Ask the Coach: What Do I Need for a TV Pitch? – On Script Mag

Welcome to the latest installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag! This month, I’m sharing more from my interview with Neil Landau, author of the recently released book, The TV Showrunner’s Roadmap: Creating Great Television in an on Demand World (2nd edition) and the Director of Screenwriting at the University of Georgia, who helped me answer last month’s question “How do I find a showrunner?

He shared some invaluable tips with me about the process of having your script requested, and what to be ready for in the room once you’re pitching. So today we’re answering the question, “What do I need for a TV pitch?” [more…]

 

Getting ready to pitch your show involves a whole lot more than simply writing a pilot script. It’s about your materials, your deep knowing of your story, your readiness, your team, and your passion for the project too. 
 
 
Read the article on Script Mag: 
Ask the Coach: What Do I Need for a TV Pitch?

 
 
 
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.
 
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

 

Ask the Coach: How Do I Find a Showrunner? – On Script Mag

Welcome to the latest installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag! This month, I’m addressing a question about finding a showrunner:

“I have a solid idea for a TV series, but I need help to execute it. Where do I go to ‘meet up’ with a showrunner who’d be open to helping a somewhat ‘newish’ writer?”

This is an intriguing question, though I’m not sure it’s the right question to be asking. Whenever you have an idea for a writing project, I see it as your role to develop and execute it, rather than looking for someone else to do that work for you.

As a newer writer, this means studying and reading TV pilots, taking classes, reading books on TV writing, and developing your concept as fully as you can on your own, before then pitching your concept to production companies, streaming services, or even showrunners. Along the way, you’ll also want to be developing and building relationships into a network of colleagues and industry professionals who might help you along the way, and vice versa.

The other thing to understand is that most showrunners are writers themselves, and in all likelihood, are developing their own shows. This means finding a showrunner who’s free — or willing — to take on your project is, well, tricky.

Since I’m not a television writer myself, I reached out to three TV writers and instructors for their input on first developing an idea and then getting to the stage of finding a showrunner.  [more…]

 

“Finding a showrunner” means doing the work to develop your concept as fully as you can on your own, seeking representation and attention for the work, and packaging your project as completely as you can before pitching it for consideration for development — and a showrunner.
 
 
Read the article on Script Mag: 
Ask the Coach: How Do I Find a Showrunner?

 
 
 
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.
 
Photo by Agence Olloweb on Unsplash 

Ask the Coach: Odds & Ends – Finding Your Voice, Getting Unstuck, and Abandoning Scripts for Books – On Script Mag

Welcome to the latest installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag! This month, I’m addressing a collection of shorter questions about Finding Your Voice, Getting Unstuck, and Abandoning Scripts for Books.
 
“I think I need the most help with networking and finding my voice as a writer. What are some ways to find your voice and churn out script after script?”
 
“I have the concept of my script and my characters broken down but when I’m writing I get stuck at times. What can I do to keep my creative juices going in the process of writing my script?”
 
“How do I know if I should just ‘give up’ screenwriting and focus only on writing books? I’ve been writing screenplays on and off for 10 years… so tired of all the ‘It’s not ready’ B.S. but I still have many screenplay ideas. Thanks!”
 
As writers, we have a lot to navigate, from sorting out who we are and want to be on the page, to getting unstuck and keeping our creativity alive, choosing our creative projects, and more. My intention is to give you perspectives, tools, and questions to help you keep moving forward as a writer. [more…]
 
As we write, we build confidence in ourselves, which is expressed through our voice on the page. Therefore, to find your voice as a writer, writing itself — frequently — is the best pathway to pursue.
 
 
 
 
 
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.
 
Photo by Lum3n from Pexels

Ask the Coach: Superstitious About Writing Time? – On Script Mag

Welcome to the latest installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag! This month I’m addressing a question about being superstitious about writing:

“Do you ever feel superstitious about your writing time? Like you have to write in the same place, at the same time, after eating the same thing, to recapture the same success of a particular writing day that went well? Or do you find yourself giving up on a day’s writing because you weren’t able to do those things?”

