself some deadlines. When do you want to have the first draft done? When do you want to be looking for an agent or when do you plan to Indy publish or perhaps launch a crowdfunder campaign to produce the script?

Don’t create deadlines that are so far out there you’ll be swimming in time, then suddenly the deadline is there and you’ve done nothing. Instead set one fairly close in. Push yourself. Get it done.

And finally think about yourself and how you work. Consider creating a sort of ‘restart’ flag you can toss when things get complicated. If your brain is in a knot many times it’s a good idea to call a time out.

Your time out doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t have to be a big deal. Go jogging. Hop on the stationary bike in the family room, knit, do some yoga, whatever. Choose something, some thing away from the writing that will allow those knots to relax and perhaps remind you as to why you want to ‘show up’ in the first place


Peggy Bechko is a Contributing Editor to TVWriter™.  Learn more about her HERE. And don’t forget to visit her sensational blog.

DREAM BIG, WORK SMALL-ISH

A good way (well, as good as any, all things considered) to break into showbiz as a writer is to write indie screenplays. What’s an indie screenplay? There are a lot of criteria we could use to come up with a definition, but the best working one we have is this: Indie screenplays are low-budget screenplays.

So, keeping that in mind:

cinemaOn Writing Low Budget Screenplays
by Paul Zeidman

I recently had lunch with a friend who’s a working writer.

He’s always good for some great “from the trenches” stories of his latest experiences. Those never get old. He also offered up some initial thoughts on some of my current projects. That never gets old, either.

He’d also offered to read one of my older scripts. If he liked it enough, he’d pass it on to some of his industry contacts. But he added this one caveat.

“I’ll read whichever one you want, but don’t send any big-budget tentpoles. There are six people who could actually make those happen, and I don’t know any of them. On the other hand, there are about three thousand people who can work with a small, low-budget script, and I know a lot of them.”

As much as I wanted to send him one of those big-budget tentpoles, I decided it was better to go with one that could be considered small budget. Simple concept, a small number of characters, a handful of locations, no special effects. Since it was also an older script, I added that my skills had definitely improved since then.

Another point he made was that there are a lot of writing assignments available (TV movies, small indie films, etc), and a small script could show you’ve got the chops to handle this kind of work. He admitted it may not be the most glamorous, but I totally understood when he talked about the thrill in seeing his name with a “Written By” credit onscreen.

Read it all at SSN Insider

3 Qualities that Get TV Shows Cancelled

Ever wonder why your favorite series just got zapped off the TV sched? Nah, of course, you didn’t. Because you – like all the rest of it – knew in your heart of hearts that it was because everything you like is just too damn good for TV. Right?

But sometimes it’s something else. No, not a conspiracy to drive you off your nut. Something much more sinister and almost inevitably deadly. We don’t want to give away the most important phrase in the article below, but here’s a hint:

B-d W—–g

In case you didn’t get it:

zapperby Anthea Mitchell

At certain points in the year, anyone that’s been watching a new show with enjoyment knows to prepare for cancellation. This is assuming the series is not one of those classics that’s been on air for sixteen years — though even those can surprise you at times. Cancellation is a constant risk for most shows, particularly those that are new, but sometimes its a risk that follows a series into its fourth or fifth season.

Some shows are canceled before they truly deserve to be cut out, leading either to a rescue from fans as was seen with Arrested Development and Futurama, or years and years of bitterness, as we see in the case of Firefly. Other shows fall into some predictable pitfalls that often lead to cancellation, and those are the shows it’s sometimes hard to feel sorry to see go. Ratings are a huge part of , but what determines ratings are far more complex and have to do with everything from time slots to writing. These pitfalls are fairly predictable, which makes it all the more deserved when a show falls off a network.

One problem new shows fall into that fails about half the time is when it tries to emulate a show that’s far better than itself, pretty much guaranteeing an audience won’t be gained. If the show manages to do a fair job of reproducing what the fans loved about the other popular show, while still maintaining a certain degree of originality, it can snatch up fans who are looking for something similar — particularly if the two shows are scheduled on different days or different times. Sometimes this tactic also helps draw an initial audience, and then as the series’ position becomes more embedded and stable the writers have the opportunity to take more risks and add new material that might not have been part of the initial draw.

Of course, this is risky as well, since often that new material overwhelms what was working and loses its old audience a few episodes into the second season. This is another major problem shows have that lead them to be cancelled — throwing a stylistic or plot change in the show when the viewers aren’t prepared for it, where the change fundamentally shifts directions as a result. Loyalty only goes so far, and early in a show’s creation loyalty doesn’t run terribly deep.

