4 Changes You Can Make to Reboot Your Story

by John Bucher (@johnkbucher)

The end of the year is quickly approaching and more than one writer made a goal to complete that story idea that has been sitting on their desktop since January. Sometimes, stories need a significant shift in approach in order to relight the spark that gave them their start. Here are four changes you can make to your story in order to help it take flight.



The romantic comedy you’ve been working on is fun but needs that extra something. Have you thought about setting it in the Wild West? Medieval London? The year 2099? The Nice Guys took an average buddy cop concept and gave it the style of the 1970s. The Diary of A Teenage Girl and Everybody Wants Some utilized the same time period but to much different effect. Sing Street would have worked fine as a modern tale, but setting the film in the 1980s allowed the audience to bring their own nostalgia to the story. Setting The Lobster in the future allowed the storytellers to remove any objections from our mind that we might have about the premise of the story.

Loving and Rules Don’t Apply both are set in earlier decades as they are loosely based on historical events. However, both stories use the time period as a pseudo-character in the film, helping the audience to better understand the internal journeys of their protagonists.



Do stories set in New York differ from those set in Texas? Do stories in the mountains differ from those set in the desert? Do stories set in the woods differ from those set in a submarine? The answer is, of course, a resounding yes. The setting and locale of a story affects everything from the narrative tone to the way that characters relate to the environments around them.

Green Room could have been set in a seedy punk club in East Greenwich Village, but setting it in an underground venue deep in the forest of the Pacific Northwest adds a level of mystery to the story that might not be there otherwise. Moonlight could take place most anywhere. However, setting it near the ocean provided literal and metaphoric waves and beaches that added additional layers to the character development and unfolding narrative.



When developing a story, one of the simplest changes you can make involves changing the protagonist’s most basic identity. That story of a young woman dating outside her race becomes radically different when her character shifts to an octogenarian in a nursing home. The story of a middle-aged man trying to win a karate championship is nice, but becomes more interesting when the story shifts around a middle-aged woman. The story of young Irish men who came to America to make their way is not uncommon, but Brooklyn gave a new lens to see the story through the eyes of a young woman. Raging Bull and Rocky opened up the world of Italian boxers, but Creed told the story of a character we had not often seen before. Sherlock Holmes allowed us to see a young and virile Robert Downey Jr. in great action, but Mr. Holmes gives us deeper insight into who the character really is by showing us life reflected in his later years.



Few writers know that Good Will Hunting actually began as a sci-fi thriller. Among other things, the shift in genre made it an Oscar winner. Changing the genre of your story changes the structural rules. It changes what can be done with the characters and the possibilities with their external goals. For some time, seeing a woman struggle in the workplace made for serious dramas. The Devil Wears Prada and Trainwreck opened up new avenues for the story trope by moving the narrative to the comedy genre.

Shaft and other stories from African American cinema in the 1970s told us stories of revenge and race, but Django Unchained moved the familiar tale to the western genre, and gained an entirely new audience. Shifting the genre should fundamentally shift the story, not necessarily the external goal of the main character, but instead what the audience feels and experiences in it.


John Bucher is a writer, speaker, and story consultant based out of Los Angeles. He is the author of several books including The Inside Out Story and Master of the Cinematic Universe: The Secret Code to Writing in the New World of Media. He has written for entities ranging from HBO to U.S.  Ambassadors. He teaches at The LA Film Studies Center and has conducted story seminars on five continents. He can be reached on Twitter @johnkbucher and through his site, tellingabetterstory.com.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2016-11-30T10:43:57+00:00 November 30th, 2016|Categories: General|Tags: |

Don’t Panic: How to Approach a Marked-Up Manuscript From Your Book Editor

I believe the age-old advice that writing is rewriting.

And if publication is the goal, then you must rewrite.

Handing over work to a reader for critique, especially to a book editor, brings about a certain level of anxiety. I say anxiety, because no matter how experienced you are with managing criticism, it can be quite daunting to take in comments, be open to feedback, and filter through and ultimately apply edits to a new draft.

To keep the process as objective as possible, here are seven strategies to help you process notes from your editor.

1. Speed read

Print out a copy of the entire manuscript.

