Interview: Peter Berg, Mark Wahlberg Talk 'Patriots Day' Real-Life Heroes

VideoOscar season is underway, andI’ve got lots of reviews of Best Picture hopefulscoming your way, as well as interviews with filmmakers and performers from among the award season contenders. To kick things off,I sat down on-camera with director Peter Berg and actor Mark Wahlberg to talk about their latest film […]
Source: Forbes

By | 2016-12-23T14:47:03+00:00 December 23rd, 2016|Categories: General|Tags: |

How to Make Money Writing: 16 Tips for Finding Gigs Through Upwork

Many writers new to the freelancing game have checked out Upwork (formerly Elance-oDesk) in the hopes of securing those elusive first clients.

Plenty of seasoned writers, too, have visited the site thinking it could be a good way to add to their existing client base.

And many of you, as we at The Write Life know from your questions, have been frustrated by how hard it seems to successfully land gigs on Upwork that are worth decent money.

I get it. I gave the platform a try when I was first starting out and was severely disappointed by what seemed to be a glut of bottom-line gigs and overseas competition ready to undercut me at at every turn.

But you can use Upwork to find quality projects and build a successful freelance writing career; you just have to know how.

We interviewed six freelancers who’ve done just that to learn their tips for making the most of the site. Here are their biggest do’s and don’ts:

DO specify your niche

Be an expert, not a catch-all,” advises Tyshia Ingram, who says Upwork enabled her to build a steady project stream, loyal clientele and a portfolio she’s used to land gigs on and off the site.

You’ll definitely find a bunch of random content mills that don’t care about your experience or expertise;they just want your words. Needless to say, these clients don’t offer much. When you’re an expert, and your profile reflects as such, the good clients will find you.”

Meg Dowell agrees. “At first I would grab any job I could get, but none of them related to health or nutrition, which was what I actually wanted to/was qualified to write about. With the right keywords, you’ll find them.”

Meg has used Upwork for a little less than a year and has already managed to build up a full-time project load with clients from the site.

DO have a portfolio to show

“Try and have one regular gig going when you apply for your first gig. It helps the client see that someone else has already trusted you with work, and it gives you a chance to show off your ability,” says J.R. Duren, a freelance writer for who says Upwork “is directly responsible” for the writing income that now supports his family of three.

If you’re brand new to freelancing, don’t despair; there are other ways to build a portfolio.

I had been writing/editing for an online magazine for three years before getting started on Upwork,” says Dowell.

“For about six months before I started, I spent all my time writing completely for free to build up my portfolio/resume. I had also already finished undergrad and was about six months into grad school, so those things combined helped showcase that I had the skills necessary to complete jobs successfully.”

DON’T undervalue yourself

When you’re just starting out, it can be tempting to want to price your services low in the hopes of luring more clients.

But the advice we heard the most often from the freelancers we interviewed was, as Duren puts it, Never be afraid to ask for what you’re worth.”

“A good client knows exactly what they want and what they are paying for,” says Rich Storm, a photographer and writer who’s found many gigs on Upwork that converted into regular clients.

A good client who sees quality work will pay you what you ask.”

Dowell learned this lesson the hard way. “I was so excited to be offered a job in

[my] first month that I agreed to do what ended up being HOURS of work for very little money and an overall terrible experience.

Don’t demand unreasonable rates at the start, but don’t undervalue yourself, either. Better opportunities — and clients willing to pay for good work and who will value you — will come along pretty quickly.”

DON’T forget you speak English

This may seem like a silly bit of advice, but hear us out: it can mean more than you might think.

“It can be tough for writers on Upwork [because] their rates get undercut by folks who are working from overseas,” Stom says. “A major thing that I have found when submitting bids to gigs is to make it clear that I am a native English speaker.”

Decent clients who are looking for more than just filler content will recognize the value this adds and be willing to pay more for it.

DO set specific searches

Clarifying your expertise in your profile isn’t enough; to find the best gigs for you, you also need to make sure your searches are laser-focused.

“It’s not enough to say ‘blogger’ or ‘editor,’” Ingram says. “You’ll find plenty of those jobs pop up. If you really want to find work, you have get very specific. For me, that looks like: ‘expert beauty writer,’ ‘SEO content for ‘beauty brands,” “managing editor for lifestyle platform.’

“Think about the work you want to do and search those exact phrases.”

