This Crucial Skill Will Help You Get on Your Book Editor’s Good Side

So far, this “Editorially Speaking” column has covered “How to Find a Book Editor You Can Trust,” “How Much You Should Expect to Pay an Editor,” and “How to Format a Book.”

What more could an editor ask for than to be trusted, paid, and handed a well-formatted manuscript?


And sometimes, well, writers aren’t the timeliest of people. No offense.

I’ve been one of those writers, and I’m sure I will be again, but I try not to make a habit of it. As soon as you begin breaking deadlines on a routine basis, the urgency of any deadline loses its power.

Don’t fall prey to Douglas Adams’ oft-quoted line: “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”

Editors don’t want to hear your whoosh! Why?

Because missing your contracted deadline creates ripple effects in their work you’ll never know about, and it leaves a hint of disrespect in your editor’s mind. That’s a surefire way not to get on your editor’s good side.

I’m not advocating you become fast friends with your editor or that you strive to ingratiate yourself with them.

Rather, I’m pulling back the curtain to reveal five simple ways that being timely can endear you to any editor.

1. Meet your deadline(s)

When you contract for editing work, that contract better have at least one deadline. (Otherwise, you’re either working with an amateur editor or they’re the most flexible editor on earth.)

Some contracts may hold multiple deadlines, e.g., “The editor will receive the client’s first 20,000 words by May 1, 2017.”

Whatever your contract says, adhere to it.

Know your deadlines as closely as you know your protagonist. Emblazon your deadlines wherever you’ll see them every day. Make yourself weary of thinking about your deadline so that it becomes your personal antagonist, only stoppable by meeting your deadline.

As I wrote in my book Don’t Fear the Reaper,

A client who fails to appreciate an editor’s schedule will likely not be that editor’s client for long. Editors often work on multiple projects at the same time, whether that’s editing other books, writing their own books, or freelancing in other ways. Consequently, they may have more deadlines than you as an author might have. And while it would be nice to believe that your book is always their top priority, that’s simply not the case. Busy editors (who tend to be the good editors) juggle projects, shifting their prioritized work day-by-day. Some days, your book will be their top priority. Other days, someone’s book with a closer deadline will replace it. Regardless, an editor can’t do their job unless the author holds up their end of the contract as well.

2. Respond within a predetermined timeframe

Who determines this timeframe? You and your editor, in the contract.

A useful rule of thumb is that two to three business days is an acceptable response timeframe.

In other words, if you and I were working together and I asked you a question about your manuscript on a Monday, I’d expect to hear back from you by Thursday at the latest. However, I’d argue that this suggestion should only apply to those who are so busy with work, family or other commitments in life that they can’t respond more quickly. If you’re an author who’s writing in the margins of your life, let your editor know that upfront so that your predetermined response timeframe can be correctly calibrated.

I assume most editors prefer same-day responses, or at least within twenty-four hours. I do.

This ensures work on your manuscript can keep flowing. Often, these questions are short, and their replies can be quickly sent. If a discussion is necessary, a call may be scheduled. With that, at least your editor knows exactly when you’ll get back to them.

3. Be available

Editors sometimes work strange hours.

While some may hold fast to typical working hours, some may only be able to work on your manuscript on nights or weekends (especially if they’re starting out and still holding a day job.) Even full-time editors may work odd hours depending on their workloads (especially if some other client—not you, of course—failed to meet a deadline, causing a cascade of frustrated expectations for when that editor can complete their work.)

Being timely also means being available.

You don’t have to make yourself constantly available to your editor, but place yourself in their shoes. If you had to work with you, how soon would you want to hear from you? Try not to reschedule calls. Answer emails as soon as you’re able. If an in-person meeting is in order, make it a priority. Of course, an editor should reciprocate such availability.

4. Pay on time

This goes back to my first point: to meet your deadlines, you have to know your deadlines, and one of your deadlines will read “Payment due.”

Many editors ask for half of your full payment up front, before any work has commenced (but after the contract has been signed). Once the work has been completed, you’ll then be asked for the final half-payment, and then you’ll receive your edited manuscript.

This kind of financial arrangement ensures that the editor will be paid for their time while simultaneously forcing you to put your money where your manuscript is. With significant skin in the game — see “How Much You Should Expect to Pay an Editor?” if you need a reminder –you’re now invested in the outcome of your book.