Take off your thinking cap and quickly read through its entirety, including the editor’s notes.

No emotion attached, just read the text as a document with words, and additional editorial markings about those words.

2. Read as a reader

Now, put on your thinking cap and read the manuscript at your normal pace (which, in my case, happens to be slow, deliberate and with special attention to every word).

Allow yourself to think, and feel emotional reactions to the critique, making mental notes of whether or not you agree with the editor’s suggestions.

3. Rest

Step away.

No input. No output.

Of course, the amount of time to take a breather from the manuscript depends on your deadline for manuscript rewrites, but try to allow at least one day of rest from this particular project.

4. Revisit the red marks

While most, if not all, modern-day professional editorial input is done via the computer, the old-school version of editor’s notes would include hard copies of your manuscript with red pencil or pen marks on the page.

And that old-school image can work quite well. Visualizing those red markings can help alert you to “danger zones,” or problem spots in your manuscript.

As I’m working on any project (before, during and after an editor’s input), I always work with hard copies, and mark up my own trouble spots with a red pen.

That said, during the next read, pay even greater attention to these editor’s notes. I usually place checks with my handy red pen and/or use a yellow highlighter next to comments that I think merit changes in the manuscript.

5. Decide what comments live or die

Live or die?

Sounds brutal, right? Arrogant? Maybe.

However, while you’re seeking advice from an editor’s eye, you still must take charge, and decide what you do, and do not want to change in your manuscript.  

Or, if you’re working on a for-hire project, what you’re willing to fight for with the editor, to keep in or out of the manuscript.

If more than a few readers/editors highlight the same so-called “trouble spots” in my manuscript, of course I defer to that collective judgment — or at least take that into serious account during a rewrite in my decisions about what lives or dies in the manuscript.

Read your new checked-with-red pen, and highlighted-in-yellow editor’s notes, and double check which ones still merit changes in the manuscript. Then write down (yes, by hand, no typing) all the notes/comments that you feel should “live” on in the subsequent rewrite, and that definitely merit changes for the manuscript.

Pencil or pen to paper helps me ingest my thoughts and emotional connection to the words.

6. Read the surviving comments

Read your handwritten notes and the editor’s critiques you’ve pardoned as if they are now a part of the manuscript.

In essence, at this stage, I usually visualize the impact that the critiques, if employed, would have as a positive impact on the manuscript’s rewrite.    

7. Rest (again)

Yes, the process again requires more rest from the project.

Now that you’ve completed the above strategies, step away from the manuscript for at least a day (again, this varies depending on deadlines).

Rest is required, because next, the actual rewrite must take place. All the editor’s surviving notes, and those you’ve fought to keep in or out of your manuscript, will have to be incorporated into the new draft.

If you are committed to making your work the best it can be, the above process will lead to another, and another, and another do-over of these strategies as you receive editorial feedback, until the final draft of your manuscript lives proudly on the page.

Writers, tell us! How do you manage editor’s notes?

The post Don’t Panic: How to Approach a Marked-Up Manuscript From Your Book Editor appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:37+00:00 November 30th, 2016|Categories: General|Tags: |

Review: Edge of Seventeen is a Teen Comedy Masterpiece

            Edge of Seventeen represents one of those rare occasions in which a movie manages to have it all: a pitch-perfect trifecta of great screenwriting, amazing performances, and precise direction. And while the film’s subject matter is nothing new or revolutionary – we’ve all seen movies about the trials and tribulations of high school life – the difference here lies in the execution. It’s clear from the very beginning of the film, which opens with a dark and humorous exchange between Steinfeld and her exasperated history teacher (played marvelously by Woody Harrelson), that we’re in something special – and the final product doesn’t disappoint.

           Steinfeld shines as Nadine, proving that her acting extends beyond the already impressive range she showcased in True Grit. She handles both humor and drama flawlessly. With her in the lead, the movie is able to balance both humor and drama perfectly, delivering dramatic intensity one moment, and outlandish wit the next. As one might expect, Harrelson proves the perfect foil to Steinfeld’s over-dramatic sentiments in several scenes that encapsulate this balancing act perfectly.  

