Year One

Welcome to 2016!

My first “year” as a TV writer is complete, and boy what a year! The last time I checked in with this kind of journey post I was in “Year 12” and now…I get to start over the count! That feels good.

So here’s a recap of 2015. Most of these items will be expanded in greater detail in the next month or two, as I have A LOT I want to blog about (and hiatus free time to do it)

  • January – Finished my year as a writers’ assistant on “The 100” Season 2. Wrote up a series of posts about my experiences with Social Media and Fandom.
  • February and March – Worked on a new pilot sample with Julie to prep for staffing. Hoped and prayed to get staffed on “The 100” for Season 3.
  • March – Got staffed with Julie on “The 100.” Experienced euphoria which is described pretty well in a prior blog post.
  • April 5th – Attended Wondercon. Enjoyed the hell out of it.
  • April 6th – First day as a goddamned TV writer.
  • April/May – Joined the WGA and had the honor of paying the initial fee!
  • May – The loquat tree down the street was savagely pruned back. Many wept.
  • June/July – Toiling away in the writers room. Many friends begin to suspect we are being held hostage (meaning, we don’t see much of our friends).
  • July – San Diego Comic Con! I finally see my friends! Attend the panel for the show with a packed Ballroom 20.
  • August – Sent to Vancouver to our set for the first time to oversee production of episode 304. Unexpectedly extended stay for a week to cover the first half of filming 305 (total visit: 16 days)
  • September – Sent to Vancouver the second time to cover the second half of 306, all of 307…and then extended to cover 308 (total visit: 27 days)
  • September – “Emma Approved” the digital series Julie and I wrote 7 episodes for WON A FREAKING EMMY!
  • October – Julie and I are assigned to write episode 313, our first episode of television!
  • November/December – Head back to Vancouver for production of our episode…I get extended to oversee the first half of 314 (total visit: 17 days) I spent 60 days in Vancouver in 2015.
  • December – Hiatus begins. Holidays arrive. 2015 ends.

So. It was a busy year for us! In the coming weeks, I have posts planned about the following topics:

  • Life as a Staff Writer – Things no one really prepares you for, and I probably will fall short too but will try.
  • Set Visits – A practical guide for writers who visit a film or TV set
  • Writing an Episode of TV – Lessons learned, hopefully to help you learn
  • Social Media and Fandom: The Sequel – SO MANY NEW LESSONS! (With charts and graphs!!)

Those are just a few of the things I’m cooking up for the next two months. My goal is a new post each week starting the week of January 18th (I’ll see if I can throw something on the blog next Monday, but I’ll be traveling next week, so may not have time to finish the first of these posts) and it is likely that these topics will cover multiple posts each, because I do get wordy.

If you’ve any other notions of what you’d like to see me talk about, leave me a comment! Happy to try to answer any and all writing questions I can!

Here’s hoping we all have a great 2016 — Make the most of the time you’ve got. Get writing!

Posted under writing

This post was written by Shawna on January 5, 2016

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Fandom in the Social Media Age – Conclusions, Part IV

(Had I known this series of blog posts would be this long, I’d have picked a shorter name for it. Also, the Roman Numeral is for you, Bernie Su.)

If you have managed to read everything I’ve written on this topic so far, congratulations! You have successfully cured your insomnia! Okay, hopefully it isn’t that boring. After all, you are still reading it…hey, why is that? Don’t answer. I might not actually want to know.

When last we met, I was yammering on about the Fandom Life-Cycle. I got about halfway through, saw I was at 3300 words in the post, and decided I’d finish it up here. And I will. I’ll also be spinning out into a couple of other areas once we’ve finished this life-cycle discussion: Anatomy of a Fan(Girl) and The Raising of the Bar.

 The Fandom Life-Cycle

lifecycle

Not to scale. Your mileage may vary.

Last time we talked about the Introduction and Growth phases of the Fandom Life-Cycle, arguably the most heady and exciting time for any fan group. Those phases cover the timeframe when the fandom is forming and new people are joining in constantly increasing numbers. The amount of time this covers can vary for each fandom — some run much shorter cycles than others. Some fandoms last weeks or months, while others can last decades. I think it’s fair to say that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories (and the character) have been through the cycle several times — as Sherlock is revived in popular culture a new flock of fans become enamored, and the cycle picks up and begins again. That’s one of the beautiful things about fandom — it can be constantly renewed and refreshed, if the passion exists in someone to revive it.

