Get ‘Em While You Can Dept: Free Screenplays


No, we aren’t talking about scripts that the writers haven’t been, or aren’t being, paid for. We’re talking about publicly posted and seemingly authorized copies available online for your – and our – entertainment and edification.

There’s some mighty fine stuff on this list of recent screenplays over at Adelaide Screenwriter. Our thanks to Adelaide Boss Blogger Henry Sheppard for making all this available!

A Most Violent Year
Big Eyes
Dear White People
Get On Up
Gone Girl
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Into the Woods
Kill the Messenger
Love is Strange
Mr. Turner
St. Vincent
Still Alice
The BoxTrolls
The Fault In Our Stars
The Gambler
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
Wild Tales

How to use TV writing techniques for a serialized story

What’s that? Some of you still write real stories and not TV or film scripts? Genuine, polished prose? Who’d a’thunk?

Well, if you’re one of the last remaining yet still new “real writers” (as such peeps used to be called long, long ago), this one’s for you:

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by Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Ellen Kushner’s Swordspoint came out in 1987, subtitled, “A melodrama of manners.” Combining swashbuckling duels, queer romance, and political intrigue, it’s since become a cult classic, kicking off the fantasy subgenre of “mannerpunk” and spawning two other novels set in the same nameless city.

Now the series is moving in an unexpected direction: online serialization. Unfolding in weekly installments from authors including Malinda Lo and Alaya Dawn Johnson, Tremontaine is published in text and audio episodes by the subscription service Serialbox.

Kushner takes the role of showrunner, writing a couple of episodes and then collaborating to shape the rest of the series. And while much of Tremontaine‘s audience already knew Kushner’s earlier work, it’s perfectly accessible to new readers. Set 15 years before Swordspoint, we meet an intriguing new cast of characters in the pilot episode:

“A Duchess whose beauty is matched only by her cunning; her husband’s dangerous affair with a handsome scholar; a foreigner in a playground of swordplay and secrets; and a mathematical genius on the brink of revolution.”

Speaking to Ellen Kushner in a phone interview, we discussed the longevity of theSwordspoint series, and why she decided to experiment with serialized publishing.

Swordspoint came out almost 30 years ago, but it still has this following where people are willing to wait decades for another book. What makes you keep coming back to this story after so many years?

It’s funny, when I wrote the novel at first, people kept saying, “Well, where’s the sequel?” And I said, I’m not going to do a sequel, it’s just a novel. Everybody dies of typhoid the next year, go away, there’s no sequel!

But the fact is that I’d created a city, and I’d created characters whom I loved deeply, and I thought about them a lot. I wanted to see not what happened to them immediately after the novel ended, but later in life. And since [Alec and Richard from Swordspoint] are both fairly powerful people, to watch how they change the city.

So I allowed myself little treats, I would write a little short story here or there to fill in the gaps, and eventually that slid into a novel. My bargain with myself was that I would only write it if it were a new viewpoint, a new way of looking at it.

The other thing I love to do is to collaborate. One novel was written with my brand new partner at the time, and that extended my sense of the city and what it could be. Tremontaine in some ways is the logical extension of that: let’s get everybody in to play. But in terms of why [Swordspoint] is still—you know, why it hasn’t hasn’t aged out—I think it was before its time, to be honest, and people are just catching up to it….

Read it all at Daily Dot

SHIT MY DAD SAYS wants credit for killing Hollywood’s love affair with Twitter

And know what? he deserves it. TVWriter™ doffs its collective cap to Justin Halpern. Well played, sir. Very well done.

tvs_twitter_gold_rushby Justin Halpern

In 2009, When I sold my Shit My Dad Says Twitter feed to CBS, the most common response was, “They bought a Twitter feed? Hollywood is completely out of anything resembling an original idea.” (The second most common was, “Fuck you.” There was a random guy who just tweeted me “fuck you” every day for a year, the longest relationship I’ve had aside from my wife.) If I’m being honest, I would have agreed with all of the above if it hadn’t been my Twitter feed.

Now that I’ve worked as a TV writer for six years, I’ve come to realize why networks were eager to buy my feed. Writers and broadcast networks have a specific relationship. Think of them as a middle-aged married couple who has sex once a week, mostly in the missionary position, then rolls over and cruises on their iPads. Both parties might like to try something new, but nobody wants to make a move that ends up going so badly that you can’t look at each other in the morning.

But then the broadcast networks see writers and cable networks fucking in all kinds of crazy, nasty ways, and the broadcast networks think, “You know, I don’t want to have sex like that, but I would be interested in spicing it up a bit. Maybe next time we have sex, I’d like to try having a finger stuck up my asshole.” And in 2009, with Twitter starting to burst out, Shit My Dad Says was that finger….

Read it all at Hollywood Reporter

Peggy Bechko’s 3 Tips for Serious Writers


by Peggy Bechko

The catch here is that you have to be as serious about your writing work as I am.

So what ‘rules’ am I going to show you? What rigid ‘do it this way’ ideas will I present?

I’m going back to basics and nothing is written in stone, ever. I read tips all the time and I admit I’m guilty of writing them. Rules though, even suggestions are tricky. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another. But, there are some strong basics I suggest. Simple, but powerful.

  1. Wake up and bring energy to the time you write. Really, face the day with enthusiasm, joy and energy and you’re going to write much better. So, how do I do this you say? It’s a mental thing (yes you can add caffeine) and a body thing. Maybe take a walk before you write (I walk even when the snow is knee-deep and the chill considerable). It wakes the body and stimulates the mind. If that’s not for you, just move, maybe walk up and down stairs a couple of times if you have them, play with the dog, do some stretches, whatever it takes to get the blood flowing a bit. If you have challenges and can’t do that kind of movement, THINK about it. Seriously, picture yourself doing it. Wake up, center, really feel enthusiasm for what you’re about to undertake. Creativity is dampened by boredom, exhaustion and low energy. Act first to bring yourself up to speed. You’ll see a definite difference in your writing.
  1. I’ve found more and more that a to-do list or some sort of planner really does smooth the way. It helps me keep organized and know what’s up next on my calendar of projects that need to get done. And, planning out the next day or at least the beginning of it means when I sit down (or stand up) at my desk I know exactly where to start and am far less likely to find myself cruising the web or checking endless email and social media. Those are fun, yes, but they can be terrible distractions. Also, if you have recurring deadlines of any kind a simple ‘month-at-a-glance’ calendar is a great help. I have both on my desk, the calendar and a simple list of things that are coming up that I need to get done. Try it, see how much more you get accomplished.
  1. Finally do the most important things first. If you want to get some wordage out there, do that first. Write. If you’ve promised a guest blog post somewhere, get that done. Whatever it is, prioritize. I keep a highlighter handy in a couple of colors and when I create my list for the next day’s launch, if there’s something that really needs my immediate attention I highlight it with one of the colors. There may well be more than one, so I keep one color for the most important, highlighting that most important with one color and something of less importance with another. Then I check things off as I get them done.

Try out these three tips and you’ll find the simple approach with propel you forward in creativity as well as productivity.

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her HERE. This post first appeared on her outstanding blog.

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 of Book 2 now! And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page

12 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Became a TV Writer

It’s a hard world out there in TV Land, boys and girls. The following advice is addressed primarily to wimmens, but no matter what your gender do yourself a favor and listen to what Jessica Gao has to say:

some tv showby Jessica Gao

1. Job titles are varied and confusing. If you ever look at TV credits, it’s hard to find “writer” anywhere. Because of the writers’ union’s rules (more on the union later), there are several different titles for writers based on their level of power. Upper-level writers have the word “producer” in their title (e.g. co-executive producer, supervising producer, etc). Lower-level writers are executive story editors, story editors, and staff writers. In movies, the director is the king of the project. In TV, it’s a writer called the “showrunner,” which is exactly what it sounds like: the person who runs the show. It’s commonly the show’s creator but not always. The showrunner is credited as “Executive Producer,” and while most shows have several executive producers, only one is the showrunner. (To add to the confusion, not all producers are writers.)

 2. It’s really, really hard being “the only one” in the room if you’re a woman or person of color. I’m often the only person of color and the only woman in the writers’ room. I feel I have to (and want to) represent everything that otherwise won’t be represented if I don’t. These are things the white male writers don’t have to worry about. They can spend their time only focused on jokes and what to order for lunch, but I can’t. On the one hand, I don’t want to be the PC police or a constant naysayer — I will be the only person who objects to something, like yet another tired arranged marriage storyline given to a South Asian character, or that the main female love interest has no defining character traits other than “really cool and nice.” On the other hand, those stories/characters legitimately suck balls and I hate to see them happen over and over again, so I have to speak up. I’ve learned the best (and only effective) way to shoot down a sexist or racist story/joke is to beat it with a better pitch.

3. Everyone has a hand in every script. Even though an episode of a show says “written by so-and-so,” every single person on that writing staff contributed to the script. On comedies, all the writers talk out each episode’s story and outline together. Then the person assigned to that episode will refine the outline to turn in to the network for notes. After getting the network’s notes, the assigned writer turns in a “writer’s draft” of the script, which then gets additional notes from the showrunner or head writer. At some point, the whole writing staff will pitch in, going page by page and line by line together to make every bit of the script better.

4. Don’t feel pressure to be one of the guys. The whole room is already filled with guys. They don’t need another one. But what don’t they have in the room? Statistically speaking, another female writer. According to the Writers Guild of America’s staffing brief for the 2013-2014 TV season, only 29 percent of staffed writers were women. So doesn’t it make more sense to fill the role that is severely underserved in the room? The sole woman in the room offers a perspective that no one else in the room has. That’s incredibly valuable and it shouldn’t be hidden so a bunch of dudes are more comfortable.

Read it all at Cosmopolitan

GoPro Wants to Give You 5 Million Bucks


Last summer, the Go-Pro people, makers of those cool, teeny, virtually indestructible action video cameras that everybody and his mother now uses to, you guessed it, shoot action video footage, have decided that customer created content is worth even more than they originally thought.

As of now, the GoPro Awards will pay content creators $500 for a photo, $1,000 for a raw video clip, and $5,000 for an edited clip – and this is prize money in addition to any licensing fees entrants in the contest will be paid.

The idea here is to shoot the crap out of everything you can and upload your photos or videos to GoPro in such categories as:

  • action
  • adventured
  • animals
  • family
  • sports
  • motorsports
  • music
  • science
  • how-to
  • travel

Oh, and you can also post it on YouTube, Instagram, or wherever else you usually post your work because, well, because this is a contest that is bending over backwards, frontwards, and sideways to be fear.

Right now there’s $5,000,000 in the kitty, and this definitely seems to be something for peer producers, indie video makers, et al to take advantage of. The place to go for more info and to do the upload thing is HERE.

TVWriter™ has no horse in this race, nor any axe to grind, but we’re hoping you’ll enter – and win – and tell us all about it. Or just win and keep it quiet. Whatever works for you.

Good luck!