            What separates this movie from many others of this genre is its brutal honesty and straightforward wit. Often in order to experience a film with such a remarkable script, you’re limited mostly to independent cinema. Yet, here’s a movie with the resources to hire actors that allows the filmmakers to elevate the mateiral to a mainstream level, without sacrificing performance. The film never delves into melodrama because the characters are all naturalistic and have a certain maturity that many mainstream films lack. Hayden Szeto, who plays Erwin in the movie has a crush on the protagonist and throughout the film she insults him to painful yet humorous effect. Szeto does an excellent job at portraying the clueless and terribly uncomfortable teenager. Even though he is hit by a barrage of insults unknowingly committed by Steinfeld, he remains mature about it. He never becomes irate and there is no forced conflict and instead he even jokes around.

            If I had any complaint it would be a minor one at best. Blake Jenner who plays the protagonist’s brother seemed a little too old for the part. He’s quite tall and muscular which makes him stand out from the rest of the cast. Yet, I cannot in good conscious hold the film at fault for this detail since he delivers a more than convincing performance. He conveys that a very special sort of charisma and maturity that manages to infuriate his sister perfectly in nearly every scene. Together, the pair manages to develop a near flawless sibling dynamic.

            This film is by far and away the greatest depiction of high school life to hit cinemas in recent years – perhaps one of the greatest of all time. It’s able to be dramatic and comedic while never sacrificing the depth of the characters. Steinfeld as the lead shows an incredible acting range and an assured knack comedic timing. Regardless of personal taste, it’s likely that the trials and tribulations on display here will resonate with most audiences, which makes Edge of Seventeen easy to recommend. And if you’re a fan of cinema in general, it more than deserves a spot on your immediate must-watch list. 

Source: Script Lab

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:37+00:00 November 28th, 2016|Categories: main|Tags: |

Screenwriter Greg DePaul On His Career as a Comedy Screenwriter

by Ashley Scott Meyers

In this episode of the podcast I talk with screenwriter Greg DePaul (Bride Wars & Saving Silverman) about the early days of his career and how he broke into the business. Greg has sold numerous pitches to studios, and we talk through that process a bit, too.

You can listen to the audio portion of the podcast by clicking here or through iTunes by clicking here.

You can also read a transcript of this episode.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2016-11-28T10:44:27+00:00 November 28th, 2016|Categories: General|Tags: |

Almost Done NaNoWriMo? Here’s How To Reward Yourself

Editor’s Note: Each year, nearly 500,000 writers all over the world dedicate themselves to completing NaNoWriMo, a month-long sprint to write 50,000 words. This year, author and first-time participant Lou Paduano will document his experience This is the third installment of his journey. Catch the first post here and second post here.

NaNoWriMo offers a unique experience when crafting a manuscript.

A no-nonsense, 30-day writing marathon for 50,000 words. Or more, if you’re an insane overachiever like me.

If you’re a NaNoWriMo virgin like myself, you may not be used to the challenge of crafting content for 30 straight days. The daily word count you are used to might be less than half of what is needed to meet your NaNo goal.

The quick pace for extended hours, the constant turnaround of getting chapters done,the push to write beyond what you typically handle on any given day…it’s like deciding on a career in cross country running and starting with ten miles on the first day. (I feel winded just TYPING that.)

So what happens halfway through the month when you haven’t trained for a marathon?

1. Burnout

Mental exhaustion, especially if unprepared for the challenge of crafting a novel-length draft, can set in quickly.

Preparation is a good means of combating this at the start, but given the number of hours being put in on a single narrative or goal, feeling exhausted at the very sight of the computer screen is not out of the realm of possibilities.

If you’ve stared at the screen long enough, knowing what the next scene is meant to convey but without a clue how to proceed means you’ve probably run out of mental juice. And coffee.

Burnout can also bring her ugly step-sister to the party as well…

2. Lack of motivation

Burnout can leave you feeling depressed over a less than productive day. Even a couple of days. This feeling mounts up, building and building with each disappointing day.

Struggling for days without a victory when working on your draft can lead to a complete loss of motivation, a malaise and a perceived discontent when it comes to the work still ahead.

Not hitting your goals is a clear sign something has gone awry. But don’t walk away! There is no quitting here.

