Important Lesson


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Important Lesson

By Nandy Ekle

 

Writing courses. I’ve taken a few. Really and truly, I absolutely love writing courses. This girl begs for homework. Please, just give me an assignment, a work count limit, and a deadline. I guess that’s why I like prompts so much.

“Write a 50 word story it must be a formal gathering where a shocking announcement comes out.”

“Write a short story about a young man suffering from schizophrenia and he and his delusion are at war.”

“Start a story with this line: Looking back, he could not believe what had just happened.”

“Write a story in the form of a diary. Your main character, the diary writer, wakes up in a strange room with no idea how he/she got there.”

These are just a few I’ve used to help jumpstart myself when I get in a rut.

So now, I’m going to give you an assignment, and I really want to see your homework in the comments below. Ready?

Step 1:             Put your hands, palm side down, on the seat on which you sit.

Step 2:             Push yourself up to a standing position.

Step 3:             Walk across the room.

Step 4:             Raise your dominant hand and extend your pointer finger.

Step 5:             Take one or two steps forward.

Step 6:             Make contact with the on/off button on your television set.

Step 7:             Push that button.

Step 8:             Now listen to the silence that replaces the silliness of “the tube.”

Step 9:             Now, write what you hear.

 

Your characters don’t have to fight so hard for your attention without that blasted squawk box on.

And I write this with all the bravery in the world since I’m really aiming it toward myself.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

 

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Television Opportunities


Outtakes 198

Television Opportunities

By Cait Collins

 

I am enjoying the History Channel’s presentation of Texas Rising. I truly appreciate the advancement of original programming on the cable networks. The major networks have positioned themselves to become real leaders in the entertainment industry. Major performers used to shy away from the “small screen” as they appeared to think accepting a television contract would destroy careers. Not so any more.

Last season Kevin Costner brought The Hatfields and McCoys to the History Channel. The production quality rivaled that of the major movie studios. An all-star cast, spectacular cinematography, top-notch writing, excellent marketing, and an attention to historic detail created hours of entertainment. Game of Thrones is one of the most popular series on TV. TNT has hits with Major Crimes, Rizzoli and Isles, Under the Dome, and Cold Justice. Suits will soon begin a new season on USA. Higher budget shows have resulted in more quality programming. The trend toward short seasons calls for more original shows. The new series have brought more viewers to the Cable channels and created a higher demand for good writers.

Actors may be talented, costumers and set designers creative, directors motivating, and producers quick to come up with cash, but without inventive writers, there is no program. The writer creates the characters and keeps them alive and vibrant by giving them new challenges and a stream of secondary characters to play off of. The settings are developed by the writer and have led to memorable locales. Cabot Cove, Maine; M*A*S*H’s O R’s and the Swamp, South Fork Ranch, and Walton’s’ Mountain can be found in the television atlas.

Screen and television scripts require special training and an understanding of basic production, but they are fun to write. They are also a great plotting tool for books and short stories which can be a second sales opportunity. And you don’t have to move to New York or California to get the necessary education. Check the catalogue for your local college or university to see what they offer in screenwriting and production techniques.

With this in mind, what is your idea for a new television series? Will you write a sitcom or a drama? What occupations will the characters have? What is the setting? Will they be wealthy or middle class? What are their flaws and what are their strengths? Happy writing.

Television Opportunities


Outtakes 198

Television Opportunities

By Cait Collins

 

I am enjoying the History Channel’s presentation of Texas Rising. I truly appreciate the advancement of original programming on the cable networks. The major networks have positioned themselves to become real leaders in the entertainment industry. Major performers used to shy away from the “small screen” as they appeared to think accepting a television contract would destroy careers. Not so any more.

Last season Kevin Costner brought The Hatfields and McCoys to the History Channel. The production quality rivaled that of the major movie studios. An all-star cast, spectacular cinematography, top-notch writing, excellent marketing, and an attention to historic detail created hours of entertainment. Game of Thrones is one of the most popular series on TV. TNT has hits with Major Crimes, Rizzoli and Isles, Under the Dome, and Cold Justice. Suits will soon begin a new season on USA. Higher budget shows have resulted in more quality programming. The trend toward short seasons calls for more original shows. The new series have brought more viewers to the Cable channels and created a higher demand for good writers.

Actors may be talented, costumers and set designers creative, directors motivating, and producers quick to come up with cash, but without inventive writers, there is no program. The writer creates the characters and keeps them alive and vibrant by giving them new challenges and a stream of secondary characters to play off of. The settings are developed by the writer and have led to memorable locales. Cabot Cove, Maine; M*A*S*H’s O R’s and the Swamp, South Fork Ranch, and Walton’s’ Mountain can be found in the television atlas.

