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Complications Ensue:
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Thursday, November 15, 2007

A lot of new people seem to be reading my blog lately, I wonder why?

If you're new to this blog, you may want to check out some of my older posts. Here are the ones with more signal and less noise... A thousand thanks to my indefatigable associate Webs for this.

A glossary of tv writer terminology

Choosing a Story

September 2006: It's been done already
February 2007: Old copyright
March 2007: True crime
March 2007: Talent borrows
March 2007: Releases
April 2007: Write for love...?
May 2007: Books as bankable elements
June 2007: Be original in a movie spec
June 2007: It's not about you
September 2007: Write big or write little?
September 2007: Why are you telling the story?
October 2007: The three most important things I teach


Challenge your core cast's strengths
October 2005: Trust your core cast
November 2005: When your main character lags
November 2005: After the pilot script
December 2005: Second episodes
December 2005: On to our second script
December 2005: Secret, secret, who's got a secret
February 2006: Metaquestion?
May 2006: Faking technical info
August 2006: A foolish consistency
October 2006: A rose is a rose is a rose
June 2007: Day players good
June 2007: Two-parters
August 2007: Rule of Joss
August 2007: Closing in on an outline

Beating Out the Story

How do you get away with plotholes?
Making plotholes fun
Characters and their dumbass mistakes
On characters and the dumbass mistakes they make, part 2
On calling for backup, part 2
What can happen offscreen?
Nothing can happen offscreen
Time cuts
Train wrecks and telegraphing
Second thoughts on telegraphing
Addressing viewer expectations
Tracking expectations
Losing the audience's trust
Fully resolved by first act out?
Suspense v. surprise
Compressed reality
On step outlines
The Sucky Point
Getting past the Sucky Point
Going for the gimmes in the 4400 pilot
October 2005: Writing the pilot
October 2005: Tell your story out loud
November 2005: Write a synopsis to tell a story
February 2006: Episodic vs. serial, again
March 2006: The ole episodic vs. serial question
March 2006: Shifting genres
March 2006: Clever Grey's, or mirrors make you reflect
March 2006: Dire situations
March 2006: Surprising characters
April 2006: Not what it's about
April 2006: How long to tell your story?
June 2006: Sequelae
June 2006: It's important to the main character
July 2006: Interweaving
July 2006: Interweaving, continued
July 2006: Similar characters
July 2006: Stealing
August 2006: Real characters
September 2006: Feed your head
September 2006: Deus ex machina
October 2006: How simple?
November 2006: Craft v. software
November 2006: Casting about for details
November 2006: Not just evil, but fun evil
December 2006: It's Christmas, tell your stories
December 2006: Cursing and broadcast
January 2007: Jilted
January 2007: Amazing but true
January 2007: Who's the main character?
January 2007: Late hooks
February 2007: No act structure
March 2007: Act outs in pay cable?
March 2007: Three acts vs. four
March 2007: Magical realism vs. magic
May 2007: Adaptation by Amazon
June 2007: Expectations / satisfaction
July 2007: Writing against casting
July 2007: TV acts, structure, and stories
August 2007: Thank you for not smoking
September 2007: Names

Scene Work

Have uncommunicative characters explain each other
The cut away from the predictable conversation
The conversation at cross purposes
Format wars
Good playing dialog vs. good reading dialog
October 2005: Fineness in dialog
December 2005: Dialect resource
March 2006: Images as story
April 2006: NIGHT and DAY
May 2006: IM all over that
May 2006: Numbers of pages
June 2006: VO/OS/ON PHONE
July 2006: Character info
August 2006: The value of setting impossibly high standards
August 2006: (Overlapping)
December 2006: Montage
January 2007: The right images in the right order
February 2007: TV is compressed reality
April 2007: White space
May 2007: Quotes
August 2007: The scenes you want to write
October 2007: Song lyrics


Three tools from the comic toolkit
Where's the comedy?
Comic commitment
Simple plots
December 2005: Comedy screenplay format
March 2006: Comedy is someone else's nightmare
June 2007: Still funny?
October 2007: Plussing