DON’T overlook filters

Once you’ve generated a list of search results, hone it even further with filters to pinpoint just the right projects.

“At this point in my freelance career,” Ingram says, “I know what I’m worth, the value my work brings, and what I want from my freelance lifestyle.”

“For that reason, I use the filters to filter out work I don’t even want to waste space on my job feed. I always set to ‘expert experience $$$,’ the lowest budget I’m willing to accept, and project length. You can even filter out by how much experience the client has on Upwork, payment types, and more. Use all the filters.

DO customize your proposals

Stephanie Caudle recently found herself in major debt and used Upwork to make $8,000 in eight weeks (and pay off all of that debt).

“The key to successfully winning projects on Upwork,” she says, “is to take the time and create custom proposals for every single job you apply for on the site.

Custom creation wins because it shows the job creator that you care less about copying and pasting proposals and more about being the fit they need.

DON’T be afraid to follow up

No answer doesn’t necessarily mean “no.”

It might simply mean a client is busy or still wading through proposals. Checking in with them can bump you back up in their attention.

“If I apply for a contract and days pass by and I don’t hear anything at all,” Caudle says, “I reach out and ask if they decided to pursue other candidates. In most cases, it has led to the client asking to learn more about my work.”

DON’T hesitate to clarify

You owe it to both the client and yourself to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into before accepting a gig.

If a project’s details aren’t well spelled out or you don’t “fully understand the vision for the project,” make sure to ask questions and clarify, Caudle advises.

Accepting a job you aren’t clear about won’t do anyone any favors.

DO vet potential clients

You’re not the only one being considered for each gig; to avoid being burned by bad clients, do some due diligence on them just like you know they’re doing on you.

“I first look at how detailed [a client’s] job description is,” Dowell says. “If they can clearly communicate exactly what they would need from me if hired, I usually feel pretty good about submitting a proposal. Also look at how long they have been on Upwork, their ratings/feedback, how much money they have spent. I generally avoid clients who have too little experience using Upwork.”

DON’T ignore your instincts

As you communicate with a potential client, watch for warning signs that working with them might be trouble.

“I read people well through their writing, so I can often tell if it’s going to work well or not,” says Samantha Strazanac, who uses Upwork frequently to find new clients for her marketing firm. “I have turned down businesses because I didn’t feel it was the right fit even though they wanted to work with me.”

If you feel like a potential client could be a pain in the ass, you’re probably right,” Duren says.

Five or six months ago I took a fixed-price job with a Turkish telecom company. During our preliminary conversation, I noticed their English wasn’t that great. It was a red flag, but I ignored it. Sure enough, after the work was complete, they weren’t happy with the work and threatened not to pay. The miscommunication went back to a few sentences of poorly translated English. Lesson learned.”

Dowell agrees: “If you feel any hesitation at all about accepting a job, go with your gut and move on to something else. The more proposals you submit, the better you’ll get at knowing whether or not you should work with someone.”

DO bring your A Game to every project

Most of the freelancers we interviewed credited their success to leveraging one-time projects into long-term client relationships — and the best way to do this is to treat every project like it’s an interview for a bigger job.

“I could go on and on about tips and advice,” Duren says, “[but] if I could reduce it to a quick sentence, it’s this: Honor the craft of writing by submitting excellent work on time at rates that match your talent.”

DON’T let a “fail” get you down

Bringing your A-game doesn’t always equate to a home run, and that’s OK; a big part of freelance writing is learning how to stay confident in spite of ups and downs.

Don’t take it personally if you do a paid trial article or two for a client and they decide not to continue working with you,” says Dowell.

“That’s why you do trial work at the beginning — to make sure your skills are compatible with what they feel they need. Some clients aren’t great at communicating exactly what they want upfront, so if it doesn’t work out, it’s usually not because you didn’t do what they asked.”

DO give client feedback

Your freelancer rating on Upwork can go down if a client fails to give you feedback once you’ve completed a project for them, Dowell notes.

Give them a gentle reminder to rate you, and build up some positive karma, by giving your clients an honest rating at the end of each job.

DON’T be afraid to ask for more

Sometimes a gig blossoms into a long-term client relationship organically, but if it doesn’t, don’t be afraid to take matters into your own hands.

“If you complete one project successfully and [a client doesn’t] offer more work for you,” Dowell says, “it doesn’t hurt to offer your services to them and continue that line of communication.”

