- David O. Russell (you know who he is) has left ABC’s THE CLUB, a series his presence helped sell, but co-writer Susannah Grant will remain. (You gotta ask yourself: If a guy like Russell can get dumped from a TV series, how rough must the politics of the medium really be? If yours truly had a mind, it’d be boggling!)
- Rick Eid (DARK BLUE) is showrunning the new Lifetime drama series, THE LOTTERY, about stuff that happens in, you know, a “dystopian future.” (Sorry, Lifetime, but there’s a show the muncher won’t be watching cuz let’s face it, those of us living in the dystopian present really could use a change.)
- Hallmark Channel has picked up THE GOOD WITCH, a series based on its TV movies of the same name. No writer or showrunner has been listed, so excuse me while yrs truly calls his agent. (Not that muncho expect her to answer, but that’s another (sad!)story.)
- Marco Pennette (KIRSTIE) is out as showrunner of TV Land’s comedy of that selfsame name and is working as a consulting producer on MOM instead. (Cuz the talented writer/creator/sonofabitch is so goddamn rich already why work full-time?)
Even in the world of games, where this not-so-startling (to us cuz…flawed, you know?) factoid just recently came to light:
Game characters are better when they gossip and lie
by Olivia Solon
Getting characters to lie, gossip, and manipulate could help to create more realistic video games, according to Jenny Brusk, a lecturer in computer science at the University of Skövde.
Brusk has been working on models to introduce socially competent non-player game characters who can understand natural language, rather than characters using goal-driven dialogue where the player is limited to a number of predefined response alternatives.
In order to create socially intelligent characters, Brusk has studied gossiping. “Gossip is a type of dialogue that defines our moral compass, and without it, we don’t know what’s socially accepted. Gossip is also a way to get to know each other, and it signals closeness. We learn to master social codes through gossip,” she explains.
Brusk’s research is based on sociolinguistic science with complex dialogue systems. The dialogue models she has developed can be implemented using standard technology, meaning they could be implemented in today’s games.
Brusk has presented a number of ways to create NPCs or “embodied conversational agents” with the ability to manage social situations, varying characters’ behavior according to their perceived interpersonal relationships. To do this she introduced an algorithm for calculating the social threat presented by the person the character is speaking to. The model took into account the NPC’s current emotional state and personality type. The idea of “threat to face” or threat to one’s personal reputation was introduced as a mechanic.
Brusk and colleagues have developed a method for managing NPC dialog through the creation of adialog manager in State Chart XML, a newly introduced W3C standard. They built a trading model for a shopkeeper, which allowed for natural language negotiations. The plan is to introduce an emotional aspect into the model at a later date, perhaps influencing the price based on how happy or sad the shopkeeper is.
Here they are, the most viewed TVWriter™ posts for the past week:
And our most viewed resource pages were:
Thanks for making this another great week here at TVWriter™, and don’t forget to read what you missed, re-read what you loved, and, most importantly, come back for more soon!
by Peggy Bechko
And not surprisingly they want them to keep reading.
So what is it that might make a prized reader just stop reading, set the book aside, give up? Fantastic to hear your book kept a reader up all night, okay to know they stick in a bookmark and take a break, just awful and nightmarish to think that reader won’t pick the book up again.
So why don’t they pick it up again?
There can be many reasons, but here are a few basic ones you might consider while writing.
Is there too much description? Do you go on and long with long, flowery descriptions and narrative that just doesn’t move the story forward. The days of the writing of the classics is long past and the reader today want succinctly written scenes with few details allowing their own imaginations to take over. It’s a fine line to walk, but there you have it. Too much, too long on the description, narrative and wandering dialog and the reader is, well, bored into putting the book down.
Are your characters realistic? Are they so bland they’re boring? Do they have quirks and problems that are unique and unusual? If your characters don’t come across a real people with real problems odds are your reader is going to slap that book down and not pick it up again.