On taking notes
When to pull the plug
The Writer Bomb
September 2005: Rewriting rules of order
November 2005: Rewriting for dollars
February 2006: How much to charge?
February 2006: Rewriting notes
March 2006: The benefits of lazy revisions, or, serendipity
April 2006: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
June 2006: Follow the pain
September 2006: Sloppy writing on staff
September 2006: Into it now
November 2006: Staying ahead of the audience
November 2006: Make it a character flaw
February 2007: Writing and rewriting
March 2007: Unique selling proposition
August 2007: His master's voice


Writing it small
Why our producer doesn't like block shooting
October 2005: Identify the gorilla
February 2006: Editor's cut
July 2006: Second-guessing Serenity
November 2006: $14 steadicam
November 2006: A bottle show is inside
December 2006: Casting
December 2006: Auditions
December 2006: Why a short?
December 2006: Diss approval, continued
December 2006: Good adaptations
December 2006: Do you need storyboards?
January 2007: Franchise
May 2007: Accidents will happen
June 2007: Walter Murch
August 2007: Controllable situations

The Writing Room

Credit the room, not the writer
Why you must have a writing room
Writing personnel titles
March 2006: Two ways to co-write
November 2006: Not just for Battlestar fans
January 2007: Awesome retcon
March 2007: Who addresses notes?
March 2007: Who addresses notes, part two
August 2007: The mythical man month

Your TV (and Movie) Career

Your foot in the door, or why you should intern
On staffing season
Best Screenwriting School in the World. And it's free, too.
Be a back door man. Or woman
Script coordinator vs. writing assistant
Getting onto a show
Never say "no"
Contests and fellowships
Working with people who can't tell good from bad
Working for less than scale
Why you need an agent, part 37
September 2005: Read for experience, not for long
October 2005: Money and freedom
October 2005: Open-source feedback
October 2005: Don't find an agent in TO if you want to make it in LA
November 2005: Trust your agent
November 2005: Learn from the other
December 2005: The mentor debate
December 2005: Act like you're where you want to be
January 2006: Oh Canada
January 2006: How old is too old?
January 2006: Managing your agent
January 2006: On contract negotiation
March 2006: Talent borrows...
March 2006: Study hard
March 2006: Movin' on up
March 2006: The Canadian market
April 2006: Canadian looking south
April 2006: Representational arts
May 2006: Agents who charge you
May 2006: Don't ask me if you're good enough
May 2006: Split territories
June 2006: $100 a meeting
June 2006: How to get better
June 2006: Nudging agents
June 2006: Agent thoughts
July 2006: Ignore this advice too, if necessary
July 2006: One agent, two agents, three agents, four
July 2006: Hip pockets
July 2006: My new agent
July 2006: Getting it about getting in
July 2006: Queries by email?
August 2006: Manager contracts
August 2006: Selling
September 2006: Negotiating
September 2006: Late beginners
September 2006: Agents v. lawyers
September 2006: For free, again
September 2006: RTFM
September 2006: You learn something new every day
October 2006: A moving question
October 2006: Fly on the wall
October 2006: Advice from a scientist
October 2006: Aury's story
October 2006: NYFA
November 2006: Messages
November 2006: Another reason why you want an agent
November 2006: Writing samples
December 2006: Credits
January 2007: Animation
January 2007: Scale is a minimum, not a maximum
February 2007: When do you go out?
February 2007: When to query
February 2007: Be brave like Frank Gehry
March 2007: Get close to it
March 2007: How long? How much?
April 2007: Finding an individual agent
April 2007: The "take" meeting
April 2007: School
April 2007: Got rights back
April 2007: CFC
June 2007: How much?
July 2007: What kind of agent?
July 2007: Suit jobs
August 2007: Spec city
August 2007: International film distribution
August 2007: Specs v. writing on spec
August 2007: Dreams on Spec, part 2
August 2007: More on Dreams on Spec
September 2007: Chain of command
October 2007: Time to give up?

