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Write every day: Sundance Episodic Lab

I hope you’re all well and safe in these ever-changing times.

I have some good news in the midst of a lot of difficulty: I made it into the second round of the Sundance 2020 Episodic Lab program with a TV pilot that I wrote. I’ll know by August if I’ll be invited to their Lab in October. Just making it to the second round feels wonderful.With all the tough news in my city of New York, this is a bit of light and I’m so grateful.

Special thanks to John Bucher, Script Pipeline, Ruth Sabin, ScreenCraft, Ed Freeman, F.J. Lennon, and Ken Lacovara for their invaluable notes on my scripts and their endless stream of encouragement for my writing.

 

Write every day: How to know where to begin a huge story

For a few months, I’ve been wrestling with an idea for a TV pilot I want to write. The trouble is that it’s a period piece (which are notoriously expensive because you often have to recreate a world that no longer exists) and the story is mammoth. I’ve been making lists of ideas, notes, and sources, but I wasn’t getting anywhere. And then last night, a break through.

I was reading a book about the heroine I want to showcase, and there is a key moment, a turning point where a choice she makes sets in motion a set of tumultuous events. So I’m going to start right at that key moment. I can see it so clearly now—how everything unfolds from there and changes the course of her life forever. The moment is small but the implications are huge.

With mammoth stories, it’s often those tiny moments, that one decision that tunnels into an entirely new world, that should be the beginning.

Write every day: The West Wing and Hamilton taught me about the rhythm of dialogue

As I’m working on my screenplay, I’m listening to the language of The West Wing and the Hamilton soundtrack. The rhythm and beat of the words, and the power of that language, are inspiring. Not a single word or line is wasted. They all matter. It’s writing we should all aspire to as writers and seek out as audience members.

What do you watch and listen to when you want to be inspired to write dialogue?

Joy today: Writing feedback is a gift

I wrote my first TV pilot script this month—an adaptation of my young adult novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. I’ve entered it in a few screenwriting competitions. One of those allowed the option to pay a bit more to get personalized feedback on the script. I jumped at the chance to get feedback from experts in the industry. Feedback is such a gift and so important, especially since I’m just learning how to write for this medium.

I just got the feedback and it’s 3 full pages of insights and suggestions on how to make the script stronger, specifically for TV. Immensely helpful! It scored 7.6/10 which I think is pretty good for my first TV script. I did a little dance, tossed up some sincere wishes of gratitude, and am now getting back to editing and refining. 

Joy today: My TV pilot script for Emerson Page

46503287_10104647880412206_2671404984494456832_oYesterday I clicked submit on my TV pilot script for my novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. Thanks to the encouragement of my friend and mentor, John Bucher, I sent it off to see if Emerson might have a TV life. I loved the structure and editing process of writing for TV, and am excited about all the possibilities for stories told in this medium, especially for streamers like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. Here’s to dreams, written and made.  

Joy today: Adapting my Emerson Page novel for television

46718934_10104658469711166_9080861620359397376_oInspired by the masterful adaptation of Good Omens on Amazon Prime (have your watched yet?!), the Masterclass with Shonda Rhimes, and encouraging tweets from my friend and mentor, John Bucher, I’m adapting my Emerson Page novel into a TV script. Given its visual nature and dialogue, I’m already halfway there! Thanks to so many of you who have loved Emerson’s story and supported my writing. It means a lot to me and this adaptation is for you! I’m about 30 pages into the 50 page pilot. I’ll finish all the editing this week and then submit it to a the screenwriting competition in L.A. that John Bucher told me about. SMH that this ideas was here all along. I never thought about it for TV until seeing Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens work. He made me realize books for TV can work!

Joy today: Masterclass with writer Neil Gaiman and many more inspiring classes

As a gift to myself to spur inspiration, I signed up for Masterclass’s All-Access Pass. I’m obsessed. Masterclass is basically Netflix for online learning. Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors, teaches a class on storytelling class and it’s wonderful. I’m about half-way through and I’ve already learned so much that is immediately helping me as a writer and author.

Given my new job for a film production company, I’m so excited to take the film and TV classes with:

  • Jodie Foster
  • Mira Nair
  • Ken Burns
  • Spike Lee
  • Judd Apatow
  • Werner Herzog
  • Ron Howard
  • Martin Scorsese
  • Shonda Rhimes
  • Aaron Sorkin
  • Samuel L. Jackson
  • Helen Mirren
  • Natalie Portman
  • David Lynch

Other classes on my “I need to take this” list:

  • Comedy with Steve Martin
  • Writing classes with Judy Blume, Margaret Atwood, and Dan Brown
  • Cooking with Alice Waters and Thomas Keller
  • Adventure photography with Jimmy Chin
  • Conservation with Jane Goodall
  • Space exploration with Chris Hadfield
  • Tennis with Serena Williams (I don’t even play tennis, but if Serena’s going to teach it, I’m going to take it!)
  • Jazz with Herbie Hancock
  • Fashion with Diane Von Furstenberg

What I can’t believe is that for just $180, I get all of these incredible classes and more for a year. Each class also comes with a downloadable PDF workbook and there is a mini-forum and office hours where you can post your comments and ask questions. Plus there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee so there’s no risk to try it out.

And I’ve got some good news for you! When I bought my 1-year All-Access Pass, they offered me a link to share with others to give you $30 off an All-Access Pass. So you can get all of this for $150 for a year. Just follow this link, and check it out for yourself: https://share.masterclass.com/x/5d9sN3

Joy today: Day 1 of my new job in TV and film production

57277825_10104886286269956_3692905922977333248_oMy expectations for Day 1 of my new job were insanely high & they were exceeded in every way. See the hearts in my eyes?! All the side hustling & creative struggle for all these years were absolutely worth it. And I’m so grateful. I’ll find a way to pay forward this joy. Thank you to all of you who have been on this ride with me. Your constant support means more to me than I have words to express.

Joy today: I accepted a new job…at the movies

I’m absolutely THRILLED to share that I’ve been offered & accepted a new job as a Development Manager at a TV & film production company in New York City to develop, produce, and write. I’m over-the-moon excited about this new adventure and dream job. I’m literally pinching myself to make sure this is really happening! A year ago I never would have believed this was even a possibility. It’s been a huge lesson for me that if we live our passions and share them, our lives can change in ways we can barely imagine.

A Year of Yes: If Mister Rogers ran the world today

“Love, or the lack of it, is the root of everything.” ~Mister Rogers, Won’t You Be My Neighbor

Fred Rogers was a life-long Republican. He saved PBS by testifying before Congress. He accepted all people. He cared about the arts, education, and feelings. Imagine the world today if he ran the GOP.

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