Editors love editing; they don’t love hounding.

We don’t want to spend our time writing emails or leaving voicemails trying to receive payment for services rendered. We understand that life sometimes happens, and, honestly, if you level with us about the reason why your payment isn’t on time, we’ll likely be gracious (the first time) so long as you make an effort to pay your invoice as soon as you can.

As in so many issues in life, just imagine yourself in their role. How would you feel if your paycheck arrived even a day late, much less weeks or months later?

Paying on time, every time, via the method the both of you have agreed upon will make your editorial relationship much easier. They may not be too nice to your manuscript, but that’s what you’re paying them for, right?

5. Communicate

The thread that runs through each of these recommendations is communication. I encourage writers to communicate about their communication.

In other words, let your editor know if you’re about to miss a deadline, or if there’s been a sickness in the family that’s drained your financial resources, etc. You’ll stay on our good sides if we hear from you, and it doesn’t take long to dash off a few sentences in an email just to let us know what’s going on in your world. We’re here to serve you and your book, but we also do this for a living.

Don’t become that frustrating client who consistently misses deadlines or conveniently forgets when payments are due.

If you treat your editor with professionalism and respect, and they do so in return, your book will reap those rewards, and you will likely have cemented a long-lasting writer-editor relationship.

The post This Crucial Skill Will Help You Get on Your Book Editor’s Good Side appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-21T05:44:19+00:00 April 21st, 2017|Categories: General|Tags: |

Not F*ing Around – The Screenwriter’s Edition

Editor’s Note: Jeff Leisawitz is the author of Not F*ing Around, a book about jump-starting your creative life which we had the opportunity to review. The book is a quick, uplifting, and fun manifesto on reaching your creative goals, and we heartily recommend it. You can read the first three chapters or buy a copy here.

by Jeff Leisawitz

Writing screenplays is hard work. I know. I’ve written a bunch. Not only do you have to know story structure, dialogue, formatting, tone, pace, and about a hundred other things, you actually have to sit there and do it. Sometimes this is the hardest part.

As a professional writer, award winning musician, internationally distributed filmmaker and life coach, I’ve been bashing my head against the wall for decades. In an effort to empower creatives of all kinds on how to bang their heads against fewer walls, I wrote a book called Not F*ing Around— The No Bullsh*t Guide for Getting Your Creative Dreams Off the Ground. Here are few tips, tweaked for my screenwriting pals.

Start Before You’re Ready

Years ago, when I started working as a songwriting teacher at a local college, I was shaking in my shoes. I prepared the best I could. But at the end of the day I just had to step into the studio with the students and give it my best shot.

Here’s the point. You can read screenwriting books, magazines, and blogs all day long. You can go to workshops, take classes. But if you still haven’t knocked out a bunch of loglines, outlines, and a ton of pages, it’s time to start. Now.

Sure, it might be a total disaster. But so what? As I tell my freaked out freshmen, your first song is supposed to suck. Write more. They will get better. That’s how it works. Same goes with screenplays. Just pay attention. Get some qualified feedback. And learn from your mistakes.

Time Travel with Your Future Self

Here’s a secret. A vast majority of very successful people use mediation and/or visualization to help them move closer to their dreams. You may call it woo-woo. But it works.

Grab your pen or fire up the laptop. Take a few minutes to breathe deeply. Imagine what you want in your future as it relates to screenwriting (or anything else). Picture yourself finishing your project. Or sitting in a room with a hot shot producer. Or attending the premiere of your awesome movie.

Breathe deep and feel into the experience. Notice what it took to get you there. Notice who is around you. Notice the way you feel in these moments. Breathe this all in deeply. When you’re ready, open your eyes and write it out. Feel it again. Write it and remember it. You just tapped into your subconscious to access some big information and wisdom.

Say ‘Yes, and_______.”

A few years ago I took an improv comedy class. One of the main tenets of this world is to say “Yes, and ______.” That means that you have to accept the situation that the other actor drops in your lap. Then add something to it.

It’s a very simple yet profound idea. It also works quite well in life.

Be open to opportunities in the screenwriting world. In fact, seek them out on job boards, meetups, community film groups. Maybe your sister-in-law just got a new camera and wants a three page script about twinkie-loving truckers for her next YouTube video. Step up and write it.