Screen and television scripts require special training and an understanding of basic production, but they are fun to write. They are also a great plotting tool for books and short stories which can be a second sales opportunity. And you don’t have to move to New York or California to get the necessary education. Check the catalogue for your local college or university to see what they offer in screenwriting and production techniques.

With this in mind, what is your idea for a new television series? Will you write a sitcom or a drama? What occupations will the characters have? What is the setting? Will they be wealthy or middle class? What are their flaws and what are their strengths? Happy writing.

Writing Z’s


Writing Z’s

By Nandy Ekle

Sitting in my usual spot on the couch, I stared at the blank screen with my fingers hovering over the keyboard. C’mon, words. Let’s get this going. Still, no letters appeared. I looked at the show playing on the TV. I couldn’t even concentrate on that. My cross-stitch project sat next to me untouched. Even my dinner had not inspired me.

Suddenly I blinked. I had fallen asleep again and been that way for an undetermined amount of time. I yawned, stretched my fingers and cracked my one crackable knuckle. Okay. I’m awake. Let’s write something.

Once again I stared at the blank computer screen demanding words to jump from my head to the keyboard. A sweet stillness covered me and I rode it like a wave of comfort, not thinking, not moving, only darkness and ease.

I heard a strange noise as I snored and immediately my eyes opened again. Still no words on the screen. Anger flashed through me because where I had been was so comforting and I wanted to go back.

But I had writing to do. I stared at the blank computer, the opened soda next to me, the idle craft kit on the table. In my mind I walked the hall of my mental dictionary and realized all the doors were shut tight, even barred.

There would be no words tonight. Not even a tiny “the.”

Wondering why I was torturing myself when I really should be in bed, I snapped the lid of my computer closed and stood up. I didn’t want to move too quickly because then I wouldn’t sleep when I found my pillow. I would only fume that I was in bed wide-awake when I had been sleeping so soundly on the couch.

The sandman had his way with me and the next thing I knew, a story was playing out on my internal television. Details are gone, but the situation, a few faces and an incredible atmosphere remain.

Sometimes you just need to go to bed and sleep.

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

Getting Out the News


Outtakes 33

Getting Out the News

At one time or another, we volunteer to help with an organization’s fund raiser or special event. Once the committee learns we are writers, we are appointed to serve on the publicity committee. One would think writing press releases or commercial copy would come easily to a writer.  And of course we’re naturals for appearing on TV and radio. Not necessarily so. Even the experts have problems preparing quality announcements.

One only has to watch television ads to realize good spots are scarce. I’ve watched commercials that did not sell the product or service. Sometimes I didn’t even know the point of the advertisement. If the viewer is scratching his head at the end of the spot, the copy writer has failed his client. I’ve written copy over the years, some good, some not so great. This is what I’ve learned about writing ads and press releases. Simply approach the release as a story.

That’s it. Give it a beginning, middle, and an end. Ad classes say we should create the need (beginning), provide a solution (middle), and seal the deal (end). Keep it simple. Don’t leave out the details. You’d be surprised how many times I’ve had to call a client to get event dates, location, times, or contact information. Omit this vital information, and the reader or listener is still in the dark. Proof read your copy for typo’s and transposed numbers. Phone numbers, email addresses, website information, street addresses and dates are easy targets for errors. Finally, make sure you submit the information at least 48 hours prior to the media’s deadline. Early submission gives the media reps the opportunity to verify information before the ad hits the air or newspaper.

Radio and television stations often provide slots on morning shows or talk news for non-profits and community organizations to promote events. Seize the opportunity! It’s not as frightening as you might think. Send a press release to the station so the producer has enough information to properly schedule your appearance. Make a few notes on index cards and keep them with you during the interviews. Arrive early so that the producer or interviewer can review the press release with you before going on the air. Relax. Be open and friendly. Listen to the interviewer’s questions before responding. Thank the interviewer for their time, and write a thank you note afterward.

One of the things I’m slowly learning is the value of social media. Press releases may be posted on Face Book or any of the numerous social media sites. If you send the message out to all of your friends, one of your contacts might share with their friends, who will share with their contacts. The potential is amazing. Linking to friends’ websites provides another avenue to promote the activity. Above all, it’s free publicity.

Good promotion takes time to prepare. It can make or break your event so don’t wait to the last minute to get started. Now if you will excuse me, I have a PSA and press release to write for Frontiers in Writing’s Let’s Write Weekend to be held June 29-30, 2012 at the Amarillo College Washington Street campus in Amarillo, Texas. Additional information may be found on our website, panhandleprowriters.org.

Cait Collins