There is a way to combat these issues before they start to mount.

Build a reward system into the month

Need a reason to keep writing? Need to feel there is something waiting for you at the end of the 50,000-word journey ahead? (Besides a completed draft, of course.)

Create it for yourself.

When scheduling the month of November, I set up certain rewards at different milestones throughout the month. Drafting can be a slog, especially without a clear roadmap or when just starting out.

Setting up some small prizes to be unlocked at key word counts or chapter markers can act as both motivation to continue and as a breather from the challenge.

How to reward yourself without forgoing the work completely

1. Start small

Give yourself a short break between chapters to allow for some processing time.

This can give you a place to start the next hurdle and cut down on the dreaded “staring at the computer screen” moments, hoping for inspiration to strike. Here are a few ideas:

  • Go for a walk. Get some fresh air and some Vitamin D for crying out loud. Not too much…you’ll probably burn easily, even in November, after all your time locked in your writing cave. Decompress from your writing and let your mind work on the problem in the background while you recharge.
  • Visit your family. Maybe have a meal with them. They appreciate that kind of thing.

  • Take a 10-minute snooze — but keep it to 10 minutes! Let your mind relax before jumping into the next chapter.

2. Choose weekly rewards

It’s simple: Hit your goal every day for a week or meet the goal by the end of the week and win a prize. Make it something worth working toward; something that will motivate you every time you’re thinking about walking away from the computer early.

How about a dinner out with family or friends? Getting out of the house gives you a chance to leave the work behind, without it looming over you from the other room.

My personal choice? A night off from writing. Not a full day, but just a few hours at night to take in a movie or binge on that ever-expanding streaming queue.

3. Spoil yourself: determine “The Big Ones”

Set up two big rewards for the month — one at the midpoint and one at the finish line.

Schedule them ahead of time so there is no way to convince yourself to forget about them. These are important breaks for your mental health and the sanctity of the work you’ve been busting your hump on all month.

What could they be?

For me, I like to go big with a full day off from writing. For you, it might be a morning where you sleep in. Maybe you schedule a long drive or an overnight somewhere.

You could take in a movie – this November offers many excellent choices, from Doctor Strange (my own mid-point reward) to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Or if you want to bring the kids along (even though you know you want to see it anyway) there is always Moana. Your big rewards should pull you out of your world and into another for at least a few hours.

One rule: No talking about your work!

Whatever you choose to make your rewards, make it clear right from the start so everyone knows. (Including yourself.) These are your rewards and you’re definitely entitled to them after the work put in over the course of November.

Enjoy them and the writing you’ve done!

Week three results

With the month half gone and most of my rewards already given, it’s time to hunker down and power through to the finish line. Here’s what I was able to accomplish in week three of my first NaNoWriMo challenge.

November 15

  • Word Count – 1,808
  • Notes – I had my first “Oh, crap, where the hell am I” moment today. I sat down to work and had no clue where to start. Definitely recovered by the end of the night but it took some pages to get the juices flowing again.

November 16

  • Word Count – 3,481
  • Notes – A nice rebound from yesterday. Went into a chapter I knew inside and out to get back into things and finished the day with a stronger moment than I had originally envisioned.

November 17

  • Word Count – 6,750
  • Notes – BABYSITTER DAY. I won’t be hitting that benchmark again, for sure! I had a plan going into the morning and it steamrolled from there. Felt insanely good to get some critical chapters done and to see them finally on the page.

November 18

  • Word Count – 2,116
  • Notes – An unexpected family dinner and yard work to prepare for Buffalo’s first snowfall threw me for a loop today. Only one chapter done and it was broken up into three different writing sessions. Break out the red pen on this one, I’m thinking.

November 19

  • Word Count – 4,914
  • Notes – Three big sequences left! I wanted to nail one down today and one tomorrow so I picked what I thought would be the easier of the two. I. WAS. WRONG. It’s done now but I fell below my estimates on every chapter and I think the action in each piece fell flat. Nuts.

November 20

  • Word Count – 5,760
  • Notes – A much better day. The second of the three major sequences left in The Medusa Coin flowed insanely better than yesterday’s slog. And I get the night off. Woohoo!

