We Are All Pawns in the Game of Life

Mark Evanier, one of the biggest writing talents in TV, comic books, and blogging is here to share his insights into reality TV and comics. If reading this doesn’t make you a more discriminating TV viewer, there’s a good chance nothing will:

by Mark Evanier

Our pal Steve Stoliar caught this. On this week’s new episode of Pawn Stars, a gent brings in a book from the mid-seventies to sell — a bound book in which 41 cartoonists signed autographs and most also did a sketch for someone named Katherine. I used to like this show when I first discovered it but it got so repetitive and formulaic and obviously rehearsed that I gave up on it. (I also didn’t like how in some episodes, the Pawn Starsfamily treated each other badly. I’m told there’s less of that on the program now.)

As is usual for this show, a member of the Pawn Stars team (in this case, Chumlee) says something like, “Hey, this is neat. Would you mind if I got a buddy of mine who’s an expert in these things to come down and take a look at it?”

The would-be seller says sure. The Expert Buddy comes in…and about 90% of the time, the E.B. authenticates the item and says it’s worth X, then says “Thanks for letting me take a look at it” and leaves. Expert Buddies in Las Vegas seem to have nothing better to do than drop everything they’re doing and rush over to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop to help out, even if it means helping a competitor. The seller almost always accepts what the Pawn Stars guy’s friend says. Then, once the E.B. is gone, the haggling starts with the seller starting by asking X and going down from there.

In this case, the seller came in wanting $2000 for the book and though the expert said it was worth $2000, the seller settled for [SPOILER ALERT!] $800. I don’t know how fair that would be since we don’t see all 41 autographs. We get quick peeks and see Milton Caniff, Don Rico, Steve Leialoha, Trina Robbins, Frank Ridgeway, Brad Anderson, Russell Myers, George Clayton Johnson, Walter Gibson, Jim McQuade and one or two others.

The two biggies the show focuses on are Joe Shuster and Jack Kirby. What would make this book truly rare is if someone somehow managed to circulate a sketch book at a San Diego Con and somehow didn’t get Sergio Aragonés.

My keen deductive abilities suggest the book was circulated at one or more San Diego Cons and I have a hunch some of the circulating was done by the con’s figurehead founder, Shel Dorf, on behalf of Katherine, whoever she is. The Caniff drawing is dated 1976 and I don’t think Caniff was at the con that year. Shel was then lettering the Steve Canyon newspaper strip for Caniff and visiting him often. Maybe Shel took it along on one of those visits….

Read it all at Mark Evanier’s outstanding blog

Gerry Conway Asks, “Is Comic Book Publishing Doomed?”

by Gerry Conway

EDITOR’S NOTE: We all know how well comic book heroes, villains, and stories are doing on TV and in films these days – they own those media. However, many of us may not know what’s happening with the motherlode, comic books themselves. Gerry Conway’s here to tell us the ironic truth.

Is comic book publishing a doomed enterprise?

Since the days I first entered the business in the late 1960s, one of the perennial fears of creators and industry executives has been the imminent collapse of the retail comic book market.

It’s not an unreasonable fear: in fact, in readership numbers, the market has already collapsed. When I started writing comics fifty years ago, the published sales figures for the solo Superman comic was about 600,000 copies a month. Five years later, sales figures had dropped to about 300,000 a month. By the late 1980s, less than 100,000 a month. [1](http://www.comichron.com/titlespotlights/superman.html) Recent sales of Superman have been in the mid-five figure range. [2](http://www.comicsbeat.com/dc-comics-month-to-month-sales-chart-january-2017-comic-readers-vs-gratuitous-rebirth-one-shots/)

From 600,000 to 60,000– if that isn’t a collapse of readership, I don’t know how else to describe it.

