Writing Advice

Can I Query Before I Finish My Novel?

Q: I’m currently writing my first novel and am about halfway finished, but I have completed an outline and synopsis. Can I start querying agents now? A: Being a first-time novelist, it’s important to finish your book before sending out any query letters. Without a track record, you have no proof...

SHARLA'S QUESTION: Are web scripts useful writing samples?

Hey, folks— Today’s reader question comes from Sharla.  First of all, I have to say—Sharla, MAJOR THANKS for your super-nice comments on Small Screen, Big Picture!  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it… and I’m glad you found it helpful! As for your question… here it is: “I’ve been...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

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...

TV Writing Interview: Part II… Take a Listen!

Hey, everyone– A couple weeks ago, the Alive! Authors Network posted the first part of Breaking In and Breaking Through the TV Business, Judith Parker Harris‘s 3-part interview with me about TV writing… how to get your foot in the door, get noticed, and excel in the world of television. Well,...

Chatting About TV Writing… Take a Listen!

Hey, everyone– Just wanted to invite you all to listen to a recent podcast interview I did on the Alive! Authors Network… all about TV writing and the TV industry. This is the first of a 3-part interview I did, called Breaking In and Breaking Through the TV Business, with podcast...

PITCH WORKSHOP/READER QUESTION: The Importance of Loglines

Hey, everyone— Just wanted to give a quick follow-up to Tuesday’s episode of the Script Notes Pitch Workshop… and an answer to a question asked by Scott, the author of Tuesday’s Pitch Workshop entries.  Scott writes: “Wow, thank you so much for all your help. You are completely right, I know...

PITCH WORKSHOP: ENTRY 4

Hey, everyone— Today’s submission to the Script Notes Pitch Workshop comes from Scott, who submits loglines for two feature ideas.  So before we dive in… Scott—thank you so much for sending these!  The Pitch Workshop is one of my favorite parts of doing this blog, and I always wish people would...

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: Amanda the Aspiring TV Writer

Props to my friend Charlie for turning me on to this site, but I wanted to let you all know about a pretty great blog… from Amanda the Aspiring TV Writer.  I don’t know Amanda personally, but if you’re interested in television writing… or how to break in… this is a...

Palin vs. Clinton: The SNL Match-Up

For those of you haven’t seen last night’s Saturday Night Live sketch starring Tina Fey as Sarah Palin and Amy Poehler as Hillary Clinton, I’m posting it here.  I love this not only because Tina Fey does a DEAD-ON Palin impersonation, but because this is some great political sketch producing. I...

READER QUESTION: TV Spec-Writing Advice?

Today’s question comes from Peggy, an aspiring TV writer who lives in Florida.  Peggy writes… “I love Law & Order: SVU, and I am working on a script.  Any suggestions for me?” Well, first of all, Peggy—congratulations on starting your spec!  I’m not sure exactly what stage you’re at, but I...

GUEST PERSPECTIVE: How NOT to Write a Screenplay

Hey, screenwriters– I’m excited to present a special guest today… William M. Akers, author of the new screenwriting book, Your Screenplay Sucks! 100 Ways To Make It Great, from Michael Wiese Productions, and… my former screenwriting teacher at Vanderbilt University! Will was not only a great teacher (and my first screenwriting...

PITCH WORKSHOP: RESURRECTED… AND ENTRY #3

Hey, everyone— So, it’s been a while since we’ve visited or talked about the SCRIPT NOTES PITCH WORKSHOP, but I don’t want to let it fall through the cracks.  In fact, I’d like to revamp it a bit.  Originally, I’d proposed doing it in two or three-week stages: for a certain...

A Few Moments with Diablo Cody

Hey, guys– Happy Fourth of July weekend!  I wanted to point you all to my interview with Diablo Cody, the Academy-Award-winning screenwriter of Juno, which appears in this month’s issue of Writers Digest.  Diablo was one of the most fun interviews I’ve done, and she’s got some terrific insights into screenwriting…...

PITCH WORKSHOP: Entry #2

Hey, screenwriters— Thought we’d take another look at one of the entries in the SCRIPT NOTES ONLINE PITCH WORKSHOP.  Thanks to all of you who have submitted… and please—keep ‘em coming.  I’m happy to hold off on moving to Phase 2 (paragraph descriptions) if more people want to post stuff. Also,...

PITCH WORKSHOP: The First Entry!

I am pleased to announce that we have our first entry in the Script Notes Pitch Festival!  A big round of applause—and a thank you—for going first goes to E. Daniels, who posted the first one-sentence pitch Thursday evening. Just as a quick refresher… we’re in Phase One of our Script...