Perhaps you met some over-caffeinated Millennial at your local coffee shop who wants to hang around and write forty plot ideas every Sunday afternoon. Buy the guy some decaf and tag team.

Always take opportunities for creative growth. Chances are good that you’ll grow creatively.

These are just a few very brief ideas on how to crank up the NFA and make your screenwriting dreams come true. For more wisdom, tips, and tools, click on over to to enter yourself a chance to win four hours of online creativity coaching ($1000 value!). You’ll also get free chapters of my book, Not F*ing Around— The No Bullsh*t Guide for Getting Your Creative Dreams Off the Ground.

What does your future self have to say?

What have you started before you’re ready?

What do you generally say yes to, screenwriting-wise? What do you say no to?


Jeff Leisawitz burns with a mission—to inspire screenwriters, artists, musicians, filmmakers, entrepreneurs (and everyone else) to amp up their creativity, heal their hearts and shine in the world. Visit his site for a chance to download the first three chapters of his book, Not F*ing Around— The No Bullsh*t Guide for Getting Your Creative Dreams Off the Ground and enter a $1,000 giveaway for a chance to win creative coaching with Jeff to get your next project rocket fueled.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-04-20T12:46:20+00:00 April 20th, 2017|Categories: General|Tags: |

David Mamet Teaches Master Class On Writing For Stage & Screen

How many times have we seen movies that basically copied Alec Baldwin’s “always be closing” speech in Glengarry Glen Ross or some other testosterone-doused dialogue from David Mamet? Now, those who have been borrowing from the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright can now spend $90 to soak up lessons directly from the master. Mamet has filmed his first online MasterClass tutorial on writing for the theater and the screen (see the trailer above). He instills the hard won…
Source: DeadLine

By | 2017-04-20T11:45:23+00:00 April 20th, 2017|Categories: Breaking News, David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross, MasterClass|Tags: |

Trailer: The Osiris Child Science Fiction Volume One (2017)

Set in the future in a time of interplanetary colonization, an unlikely pair race against an impending global crisis and are confronted by the monsters that live inside us all.

The post Trailer: The Osiris Child Science Fiction Volume One (2017) first appeared on HNN | 2017 – Official Horror News Site

Source: Horror News

By | 2017-04-20T11:45:26+00:00 April 20th, 2017|Categories: The Osiris Child Science Fiction Volume One, Trailers|Tags: |

Trailer: Robin (2017)

A traumatized woman is found in a forest, claiming to have witnessed a murder. As the police investigates it they can’t find anything proving her story. The woman is convinced that she’s the next victim and starts her own investigation to figure out what really happened, trying to find the murderer before he finds her. …

The post Trailer: Robin (2017) first appeared on HNN | 2017 – Official Horror News Site

Source: Horror News

By | 2017-04-20T11:45:26+00:00 April 20th, 2017|Categories: Robin, Trailers|Tags: |

You Got This! 5 Out-Of-The-Box Ways to Beat Writer’s Block

Staring at a blank page for hours on end, willing the words to come.

Most writers have faced this dreaded writing scenario from time to time: a case of writer’s block.

Even the most successful and prolific writers can suffer from a lack of words at times.

It seems like every writer has a few tricks up their sleeve to handle writer’s block. Some like to focus on outlining and sketching out novel chapters while others prefer to use apps, calendars and spreadsheets to hit daily word goals.

But sometimes it’s good to shake up your routine a bit in order to find new creative energy.

Try these tips if you find yourself with a case of the dreaded writer’s ailment.

1. Go to clown class

If you don’t have visions of red clown noses and funny wigs, you don’t have to literally go to clown school. But trying an activity that is out of your comfort zone and normal routine is a great way to shake things up and find your creativity.

It doesn’t matter if you take a clown class, sign up for a curling league, go to comedy improv night or take a kazoo workshop. Whatever you do, you’ll end up with something new and exciting to write about afterward.

After returning from your new experience, try writing about it as soon as you get home. Use your words to describe what you experienced, how you felt and who you met. Write a character profile of someone you met, describing what they look like, how they speak and what they wear.

Be careful; there’s always a fine line between “shaking up your routine” and procrastinating.

Make sure you use your new activity as a mental refresh and inspiration to get the words flowing rather than a distraction from writing.

2. Use your hands

Writers use their hands to type or scrawl notes longhand all day long.