November 21

  • Word Count – 1,743
  • Notes – A rough afternoon with stalled progress turned into a productive evening. Instead of following my plan for the day I found another chapter I was more prepared to draft and went from there. Very glad I did. 7,000 words and 6 chapters left. I am finishing this beast by Thursday!

What are your favorite rewards to keep you motivated? Let me know in the comments below.

The post Almost Done NaNoWriMo? Here’s How To Reward Yourself appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:37+00:00 November 28th, 2016|Categories: General|Tags: |

20 Facebook Groups for Writers You Don’t Want to Miss

Whether you’re a freelancer, a blogger, a fiction writer or anything in between, we could all use a little company on the sometimes lonely road known as the writing life.

Maybe you just got your first offer to ghostwrite a book and have no idea what to charge. Maybe your characters refuse to do what you want them to do (isn’t that just like them?), and you could use someone to commiserate with. Maybe it’s after midnight and you’re still up trying to wrestle the words into submission, and you dearly need to be talked down off the ledge.

Whatever the reason, Facebook groups can be a fantastic way for writers to connect, trade advice, swap war stories and find new opportunities. Knowing there are other people out there who “get” what it’s like to be a writer can be a huge comfort, and the chance to share experience and tips with people on all stages of the writing journey is invaluable.

So we polled writers to find out which Facebook groups they personally could not live without.

Here are the results, in no particular order:

1. The Write Life Community

We’d be remiss if we didn’t tell you about our own Facebook group! Writers of all experience levels can share their struggles and wins, ask each other questions and otherwise support and encourage the community throughout the writing life.

2. Calls for Submissions

More than 42,500 members must be onto something. This group collects submission calls for poetry, fiction and art and presents them all in one easy-to-follow place. If you’re looking for publication opportunities, it’s worth checking out.

3. Create Your Nomadtopia

If you’re taking your leap into the writing life one step further and considering a location-independent lifestyle (one of the many perks of being a writer), this group is a great resource for learning more about it, finding advice and ideas and getting support from those who are also living their own nomadtopias.

4. Indie Author Group

One of the bigger communities of indie authors and self-publishers (with a focus on fiction), this group is a great place to get advice, air your grievances and find lesser-known authors. The only downside is that membership is so big it can be hard to connect one-on-one with individual members.

5. Indie Writers Unite!

Open to indie writers of all kinds, this group allows self-promotion only in admin-created threads, and has a fair but firm panel of moderators who keep spammers and trolls at bay.

6. Smart Passive Income Kindle Group

Ever wanted to write a Kindle book or wondered how the process works? Join this group to get a behind-the-scenes look at popular blogger Pat Flynn’s own journey to publish a Kindle book from start to finish. In addition to watching Pat’s journey, readers have a chance to ask questions, share their own advice and experiences and get feedback on similar projects they’re working on.

7. We Blog…A Blogging Community

A great place for bloggers to connect, share ideas and find new readers by promoting their own blogs.

8. Blogging Boost

Another group chock full of advice, resources and support for bloggers, this group limits self-promotion to Mondays only, which helps save your feed from over-saturation.

9. Write On! Online

An extension of a live group that started at a Barnes & Noble in California in 2002, this “writer’s support group” aims at helping writers set goals, troubleshoot and network. It tries to foster a sense of community and energy among its wide range of members, who vary in terms of age, experience and writing genre. As one member told us, “They have a supportive environment and a very informative podcast. Another great group to provide that much needed ‘kick in the pants’ without the guilt.”

10. Fiction Writers Group

Created in 2009 and with 10,000+ members around the world, this group also publishes three anthologies a year. Whether you’re a traditional, self-published or indie author, this group is a great resource for information, support or simply “a kick in the butt to get you going,” as one TWL reader commented. Self-promotion is not allowed, but you are able to post an excerpt from your current project for critique by other members.


11. Children’s Authors and Illustrators on Facebook

Whether you pen picture books or YA novels, this group is a place to connect with aspiring writers, published authors and children’s lit fans. Trade tips, share the latest industry news, discover new authors and share your own project (on one dedicated thread that keeps all other self-promotion out of the group’s feed).