DON’T give up

The key to making a real living on Upwork? Caudle boils it down to two things: Persistence and time.”

“Finding my first clients was not super easy,” she says. “I remember logging onto Upwork and being committing to using all of my connects in order to apply for as many proposals as I could. I set a record one day for 25 submitted proposals, and that was the day I began to see results from my invested time on the site.”

Upwork can be overwhelming, but the right job awaits those who are willing to not stop pursuing new opportunities.

Kelly Gurnett is a freelance blogger, writer and editor who runs the blog Cordelia Calls It Quits, where she documents her attempts to rid her life of the things that don’t matter and focus more on the things that do. Follow her on Twitter @CordeliaCallsIt.

The post How to Make Money Writing: 16 Tips for Finding Gigs Through Upwork appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:34+00:00 December 23rd, 2016|Categories: General|Tags: |

Daniel Calvisi Breaks Down the New 30-Minute Dramedy

by Angela Bourassa (@angelabourassa1)

The opportunities to write in television have exploded over the last few years, and the number of shows produced each year is only going to go up. Thanks to streaming platforms like Amazon and Netflix, over 400 original scripted shows aired in 2015. That number went up this year, and it will go up again in 2017. All of that content means that writers are getting more freedom to experiment. Limited series are becoming more prominent, many shows on streaming platforms are disregarding the usual act breaks, and the standard forms of hour-long drama and half-hour comedy are evolving.

I recently spoke with Daniel Calvisi about the emergence of half-hour dramedy shows, shows like Louie, Atlanta, and HBO’s little known but brilliant High Maintenance. (Seriously, this show is my new favorite thing. Check it out.) Daniel is an experienced screenwriter and story analyst. In his book Story Maps: TV Drama, he breaks down how the most popular dramas of the day work using his innovative story map method for structuring screenplays. Learn more about Daniel’s books and his script services at his website, Act Four Screenplays.

Angela Bourassa (AB): Let’s start with a quick definition of these 30-minute dramedy shows.

Daniel Calvisi (DC): A single camera, serialized television series, half hour in length, that tells a story or stories that mix drama and comedy. Very character-driven, where emotional arcs are more important than familiar plot-driven engines. They often come from creative teams with experience in movies or one-hour dramas.

AB: How do you distinguish them from more traditional 30-minute shows?

DC: The new 30-minute dramedies can’t be pinned down as merely “sitcoms” as there is no way to predict how much an episode will even feature comedy. They don’t recycle the same dramatic conflicts and engines from episode to episode like a more traditional sitcom like Modern Family does. (For the record, I love Modern Family, but we pretty much know that much of the conflict will come from spouses keeping secrets from one another, leading up to an explosive event where everyone’s true intentions are revealed, and somehow the duplicitousness leads to reconciliation and greater understanding, and they all kiss and make up! The writers do an amazing job of maintaining surprise and laughs within the familiar paradigm.)

In a new 30-minute dramedy, the “week to week” structure is not predictable. On Casual, we don’t know if this week Valerie and Alex will be adversaries or allies. On Girls, we don’t know which of the many characters will appear in each episode. (Last season there was a “bottle” episode focused on Allison Williams’ character in which Lena Dunham didn’t even appear.) In Louie, an entire episode may be a flashback to his childhood and continue into the next episode. For their unpredictability and their short length, these shows are great for binging!

AB: What sets these shows apart structurally?

DC: As far as script format on the page, they are basically written like one hour dramas, with labels to denote the beginning and ending of acts, with the exception of some pay cable pilot scripts which do not have act markers. Dialogue is single spaced, as opposed to the double-spacing employed by some multi-cam shows.

Length is normally in the 32-38 page range, and the most prevalent structure is a Teaser (or “Cold Open,” depending on how the writer labels it) plus three acts. But there are variations. Kimmy Schmidt’s pilot is written in only three acts and Veep was 45 pages with no act markers. Silicon Valley was 39 pages with no act breaks.

You can’t go wrong with using the standard “teaser plus three” structure, no matter how unique your pilot. I think you should learn it before you really start to experiment with it. You may think that your show will eventually end up on a streaming network like Netflix to be binged with no commercials, so that means you can go nuts and employ your own 13.5 act structure. But it’s just like how most films, whether indie or studio, use the four-act structure, so do most half hour TV shows.