To shake up your routine, try using your hands in a different creative way. Sculpt clay, paint a picture, crochet a hat or make a collage to turn your brain onto a different type of creativity.

You can even apply this creative technique to your projects.

If you’re writing a novel, sketch out some of your characters visually. If you’re writing about a room, draw the room. What does the sofa look like? How is the table set? Is there a centerpiece? Are there placemats? If you’re drawing a landscape, what types of animals are hidden in the frame? Are there birds, squirrels, insects, or a friendly dog lazing about?

You don’t have to write words to make progress with your story.

3. Find natural inspiration

I’m one of many writers who loves to work outdoors, but you don’t have to bring your laptop with you to find outdoor inspiration and break out from your writer’s block.

Go for a walk or a hike, preferably out in the woods, but even a neighborhood park will do.

Consider bringing a journal and freewriting about three different experiences you have along the way. Don’t overthink it. You don’t have to experience earth-shaking personal revelations to have something to write about on the trail. You can write about an interesting tree or a rain cloud or your experience with a blue jay that watched you eat your lunch.

It doesn’t matter what you write about. The important part is spending time having experiences out in nature and putting those feelings and adventures into words.

After you get your creative mind flowing, you might find the words on your blocked project come along easier, too.

4. Find a prompt

If you Google “writing prompts” you’ll discover more than 1.8 million results. And, if you’re more visually inclined, check out Pinterest’s collection of writing prompts.

Wherever you find your prompts, don’t spend too much time trying to select the perfect one.

Just pick one and start writing. Set a timer for 10 minutes (or whatever length of time you like) and write words. If the words don’t come, write about how they’re not coming. Describe your fingers sitting on the keyboard or tapping on the table. Describe yourself. Write about your desk.

Prompts are great because your only goal is to write for a certain amount of time.

Your writing doesn’t have to meet any standards and no one ever has to read it. But it’s a great exercise to help get your brain going.

5. Read

If the words still aren’t coming, grab a good book and start reading.

But if you write about the book, it might be even more helpful. Read a chapter and then write about that chapter. Write about your favorite character or favorite scene. Describe your thoughts and what you might do differently. Hypothesize about a character’s motivations or what might happen next.

But be sure not to compare yourself to the author. Just enjoy the story and, hopefully, it will help your own story keep spinning along in your mind and on the page.

However you work to conquer writer’s block, don’t worry about it too much. It’s only a temporary ailment. These techniques should help you shake up your routine enough to get back on track with your writing.   

How do you beat writer’s block? Tell us in the comments below.

The post You Got This! 5 Out-Of-The-Box Ways to Beat Writer’s Block appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-20T05:44:38+00:00 April 20th, 2017|Categories: General|Tags: |

4 Ways to Kick-Start Your Writing This Summer

by John Bucher (@johnkbucher)

May is only a couple of weeks away, and many of us are already thinking about the glorious warmth of summer. Perhaps you’ve also been thinking about beginning a new project, and summer looks to be the perfect time to write it. Maybe you’re thinking of breathing new life into an old story that’s long been buried. You might be one of thousands of writers who began the new year with a resolution to finally get a story on the page this year, but haven’t yet found time to get started.

Knowing how to begin your writing practice, or begin it again, can be tough. Here are four ways to prepare NOW for crafting a script to kick-start your writing this summer.

photo credit: Flickr/ laurahoffmann51


Stories come out of characters. Far too many writers try to begin telling a story with characters whose lives they know very little about. Researching a lifestyle, occupation, or era that you are unfamiliar with can be an invigorating experience. It can provide you with details about a person in that world that you wouldn’t be able to describe otherwise.

Researched characters feel more real. Charlie Hunnam portrays Percy Fawcett in The Lost City of Z. While the character is based on a real person found in a book by David Grann, Fawcett’s character on-screen embodies details that speak to the research that James Gray conducted to bring the character to screen.  Gray was clearly familiar with the language, fashion, and customs of the period – things only discovered through good research.

There are a number of ways to research characters outside of the obvious Google-related searches anyone can perform. Conducting interviews with individuals familiar with the world of your story is a good place to start. Another often-overlooked resource is the public library. Most of us assume anything found in a library can also be found online. While this is true of many things, it’s not true of everything. Books, encyclopedias, newspapers, and a variety of other resources can be found in many libraries, but may have not piqued anyone’s interest for scanning and being made available online. Many libraries also have free access to academic databases, journal articles, and back-dated periodicals that you have to pay to access online. Libraries also offer an environment for concentrating on research and writing. Getting away from the distractions found at home and in coffee shops can be a powerful way to welcome new narratives into your story world.


