Tuesday, April 26, 2005

A little less conversation, a little more action please

Got my revised 2-page outline ready for class tonight, but I'm still feeling like a slacker. I need to seriously do some actual writing soon. Lately I've been just sitting around doodling in notebooks, acting all conteplative, while I'm actually thinking about who will win "American Idol" this time.

One thing I've been pondering about lately: when did sitcoms get so bad? I find most sitcoms on TV intolerable for more than a minute or two and once 'Raymond' and 'Arrested Development' finish their runs, I'm not sure what is left to watch. How did we arrive at this place that sitcoms suck and suck very very much? Where is a Taxi or a Cheers (early seasons) or even a Roseanne? Oh yeah, Nick at Nite...

Monday, April 25, 2005

Latest TV and Film News

Not that I'm a great resource for breaking news, but since I'll be talking about remakes, sequels and TV to Film adaptations in my Film Friday later this week, I thought I'd just point out that Wil Ferrell is going to be in the "Land of the Lost" movie.

Ah yes, you can smell the fresh ideas like last month's milk...

Saturday, April 23, 2005


Since I'm taking a TV writing class, I'm watching and recording a fair amount of TV shows. I had to go to Orlando last week for work, which made it more critical to have my DVR in working order. I had about 80 hours of programming saved on the harddrive.

Hard drive crashed today. Wiped out all programs, before I could watch the programs I recorded from this week. House, Lost, Alias, 24, Project Greenlight, even Low Carb and Lovin' It! (My favorite Food Network show) are all gone. I've now lost two weeks of House and Alias I hadn't seen and God knows that I'm in trouble trying to write my Lost spec without my episodes at hand to refer to.

I'm in mouring. It's a dark day in the Benson household. Dish Network will pay for this tragedy!

Friday, April 22, 2005

I'm home

Just got home about an hour ago. I like traveling, but hate the actual travel part, especially on planes. Anyway, looking forward to getting things caught up tomorrow...

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Out of pocket

I hope to keep you updated this week on all my writings and goings on. It may be a little more spotty than usual though as I'll be in Orlando on business. In fact, my flight leaves in 3 hours and I haven't packed.

My happy news for the day is my class instructor mostly liked my spec outline. I have some character issues to work out, but I think the story is pretty much there. I hate that I'm going to miss class this week.

Thanks to everyone for the really great comments!! I feel so special, and not in that short bus kind of way, either.

Last thing: I saw "The Amityville Horror" last night. How crazy is it if the best thing about the movie is Ryan Reynolds? That dude is RIPPED. It really helps to see terrible movies at the Arclight 21+ screening. Good movies get better and bad movies become watchable with a couple of alcoholic beverages at your side.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Is this thing on?

So, I had my TV class last night. It's good, it gets my brain working, even at 7 PM. Trying to think of clever plot points is very difficult when you close in on 10 PM, but my instructor's insistence on juice and cookies does help us get through the midway point in the class and down the home stretch.

There are 20 people in the class, so it can get exhausting listening to everyone pitch their stories and the rest of the class dissecting it, trying to find what will make the story really intriguing or at least workable. Fortunately, we'll be splitting into discussion groups in the next week or two so I'll only have to focus on maybe four or five other stories instead of 20.

But, it was weird last night. I felt like I was talking to myself a lot. When I was in the UCLA Professional Program last year, it was not only commonplace, but required that you get involved in other people's projects, help throw out suggestions and ideas. Most of the people in the room last night have either written very little or no scripts at all, and as I threw out ideas to people about their stories or posed dilemmas or questions about what they had pitched, I felt the silence in the room as if people were thinking "who is this FREAK who thinks she has all these wonderful ideas? How DARE she criticize my story or suggest something completely off base from my idea?" I'm certainly not trying to best someone's ideas, but the whole point of these classes is that you throw out an idea, and maybe someone builds on your suggestion or finds another way to take it, which is even better. You WANT someone to come up with a better idea than you did. Still, I couldn't help feeling I had a huge target on my chest and I should really just shut up.

Am I wrong to try to help people? Am I being too pushy? I just don't know.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Deconstructing other TV shows/films

If you want to learn to write good structure, one of the best ways is to write a narrative beat sheet for a TV show or film to understand that structure. Basically, you sum up a scene or "events" in a series of statements. For example:

  • Jack sends Kate to get Sawyer's alcohol
  • Kate finds Sawyer and takes what alcohol he has before dashing back through the jungle.
  • In the jungle, Kate finds Claire having contractions and calls for help.
  • Jin finds Kate and Claire; Kate asks him to go get Jack and bring him back.
It isn't about recording the dialogue (unless it is an event unto itself) or how people feel. It is about recording the events and how one event leads to another. By deconstructing TV episodes or films you start to get a feel for the rhythms of structure. If you pay closer attention, you can start to find the inciting incident, the mid-point, the end of each Act, etc as you pick apart the story into a series of "beats" or events.