To be fair to Big Blue, and show this isn’t exclusively a DC problem, Spider-Man’s main solo title displays a similar collapse in readership, though its collapse is more recent. [3](http://www.comichron.com/titlespotlights/amazingspiderman.html)

But wait, you’ll say. You’re comparing apples and oranges. Back in 1968, comics were 12 cents each; today they cost an average of $3.44. [4](https://www.statisticbrain.com/comic-book-statistics/)

True enough. In 1968 the median household income was $7,700 annually. [5](https://www2.census.gov/prod2/popscan/p60-065.pdf) In 2016 the median household income was $59,000 (a squishy number with lots of caveats apparently). [6](https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-average-income-in-usa-family-household-history-3306189) Let’s examine all those figures, recognizing that the economic world of 1968 is vastly different from the our world today. (For example, that $7,700 household income was for a one-earner family; today most families are two-earners.)

Let’s take inflation. It’s an eye-opener. $7,700 in 1968 is worth $54,162.42 today [5](http://www.in2013dollars.com/1968-dollars-in-2017?amount=7700), so today’s family is actually ahead by $5,000 a year. (On the other hand that additional $5,000 is worth $725 in 1968 dollars.)

So apparently incomes have more or less kept up with inflation, and in most cases, specifically in the cost of high technology, the price of many items has decreased in real terms since 1968. And many if not most of the things we’ve come to depend on today didn’t even exist in 1968. For example, an RCA color television/phonograph console in 1969 cost $975 for a gigantic 23″ picture [6](http://www.tvhistory.tv/tv-prices.htm)– in 2017 dollars, $6,858.00. Today, you can find an RCA-brand 4K 65″ smart TV for about $590 at Walmart. [7](https://www.walmart.com/ip/RCA-ROKU-4K-65-SMART-UHD-LED-TV/330129369) In 1968 dollars that’s about $100– and nobody in 1968 could even have understood the descriptive terms 4K, 65″, or “smart TV.”

But what about household staples? Haven’t prices skyrocketed for, say, milk?

In 1968 the price of a gallon of milk was $1.07. [8](http://www.the60sofficialsite.com/1968_Economy_and_Prices.html) Today the price is about $3.16. [9](https://www.statista.com/statistics/236854/retail-price-of-milk-in-the-united-states/) That’s less than half the rate of inflation. (Inflation would have put the price of a gallon of milk in 1968 dollars at over $7.)

Cars? Cars in the 1960s ran in price from the low $2000s to the high $5000s, probably averaging around $3500. [10](http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/60scars.html) (My dad bought a Chevy Nova in 1969 for about $2000, if I remember right.) The average price for a new car today is about $33,000 [11](https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2015/05/04/new-car-transaction-price-3-kbb-kelley-blue-book/26690191/)– or about $10,000 more than inflation alone would predict. What do you get for that additional $10,000? Where to start? Computerized controls, air conditioning standard, safety and convenience and energy conserving features drivers in 1968 would have considered science fiction. So maybe the increase in average price is worth it, especially since many people don’t buy cars anymore– they lease them, something that wasn’t an option in 1968.

So, with all these inflation stats considered, how does the comic book business of today compare to the comic book business of 1968?

In purely inflationary terms, everything else being equal, a comic that cost 12 cents in 1968 should cost 84 cents today. But everything else isn’t equal, of course.

The production quality of today’s comics is vastly superior to those of 1968. The four-color newsprint presses of 1968 produced comics that look barely readable compared to the glossy monthlies we see now. So maybe a doubling of price might be justified sheerly for the increase in production quality. Yet isn’t some of that cost of production offset by the change in the system of distribution? In 1968, almost half of a production run was lost to newstand “returns”– to sell 600,000 copies of Superman, National Periodical Publications printed over 1,000,000. Today’s comics are sold on a no-return basis. No excess copies are printed. (This sometimes results in second print runs on popular new titles, something that would have been inconceivable in the 1960s.) Despite the increased price of quality printing, I have to think technological advances in printing and distribution have kept pace with at least some of the companies’ production costs. Creators certainly aren’t making much more money now than they did in 1968. (Top page rates have barely increased over inflation, and average page rates are probably less than you’d expect in inflationary terms.)

So why do comics cost, on average, almost five times what inflation alone might predict? Why haven’t comics benefited from the deflationary pressures that reduced the price of milk and TVs, not to mention all the technological wonders that didn’t exist in 1968 but which have plummeted in price in real terms since their introduction? (Personal computers, video games, VCRs-into-DVDs-into-streaming media, cell phones, e-readers, etc., etc.)