This is an intriguing set of questions because whether or not a writer considers themselves superstitious about their writing practice, it speaks to underlying strategies and challenges around having a consistent writing practice, which is something I recommend for most writers. Let’s discuss. [more…]

 
Create a routine or container for your writing practice, but don’t be afraid to experiment and refine. Being a creature of habit is useful for writers, but we don’t have to be locked in.
 
 
Read the article on Script Mag: 
Ask the Coach: Superstitious About Writing Time?

 
 
 
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.
 
Photo by Black ice from Pexels

Ask the Coach: Odds & Ends – On Script Mag

Welcome to the latest installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag! This month I’m addressing a collection of shorter questions that haven’t quite warranted a full article but are useful nonetheless, from screenplay formatting to finding feedback for horror short stories, capitalizing nouns and proper nouns, and more! 
 
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the questions and choices and decisions we have to make as writers. The good news is that as you build a library of trusted resources, coming by those answers gets easier and easier over time. 
 
 
Read my responses to 5 reader questions and get a glimpse into the resources I turn to when I have writing-related questions, on Script Mag: 
Ask the Coach: Odds & Ends 
 
 
 
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.
 
Photo by Jess Bailey on Unsplash 

Ask the Coach: How Much Should I Plan My Writing Time? – On Script Mag

Welcome to the latest installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag! This month I’m addressing a reader’s question about how much (or whether) to plan writing time:
 
“How much should I be planning my writing time vs. just showing up to write each day?”
 
Much like the answer to most writing-related questions, it depends.
 

Here are some things to think about:

1. Showing up to write consistently is one of the most consequential actions you can take as a writer.

Whether you plan or don’t plan, showing up to write consistently and regularly throughout the year is the best way to see your body of work building over time.

Writing regularly has other benefits as well: According to a study by researcher Robert Boice, writers who write daily are twice as likely to have frequent creative thoughts as writers who write when they “feel like it.”

Writing consistently is also the best way to “find” or develop your voice, something writers often ask about too.

I typically advise most writers to aim to write 5 to 7 days each week, leaning to daily for newer writers or writers getting back on track after time away. Longer gaps between writing sessions make it harder to restart.

On the other hand, “just writing” without any kind of plan won’t necessarily help you see a script (or other writing projects) through to Done. Yes, ideas and voice development, as well as personal growth and insight are valuable. But planned writing leads to completion. At the same time, you can design it in such a way as to allow for flexibility. [more…]

 

While you certainly can be detailed in your day’s planning, I recommend working within the context of a well-structured goal and overall plan and setting up daily average targets in terms of time, page counts, and/or to-do’s. 

 
 
 
 
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.
 
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Ask the Coach: Is an MFA Worth It? – On Script Mag

Welcome to the latest installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag! This month I’m addressing a reader’s question about whether or not to pursue an advanced writing degree

 

“Is it worth it to pursue an advanced degree or are there now enough classes and tools and webinars and retreats out there to make a degree in writing superfluous?”

While I have chosen not to pursue an advanced degree in writing (which may tell you something right there), there are many writers who have done so and been glad they did. Writers I’ve spoken with who’ve completed MFA programs were appreciative of the rigor, focus, and structure of the coursework, and some later went on to teach themselves. The degree also gave them a sense of credibility as a professional writer.

On the other hand, many writers struggle to keep writing without the rigor and structure of a formal program once they’ve completed their degree, and I’ve spoken with more than a few writers over the years whose writing practices have simply fallen apart without their courses, deadlines, fellow students, and instructors to keep them going. This is a common issue for writers across the board, to be sure, but what I’ve seen with MFA graduates with this issue is an intensified sense of loss, guilt, and shame around not writing.  [more…]

 

There is no right answer, in my opinion, but personal reflection about who you are and what your goals and motivation are, as well as objectively evaluating how MFA programs work and how their graduates feel on the other side can help you make a clear-eyed choice. 