[Note: While most screenwriting teachers ascribe to a three-act structure for films, Daniel breaks the standard structure into four acts. You can learn more about his take at his website.]

AB: What sets half-hour dramedies apart thematically, if anything?

DC: There is a meta-theme that hangs over the story as a whole, and it is probably a serious idea or concept that will be explored over time by these individual characters. Week to week, you will find more experimentation with themes and tones in 30-minute dramedies. An episode may end in a huge win, or a miserable failure. Overall, these series tend to be darker and more for adult audiences. R-rated, to use an American film term, not just in obvious ways like language or nudity but in pacing, tone, character sympathy and the unpredictability of story beats.

AB: When did you first notice these shows popping up? What were the first examples on TV/streaming networks?

DC: Louie, Transparent, Casual and Catastrophe come to mind as shows that really created a lot of buzz once they got going. Louie just had no rules, and was more like a series of short films strung together with no continuity from episode to episode. Transparent and Casual were on the level of high-quality indie movies, usually with more drama than comedy, and Catastrophe was a uniquely raw and irreverent look at couples and parenting set in London. They were also on networks that weren’t really known for that type of material in the past so they felt extra fresh.

It should be noted also that Louie and Catastrophe represent a big trend that has produced a lot of great content in recent years: the talent-driven series. They weren’t just scripts first that later cast actors; the stars are also the writers. FX handed Louis C.K. a budget each month and told him to come back with a show. Catastrophe is written by its two stars, Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, who found each other via Twitter. Broad City and Insecure both began as web series.

AB: What are the benefits of writing a show that breaks the mold in this way?

DC: Firstly, it’s cheaper to make a 30-minute show than a one-hour, so on that basic level, it’s easier for the industry to accept you as a newbie if you’re asking for less money to realize your vision. Secondly, any “noisy” concept that is out-of-the-box and quirky has a better chance of attracting interest from the industry, and now that it’s established that the 30-minute form is getting noisier and finding audiences, they will be more open to hearing your pitch in this form.

How many 30-minute shows have there been about young adults in the dating world? But a show like Wilfred throws in a talking dog. Or Man Seeking Woman mixes fantasy and reality, really playing with the rom-com genre, to the point where the protagonist goes on a blind date with a troll. An actual troll, not an internet troll! Or a show features really horribly selfish people, like You’re The Worst, Difficult People, or Broad City. I mean, the Seinfeld four were selfish, but not on this level!

Ultimately, your pilot script is going to act as a writing sample that highlights your unique voice. It will show that you can write both comedy and drama in a deft mix with killer, industry-level structure. If you can do that, you will get meetings around town and, ideally, get staffed on a show that you love and respect. But nothing will happen unless you take the plunge and write something that only YOU could write, that breaks rules in a way that only YOU can break them. Be true to your voice. Write a show you would binge in a single weekend.

AB: What are the drawbacks of writing this type of show?

DC: Execs want to know where a series will fit in the television landscape and who it will be targeted at. If your show is really out there and crazy and experimental, then it will be hard for them to “see the show.” To be totally honest, it will be very tough to market something that no one has ever seen before. BUT… it’s hard to market ANY script (especially if you’re a newcomer) and your practical, realistic goal should be to write a killer writing sample that gets you in doors.

Now, if you keep getting shot down with the note that your pilot is too crazy to fit in anywhere, I would suggest you tame the craziness down a notch (or five) and move it closer to some kind of defined genre with understandable dramatic logic, or you shoot your own trailer to use as a pitching aid so they can really see the tone of your world. I’ve heard different opinions about the use of video in pitches. Some people love them and some hate them, for different reasons. Do what feels right for you and your project.

AB: Which shows do you think are using this new format most effectively?

DC: My current, personal faves include Transparent, Louie, Casual, Catastrophe, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, You’re the Worst, Girls, Insecure, Man Seeking Woman… and I’m probably forgetting a few. Okay, I watch too much TV! But there’s just so much good stuff out there. There are even two shows that were canceled that I keep revisiting: Married and Togetherness.

AB: You’re a firm believer in structure. Any structure advice for writers attempting a 30-minute dramedy pilot?

DC: I would first suggest you watch my webinar at The Writers Store, “The 30-minute TV PILOT BEAT SHEET: From ABC to HBO to Amazon to Netflix,” which will give you a nice general breakdown of standard industry structure for half hour pilots, both on the page and on the screen. You probably want to begin with the classic “teaser plus three” act structure.