12. Writers Write

If you’re looking for less of a participatory experience and more of a compendium of all things writing, this group is a fun news source of recent doings in the writing world. Notable recent posts include reaction to Bob Dylan’s nomination for (and subsequent radio silence towards) the Nobel Prize for Literature and Kanye West penning a poem on McDonald’s french fries for Frank Ocean’s new art mag. Dare we say it’s a great way to kill a little “writer’s block” time?

13. Careful Cents Freelancers Club

When you join the Club, you get access not only to the exclusive Facebook group, but also many other goodies like targeted job offers and opportunities, guest posting gigs and media opportunities, monthly Q&As and Twitter chats. It’s a community and job board all in one!

14. Writers Helping Writers

Whether you’re a newbie looking for advice or an established pro who’d like to pay it forward, this community is a great place to support and learn from other writers, as well as editors, publishers, agents and more.

15. Writers World

As one of the phrases on this group’s logo image indicates, you need “lizard skin” to be an active member in this critique-only group. You’ll find no pep talks or ego-fluffing here, simply polite, but pull-no-punches assessments of any pieces members offer up for critique. (One of the admins has edited for Disney and NBC, if you wonder how useful those critiques are.) If you want to get serious about your work, and you can handle bold honesty, this group can help you hone your skills.

16. NaNoWriMo Participants

Have you ever participated in National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo)?? This group of 26,000+ members can help you through the challenge by offering support, tips and empathy as you type, type, type your way to 50,000 words in 30 days.

17. 10 Minute Novelists

Crunched for time and in need of encouragement? Look no further than this group brought to you by the website of the same name, which was named one of Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers in 2016. Promotion-free and all about community and motivation, this group offers harried writers inspiring features like Tuesday “Buddy Days” (when you can find critique partners and beta readers) and Wednesday #AuthorHappiness chats (where members celebrate their weekly successes).

18. Women Writers, Women’s Books

Ladies, this one’s for you. Connect with women writers of all genres and experience levels, from indie scribes to traditionally published and self-published authors. As one member (and TWL reader) Suzanne Brazil says of the group, “They have an active Twitter presence, publish helpful essays, support each other’s blogs and author pages and are generally just a great place for technical questions, writing advice, and encouragement! Can’t recommend them highly enough.”

19. The Aspiring Travel Writer

Run by blogger and podcaster Alexa Williams Meisler of Break Into Travel Writing, this group’s goal is to provide “a place to connect with others interested in breaking into travel blogging or taking your travel writing to a higher level.” Self-promotion is limited to “Friday Free for Alls” to allow members to focus more on supporting and learning from each other.

20. The Literati Writers

This group came up several times in our discussions with writers and is also highly recommended, but at a price tag of $197 per quarter, it may not be for everyone. That said, this fee covers much more than just access to the Facebook group; you also get to participate in live author interviews, Google+ Hangouts, weekly accountability check-ins, personal sessions with founder Dave Ursillo and the chance to contribute to the Literati blog and digital book projects. See here for information on how to join.

Have you found a home in any other writers’ groups on Facebook? Share them with us in the comments!

This post originally ran in September 2013. We updated it in November 2016 so it’s more useful and relevant for our readers!

The post 20 Facebook Groups for Writers You Don’t Want to Miss appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:37+00:00 November 26th, 2016|Categories: General|Tags: |

6 Packing Tips for Writers Who Want to Hit the Road

With most airlines charging $50 or more round-trip to check a single bag, savvy travelers are packing lighter.

But packing light can be a challenge for a busy writer.

How do you lug all your essential writing gear and inspiration along when you’re headed out of town? Whether you’re headed to visit family, check out a new city or enjoy a DIY writing retreat, these tips can help you plan ahead to make your packing as painless as possible.

1. Be realistic about how much work you’ll do

Before you go on your trip, make a plan for what you’ll actually do while you’re traveling.

No need to pack for 100 hours of work if you’re only going to have time to work for five. Be realistic about how much time you’ll actually have to work.

While it’s easy to envision hours of uninterrupted writing bliss on a flight, it’s easy to get distracted by the snores of your neighbor, the toddler kicking your seat or a bit of turbulence lulling you right to sleep instead of delving into your latest writing project.