It’s pretty simple to understand, sadly. The reader base for comic books has almost completely disappeared, which requires each reader to pay more for any individual issue in order to support the company that produces the book. My guess is there are about 400,000 regular comic book readers in America. I base this guess on the following statistics:

The total yearly sales in the direct market are about $418,000,000. The average price of a comic is $3.44. [12](https://www.statisticbrain.com/comic-book-statistics/) Divide those numbers and you get the following: 122,511,628 comics sold a year, or about 10,000,000 comics a month.

According to the best guess of various interested parties [13](https://www.newsarama.com/33006-is-the-average-age-of-comic-book-readers-increasing-retailers-talk-state-of-the-business-2017.html) the average comic book reader is somewhere between 25-35 years old. According to labor statistics, the average salary for people between the ages of 24-34 is $39,000. [14](https://smartasset.com/retirement/the-average-salary-by-age)

A little math shows that this block of readers doesn’t have an inexhaustible amount of disposable income. After taxes, a generous guestimate puts the average comic book readers’ weekly income at about $570. Food, shelter, clothing, and transportation all have to come first before they can devote any spending to their comic book interests. Let’s be optimistic and say they’re dedicated readers who devote 5% of their income to buying comics. That’s $28 a week or about 8 comics a week, 24-26 comics a month.

10,000,000 comics sold a month; 25 sold to each reader; 400,000 readers.

How does 400,000 comic book readers (an optimistic number, I admit) compare to the number of people who’ve seen, say, “Black Panther?”

Recent estimates put “Black Panther”’s domestic box office at about $500,000,000 [15](http://deadline.com/2018/03/black-panther-third-weekend-red-sparrow-death-wish-operation-red-sea-detective-chinatown-2-international-box-office-1202310277/) with an average ticket price of $9 [16](https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/average-price-a-movie-ticket-soars-897-2017-1075458), meaning “Black Panther” has been seen by approximately 55,000,000 people.

Fifty-fifty million comic book movie viewers, versus less than half a million readers.

Even if those numbers are wildly inaccurate at the margins, that’s still a ridiculously significant difference. It points to an inescapable fact: comic book readers are at best a very minor part of “comic book culture.”

This is particularly true when you consider that individual readers each have loyalty to only a handful of characters. If you’re buying 25 titles a month on average, and you’re a Batman fan, probably a fifth of your purchases are Batman-related comics. Which means that Batman’s total readership is less than what might be indicated by the cumulative amount of sales across all titles. If the average Batman title (Batman, All-Star Batman, Detective Comics, Batgirl, Batwoman, Nightwing) sells about 50,000 copies, there’s probably quite a bit of overlap– the same buyer purchasing multiple books. There may, in fact, only be about 50,000 actual Batman readers. Ditto for other characters or character lines (X-Men readers, Avengers readers, Superman readers, etc). It’s entirely possible the figure of 400,000 readers is wildly exaggerated. Dedicated fans may be buying more than 25 comics a month. In which case the actual full-time readership might be vastly smaller– maybe only 100,000 readers.

In any event, what’s clear to me is that the viability of comic book publishing as a way to make money directly is clearly limited by a shrinking, if not fully collapsed, market base.

The question is, where do the publishers go from here? Do they continue to pursue that small base of readers? Is there a way for them to attract the vast number of people obviously attracted to the larger “comic book culture” represented by movies and TV? Or will comics (as I believe likely) become a subsidized form of intellectual property development for the more lucrative and culturally impactful film and television divisions of the corporate entities that own them?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Gerry Conway is one of the Kings of TV and film and comic book writing and also one of our Beloved Leader Larry Brody’s longest-lasting and closest friends. Everybody who comes to TVWriter™ should be reading his insightful blog, where this article first appeared. Learn more about Gerry HERE.

BEYOND WORDS 2018 – Insights From Writers Guild Award-Nominated Writers

Photo by Michael Jones

by Kelly Jo Brick

The Writers Guild Foundation, The Writers Guild of America, West and Variety brought together several of this year’s Writers Guild Award-nominated writers for a panel discussion to reflect and share insights about creating their films.