But if you’re looking to play with that template a bit, then find a favorite “template show” that uses pacing and storytelling techniques that your series will use, and map out two or three episodes. Note how long each act lasts and how many story threads are launched and where and how they weave together. Look for how the writer incorporates theme into the beat sheet and character construction.

Use this basic structure as a template for your Story Map. (I have a Story Map worksheet I can send you if you email me via my website.) If it feels too flat, don’t be afraid to experiment with scene order, act breaks and various dramatic devices until you really “find” the structure that will work best for your show. Use your Story Map to compile a complete scene list, then keep that list on your desk as you write the script! Try to finish at least one scene each time you sit down to write, and simply check off each one on your list after you finish it. I can help keep you on track, if you’re interested in my coaching services. Take a look at for more information.


Angela Bourassa is the founder and Editor in Chief of LA Screenwriter.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:34+00:00 December 22nd, 2016|Categories: General|Tags: |

Can You DIY Your Self-Published Book? This Writer Says Yes

Self-publishing a book isn’t easy. I’ve edited a lot of books for self-published authors, and I’ve never met one who is independently wealthy. Scratch that—I’ve actually edited a few books for pretty well-off characters, but even the richest of clients doesn’t like to waste money (which is why they are rich, probably).

It seems like every indie book project has the same mandate: do it cheaply.

There can certainly be a lot of expenses when it comes to self-publishing.

From hiring an editor to designing a bangin’ cover to laying out the pages to marketing the danged thing, you’re potentially looking at outsourcing a lot of professional services.

But, depending on your level of initiative, your willingness to be an autodidact and your actual project needs, there might be a corner or two you can cut if you do it yourself.

Besides writing the actual book, here are four tasks you can DIY before you self-publish.

1. Create your own focus group

Before you spend money on a professional editor, put yourself out there to your friends.

Ask a few smart, honest, fair friends to read your rough draft and give you feedback. You’re not asking for free editing work; you’re just asking for opinions—and people love to share opinions. Similarly, consider looking outside your circle of friends to find beta readers.

If you decide to hire a pro (which, as a freelance editor myself, I obviously recommend), it may be less expensive in the long run because you’ve already done some of the cleanup work. Plus, extra eyes on your manuscript are never a mistake.

But, when vetting friends to read your work, be particular. You’re looking for people whose smarts you respect—and whom you trust to tell you the truth. Your mom, for instance, might not be willing to be quite frank enough with you.

2. Illustrate the book yourself

Do you like to doodle? Do you take photographs? These are all potential sources of artwork for your book.

If you are planning to publish an ebook, your photos don’t even have to be high-resolution. You can just grab them from Instagram.

But if you’re planning to create a printed version of your book, make sure all photographs and artwork are at least 300 dpi (dots per inch).

3. Learn to lay out the book

Book layout programs like InDesign take a little bit of gumption to learn, but there’s no reason the average person can’t do it.

The cost of the application is often cheaper than the cost of hiring a professional to do it for you. If you’re the techie sort, and especially if you’re planning on publishing more than one book, this might be a good investment for you.

On the other hand, if you’re already short on time, and learning new technology tends to vex you, this might not be the best use of your time.

4. Be your own PR representative

Here’s where you can really cut some corners and do it yourself.

There are so many ways to promote a book online these days: social media, your blog, a free WordPress or Squarespace website. You can even take the time to type out thoughtful individual emails to every single person you know to beg… er, persuade them to buy your book.

In this day and age, you don’t necessarily need to hire a publicist to get the word out (although it can be a great idea for some authors and some books).

Know when to delegate and when to DIY

The most important thing to remember is this:

If you’re self-publishing a book, you’re an entrepreneur. It’s important for all entrepreneurs to know when to delegate and when to DIY

One of the factors you should consider is how good you actually are at learning new skills and doing things yourself. If you’re not the type of person who is good at teaching yourself new skills, or if you don’t tend to have a lot of spare time, then you may not want to embark down that road.

I, for instance, am pretty good at DIY-ing certain things, like making my own hand creams and birthday cards, but I can tell you right now I’m never going to change a tire in this lifetime, and I’m still pretty bad at cutting my own bangs after 40 years.

If you hate computers, don’t try to learn a page-layout program just so you can skip paying a professional designer—especially if this is a skill you will only need once.