I just finished my homework assignment for this week, which was to do exactly this for the show I plan to spec. It was on my mind, so I thought why not share?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Learn to Pitch

If you read the same blogs I do, you probably already read about Chris Abbott's new book which she will be signing at the Barnes & Noble at The Grove on Wednesday April 13 at 7:30 PM. What is particularly cool is that Abbott will be giving people the chance to pitch projects and then with advice from the book, assist their pitches and let them pitch again. Sounds like a fun time!

(Hat tip: A Writer's Life (Lee Goldberg))

The picture

I wasn't sure about putting an actual photograph of myself on my blogger profile. For one thing, it is out of date. I won't say how long out of date but more than three years, less than eight. As soon as I get around to it I'll put a more recent photo up. That was the only one I had on a pre-existing website that I could point to.

So I'm no longer in my twenties (I'm 30). You take what you can get.

On another topic, progress made on the spec today. I think I have most of my story figured out. The trick is trying not to rehash what has already been covered in the show, but not going too far afield with my own ideas. There's a definite trick to it. Why oh why didn't I think about doing an episode of CSI or something? Those don't expose you to tinkering with existing characters. Those types of shows (procedurals) in the vein of CSI, Law & Order, etc. barely develop their main character's stories at all. Standalone episodes are easy to write. Insert crime of the moment "ripped from the headlines". Rinse. Repeat. I would choose something episodic, something harder to pull off.

This makes me a glutton for punishment. And an idiot.

*sigh* Good to know I never change much.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Hullo new readers!

I see I got added to a couple of blogrolls recently (Thanks Alex at Complications Ensue!) Welcome new visitors. This site is mostly about screenwriting and my journey to become a paid, working screenwriter or TV writer. There are a lot of politics related links and yes, they are conservative politics in nature. I don't hide from my political beliefs and I'm not ashamed, though Hollywood would deem me to be poison, I aim to prove that I am as capable of producing terrible product as they are (actually, I'm out to prove that I can write stuff people want to see). So, even if you don't agree with my politics, stick around as I love to converse with writers of all shapes and sizes. I think we are all a strange breed anyway so why discount each other because we see the world differently? Isn't that what it's all about, describing the world as we see it? The fun is in the differences...

And yes, I'm obviously procrastinating from my real writing. Thanks for noticing.


I finally WGA registered my first screenplay "China Joe" and my first TV pilot script which I cowrote called "Sistercritics/My Shadow and Me" (we can't decided on a title).

You can't mess with my work now!! I'm registered!

And now, back to writing new stuff.

So you wanna be a screenwriter?

Are you insane?

Reasons NOT to be a screenwriter:

  • Screenwriters are not showered with attention and loving praise. Typically writers are a "necessary evil" in the film/tv biz.
  • Sure you might get paid a lot for one script -- after you've written 12 that were rejected.
  • Unless you can say "I don't mind writing for direct to video" and mean it, you should not be a screenwriter.
  • You'd better like coffee. Or insomnia.
  • Be prepared for producers, directors, actors and everyone else to find ways to take your carefully crafted story and destroy it.
  • Worse, they might make it better. That's a humbling experience, I'm sure.
  • oh, and the main reason, not to be a screenwriter: it actually requires you to write. Bonus points for writing well. Double word score if you can put together a story with interesting characters with a unique voice that demands the audience's attention.

Now, if none of that puts you off the idea of writing a screenplay, just remember, there are thousands more like you who are just as insane trying to sell something that they too have poured sweat and blood into for days on end while they try to juggle a day job or maybe even a kid or two.

Somehow I've decided to ignore my own advice and keep pressing on. I'm watching episodes of "Lost" over and over again in preparation for writing my spec. I'm still trying to get past page 65 in my current screenplay, which may be put on indefinite hold while I write the spec.

Why do I want to do this? Oh yeah, because I can't NOT do it... OCD is a bitch.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Okay, so, too much death in the air this last week. It was really bringing down my mood. Writing has dwindled. BUT good news! My new UCLA class started last night - writing hour long TV dramas - so I have a fresh writing project, a spec script for an existing show. I'm going to be writing a spec for "Lost" one of my fave new shows, and over the next 10 weeks I'll share my progress with you.

Right now, all I have is a nebulous idea. My assignment next week is to write a paragraph on the central idea for my script.