Writers often only look to books as a source of inspiration for adapting a story. However, there are multitudes that can be learned by reading books that were either written during or about the period that you are setting your story in.  Sometimes beginning with a book from a historical period that you are interested in can be the catalyst for finding a great story to tell.

While your reading may lead to an idea set within the time period, many times it will spark something best set in another time period. When constructing her iconic character, Frankenstein’s Monster, Mary Shelley was vocal about having gotten the idea while reading a story set in a completely different period and world – Paradise Lost. Engaging in the way another storyteller has constructed a tale can sometimes be just what we need to unleash our own creativity, and often leads to unexpected results.


Many people go to the movies to escape. We as writers also occasionally need to escape to find ideas, characters, and stories that might not come to us otherwise. Taking ourselves out of the world of now and looking to a world we recognize, but that is a bit removed from us, can help. Watching a film that you’ve never seen before made before 1950 can function like a hard reboot for your writing.

Looking for themes, archetypes, and storylines that would morph into relevance today can be like a narrative treasure hunt. Mining old classics for timeless truths is an enjoyable way to take spare time and make it resourceful. Alfred Hitchcock’s 1929 film Blackmail originated many tropes common to crime thrillers in more recent times. Knowing what the writers who came before us have done successfully not only informs us of possibilities – it makes us better students of our craft.


Becoming familiar with the other stories in the genre you want to write in is one of the best ways to prepare to construct your own script. Did you know that our site has a library of scripts from a wide array of genres that you can download for free? Academy Award winners, cult classics, and indie scripts you may have never heard of all await you. Click here to find feature scripts and here for television.


ISA and The Script Lab are putting on a free 30 Day Screenwriting Challenge, which starts tomorrow and which LA Screenwriter is co-sponsoring. Sign up today to get daily articles, reminders, and inspiration as you work on your story. The goal is to finish a draft of a new script in 30 days. As an added bonus, you might win some fun prizes along the way.


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 | 2017-04-19T11:47:25+00:00 April 19th, 2017|Categories: General|Tags: |

How to Write Better: 7 Straightforward Techniques to Try Today

Whatever you write, you want to get your thoughts across as clearly and effectively as possible.

If you’re a novelist, you don’t want awkward word choices or repetitive sentence structures to distract your readers from the story.

If you’re a freelancer, you don’t want your work to seem sloppy or poorly edited.

If you’re a blogger, you don’t want readers to switch off because you’re far too wordy.

Want the good news? Even if your writing isn’t as strong as you’d like, there are plenty of straightforward techniques you can use to improve it.

1. Cut unnecessary words

Here are two paragraphs that say the same thing. Which one is stronger?

In my opinion, the majority of freelancers should probably avoid working for free (or for a nominal sum) unless they are at a very early stage of their career and as yet have no pieces for their portfolio at all.

Freelancers shouldn’t work for free unless they’re just starting out and don’t have any pieces for their portfolio.

The second clearly states a stronger case.

If you’re writing a blog post, most readers will assume that it gives your opinion. You can be clear, firm and direct.

2. Avoid well-worn phrases

Some phrases are so familiar that they’ve lost their impact: they’ve become clichés.

For instance:

  • At the end of the day…
  • Like stealing candy from a baby…
  • For all intents and purposes… (sometimes miswritten as “for all intensive purposes”!)
  • Let the cat out of the bag…

It can be tricky to spot these in your own writing, and you might want to take a quick look through this huge list of clichés to avoid here on the Be a Better Writer site.

When you edit, you don’t need to cut every cliché…but do check whether a rephrasing might work better.

In dialogue, or in a first-person narrative, clichés can be a helpful way of characterizing someone’s speech or thought patterns — but do make sure you’re being careful and deliberate.

3. Write directly to “you” (in nonfiction)

Although this isn’t appropriate for every form of nonfiction, bloggers and freelancers often write directly to the reader as “you”.

This is a great way to make your writing direct, conversational and stronger.