They are professionals for a reason: they can do it faster and better than you can—and ultimately, that might save you money, depending on how valuable your own time is to you. Anything that helps you outsource work in order to maximize your time and free you up to do what you do best should be considered a worthy expenditure.

Of course, there’s the cold hard fact that you may not have the money to pay for all the parts of this book process you’d love to outsource. On the one hand, it’s important to consider your expenses on this book an investment, so it may behoove you to charge, borrow, or beg (in other words, Kickstarter). On the other hand, going into debt—either literally or by owing your friends favors—may not make a lot of sense for you

Weigh all the factors: your budget, your skills, your willingness, and what you expect to reap from this project. Then, decide what to DIY, and what to delegate.

Have you ever DIY’d your book production? Share your experiences in the comments below.

The post Can You DIY Your Self-Published Book? This Writer Says Yes appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:34+00:00 December 22nd, 2016|Categories: General|Tags: |

'Rogue One' Will Top $550 Million Worldwide On Christmas Weekend

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story passed $200+ million at the domestic box office Wednesday, topping $355+ million worldwide in the process. This puts the Disney-Lucasfilm blockbuster on course for at least $400 million in global receipts by close of business Thursday, as it heads into a Christmas holiday weekend […]
Source: Forbes

By | 2016-12-21T13:45:49+00:00 December 21st, 2016|Categories: General|Tags: |

A Conversation With the Creators of Patriot’s Day

Mark Wahlberg, Peter Berg, Matt Cook, Joshua Zetumer

by John Bucher (@johnkbucher)

Director Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights, The Leftovers, Hancock) has partnered with Mark Wahlberg on two previous stories drawn from real life events, Deepwater Horizon and Lone Survivor. Both projects garnered praise from fans and critics, as well as those whose stories where actually portrayed in the films. I spoke with Wahlberg, Berg, and the co-writers of their newest project, Patriot’s Day, about their experiences in crafting a script with those whose lives were affected looking on.

“The sheer volume of information was a challenge to wade through,” said co-writer, Josh Zetumer. “We had to figure out what sort of story we wanted to tell.”

For Matt Cook, the primary task was to keep the story compelling throughout, even though the audience knows how it will end. “We really wanted to give everyone their due, but there were only so many characters that we could include, so we had to keep the priority around the story we were focusing on,” Cook said.

Berg and Wahlberg were concerned with creating something that was not action or thriller-oriented but tried to analyze what happened through the eyes of those involved. Each creator had an area they were most concerned with, but they tried to perform like a symphony, with each section hitting their unique note. “We were all interested in exploring how a community comes together in an event like this – how they process it. That unified us. We also agreed the themes were about inclusion and how love wins,” Berg said.

For Mark Wahlberg, the story was personal. Being from Boston, he was the face of the project. “There comes a lot of pressure and responsibility with that, but folks back home were relieved it was in the hands of one of their own. As soon as we were able to communicate to them what our intentions were, they breathed a sigh of relief,” Wahlberg said. He and Berg sat down with everyone who would talk with them in the community, who were a part of the story. They took months to pour through the details. “Our mantra throughout the process was ‘Let’s get it right,’” Berg said. They were intentional to make Boston itself a character in the film.

“A lot of people asked us if it was too soon to tell this story, but I said it wasn’t soon enough. These things may continue to happen and if they do, people have to come together to show that love overcomes hate. I am so proud of how the people of Boston reacted in the face of tragedy and that we can show everyone what Boston Strong really means,” Wahlberg said.

The writers acknowledged that not all the families wanted their loved ones portrayed in the film and that they honored that. “We were obviously very sensitive to that. We didn’t want to traumatize anyone. We did ask if we could honor their family members at the end of the film and everyone agreed to that,” Berg said. Victims of the bombing and the law enforcement officers who led the capture of the bombers have not only given their approval of the film but have joined the film’s promotional and press meetings to assure audiences that the creators got the story right.

“My enthusiasm for this story was locked in place when I met the people involved in real life. You can’t help but be inspired when you meet these incredible people. They are representative of an entire community that is just as inspiring. They faced the impossible with such class, and poise, and grace. That is what kept us going to make sure we brought this story to the screen through all the challenges,” Berg said.

