Friday, February 18, 2011

Fiction Friday: Romantic Comedy

Six more sentences formed into a tidbit of fiction...

The bitch knew exactly where to punch him in his emotional gut to make it hurt. Battered and inwardly bruised, he swore off women entirely, resigning himself to a safe, easy life of singlehood. When he went to the animal shelter to rescue a replacement companion, the sweet-faced girl who opened the cages lingered as he signed out, mentioning the location of the dog park where she jogged. He looked at his canine passenger on the way home and asked, “This one will be different, right?” And even though the jack russell terrier looked doubtful, she turned out to be a different girl with a different outlook on different interests indeed. He panicked at all the differences, but finally realized he’d rather be there for her to punch than out of the game entirely.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Life Made As Strange As Fiction

At a recent writer's seminar with Jen Grisanti, we were invited to write a log line for our life. An exercise to help us understand our own story. The components – a dilemma, action, goal, and ironic twist. Here’s mine:

When a typical Asian-American overachiever who was raised to be a doctor realizes she was born to be an artist, she embarks on the road less traveled to find love, happiness, and her own true voice – a journey that proves as long and hard as medical school.
What do you think?

Try it yourself – it’s a fascinating exercise. The theory is that writing log lines for your life is a way to discover and translate your truth into story ideas. Just add fiction and you have a new character!

Post yours below, if you dare.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fiction Friday: Uptown

Six sentence fiction strikes again!

“I honestly don’t understand why the Nederlanders sold this place,” Priscilla mused over her imported coffee. It’s perfectly delightful, overlooks Central Park, and comes with a doorman who’s to die for.”

“For God’s sake, it’s haunted!” Janelle spat, clutching her Birkin bag to her chest in defense against the demons swirling around her, taunting her and her clueless friend with their gnashing teeth and blood-soaked eyes. “I know you wanted to move uptown, but you’re crazy if you stay another minute,” she cried and ran out the door, cowering under the onslaught.

“But they’re simply adjusting to change,” Priscilla called defiantly over her Prada clad shoulder, eyeing the otherworldly beings. “Eventually they’ll realize – I’m not going anywhere in this lifetime.”

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Here Comes the Pitch!

You want to know what it takes to sell a television show? It takes BRASS BALLS to sell a television show, my friends. And it all starts with the pitch.

“But I’m a writer, not a salesman!” you wail. No, you need to be both. Whether you’re trying to get staffed on a show or impress a production company, you will be in many situations where you need to pitch your script. And the success of that pitch is directly related to your overall success.

Hold on, all you painfully shy writers out there who are freaking out. Pitching is a skill – all it takes is practice, practice, and more practice.

I practiced myself last night at the CAPE TV Pitch Lab, sponsored by CBS. I began by submitting a one-sentence logline and no more than 100 words describing my pilot. My description ended up being 97 words. Safe!

Last week, my name was announced as one of ten winners that would be pitching our shows to actual network executives, including Christina Davis, Senior Vice President of Drama Series Development at CBS. Do you love The Good Wife? Thank her.

A few of the chosen writers gathered to practice over the weekend. My pitch was too long, not to mention wordy and crappy. After working on it on my next few lunch breaks at work, I was ready.

I won’t comment on how my pitch went, other than to say this – it came, it saw, it kicked their ass! Yes, I left feeling a bit like Dr. Peter Venkman, smirk and all.

So I experienced firsthand the success of a solid pitch. Now it’s your turn – here are a few gems of advice that were offered by the execs last night for everyone pitching a television pilot:
  • Be sure to outline the mechanics of what your show will look like from week to week. What will the characters be doing in each episode? How will each case or adventure unfold? Give examples that have a beginning, middle, and end.

  • Visual aids should accent your pitch, not detract from it. Only use them if they’re easy to visually digest and reference during your pitch. And present any leave behinds at the end of your meeting.

  • Beware of pilotitis! Otherwise known as a pilot that is filled with setup and back story, but doesn’t give a solid idea of what the series will look like after the pilot ends. Present your back story succinctly, then lead them to where your characters will be playing throughout the season.

  • Introduce your characters and their emotional hooks before going too deep into story elements. They need to know who the audience should care about before diving into the plot.

  • Even if you have an ensemble cast, there’s always a first among equals. Make it clear who that person is in your show.

  • Know who you’re pitching to and format the style and content of your pitch to their brand. The same script should be pitched differently to different networks.
Coffee is for closers, people. Start practicing those pitches – you never know when you’ll need them.