Questions & Quandaries Blog

Online editor Brian A. Klems has been writing for Writer’s Digest since 2003. He covers the most pressing grammatical, ethical, business and writing-related questions—and often does it with a bit of humor.


Spinoff Contest Winners!

First of all, thanks so much to everyone who entered Script Notes‘ first-ever writing contest and sent in their TV spinoff ideas!  There were some hilarious entries… some disturbing entries… and some downright baffling entries… but all of them were a blast to read! As you probably know, the winner of...

Complement vs. Compliment

Q: I’m always getting the words “complement” and “compliment” confused. Can you set me straight once and for all?—Adam P. A: These two words used to give me a hard time, too, but with a little trick that I learned I was able to set it straight once and for all—and,...

Last Chance to Submit for the Spinoff Contest!

Hey, guys– Just wanted to remind you that midnight tonight, March 22, is the cutoff for submissions to the Script Notes Spinoff Contest!  Submissions can be emailed to WDScriptNotes@FWPubs.com, or click HERE for all the rules! We have some awesome submissions so far… so take a shot at winning an autographed...

5 Days Left…

Hey, guys– Just a reminder… only 5 DAYS LEFT in our first-ever Script Notes TV Writing Contest!  Submit your logline and 150-word synopsis for a spinoff to any current TV show (comedy, drama, or reality) and win an autographed copy of Larry Brody‘s bestselling TV book, Television Writing From the Inside...

PITCH WORKSHOP: Erica's Logline

Hey, folks– Today’s Pitch Workshop submission comes from Erica, who’s looking for feedback on the logline for her feature film idea, Love Bites.  Below is Erica’s logline… eagerly awaiting your notes! Title: Love BitesGenre: Romantic ComedyLogline: To reclaim a powerful amulet and battle Van Helsing’s heir, Dracula’s son must learn how...

A bunch of stuff… including Scott's contest question

Hey, guys– A bunch of stuff… 1)  Scott asked a good about the Spinoff Contest… “Will you allow entrants from outside the US?” The answer?… ABSOLUTELY!  Wherever you are, Scott– or anyone else– please: submit away!  Click HERE for all the details… 2)  If you’re into web video, check out a...

Win a role on CBS's "Numb3rs"!

Hey, everyone– Thought this was a fun opportunity I’d pass on!…The Writers Guild Foundation is conducting an Ebay auction to raise vital funds for our High School Screenwriting Workshops and other community outreach & literacy programs. Thank you for bidding generously! EBAY AUCTION! – TV SHOW NUMB3RS WALK-ON-ROLEAuction Ends: Feb-28-09 19:58:07...

Two Pitches, One Magazine

Q: I’ve written two travel articles about two separate areas in a certain Canadian province. Should I mail them together to editors since they would go well together, or do they need to be mailed separately?—Sharon L. A: First thing you’ll want to do is send a query letter to the...

How Do I Copyright My Manuscript?

Q: I recently finished a novel and want to know what I can do to have it copyrighted. Is there a special process? –Sylvia R. A: Whenever you put something in a tangible format—written on paper, typed on computer, chiseled on stone tablets—it’s copyrighted and protected under U.S. copyright law. No...

READER QUESTION: How Do I Spec a Serialized Show like "Damages?"

Today’s reader question comes from Chuck, who asks…“I love ‘Damages’, the show.  How would you spec a show like Damages when the entire season is one long arc – like one long movie?  Same as ’24.’  Is that possible?” Well, Chuck, the short (and unfortunate) answer is: I probably wouldn’t spec...

Literary fiction vs. Maintstream fiction

Q: I see these two terms bandied about on almost every literary blog and Q&A: Literary fiction vs. Maintstream fiction. What are the differences between the two?–Rook V. A: If I made a list of differences between literary and mainstream fiction, it’d look nearly identical to Janet Paszkowski’s “Defining Artless Fiction:...

Tax Time: Is Your Writing Career a Business?

Q: I made some money last year through my writing. As tax time rolls around, I’m wondering: How much money do I have to earn before I have to declare myself as a business? –Alice H. A: There is no set dollar amount that mandates you to declare your writing income...

Joss Whedon's Writing Tips

Special thanks to Brian Klems for finding this awesome piece with Joss Whedon‘s top ten writing rules (compliments of Catherine Bray, 4Talent magazine, and Danny Stack).  I found this super-helpful… especially the first one, which– quite honestly– is a HUGE problem of mine. Anyway, happy MLK Day, and click HERE enjoy...

Covering the Cover Letter

Q: I’ve written a personal essay for a magazine that invites its readers to submit “meaningful remembrances.” The submission guidelines state that submitted articles are welcome for review. Should I send a query letter or send the essay along with a cover letter? What format should I use?—Carla V. Britt A:...

Dealing with Writer's Block

Q: Do you have any advice on overcoming writer’s block? I am currently taking a course on this subject and wondered how professional writers deal with this common problem. —Jane Thomas A: Writers have only three true enemies: time (or lack thereof), computer viruses and writer’s block. Defeating the first two...

Breaking into Television: My Interview with Alex Epstein

Hey, folks– Just wanted to point you to an interview I recently did with Alex Epstein, TV writer and author of Crafty TV Writing: Thinking Inside the Box and Crafty Screenwriting: Writing Movies That Get Made.  Alex writes the “Complications Ensue” blog, which– if you’re not already reading it– is a...

READER QUESTION: How Do I Write Fight Scenes?

Today’s reader question comes from Mel, who posted this in response to my review of Quantum of Solace, the new James Bond movie.  Mel writes… “I… have been thinking about fight scenes. How are they written? How do people make them jump off the page and come to life?” Well, Mel,...

Brian's Q&Q Three-Question Quiz

Happy Thanksgiving my Q&Q friends! I’m off this week getting a little rounder (I love pumpkin pie almost as much as I love my wife), so no new question answered. But for those itching for some knowledge—or even just a refresher—I offer up a challege: Go to the search box about...

Should I Use The Chicago Manual of Style for my Book?

Q: In my writing I strictly follow the rules in The Chicago Manual of Style. For example, in a sentence joined with an “and,” I place a comma after the last word before the “and” when the first part of the sentence is a complete sentence. I have received a rejection...

TV Writing Interview: Part III… Take a Listen

Hey, everyone– Here’s the third part of the 3-part podcast interview I did with Judith Parker Harris and the Alive! Authors Network.  Take a listen… we talk about the politics and logistics of being a TV writer, frequent mistakes aspiring writers make, and how to break in and launch a successful...

How Many Rejections Does it Take to Self-Publish a Book?

Q: I’ve submitted my manuscript and query letters to various agents and publishers and have received several rejections. I feel this book is pretty marketable. How many agent rejections and how many publisher rejections do you think I should take as a signal to self-publish this book? I’m pretty tenacious. If...

Best Book Recommendation EVER!

Hey, everyone– I’m super-psyched to announce that my new (and first) book, Small Screen, Big Picture: A Writer’s Guide to the TV Business (which officially comes out November 25), is now available for pre-order on Amazon, Borders, and Barnes & Noble! The book is a user-friendly “business guide” for aspiring TV...