Moderator Graham Moore (THE IMITATION GAME) led writers Guillermo del Toro & Vanessa Taylor (THE SHAPE OF WATER), Greta Gerwig (LADY BIRD), Emily V. Gordon & Kumail Nanjiani (THE BIG SICK), James Mangold and Michael Green (LOGAN), Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber (THE DISASTER ARTIST), Jordan Peele (GET OUT), Steven Rogers (I, TONYA), Aaron Sorkin (MOLLY’S GAME) and Virgil Williams (MUDBOUND) as they talked about how they decide what story to tell, the relationship between the words on the page and what’s seen on the screen, the craft of writing from treatments to inspiration and dealing with notes.


Virgil Williams – The best advice I ever got while I was starting out was to write. Honest to God, someone sat me down and I went, “What am I gonna do? What do I gotta do? Tell me what I gotta do.” She looked me dead in the eyes and said, “You want to be a writer? Write.”

Michael H. Weber – This will be so simple as to seem stupid, but write every day. Write especially when you’re not in the mood or when you don’t have any good ideas or when you have other things to do. Treat it like a job before it becomes a job.


Guillermo del Toro – As far as ideas, it’s the one that you feel that you’re choking to do. Like literally the one that you can’t stand that it hasn’t been made.

James Mangold – For me, it’s looking for something that you haven’t done. It’s kind of scaring yourself. Finding a set of challenges that don’t seem familiar.

Vanessa Taylor – Sometimes it’s just a what if that seems so full of possibility that I want to imagine where it goes. I’m always looking for that place where I might have the opportunity to be carried away.


Jordan Peele – I spend the vast majority of the time on treatments and outlines and studying. I didn’t know that this would end up in a movie. I thought this was gonna be a project for me and for fun. Part of the project was the impossible task, how do you make a horror movie about race that works. That was this thing that engaged me for about five years. I had the whole outline. I had every element of every scene sort of laid out and then when I sat down and wrote it, it took about two months.

Michael H. Weber – We don’t write a word until we feel pretty good about the outline. For practical reasons, just that it’s easier to diagnose problems. You can never diagnose all of them, but you can solve quite a few of them when you’re looking at a five or six page outline than when you’re on page fifty and go, oh wait a second.

James Mangold – We try, but I look at an outline and I’m nauseated. Me and my partners will all dive in and try to execute a few pages of something and go, what does it feel like? How does this scene surprise us in some way? It’s not like I hate outlines for anyone to do them, but I do feel that any process religiously followed, starts to affect the way we make movies. I do think the bumper car way of writing may be inefficient, but some of the inefficiency can be beautiful. You can end up writing something that never would have seemed at home in the through line of a document that’s two pages long.

Greta Gerwig – I don’t outline. I think whenever I outline or do treatments, it’s like I’m pretending to write a movie that I have no idea how to write. It feels fraudulent to me. I have to write into a hunch and write into something I don’t totally understand. Because if I could understand the whole of it, before I started writing, I wouldn’t be able to get to the end.


Jordan Peele – I developed this mantra when I was writing, designed to break me out of writer’s block. It was, follow the fun. If you’re not having fun, you’re not doing it right. There was a point in the process where I got to something that was very vulnerable and the fun evolved into tears. The thing that stops so much of my art if I let it, is when I lose track of why I want to tell this story.

Emily V. Gordon – When I’m starting a project, I’ll write down this is the reason I want to do this project. When I get so angry or bored, I go back and look at why I wanted to do this. I keep reminding myself this was the headline of why I wanted to do this and at one point in my life I wanted to do this.


Kumail Nanjiani – Taking pressure off having it be good the first time really freed me up to just write. A lot of stuff I wrote that I thought would be terrible was actually stuff that was good.

Aaron Sorkin – It’s a very good idea to get to the end of the screenplay. Don’t keep going back to the beginning. Get to fade out. That’s really important. By the time you’ve gotten there, you’ll have learned a lot about what you’re writing.


Aaron Sorkin – Trying to figure out what people want and trying to give it to them is a bad recipe for storytelling. When I write, I try to write what I like, what I think my friends would like, what I think my father would like and then I keep my fingers crossed that enough other people will like that I get to keep doing it.