Specs and Pitches and Queries

Pitches & pitch bibles
(Longish post)Two things any pitch needs to answer
What network do you want your show on?
A few more words on TV spec scripts
Why you must have specs
Why not just write the specs, already?
Network first, or producer first?
Write a spec pilot?
September 2005: How not to date your TV spec (too much)
September 2005: Pitches and spec pilots
November 2005: Spec page count
December 2005: Topicality
December 2005: Surreal killers
January 2006: Spec script title page
February 2006: Tell yourself your story
February 2006: What if
February 2006: Character pass
March 2006: Will they buy your spec pilot without a showrunner?
March 2006: Comics and Hollywood
April 2006: WGA list
April 2006: Dramatis personae
April 2006: This is the kind of feature spec you should be writing
April 2006: Three days of meetings
June 2006: Technical questions about covers
June 2006: Spec territory
June 2006: Know a director?
July 2006: Music
July 2006: Arcane medical knowledge
November 2006: Online pitches
December 2006: When is a show ready to spec?
December 2006: Spec question
December 2006: Continuity
December 2006: How to spec a House
January 2007: Unsolicited screenplays and what to do with them
January 2007: Pitches and synopses
January 2007: Pilot thoughts
January 2007: Execution independence
February 2007: Querying spec scripts
February 2007: Spec pilots and staffing season cont'd
February 2007: Staffing season, part trois
March 2007: No act outs? Horrors!
March 2007: Click this link
March 2007: Specs for cancelled shows?
March 2007: Query letters
March 2007: Specs -- Canuck or Yank?
March 2007: Pace yourself
March 2007: Medical consultants
March 2007: Spec ep queries
March 2007: Pitching at PitchIt
April 2007: What's a spec pilot for?
April 2007: Guessing game
April 2007: Pitching networks
April 2007: What to send with your pilot?
May 2007: This gets your spec passed around
May 2007: Sneaky kwerries
May 2007: Sneaky kwerries
July 2007: Template
July 2007: Why it's hard to sell an outline
July 2007: Not fanboys; execs
July 2007: And a time to every purpose
August 2007: Britspecs
August 2007: Previously on...
August 2007: Character description
September 2007: Following up
October 2007: Who needs a bible?
October 2007: Serialicity
October 2007: TV spec queries
October 2007: More on TV spec queries
October 2007: Staged readings
October 2007: Double querying?

Bibles and Templates

The attractive fantasy
I just read a bad bible
What is Gilmore Girls's template?
Blowing the template on Corner Gas?
Why Tour of Duty sucks
Character names
Backdoor pilots
Who's core cast?
What's the poster?
Episodic vs. serial
October 2005: Bible is battle plan, not blueprint
October 2005: Procedural vs. character based
December 2005: BBC on templates
December 2005: Diversity pass
April 2006: Weaving A and B stories
September 2006: Against bibles
November 2006: Bibles and how to get them
June 2007: Episodic v. serial
August 2007: Where to begin
September 2007: Children and dogs


March 2007: Shorts and short shorts
March 2007: Camera?
April 2007: Short film mistakes we've made
April 2007: HD v. HDV
May 2007: Fun is important
May 2007: Da film is okey dokey
June 2007: Rough cut
July 2007: Sound editing
July 2007: Sneak preview
October 2007: Distributors

Reading TV (and Movies)

Where to find tv scripts to read
More where to find scripts
March 2007: Show bibles
April 2007: Bad screenplays?
May 2007: Can I ask a production office to mail me a current script?
September 2007: Post your scripts?

Watching TV (and Movies)