Blog posts and articles quite often use “you” or “your” very early on, in the title and/or introduction. For instance, this post on The Write Life:

Freelance or Full Time: Which Journalism Path is Right for You?,

Want to work in the media industry as a writer?

You generally have two options: You can seek employment as a staff member of a publication, or look for freelance writing opportunities.

How to Format a Book: 10 Tips Your Editor Wants You To Know

Unless you prefer your friends to be story nerds or those who lean toward obsessive-compulsive tendencies when it comes to grammar, you shouldn’t necessarily seek to befriend your editor.

(Emphasis mine.)

As in these examples, use the singular “you” and avoid phrases like “some of you may know”. Yes, you (hopefully!) have more than one reader, but each reader experiences your piece individually.

You can also use “I” where appropriate (e.g. to give an example from your own life) – though usually it’s best to keep the focus of your piece on the reader.

write better

4. Vary sentence structures

What’s wrong with this paragraph?

You should write regularly (not necessarily daily). You should aim to write at least once or twice a week (I recommend a total of 3 – 4 hours per week). You may find it difficult to keep this up at first (especially if you’ve not written much before).

The advice in it is perfectly reasonable. There’s nothing hideously wrong with the actual words used. But the three sentences are very similarly structured: each one starts with “You” then a modal verb (“should” / “may”), and each one ends with a phrase in parentheses.

When you have several sentences in a row that follow the same pattern, they stand out…in a bad way.

Sometimes, it’s appropriate to structure your sentences like this — e.g. in a bullet-pointed list — but in regular paragraphs, it’s often unintentional on the author’s part, and it seems artless and poorly edited to the reader.

For lots of help with sentence structure, check out It Was the Best of Sentences, It Was the Worst of Sentences: A Writer’s Guide to Crafting Killer Sentences, by June Casagrande.

5. Use subheadings as signposts

If you’re writing blog posts, articles or sales copy, subheadings are crucial.

They break up long pieces and help readers stay focused; they also offer “signposts” to readers who may be skimming for specific information.

When you craft your subheadings, think about:

  • Making them clear and direct (just like titles / headings) — don’t try to get clever!
  • Keeping them short  — subheadings have a larger font than regular text, and don’t generally look good when they wrap around the end of a line.
  • Being consistent with the structure — for instance, each subheading might start with an imperative verb (as in this post).

6. Use direct, straightforward language

It’s very rare you’ll want to write something deliberately indirect! Instead, you’ll want your words to come across clearly and strongly to the reader.

This may mean avoiding the passive voice – advice that you’ve probably heard before! In case you need a recap:

Active voice: John threw the ball. — succinct and clear

Passive voice: The ball was thrown by John. — wordier and less direct

The passive voice allows the agent (the person performing the action) to be omitted from the sentence altogether:

The ball was thrown.

This can be useful; for instance, you might be writing about something where the agent is unimportant, or where you want to conceal the agent. (“Mistakes were made” is a classic example here.)

In general, though, you should write in a direct, straightforward way.

Make it as easy as possible for readers to engage with your ideas or your story.

7. Read aloud (or edit on paper)

No one’s first draft is perfect, and the above six suggestions should help you rework yours.

Often, it helps to go through your piece slowly and methodically — many writers find that reading aloud helps, as this highlights the cadence of your words.

If you prefer not to read aloud (or if your colleagues, family or cat would give you funny looks if you tried it), then print out your draft so you can edit on paper.

Using a different format makes it easier to spot typos and repetitive phrasings.

At times when printing isn’t practical, I’ve also found it helpful to convert my draft digitally: that might mean turning a Word document into a .pdf, putting a novel manuscript onto my Kindle or previewing a blog post so I can get closer to the reader’s experience.

Confident, powerful writing will help your message (or your story) have its full impact on your reader.

What will you do this week to strengthen your next piece?

This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase through our links, you’re supporting The Write Life — and we thank you for that!

The post How to Write Better: 7 Straightforward Techniques to Try Today appeared first on The Write Life.


Source: Writer Life

By | 2017-04-19T05:44:15+00:00 April 19th, 2017|Categories: General|Tags: |

Spotlight on Leonard Maltin at the Classic Film Festival

Leonard Maltin at TCM Classic Film Festival 2017

by Scott Holleran (@ScottHolleran)

Leonard Maltin gave a rare personal interview during a Q&A at the TCM Classic Film Festival this month. Of course, he took classic movie questions and named his favorite movie director, Billy Wilder (The Apartment, Some Like It Hot, Stalag 17) and favorite movie (Casablanca). But with his daughter serving as moderator, he went into more personal details than he usually does.