Guillermo del Toro – The entire choices you get as a storyteller is to appease or awake an audience. Is this going to be a lullaby for the way it is or am I going to slap you in some way and make you react differently? The temptation always is the lullaby, the appease, and the one you need to seek is the awake.

Virgil Williams – What I was trying to do with MUDBOUND is make you look at yourself in the mirror naked, because MUDBOUND is America and everybody can connect to one or two people in that story. What I wanted to do is grab you by the face and make you look.

The Writers Guild Foundation regularly hosts events that celebrate the craft and voices of film and television writers. To find out more about upcoming events, go to wgfoundation.org.

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.

Bob Tinsley: Finding Audio Drama: One From Column A . . . .

from Bob Tinsley

EDITOR’S NOTE: Trying to get behind the Audio Drama thing we keep talking about on TVWriter™ but knowing what to listen to or where to find it? Here’s a little “Listening Assistant,” found on Imgur by our Audio Drama expert, Bob Tinsley:

Thanks to K.Statz of @STATZINK

Thanks to Imgur!

Peggy Bechko: Yikes! They Want Me to Write a Logline!

by PeggyBechko

Have you taken time to sit down and consider a logline for your script? Of course you have – presuming you’re writing scripts. And I’d go so far here as to say it’s not a bad idea to consider loglines and how they’re created if you’re a novelist as well. It’s kind of your ‘elevator pitch’.

Everyone is forever in a hurry so I’m going to give some space to what NOT to do when thinking about creating a logline, aka the short pitch if you’re writing other things and want to get a short pithy hook out there to snag an editor or producer.

Producers and Editors are notorious for being in a hurry and expecting a pitch or a logline to grab them all on its own. I don’t blame them really. They’re buried under scripts and manuscripts and meetings and a lot more that we, as writers, don’t think about. Is it so unreasonable to not want to have to slog through even more paper than they already do?

So, as a writer, it’s your job to really set that hook.

As a writer you want to create words and characters with cool names that will be remembered always… or at least long enough that you enjoy your fifteen minutes of fame. That said, I’m absolutely sure you’ve polished your script to a fine glow, creating cool sounding places and equally cool sounding names for your character.

You want to show off your dazzling creation. First almost rule (there aren’t any actual rules really); leave all those cool sounding names out of your logline. They make perfect sense in context of your story, but a logline? Want a producer to ask to see the script? Trust me, leave them out. No people names, no geographical locations.

Focus on the theme and the action. Get to the meat of the matter. A logline is one (maybe two) sentences. Use them wisely. Don’t throw in names someone would know only if they’d seen the movie – which hasn’t yet been made.

Your job, as a writer eager to sell a script or manuscript is to offer what is a marketable (yes, we’re trying to sell some writing here) story. To do that it’s imperative to offer a kernel of that story with hook enough to grab a Producer or Editor and to do that without forcing said Producer or Editor to sift through an unkempt bed of a logline to get to it.

What else doesn’t belong in a logline? All of those flattering credits like placing in a contest someone heard of or no one heard of. Giving all kinds of detail about what the script is such as genre.

If you’re a diligent writer who’s submitting I hope you’ve done your research and are offering a script to a producer that’s in a genre that producer has already worked in or is perhaps soliciting ideas for, or some other reason you would have to believe that producer would be interested in the script you’re pitching.

Now, if you want to give your logline a little punch with a credit like, “Winner of Nicholl Screenwriting Fellowship” and finalist in others (that’s a biggie) then add it in a second sentence after the pitch line with the further suggestion the reader see more in your synopsis (then don’t forget to put it there). But keep it short!

Remember they’re out there, reading lots of loglines – but, they’re loglines that are short and sweet. When a slog develops, they move on.

The process in novel world is a bit different and I’d advise looking into the details Editors require that are different than scripts (i.e. fiction or non, word count, genre, etc.). Nonetheless, boiling your novel down to a single logline isn’t a bad idea.

There are other things you shouldn’t do in your quest to get your logline read like providing unnecessary details or unnecessary second sentences when one will do.