Once a fandom experiences a period of sustained growth, it will eventually level out. This is the Maturity Phase. That doesn’t refer to the ages of the people in the fandom, merely that the fandom has reached a level of saturation, and it is maintaining its numbers, but not gaining many new fans. Those who have found the fandom and enjoy it have stayed, and are continuing to enjoy it. Maturity can also be a great time, but it can also lead to great apathy – the fandom is so comfortable and established, it doesn’t work as hard to recruit new members, or the inability to find new fans leads existing ones to simply enjoy the fandom. Evangelizers fade out. The Artists and Critics are still around, generating content, but the creative fuel that the fandom is supplied by, the original content, is either gone or fading. Maturity sometimes happens as a show is still on the air, but fans have dropped out for one reason or another — the audience stays pretty stable and consistent but doesn’t grow. More often, Maturity is reached once a show or book series ends. Once the material that was the basis of the fandom has dissipated, there is less to hold the fandom together. It is from here that the fandom enters the last and often the saddest phase, Decline.

Let me tell you about the Decline Phase. It’s dark and depressing. It’s almost as bad as the Introduction Phase in terms of  fans feeling like the lone voice in the wilderness. Many fans have moved on or are in the process of losing the passion they had in the first place. I personally experienced the Decline Phase in a fandom in 1989. This was the last year “Doctor Who” aired episodes until it was rebooted and revived in 2005. While there were fits and spurts of new content trickling in over the years in the form of original novels and radio plays and the (failed) TV Movie on Fox in 1996, the fandom was in major decline. It had already been difficult to find fellow fans in the 80’s, now it was nearly impossible.

But then something happened — the Internet. As people began to really connect with one another (circa 1995) on the internet, it became easier. And the fans who still had a deep passion for this show kept the small embers of hope alive that it would return. Ten years these embers burned, until finally, Russell T. Davies in his infinite wisdom found the way to revive the franchise. And once David Tennant replaced Christopher Eccleston as the Doctor, the fandom was back in a new life-cycle.

That’s the beauty of the life-cycle — from decline can emerge something new and fresh. Fandom is immortal, and like a Time Lord, it regenerates itself, sometimes with the reviving of something old and dear, often with something new and different.

Like any sports fan who has up years and down years for their favorite sports team or the fashion mavens who watch styles go in and out of favor, fandom has similar emotional ebbs and flows — and boy is fandom emotional.

Anatomy of a Fan(girl)

Let’s get this out of the way first: This doesn’t just apply to females. Yes, I included the ‘girl’ in parentheses above, but because “fangirl” is a term which already conjures certain images and impressions. I want to dig deeper than the proverbial fangirl, because honestly, there are many different types of fans.

Is this you?

Is this you?

There are casual fans, of course, but every fangirl and fanboy worth their salt knows they are just poseurs. They don’t REALLY love the thing you love. They like it, sure, but…no one can understand how you feel about this thing. Okay, maybe the thousand other fangirls/boys you find online, maybe they understand…

Picture a fangirl. What does she look like?

Thank you Ellahello for capturing this perfectly.

Thank you Ellahello for capturing this perfectly.

Fangirls have been around a long time.

Fangirls have been around a long time.

The more things change...

The more things change…

It’s a difficult thing to wrap your brain around, unless you have been to this place of insanity — and most fangirls/boys will acknowledge that their intense fervor is a kind of insanity. Just imagine that from the time you wake up until the time you fall asleep the majority of your day is spent talking about, writing about, watching, reading, thinking about this particular person/place/thing/show/book/movie/sports team/website. Broadly, we’ve probably all experienced this at one time or another about a crush, a person we became infatuated with, but fangirls/boys seem to do this all the time, and over and over again.

They love to love. Passionately. (We’ll leave the haters for now, because honestly, I’ll never understand someone who devotes so much of their precious time on this Earth hating on things. Unless it is Nazis. Feel free to hate on Nazis as much as you like.)

An example, applied to Pinterest. Found at Toonlet.Com

An example, applied to Pinterest. Found at Toonlet.Com

I love this cartoon, because it applies very broadly to all types of fandom. That last stage though? That could go one of two ways… Sure, the ‘Gratitude’ Phase represented here exists among the healthier of the fan set. But it could also go this way…

... It could go very badly. Thank you GuruPop for posting this.

… It could go very badly. Thank you GuruPop for posting this.