2. Bring the essentials

How do you condense an office’s worth of gear, equipment and supplies into a carry-on sized bag that’s crammed with all the other essentials of travel?

First, start with the most important things.

  • Laptop: Your laptop is generally your most important (and most expensive) piece of writing equipment. Some people prefer to travel with their main machine, but I travel with a small lightweight portable laptop that I use mainly for traveling and working outside.

    I was able to purchase it very inexpensively several years ago, so I’m not too worried about something happening to it on the road. Some people may prefer working from a tablet. Whatever you need, be sure to bring it with you (and don’t forget the charger!).
  • Reference materials: Depending on the type of work you do, your reference materials can take many different forms. A journalist may have interview notes and recordings, while a scientific writer may have research studies and a fiction writer might have character notes. Plan the projects you’ll do ahead of time and make sure to have the right reference materials with you.
  • Notebook and pen: Even on trips where I don’t bring a laptop, I always have a small notebook and a pen. I get the best story ideas on trips, from the culture of a city to interesting characters I meet along the way. You also never know when you’ll get ideas for a novel or character.

3. Back it up

Make sure you have your work backed up.

Bring a flash drive and keep it somewhere separate from your computer and other valuables. If someone were to snag your valuables, you don’t want to be left without the ability to get any work done. It’s much easier to find a computer to borrow (or an internet cafe to use) than to try and track down the files you need unless they’re backed up.

Also, be sure to have everything you may need backed up online as well.

Email important documents to yourself, use Dropbox, or other forms of file storage to make sure you can access files if your computer (or flash drive) crashes or is lost. Be sure to memorize your passwords or use a password-tracking app if you don’t already know them.

4.Go digital

Instead of lugging hard copies of valuable resources along on your trip, take digital copies instead.

At home, you might consult hard copies of the Writer’s Market, favorite books about writing and other research and reference materials.

But with limited space, it often makes the most sense to digitize. Save articles and resources online, subscribe to the online versions of resources, and take notes from other resources and bring those with you.

5. Bring travel-writing essentials

Even though you’re traveling light, be sure to bring anything you’ll need to transform your trip into a story.

If you’re a travel writer, make sure you bring any information you have on local contacts (including Tourism Board connections), restaurants to check out, and sights to see.

Also, be sure to have some way of taking photos. This could be a camera, but many swear by iPhones and other smartphones with built-in cameras. Taking photos along the way can not only help you capture moments, but provide images to sell alongside any stories that come out of your trip. Even if you’re not planning a working vacation, sometimes story ideas have a way of popping up when you least expect them.

Having photos can also help when you’re trying to recollect specific details and set a scene when you’re writing later on.

6. Safeguard your gear

Now that you’ve spent all this time selecting what to bring, be sure to take steps to safeguard it.

Make sure you carry your most important items (like your laptop and backups) on the plane with you. Sure, most checked bags arrive on time just fine, but you don’t want to take the chance that your important writing gear ends up lost or damaged.

The last few flights I’ve been on have been packed, and the last few passengers to board were required to check their carry-on bags. Just in case this happens to you, make sure you have your irreplaceable items stowed safely in a bag that can fit under the seat in front of you.

If you bring expensive gear with you, consider travel insurance or checking your current insurance policies (such as homeowner’s, renter’s, or automobile) to see if they’ll cover your valuables.

Happy traveling this holiday season and beyond!

What else would you add to this packing list, writers? Let us know in the comments.

The post 6 Packing Tips for Writers Who Want to Hit the Road appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:37+00:00 November 25th, 2016|Categories: General|Tags: |

The Warren Beatty Study Guide

by John Bucher (@johnkbucher)

Some astronomers watch for the return of Haley’s Comet. Some children are already watching for the return of Santa Claus. Film aficionados watch for the return of Warren Beatty to the silver screen.

Few artists can boast the ratio of Oscar-nominations to total films that Beatty has accrued. Almost everything he’s touched has turned to gold. This is partially credited to his choosiness in picking projects to work on. Beatty hasn’t appeared on screen in fifteen years. He hasn’t written and directed a film since 1998. This week, he returns to theaters in a film he acts in, wrote, and directed. THIS IS A BIG DEAL. Here are nine films to get you up to speed on the historic return of Warren Beatty.


Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

This Arthur Penn classic earned a nod for Best Picture and put Beatty on the map with a nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role. His portrayal of Clyde Barrow is still harrowed today as one of the best takes on a historical anti-hero. Upon viewing, specifically watch for the subtle way that Beatty takes the words of the tough-talking Barrow and manages to make them charming – a skill that would come in handy as he began to write for the screen himself.

Shampoo (1975)

Shampoo is story of lovers who undo a hairdresser from Beverly Hills around the election of 1968. The film established Beatty as more than just a flash in the pan. Co-written with Robert Towne, the script brought him his first Best Original Screenplay nomination. Watch how Beatty manages to give each character in the film their own voice – a standard of good scriptwriting.


Heaven Can Wait (1978)

The story of an LA Rams quarterback accidentally taken away from his body by an overanxious angel before he was meant to die who returns to life in the body of a recently murdered millionaire. Heaven Can Wait gave Beatty nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor in a Leading Role, and just for good measure – Best Picture. Beatty’s writing begins to deepen even further, moving into complex thematic territory that would become a staple of his work.

Reds (1981)

Returning to portraying a historical figure, Beatty would again be nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor in a Leading Role, Best Picture, and for the first time take home an Oscar for Best Director. Mixing documentary interviews of elderly people who knew the film’s characters in real life, Reds stood as an innovative exploration of a radical American journalist who became involved with the Communist revolution in Russia. Beatty had built up creative capital with his previous projects. He spent it with Reds – a great lesson for all creatives trying to maneuver the system.


Ishtar (1987)

Criticized as a creative miss for Beatty, he neither wrote nor directed the film. Ishtar tells the story of two lounge singers that get booked to play a gig in a Moroccan hotel but somehow become pawns in an international power play between the CIA, the Emir of Ishtar, and the rebels trying to overthrow his regime. The film didn’t deserve the stones that were hurled at it and does mark a turn for Beatty, who was not satisfied with just playing it safe in the realms he had worked in before.

Dick Tracy (1990)

Remaining unafraid to try new creative projects, Beatty next starred in the story of a comic strip detective taking down the mob. A film that often gets lost in the shuffle of films based on superheroes, Dick Tracy has a more refined story than many dramas that made it to the screen in this era. It’s worth a revisit, if you haven’t seen it in some time. The film serves as a bit of a bridge between the risks Beatty took with Ishtar and the success he would see in his next project.


Bugsy (1991)

Considered a return to form for Beatty, he again portrays a character from American history. The story of how Bugsy Siegel started Las Vegas, Beatty would again be nominated for Best Actor in a Leading role and Best Picture. With Bugsy, we begin to see Beatty take the work he took creative risks with and craft it into perfected performances. He would take the energy from the success of this film and return to his writing table for his next project.

Bulworth (1997)

Taking back the reigns of his creative work, Beatty both wrote and directed Bulworth. The story of a disillusioned liberal politician who puts a contract out on himself and takes the opportunity to be bluntly honest with his voters using hip hop culture, the film shocked audiences and made for endless conversations about its metaphorical meaning. At last, Beatty was able to combine stylistic risk-taking with award-winning quality. He earned a nomination for Best Original Screenplay for the film.


Rules Don’t Apply (2016)

Again, taking on a character from the pages of American history, Beatty provides a lens for Howard Hughes unlike any we’ve seen before. Combining humor and wit with a knack for historical detail, the film avoids the label of history biopic and instead tells a straightforward love story, taking place in the midst of Hollywood chaos. Rules Don’t Apply is Beatty at his best. He writes, direct, acts, and gives us something we don’t get enough of these days – a story with something to say.


John Bucher is a writer, speaker, and story consultant based out of Los Angeles. He is the author of several books including The Inside Out Story and Master of the Cinematic Universe: The Secret Code to Writing in the New World of Media. He has written for entities ranging from HBO to U.S.  Ambassadors. He teaches at The LA Film Studies Center and has conducted story seminars on five continents. He can be reached on Twitter @johnkbucher and through his site, tellingabetterstory.com.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:37+00:00 November 23rd, 2016|Categories: General|Tags: |