Fact is, there’s always something else. But, the writer who gets some focus and can be ruthless with their work, slashing mercilessly, reading and rereading until that logline shines, will find the reader who will request that script.

Keep at it. You can do it. When all is said and done, here’s the simple truth: “Knowledgeable writers never have to say ‘Yikes!'”

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.

Bob Tinsley: HOW TO BREAK IN TO AUDIO DRAMA (Or, At Least, How I Did It)

by Bob Tinsley

If you’ve been paying attention on this site, you know how big Audio Drama is getting. I’ve had five scripts produced and have produced two myself with another ten in the stack promised to producers. Right now audio drama is pretty much the Wild West of the entertainment industry. Even more so than web series, for reasons that will become apparent.

The easiest way to break in (at least, it was pretty easy for me) is to be a Writer-Producer. Writing scripts and sending them out to producers is one way to do it, but most producers are already buried under production schedules of what they currently have.

It could take them six months or more to get around to your script. If you can give them a finished product so all they have to do is the intros and outros, you will be a HUGE step above non-hyphenated writers. And it’s not that difficult. After all, I did it.

Side benefit: YOU have creative control. If someone else produces your script, no matter how well, you WILL wish you had done it yourself.

First, you need to write a script. Start small, five to ten pages. An audio (radio) script is different in many ways from a screenplay. First, remember that your listeners can’t see anything. Having the actor make faces is a non-starter unless it affects his voice. The best place for a rank noob to learn about writing for audio is www.ruyasonic.com.

Everything a beginner needs to know is there including a Word template for radio (also called BBC) format. Both Celtx and Final Draft also have radio templates. Even so, many producers, especially the ones that do epic-scale series, use screenplay format. Most aren’t too picky as long as the script falls into one of those two formats.

Read as many scripts as you can. Just Google “radio scripts.” You’ll find a wealth of scripts in just about any genre you can think of. And don’t turn your nose up at Old Time Radio scripts. Those people knew how to write for audio. Some better than others, of course, but shows like “Suspense,” “Lights Out,” “Gunsmoke,” and “Have Gun Will Travel” (Roddenberry wrote for that one, among others) are good examples of what to do. “Gunsmoke” had an especially rich soundscape, immersive, even. Listen to one of the episodes while you read the script. You won’t be sorry.

If you want to write and produce your own Audio Drama and have a computer, you’ve already spent all the money you need to. You don’t need to buy a mic. Unless, of course, you plan on acting, in which case, you should already have a decent mic. You don’t need lights or cameras. You don’t even need sound equipment. The actors are going to record their own lines and send them to you. You don’t need anything except your computer. Equipment wise, that is.

You will need DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software. That’s easy. And cheap. Go to www.audacity.com and download the latest version of their software. It’s free! Installation is a piece of cake. Be sure to get the plug-in package (subroutines that give you a lot of editing power) and the LAME add-on which allows you to export MP3 files. Again, installation is painless.

Audacity is dirt simple to learn to use. It also has more than enough power and flexibility to do what you will need it to do. You will hear a lot of kvetching from some people in the community about how awful Audacity is. It ain’t so. Julie Hoverson of 19 Nocturne Boulevard (www.19nocturneboulevard.net) has been using it for many years and has the multiple audio awards to show that using Audacity doesn’t hurt the quality of the work you put out. She has a YouTube channel with a playlist of Audacity tutorials (http://bit.ly/2ob0JkW). Be warned, though. The information is gold, but she does tend to ramble a bit.

Get some friends to record your script. Or look online in some of the FaceBook groups for voice actors and put out a casting call. Unless otherwise stated it is understood that these are no-money gigs. 

While you’re doing all of the above, fire up iTunes or whatever podcatcher you like and start listening to audio drama. This is called “market research.” Look for anthology shows in the genre you like. You will have a much better chance of placing your episode in an anthology than trying to break into a continuing series, most of which these days have an entire season in the can before they release the first episode.

You’re not going to make any money to start, but movie and TV producers are paying attention to the podcasting market searching for the Next Big Thing. So, get started! It will cost you nothing but time, and all you have to lose is your unproduced status.

Bob Tinsley is an artist, writer, boataholic and, in case you haven’t run across him here on TVWriter™, a big fan of Audio Drama currently in the process of being a pro in that arena as well. In other words, Bob knows what he’s talking about, so listen up!

Peggy Bechko: Stuff Writers Shouldn’t Do If They Plan on Being Successful

by Peggy Bechko


Writers of all stripes get feedback from all sorts of people – sometimes it’s solicited and sometimes it just jumps out at you. We handle all that feedback in a lot of different ways. But, there’s the feedback from knowledgeable sources we all have to pay strict attention to.

When a screenwriter gets it from on high and is told where a script may be lacking, that’s not a time to argue. When a novelist gets feedback from an Editor or Publisher, that is not the time to argue.

I know, I know, the web says this and the web says that. It’s a font of information – and a lot of it is wrong unless you’ve researched your resource thoroughly and know it is dependable.

So back to my original statement. There is no ‘secret’ to getting a script sold or a novel published. There’s no magic wand awaiting you out there on the web. So, don’t argue.

Look, if you, as writer, have presented a work for consideration and the person on the other end, be it Editor for books or producer looking for the next great script, gives you some tips and feedback it’s not a personal attack. You’re actually a step ahead.

Someone with the ability to help you toward your ‘destiny’ took enough interest to give ‘notes’. A serious screenwriter or novelist doesn’t argue with that. Watch out for that ego we all have and don’t let it make you feel like honest criticism is a personal attack.

If you’re secure in what you do you can take feedback, analyze it and tweak your written work accordingly; or not. I’m not saying ALL feedback is the best. But if we take the time to sit on it for a while, consider, then move forward.

Maybe it will make sense. Maybe you won’t want to change to accommodate or maybe you’ll need to find another person to critique the script or book. Whatever you, as the writer you are, decide, curb that first reaction and then decide.

Do you want to completely alienate a script contact or an Editor reading your manuscript? Well, then, just keep calling and bugging that contact about the progress of their read through.

Yeah, yeah, some folks you send your precious writing to may promise to read it right away or maybe next week or even tonight. Don’t believe them. Be patient.

In my experience the person who requests a script wants it yesterday…but then takes weeks to get back with approval or notes or whatever. Don’t get upset, it’s not worth it. Politely follow up in maybe three weeks and if still nothing, give them another week.

Beyond those couple of check-backs I’d say if there’s still no response it’s probably time to find another reader.

Let’s be clear. I’m saying this to keep you from getting frustrated and doing something to sabotage yourself. These folks aren’t doing it to annoy you. They’re busy people and more often than any of us would like they can underestimate the time it will take to get back to you.

Another tip? Don’t do what other writers do. Don’t follow the path of another writer in an attempt to find ‘success.’ You have your own individual goals, needs, talents and life circumstances which are totally different from those of another writer, even one who has already found success.

Quick example: If you are,  say, writing mysteries, patterning yourself after a superhero action writer most likely isn’t going to work.) Do what fits you. Write what fits you. Pursue your dream your way.

Finally, don’t discourage yourself, which we all know is far too easy to do. Believe me, there are plenty of negative folks out there who’ll be happy to beat you up. You don’t need to give them a helping hand.

Motivate yourself. Keep writing, even the really bad stuff. Avoid those who constantly tell you how unlikely it is that you’ll ever succeed. Don’t let those people into your writing bubble. Don’t ask them to read your work. Eliminate them from your contact if you can.

In other words, save yourself. Don’t waste your time with negative people. For that matter, don’t waste your writing time, period. Don’t let distractions get in the way. Take a break, sure, we all need them. But don’t turn a 15 minute break into an hour or more.

This list of ‘don’ts’ isn’t set in stone. These are suggestions. As you think about them, be honest with yourself. See what applies to you, and what doesn’t.

Then do what you need to. Your drafts and final polished product will thank you.

Peggy Bechko is a TVWriter™ Contributing Editor. Learn more about her sensational career HERE. Peggy’s new comic series, Planet of the Eggs, written and illustrated with Charlene Brash-Sorensen is available on Kindle. And, while you’re at it, visit the Planet of the Eggs Facebook page and her terrific blog.