Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Writers Group Alert

New York playwrights, this one's for you! I just saw a posting on for writers to join a weekly writing group. If you have a play you've been working on, or the idea for a play, this could be a great opportunity to get some solid, useful feedback on it. Being in The League has been tremendous for my writing, so I know first-hand the benefits of being in a writers group. 

Just keep in mind a few things if you join/form a writers group:

1) The point of these groups is to share your work and get feedback on it; don't be shy. Produce pages, show them to the group, but...

2) Be open to receiving honest feedback. This means that you might not get 100% praise all the time. Writers group members should be open not only to getting constructive criticism, but also to giving it. Don't shut down or become overly defensive if people start to tell you that your story isn't working or hitting yet. You're there to make your piece as strong as it can be, and sometimes outside readers can more readily tell if something isn't adding up than the author can.

 3) At the same time, keep in mind that you're not competing with the other members, and your jobs isn't to tear their work apart - it's to help them. If someone wrote something that is mind blowingly good, praise them. Good for them. You might be pissed your work isn't at that level yet, but wit your group members' help, it will get there. 

4) Lastly, even if you didn't respond well at all to a play/script, it always helps to try to find something positive to incorporate into your feedback, even if for no other reason than to maintain good relations among the members of the group. The group meetings should be as open and honest as possible, and bad blood makes that difficult to achieve.

Good luck to any who sign up for the group! May it help you produce many beautiful plays. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Writing Week (vol. 6) part 272 - Children's Book Draft Done

Yikes - I've fallen... a bit behind schedule here. I could tell you that, though I haven't posted an update in a while, I've been writing regularly. But that, my friends, would be a fabulation, and because I love you, I don't want to lose your trust, dear readers. 

The truth is, I was in Iceland. Yes, the land of Vikings and Blue Lagoons and fermented rotten shark. It was beautiful, but unproductive as far as my writing is concerned. Now, lest I sound like a total shirker, my writing partner and I were awaiting notes from our producer, which were supposed to come in while I was on vacation. (We got them a few days after I got back, so no worries there.) 

About a week after I touched back down at JFK, W.A. (my collaborator) and I were on the phone going over the notes, picking and choosing the ones we wanted to address. We had a great two-hour discussion in which we recrafted a lot of the weakest parts of the script. W.A.'s really excited to get it out there and see if we can sell it (I'd be lying if I said I wasn't, but after years of near-hits and aggravating misses, I have learned to temper my excitement quite a bit). The work is on me to get it to a place where we can go out by summer's end. Despite the fact that the edits are not unsubstantial, I think it's quite doable.

In the meantime, I decided to pour myself into my inaugural children's book. I attempted some free form writing, but realized that I was rambling and ambling without direction. So, I sat down for a night and outlined the book. It's short - barely two thousand words - and the story is far from the most involved that I have ever worked on. Still, there are about eight main beats to it, and I wanted to get them all down in order and fleshed out. Afterward, the writing came smoothly, and I got it done in about four sessions. I was home in Arlington, VA with my family for the weekend and gave them a preview reading. Reviews were favorable (old saying about not relying on your mom to be your critic aside). I found a few lines I need to edit, but I'm content enough with the draft to set the project aside temporarily, as far as editing goes, and to get back to the sci-fi spec for W.A.

While I work on the sci-fi collaboration, I'd like to see what if any traction I can get with the children's book. I know nothing about the children's book publishing world, but I have a few connections to people that do. I'll ask them and see what they say. More so, I think I probably need to find an illustrator before I show it to the industry. Though this will be a back-burner project for a bit, it will be fun to have something to occupy my mind in addition to the sci-fi spec. And it's a whole new type of writing project for me; that, in and of itself, has been gratifying - and a welcome return to storytelling after my month-plus hiatus.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

2013 Emmy Nominations Announced

The Emmy Nominations have been announced today. It's no surprise that some shows, like the incomparable "Breaking Bad" are on there. Nor is it startling to see so many accolades for the departing "30 Rock." Similarly expected are the praises bestowed upon mini-series American Horror Story - though this season paled compared to the first, in my opinion - or Top of the Lake. (Note that, while in its second season, AMH is dubbed a mini-series, because the character, plot, and scenarios are different each season, hence the full title: American Horror Story: Asylum. Yes, it is a lot of the same cast and crew, but technically, it has nothing to do with the first season and is a whole new set of characters and situations, so it is a mini-series. Like Band of Brothers and The Pacific.)

Check out all the nominations above, and, for our purposes, the writing ones below. What do you think - any snubs?

Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series
“Dead Freight” by George Mastras, Breaking Bad
“Say My Name” by Thomas Schnauz, Breaking Bad
“Episode 4″ by Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey
“The Rains of Castamere” by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, Game of Thrones
“Q&A” by Henry Bromell, Homeland

Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series
“Episode 209″ by Jeffrey Klarik, Episodes
“Daddy’s Girlfriend (Part 1)” by Louis C.K. and Pamela Adlon, Louie
“Finale” by Greg Daniels, The Office
“Hogcock!” by Jack Burditt and Robert Carlock, 30 Rock
“Last Lunch” by Tina Fey and Tracey Wigfield, 30 Rock

Outstanding Writing For A Miniseries, Movie Or A Dramatic Special
Richard LaGravenese, Behind The Candelabra
Abi Morgan, The Hour
Tom Stoppard, Parade's End
David Mamet, Phil Spector
Jane Campion and Gerard Lee, Top Of The Lake

Outstanding Writing For A Variety Series
The Colbert Report
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
Jimmy Kimmel Live
Real Time With Bill Maher
Saturday Night Live

Outstanding Writing For A Variety Special
The 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards
Louis C.K.: Oh My God
Night Of Too Many Stars: America Comes Together For Autism Programs
Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update Thursday (Part One)
66th Annual Tony Awards

Outstanding Writing For Nonfiction Programming
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
The Dust Bowl
Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House Of God
The Men Who Built America • A New War Begins