Watching with 9 year olds
Canadian SF?
More sex please
Car wreck TV
What naughty girls those L Word girls are
24 has jumped the shark
Watching Firefly
Project Greenlight, the fake break
October 2005: TV drama moves to five acts
October 2005: Don't write clip shows
November 2005: It's the audience's show
November 2005: Five acts and weak act outs
December 2005: Write the other half
January 2006: ER pilot
February 2006: I hate Meredith Grey even more
March 2006: Old teens
March 2006: The Bedford Diaries...
April 2006: Once and Again
May 2006: How to watch TV
May 2006: Has Grey's jumped the shark or what
September 2006: Jericho
September 2006: More bitching about Studio 60
October 2006: I think I'm in love
October 2006: Go thou (and watch Firefly DVDs)
October 2006: Ain't nothing like the real thing baby
October 2006: Jericho is beginning to pall
October 2006: Our Mrs. Reynolds
October 2006: Is FNL best as movie, TV show, or book?
October 2006: FNL and the red states
October 2006: Latest Studio 60
October 2006: The Body
November 2006: Slings and Arrows
November 2006: Why is Studio 60 better?
December 2006: Daybreak's demise
December 2006: Broken Flowers
December 2006: Semper ubi sububi
December 2006: Darkness, tragedy, violence
December 2006: It's The Odd Couple meets Dick in classical Rome
January 2007: Brave writing in Rome
January 2007: Second ep -- how'd Little Mosque do?
January 2007: Denis and I advise Aaron Sorkin
January 2007: Things not to do when you're a famous writer
February 2007: FNL's five acts
March 2007: Insight into Zodiac?
May 2007: Rewriting movies you just saw
June 2007: "Fixing" RotK
June 2007: That darn Sopranos finale
June 2007: John from Cincinnati
July 2007: Not Wilde about it
August 2007: Unlikeable /= compelling; or, Californication
August 2007: Potter bashing
August 2007: Paradise Now
September 2007: Tell Me You Love Me pilot
September 2007: Back to You
September 2007: Journeyman pilot
October 2007: Friday Night WTF?


Paul Guyot, part 1, part 2, part 3. A "guyot" is an underwater seamount, in case you're wondering.
Shelley Eriksen, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5
Jacob Sager Weinstein
Chris Abbott, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5
Stephen Gallagher, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4
John Rogers, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4
Ken Levine, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4
Tom Fontana, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7
Bridget Carpenter, part 1, part 2, part 3
Ellen Sandler, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4
Alex Epstein, part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5


July 2007: The WGC on the latest CRTC proposal
July 2007: Jim Henshaw guest-rants about the CRTC
September 2007: All your quirk are belong to us


Characters in SF&F
Writing Animal Characters
Remedial storytelling, or why Kerry lost
On telling the truth
Redistricting, a modest proposal. Nothing to do with TV, but I wish someone would pick it up and run with it.
December 2005: Let's put the Saturnalia back in Christmas; or, villains
March 2006: Copyright infringement
March 2006: Title sequences
March 2006: Naming your character
April 2006: Story consulting and credits
April 2006: Short film scripts
April 2006: Q. When is a polish not a polish
May 2006: Tragedy is comedy without the punchline
June 2006: Similarity breeds contempt
June 2006: Smokers on screen
July 2006: Hero oddness
July 2006: A message about the comics medium
August 2006: Push the envelope
September 2006: Lessons from the poker bot
October 2006: Q & A
October 2006: Epagogix, or, the Borg
October 2006: Groupthink
October 2006: Biting the hand that feeds
December 2006: Gratuitous violence in Apocalypto?
January 2007: Why I don't like screenwriting competitions
February 2007: When I hear the word "pistol," I reach for my culture
June 2007: Paper bag test and casting
July 2007: Home of the brave?
July 2007: Mobisodes



Wow - how long did it take you to organize this entry? Seriously.

Thank you for this. I've linked it for reference...forever! Excellent post.

By Blogger freeepeace, at 12:45 PM  

Thanks for the excellent post! So incredibly helpful!

The internet needs an index.

The bump in visitors is because you're in the Scribomatic news feed scrolling widget thing, I'm pretty sure. It bumped me too, though surely on a smaller scale. I only found it through statcounter, linking back.

By Blogger Emma Burns, at 1:38 PM  

Why more visitors recently? Because you're mentioned in the latest issue of Canadian Screenwriter, which just hit my mailbox on Monday.

There's also an interview with DMC. You guys are very poo-poo-lar these days

By Blogger Kelly J. Crawford, at 5:06 PM  

Hi Alex,

Once more thanks for a very helpful post.

I'm also a new reader, I found the site through reading and enjoying Crafty Screenwriting, an excellent read after two semesters of studying the drab McKee and the slight more exciting Vogler.

By Blogger Cezar, at 7:43 PM  

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