For Wahlberg, he was forced to confront hard questions about himself, posed by the themes of the script.  “I don’t know if I would have the courage to move forward with the light that these people shined so brightly. What would I have done in that situation? Could I have been that brave? These are the real questions I asked myself in trying to tell this story,” Wahlberg said.


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,

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:34+00:00 December 21st, 2016|Categories: General|Tags: |

A Writer’s Secret Weapon for Finding Sources: Help a Reporter Out

When a freelance writer needs a source, Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is often the first place they turn.

HARO can be a writer’s best friend. Just create an account, fill out a query describing what you’re looking for from a source and sit back and watch the pitches roll in. And it’s all free!

It sounds too good to be true, but any writer who’s actually used HARO knows it doesn’t always bring in the sources you were hoping for.

Maybe you were on a tight deadline and didn’t get a single response to your query. Or maybe potential sources flooded your inbox, but they weren’t remotely qualified for your article. Worst of all, maybe the pitches that came your way were so poorly written, they could only be called spam.

HARO isn’t perfect, but there are some strategies you can use to improve your chances of connecting with stellar sources.

Use these five tricks to connect with high-quality sources through HARO.

1. Write an engaging title

HARO requests go out via email, and the best sources are usually too busy to spend long in their inbox. That means your title needs to immediately grab the attention of the sources you’re looking for.

Try using an actionable title or a question that describes the type of expertise you’re looking for.

Bad example: College students

Good example: Are you a college student who will graduate this year without debt?

2. Be specific

There are more than 475,000 potential sources using HARO.

If your query is too vague, you’ll have to wade through a lot of responses that aren’t a fit for your article. Not only does this waste your time, it wastes the time of the sources who pitched you.

Save everyone a headache by getting specific in your query. You want sources who aren’t right for the article to take themselves out of the running so you don’t have to.

Bad example: Nurses needed

Good example: Seeking veteran night-shift nurses to comment on 12-hour shifts.

3. Ask your questions in the query

Most writers know the pain of fielding vague or unrelated pitches from HARO sources.

Including your questions directly in the query stops most under-qualified sources from sending a bad pitch. On the other hand, expert sources who have something to say will take the time to submit thoughtful, well-written responses.

This strategy is also a major time saver.

Writers are often buried by pitches from PR reps that don’t say much of anything. By including your questions in your query, you can easily weed these out and focus on sources who directly answered your questions. This eliminates lengthy back-and-forth email chains and allows you to quickly scan potential sources’ answers for those that fit seamlessly into your story.

4. Use the “requirements” field

You may think your source requirements are obvious based on your query, but you’d be wrong.

I can’t tell you how many pitches I’ve received that start with, “I’m not quite sure what you’re looking for, but… “

Reiterate your requirements at the end of every query. You may want to limit sources to a specific profession, number of years on the job, location or the ability to schedule a phone interview in the next day or two.

This is also a good place to remind sources of additional information you need from them, such as a URL or short bio.

5. Highlight what’s in it for your sources

Sources aren’t just doing you a favor, they’re looking for good PR.

Each publication you write for will have different standards for “thanking” sources, but it typically includes a link to their website or social media accounts.

Use your query to let potential sources know what they’ll get in exchange for sharing their knowledge—and don’t be afraid to brag about the positives of being featured in your media outlet.

High-quality sources want to be featured on reputable websites or in publications that will get their name out to a specific target audience. If your publication has a high number of monthly page views, is a high-authority website, or offers the clout of being a .edu site, mention it in your query!

HARO is a tool just like any other: if you know how to use it, it will serve you well in your freelance writing career. The qualified sources you’ll find thanks to these tips can be what takes your articles to the next level. What are you waiting for? You’ve got sources to find!

What are your best tips for finding great sources on HARO? I’d love to hear them in the comments!

The post A Writer’s Secret Weapon for Finding Sources: Help a Reporter Out appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:34+00:00 December 21st, 2016|Categories: General|Tags: |

How to Be More Creative: Use This Method to Manage Writing Projects

If you’re like most creative people I talk with, you probably have a dozen different projects bouncing around in your brain. You may even be working on a dozen different projects at once, bouncing back and forth as the muse strikes.

That’s a common approach — but it can also be exhausting, creatively.

I’ve been feeling the creative burnout lately, so I picked up Productivity for Creative People by Mark McGuinness. It’s a great book, but one section in particular really struck me. He talks about creating a sustainable workload by figuring out what ongoing work you have to do (client work, family obligations, recurring tasks) — this forms your base time obligations.