 
Read the article on Script Mag:
Ask the Coach: Is an MFA Worth It?
 
 
 
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.
 
Photo by Yan Krukov from Pexels

Ask the Coach: How Can I Expand My Script? – On Script Mag

Welcome to the latest installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag!
 

This month’s question is about fleshing out a story:

“My problem is, I grew up writing short stories, and now I am trying to write a screenplay. I ‘finished’ my script, and if it is true as they say that one page equals a minute of screen time, I have a movie that is roughly a little over 45 minutes. How do I expand my script without making it boring with just a lot of filler?”

Great question. Assuming you’re writing a feature, yes, 45 pages is short. In your shoes, I’d first focus on making sure I have a story with strong enough legs to last a full feature length, then, I’d dig into the specifics. Let’s discuss.  [more…]

 

The big idea here is to look for ways to deepen the experience you’re creating for your audience, taking them on a powerful journey through the eyes of your primary characters.

 
Read the article on Script Mag:
Ask the Coach: How Can I Expand My Script?
 
 
 
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.
 
Photo by Ron Lach from Pexels
 

Ask the Coach: How Can I Find the Right Reader for My Script? – On Script Mag

Welcome to the latest installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag!
 

This month’s question is about finding the right reader for your script and genre:

“Hi, I’d like your advice on how to select a reader who will give you a fair evaluation. I’ve had my script ‘read’ several times by Pros who didn’t really enjoy the Fantasy genre. At least, that’s what seemed obvious to me from their comments. For example, one tried to talk me into writing a murder mystery using the bones of my story instead.

“Should I use a service like IMDB PRO for leads of studios who produce fantasy movies? My story falls into the Field of Dreams, Big, Groundhog Day type stories, each using a fantasy element. I feel that you have to like the genre first to give a fair evaluation. I know I wouldn’t be able to give the same respect to a war movie…”

I feel you on this one. As a sci-fi writer, I want someone who understands my genre expectations to give me feedback on my script, and someone who genuinely loves and appreciates the genre as well. I’m reading your question to mean you’re looking for a professional reader to hire for script notes, not for coverage, and not for a studio executive to query, however, given that you’re mentioning IMDB Pro, let’s look at that too. [more…]

 

“…while it is valuable to have a reader who understands the genre conventions and expectations, your script should still transcend genre and be transparent and legible enough to any reader to be able to understand its story, structure, character, and intent, and to appreciate your voice, tone, and writing…”

 

 
 
 
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.
 
Photo by Ron Lach from Pexels
 

Ask the Coach: Who Owns the Sequel Rights to My Script? – On Script Mag

Welcome to the latest installment of my “Ask the Coach” column on Script Mag!
 

This month’s question is about who owns sequel rights to your screenplay and why adding an entertainment lawyer to your team is beneficial when negotiating screenwriting contracts.

“I’m writing a script which has obvious sequel potential. If I am fortunate enough to sell the script, (assuming boilerplate contract) who will own the rights to the sequel, me or the studio? Asked in another way, when I sell the script, am I selling the brand as well? I have several script projects with sequel potential, so this is a big question for me.”

Such an intriguing question, and I’m sure one many writers share. Since this is ultimately a question for an entertainment lawyer, I reached out to Michael Saleman of www.movielaw.net for his expertise. To a degree, the answer about how these types of rights work can be dependent on a writer’s leverage.  [more…]

 

Whether you’re wondering about sequel rights or making sure you’re signing a good option agreement for a single script, having a lawyer on your writing team is an excellent move.

 

Read the article on Script Mag here:
Ask the Coach: Who Owns the Sequel Rights to My Script?
 
 
 
If you’ve got writing questions, please send them my way!
I’d love to answer them for you in my column.
 
Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash