Archive for writing for the web

Thinking about making a web series? Think you need to copy network series? Define the demographic you are targeting? Think again!

In this seven-minute interview conducted by Film Courage, Joe Wilson, creator of the web series Vampire Mob, talks about why you don’t need to look for sponsors or try to find the ideal length and demographics.

His point: if you want to be a story teller, why build in all the elements that have made life difficult for story tellers? Find a story you are passionate about and make it! (He drops the F-bomb often, so take that into account if you’re listening at the office, etc.)

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In the previous two posts I’ve shared two of Robert Ringer’s three rules of writing and added my comments on how they apply to screenwriting. Here is the third:

Don’t try to be all things to all people. Go after a specific market, and don’t make apologies to those who aren’t part of that market.

Ringer points out that it’s natural to want to be loved and therefore to try to appeal to everyone and offend no one. Unfortunately that results in bland writing that may not appeal to anyone. If you’re writing an indie film, a strong viewpoint may be exactly the element that gets it noticed.

If you have a strong viewpoint about anything you will annoy or anger some people. That may prevent you from writing a screenplay that has a strong angle on a controversial topic, or it may incline you to try to give the opposing view equal time. That’s fine for a documentary that’s trying to show all sides of an issue, but it doesn’t make for strong drama.

Will taking a strong stand offend some people? Sure.

I wrote on my other writing blog (http://www.TimeToWrite.blogs.com) not too long ago about how shocked I was at the vehement reaction from one reader to what I thought was a neutral statement. Obviously it pushed some buttons for her, and maybe she felt better after venting her anger. Her statements were mild compared to a lot of what I’ve read in the comments sections of other blogs. But maybe the old saying is true: If you’re not offending anybody, you’re not saying anything.

This is a good thing to keep in mind if you find yourself worrying, as you write, about how readers or reviewers or members of your family will react when they read it. You have to put that out of your mind and keep writing.

I have some experience with this. Not too long ago I finished writing a novel I call Vegas Bible Porn. It’s a comedy and its based, very loosely, on my time in Hollywood. It’s about a producer who tries to cash in on two money-making genres of film, soft porn and Bible pictures, by combining them.

The novel is not pornographic and it doesn’t make fun of the Bible; it’s just descriptive of what this producer is trying to do—the Vegas comes in because that’s where he raises the money to make his film. However, so far the title has scared off publishers.

Even so, I want to hang in there with it because I think it will attract people who have an irreverent attitude, and they’re the ones who will enjoy it.

Is it a risky strategy? Probably. But, as Ringer says, when you have a strong concept you will (eventually) attract an enthusiastic, loyal group of customers–or a producer with some guts and the desire to make a movie that has an impact.

(You can sign up for Robert Ringer’s e-letter, A Voice of Sanity in an Insane World, at www.robertringer.com. If you would like some support in writing what only you can write, join my online Writing Breakthrough Strategy program. It starts in mid-January but now is the time to join and get some great Early Bird bonuses. Find out more at http://www.WritingBreakthroughStrategy.com. )

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How do writers collaborate successfully? My previous post was about the online comedy, “Husbands,” co-created  and co-written by Jane Espenson and Brad “Cheeks” Bell. On Scriptmag.com Espenson described their working method:

We did it in turns. Cheeks wrote the first draft and then I did a polish, and then he gave notes, and we did that for a while until all we were doing was just tweaking jokes back and forth. So yeah, we checked and rewrote each other until we were happy and then we did ultimately have a table read where we brought in some really top-flight comedy writers who pitched jokes and ideas.”

Of course there are many other systems that work, too. Here are a few more thoughts about collaboration that I posted originally on my Time to Write blog:

Noah Baumbach, who co-wrote the screenplay of “Fantastic Mr. Fox” told Carpetbagger:

“I think if you were trying to pair up writers, you probably would say it’d be good to have someone who is more intuitive and goes by feeling and does just what feels right in the moment, and then someone who is really good with story, and nuts and bolts and conceptual look. Both of us are much more in terms of feel. We don’t have the nuts and bolts guy in the organization.”

The difficulty is that we tend to like working with people like ourselves and the more alike two collaborators are, the less they actually need each other. That often leads to each person to thinking they’re providing all the value and the other person is getting all the credit.

Where can you find potential collaborators? In writing classes, writing groups, and even online.

Before you commit to any long term collaboration, have a bit of a trial marriage. When you do start working together, put everything in writing. Like many marriages, it always starts with sweetness and light but, sadly, sometimes ends in acrimony and different ideas about what was agreed and who did what.

(Whatever you’re writing, it can really help to have guidance and support along the way. That’s what you will get from the Writing Breakthrough Strategy program–get details at: http://www.WritingBreakthroughStrategy.com.)

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