Then, in your extra time, work on a project.

One project.

McGuinness defines a project as anything requiring a large chunk of sustained work. That could be planning for an event (book launch, speech, conference), building an asset (writing your novel, creating a website, blogging), or clearing your backlog (dealing with piled up emails, errands, or housekeeping tasks).

Rather than using my method of bouncing distractedly from project to project, McGuinness limits himself to one project at a time, then works through it until he’s done. Rather than trying to herd a whole mess of basketballs toward the other side of the court in one go, McGuinness takes one ball, dribbles it down, shoots and scores before jogging back to pick up the next ball.

When you’re spread too thin, it’s hard to do your best work. Of course, life still gets messy, but keeping the principle of one project at a time in mind can help you create better art, work more quickly, and stay energized.

Find your priority

What’s the most important thing on your plate right now? Not just the most pressing — what will make the biggest impact on your career or life right now?

That’s your main priority.  

Of course, chances are you have a dozen other obligations that need to happen, too. You may be faced with multiple deadlines or an overabundance of client work. Doing this work may take greater priority from day to day, but your big priority project should always be chugging along in the background.

Even if you have multiple responsibilities or deadlines, try to stick with the One Project approach as much as possible.

What that means for me is that I now spend larger amounts of time working on a specific task until completion, rather than trying to accomplish work for five different clients in one day. I’ll generally choose two pressing client projects per day, and spend the morning working on one and the afternoon working on the other.

Commit the time

Remember that overarching priority we just talked about? Even if it can’t be your daily priority, commit a few minutes each day to making progress.

One thing I realized a few weeks ago is that the root of my recent creative block is that I’ve been waiting for a mythical huge chunk of time to materialize so I can work on my novel. In that waiting, I’ve written nothing.

Finally, I decided simply to take 30 minutes every day and work on it first thing before I do anything else. It’s been a fairly easy resolution to keep, and even though I’m only writing 300-500 words a day, that’s 300-500 more words than I was doing last month!

If you can’t find 30 minutes, I know you can find 15. Commit to spending that time on your big project, no matter how hectic life gets. Then, even when life seems crazy, you’re making progress where it really counts.

Commit to going deep

Sometimes you can’t help but be spread thin — there’s simply too many demands on your time.

But skipping shallowly along won’t make it better. In fact, it’ll just make you feel like you’re being pulled in too many directions at once.

When you need to blast through a daunting pile of projects, commit to going deep. Rather than taking shallow sips from each project, turn off the internet, take a deep breath and practice focusing on the task at hand until it’s done.

I like to make myself a visual reminder to work deeply, like putting a Post-it note on my laptop screen, or tying a piece of yarn around my wrist. That way when I have the urge to zip over to social media for a minute, I’m reminded of my commitment.

This is much harder than it should be (for me, at least!) But it’s also an incredibly satisfying practice.

Avoid getting spread thin in the future: Keep a list of “no”s

The best way to not be overwhelmed today is to have said no to half your obligations earlier — obviously. This tip may not help you if you’re already spread thin, but Future You will love you for doing this.  

Start keeping a list of things you say no to. I simply don’t take on certain types of copywriting projects, for example. I’ve also stopped taking on clients if I don’t love their company’s mission. In addition to client work I say no to, I also have a much messier list of personal projects I say no to. A few weeks ago I came up with an amazing anthology idea, which got a great response from friends who wanted to submit to it. When I told my husband, he said, “I have two words for you: Stay focused.”

Don’t worry. It’s going in my back pocket.

How can you tell what to say “no” to?

I can’t remember where I first heard this phrase, but this sums it up for me: Only say yes to what “feels light.” What’s your gut is telling you when you consider this project. Does it fill you with energy and joy? Does it make you feel leaden? If you sit quietly with the decision, can you hear a little voice in the back of your head screaming “noooooooooooooo!”?

Remember: You don’t do your best creative work when you’re spread too thin. Try picking one project and staying with it until completion — or at least until your creativity is telling you its time to change gears.

If you could pick one project to work on today that would have the biggest long-term positive effects on your life or creative business, what would it be?

The post How to Be More Creative: Use This Method to Manage Writing Projects appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-17T15:25:34+00:00 December 20th, 2016|Categories: General|Tags: |