Did you hear somewhere sex sells? Offensive language gets attention? Violence rivets the eye? Well, yes, to a point. However, in general, readers don’t appreciate all that. If ‘all that’ isn’t key to a character or essential to moving a plot forward, don’t just write gratuitous sex, violence and filthy language scenes because the feeling is they’ll ‘sell’. There are moments where those things belong in a story, but make sure they do BELONG before you put any in. If it seems to your readers that you’re just waving it before their faces for shock value, odds are they’re going to put that book down. And they’ll look for your name on another book – so they don’t buy it by mistake.
Have you got firmly held beliefs? Moral codes of your own? Your own way of seeing the world?
Use them to move readers with a powerful theme, but don’t preach to them. Readers hate preachiness. If instead of being drawn in by an engrossing tale your readers feel you’re trying to force your own agenda on them, to cram a message down their throats, they’re going to turn on you.
Keep in mind not everyone shares your values and point of view. There are many world views out there. They may well be hooked by a well-written story based on a viewpoint at a one hundred and eighty degree flip from their own, but that doesn’t mean they’ll tolerate being told they have to share that perspective. Preaching is a big turn off and frequently the reason a book is cast aside. If you want to get a ‘message’ across, be more subtle. Make it into a powerful, positive theme in your book and let the readers come to their own conclusions.
Our freelance writing incomes may not be much, but they’re ours. If we can hang onto enough of them to feed us, clothe us, house us, and/or – and this is the big one – give us the time and freedom to go out on more freelance writing gigs. Here’s some stuff we all need to know. (Don’t you love the word “stuff?”):
by Walter Glenn
Freelancing is rewarding, but it is not for the faint of heart. Yes, you get to do work you love and you get to do it on (mostly) your own terms. You also have play roles you may not enjoy so much, like marketer, sales person, and bookkeeper, some of which we’ve talked about before. And one of the biggest challenges in freelancing is managing an irregular income.P
Before I started working for Lifehacker, I spent over twenty years as a freelance computer consultant and writer. I loved working for myself, almost as much as I love with the people here, but managing the boom and bust cycle of work was something that never came easy. I did learn some good lessons along the way, though. P
Create an Emergency Fund
Everybody should have an emergency fund that they only dip into when they need to cover basic expenses and have no other recourse. You’ve heard this advice from us on more than oneoccasion. The common wisdom is to keep enough money in your emergency fund to cover six to eight months of bills. If you’re freelancing, you need more.
I recommend at least being able to cover expenses for a full year. Remember that it isn’t just personal expenses you have to think about anymore. You also need to be able to cover business-related expenses and there are some other advantages, too:
In other words, dude’s talking about how to make your concept memorable by putting it out there in a way nobody will forget.
The Science of Making Your Story Memorable
by Scott Adams
When I created a Slideshare preview of my book How to Fail… I worked with Dr. Carmen Simon at Rexi Media to get the slides just right, from a design and message standpoint, but also from a cognitive science perspective. I thought my blog readers would enjoy a peek under the hood to see what techniques we used. This is useful stuff.
Dr. Simon explained to me that it helps to think of your presentation in terms of these three elements.
Drilling deeper, all three elements can be activated by emotions. And all three elements can be influenced by automatic or deliberate factors.
Automatic factors (examples)
- A shiny object grabs your attention reflexively
- The sight of a red apple reminds you of a friend’s cheeks
- After a sleep-deprived night, you decide to eat a donut even though you’re on a diet
Deliberate factors (the stuff you care and think about)
- What you want out of life
- What you expect to see or hear
- What you already know
Now let’s see how the science is applied to my slide show titled Passion is Overrated and Goals Are for Losers.
To get attention, your material must stand out in some way (e.g. through color, size, location, etc.)
The color palette for my slides (grayscale – including white – accentuated with red) puts emotionally powerful colors in stark contrast. Red has a deep psychological impact: It makes breathing harder, quickens the heart, and demands attention. The lack of competing color “noise” makes the color contrast more attention-grabbing.
The first slide in the deck is the most important for drawing-in viewers. We had a powerful color palette, but we also needed a title that grabs attention. Dr. Simon says the four title approaches that do this well are:
- Promise a story
- Promise a reward
- Provoke curiosity
- Evoke concern
My slideshow’s title “Passion Is Overrated and Goals Are for Losers“ provokes curiosity while evoking concern that one might have been doing things wrong until now.