Maltin explained that he was born in Manhattan and grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey, later marrying “a Bronx girl” named Alice (who was seated in the Club TCM audience). Maltin said that he loved comics as a boy—he narrowed it down to enjoying comic strips, otherwise known as “the funnies”—and loved to read and go to the library. “I was an indoor person,” he said, adding that, back then, TV programming was filled with frequent showings of classic movies. Maltin said he grew up watching them.

He favored television shows with the Little Rascals, cartoons, Laurel and Hardy and Barbara Stanwyck movies, and ABC’s Disneyland series hosted by Walt Disney, who “taught us the history of his company and his animated cartoons.”

If there’s a theme in Maltin’s work, it is Disney–the legendary Burbank-based movie studio whose classic pictures Leonard Maltin regularly highlights for Turner Classic Movies. Maltin was at New York University—where he studied journalism—when he was asked by a Signet editor to create a movie guide, which he subsequently did. But it was his passion for Disney that helped Maltin make his way to Hollywood.

He said that he was “devastated when Walt Disney died,” and at some point while doing research for his movie guide, he telephoned the studio and talked to Arlene Ludwig, whose father was Irving Ludwig, president of Buena Vista Pictures. Maltin asked for and received special access to Disney films so that they were fresh in his mind for review and coverage. He would note the end credits (there were no comprehensive credit listing sources back then) by hand from those Disney prints. These classic movie tales provided a crucial context for both the meticulous detail of his movie guides and Maltin’s deep knowledge and abiding respect for the Walt Disney studios legacy.

Other fun facts learned from his Q&A:

Maltin doesn’t like giving stars to films but when an editor asked him to do so, he relented and admits that readers like it as a shortcut to assessing his estimate of a film.

Bette Davis once sent the Maltin family a Christmas wreath.

He used to take passenger rail service to the nation’s capital to conduct movie research at the Library of Congress.

Asked to name his favorite foreign language picture, he paused: “Maybe La Strada.” But he says he “loves Truffaut” and “wants to be more conversant in Japanese cinema.”

Asked about his approach to work, he said he loves being his own boss.

Asked about his reading habits as they relate to movies, he answered that he first read David Copperfield by Charles Dickens because he had seen and been moved by the movie version.

When asked about his family, Leonard Maltin introduced his wife Alice, who accompanies him to screenings, and admitted that it “helps to have married a movie buff.” Maltin said that his daughter Jessie watched the barn-raising scene in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers as a toddler “over and over on Laserdisc,” adding that it’s still her favorite movie, which she watched at a TCM Classic Film Festival after getting to meet its leading lady, Jane Powell.

Asked to name one of Hollywood’s last living “great broads,” Maltin didn’t flinch or hesitate: Angie Dickinson.

Answering my question about whether he ever asks for a second screening of a movie he’s assigned to review, Maltin said he rarely does because a critic reviewing a movie “should not have to see it again” if it’s a good movie.

And, asked by this writer to name one quality that differentiates today’s movies from classic films, Maltin said that he finds today’s close-up shots annoying (“I call it counting pores”), though, citing last year’s Arrival and Jackie, he likes the use of close-ups in movies when it’s warranted.

Maltin said that the main difference between movies then and now is that today’s motion pictures are losing what he calls the art of storytelling. “There used to be movies driven by fiction writers of short stories in magazines,” Maltin said, noting that fewer readers of abundant short fiction and other source material contribute to the loss of well-made, story-driven movies. “Broadway did hundreds, not one or two, productions a year.”

Leonard Maltin’s hour-long audience interview ended with a pointed question asking what he seeks when he goes to the movies. After qualifying his answer that one could reasonably have any variety of motivations to see movies, Maltin said that, essentially, he goes to movies “to be uplifted.”


Former Box Office Mojo editor and partner Scott Holleran writes scripts and teaches media and storytelling workshops and courses in LA. He posts movie reviews on his blog, where he writes about news, culture, and ideas.

Source: LA-Screenwriter

By | 2017-04-18T13:46:59+00:00 April 18th, 2017|Categories: General|Tags: |