Read it all at TV Cheat Sheet

Indie Film & VIdeo: VINCE GILLIGAN’S ISLAND

vince gilligan's island

Indie web series star, writer, director, producer, and and all around super-creator Travis Richie does it again:

YouTube Preview Image

Thanks, Travis!

Go to the Travis Richey Channel!!!

Best-Performing TV Shows? Look To Ad Revs, Not Ratings

It’s long been known that creativity isn’t necessarily grounds for a TV show’s success. We’ve all known that the key to staying on the air is ratings.

Except – it’s starting to look like ratings no longer tell the story. Enter a more specific analytic: Ad revenues, boys and girls. Here’s what we mean:

Online-Ad-Revenues

by Wayne Friedman

TV networks would love for business reporters to stop writing about TV ratings — especially stories that only look at next-day ratings.

Networks all want media executives to consider viewership totals that include not just one overnight airing — but three, seven, 30 days, as well as digital and SVOD airings. All that can get — what else? — a bigger number.

But I’ll go them one better. We should speak to a metric everyone can understand: dollars and cents. (Yes, “sense” as well.)

What were the best TV programs on Monday?  Those shows that pulled in the most revenue: specifically, advertising revenue. (We’ll leave other revenue associated with TV shows aside for the moment).

This Monday, July 13, Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance?” took in the most: $8.37 million. ABC’s “The Bachelorette” was next, with $8.30 million; NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior” was in third place, at $5.83 million, according to iSpot.TV.

Other good performers with original content: NBC’s “Running Wild with Bear Grylls,” with $3.13 million, while ABC’s “The Whispers” took in $2.5 million.

CBS had all repeats: “Scorpion” was at $1.3 million; “Mike & Molly,” $1.3 million as well; “NCIS: Los Angeles,” $1.14 million; and “2 Broke Girls,” $1.02 million.

I know what you’re thinking: Why is iSpot.TV’s estimated research efforts better than Nielsen’s national panel of 25,000 TV homes?

Well, all things being equal (maybe less than equal for some industry watchers), we need to shift our gaze, and consider outside-the-box metrics for a clearer view of how TV shows are performing.

Read it all at Media Post

BETTER CALL SAUL Writer Tells Us How His Emmy Nominated Script Came to Be

From producer’s assistant to Emmy nominated writer. These are the kinds of stories we love:

bcs“I Broke My Boy”
by Alan Sepinwall

In show business, it’s often better to be lucky than good. Better Call Saul writer Gordon Smith has been both.

Vince Gilligan’s assistant for the latter half of “Breaking Bad” — a job he got in part because a friend of a friend was on the “BB” writing staff — Smith was promoted to full-time writer when Gilligan, Peter Gould and company moved on to “Saul,” then wound up with the best possible assignment for the prequel’s first season: “Five-O,” the episode that detailed the tragic story of how Mike Ehrmantraut came to leave his job as a Philly cop and move to Albuquerque. It got Smith the show’s lone Emmy nomination for writing for its first season, and could well getJonathan Banks the acting Emmy he never won on “Breaking Bad.”

I spoke with Smith a few minutes ago about the experience of being a first-time nominee, making the adjustment from writers assistant to writer, the origin of Mike’s memorable “I BROKE MY BOY!” exclamation, and a lot more.

Were you expecting this? “Five-O” was one of the most celebrated episodes of TV this season, but was a nomination even in your imagination before today?

Gordon Smith: Not really. People were saying, “No, no, maybe you will.” I was terrified at the prospect. I’m still a little terrified. It was kind of overwhelming, really. I was not expecting it. My reaction was kind of shock. Pretty much shock.

Vince is among the nicest and most magnanimous people in his position in the business, but you did get the show’s only writing nomination. Has there been any tension today at the office, or is everyone just happy for you?

Gordon Smith: Honestly, our assistants and our team here has decorated the office. If there’s tension, they’re hiding it from me. We often will say, “It’s a team sport.” Writing for TV is a team sport, so no, I think everyone has a good amount of ownership and pride in all of the episodes. I hope that they all feel that. I haven’t seen anyone coming for me with the knife yet. But you never see it coming.

How did you get the job at “Breaking Bad”?

Gordon Smith: I was very lucky. My friend from film school Nicole Phillips, who’s writing on “The Blacklist” now, was also friends with (“Breaking Bad” writer) Genni Hutchison, who helped get my name in front of people. I’d gotten out of film school about eight months beforehand, I was out of work. I loved the show, she put me forward, and I was able to bamboozle them into hiring me on. They said, “This guy’s not a horrible person to be around.” I was an office PA starting in season 3, with the idea that I would be filling in in the writers office. I became the writers PA and Vince’s assistant in season 4, and the writers assistant in season 5.

Read it all at Hit Fix