Obsession occurs because our neurotransmitters keep getting pinged. Let’s get a clinical definition of obsession:

At first, like all addictions, obsession is intoxicating. It fills us up, and what a relief that feeling is (especially if we felt empty before). But even if we didn’t feel empty, obsession makes us feel potent, capable, and purposeful.

But also like all addictions, with time obsession unbalances us. We often begin to neglect parts of our lives we shouldn’t. If allowed to become too consuming, obsession causes us to devalue important dimensions of our lives and tolerate their atrophy and even their collapse. But even if our lives remain in balance, if the object of our obsession is taken from us, as my patient’s was from her, we find ourselves devastated, often convinced we’ve lost our last chance at happiness.

Psychology Today

Yep, that sounds about right. But, don’t get me wrong — for fangirls this obsession isn’t always bad. In fact, it can be really great. Consider this from the same article:

Obsession, when made to serve us, can bring out our most capable selves, motivating us to find the creativity and ingenuity to solve incredibly difficult problems. Obsession, in short, can lead us to greatness.

The key here is in controlling and managing the obsession. A majority of fans are perfectly capable of doing this, but every once in awhile you find some that seem to have lost perspective. Sadly, it is that image that plants itself in many minds, as teenage girls and boys who are excessively hormonal and most likely to latch on to obsession, due to the neurotransmitter buttons that keep getting hit (endorphins and dopamine, primarily) and causing good feelings that give fandom the reputation that helped you conjure up that image of a young girl, holding a homemade sign and screaming her fool head off.

Okay, okay! *backs away slowly*

Okay, okay! *backs away slowly*

I can say a lot of these things because I have been a fangirl. About genre television, about musicians. Here’s my high school locker:

I had a lot of TV loves, even back then.

I had a lot of TV loves, even back then.

…or my bedroom wall…

If you can identify most of these people in the photos, you might be a Whovian.

If you can identify most of these people in the photos, you might be a Whovian.

No, you can’t see the Cosplay pictures. So, take it from me, I know what a fan is — they aren’t all crazy. They aren’t all dressed the same, most you can’t even tell looking at them that they’re fans. They come in all shapes, sizes, colors and ages. Anyone is a fan. Everyone is a fan.

The difference between a casual fan and a fangirl is in the passion. A casual fan enjoys the content they are consuming, like a great meal at a fine restaurant. They appreciate it, maybe even love it to a degree. The fangirl is like an over-eater at the Bellagio Las Vegas buffet. They will consume and consume seemingly without end. Do they love it and appreciate it? Oh yes, they do, but they must have ALL THE THINGS. When they become fans of a show, they can’t just watch and enjoy. No, they must write about it, create art and gifs, write new stories… They want to live in the world as much as they can and savor all of it. There’s nothing wrong with either path, provided that the fan manages their expectations appropriately.

The Raising of the Bar

It used to be simple: You’d write a book or comic, create a TV show or a film and the fans would come and accept what you give them. Because you’re the creator, you’re the boss, right?

Well, times have changed…sort of.

This is an effect of social media. It used to be that if you wanted to hear what a fan thought about your work, you’d wait for them to write some fan mail sent through the postal system. Or you’d read a review in a magazine or maybe on TV. It was still a closed system. Social media has changed that.

fandomtweet1

A tweet sent to Jason Rothenberg, showrunner for “The 100.”

A collection of tweets to Julie Plec, showrunner/co-creator of "The Vampire Diaries"

A collection of tweets to Julie Plec, showrunner/co-creator of “The Vampire Diaries”

As you can see from the various tweets, a lot of demands and complaints get sent to the creators and/or showrunners constantly. It’s a stream of abuse, prayers, and yes, compliments too. For some, it can be overwhelming. Julie Plec has certainly had her fair share of fandom “feedback” — “The Vampire Diaries” fans are some of the most vocal, concerned about which characters should be put together romantically, what characters should live and die, even what kind of stories they should be telling. And TVD isn’t the only show that gets this kind of fervent attention. Worse, is if a showrunner engages these fans to explain decisions… some fans just can’t accept those decisions.

In the tweet to Jason Rothenberg the person is probably mostly joking, but it reflects an attitude among some fans — Give me what I want. Now. You will do our bidding. They often insist that showrunners bend to their will. In cases where showrunners have listened too closely to fans, it can backfire — very often what fans say they want and what they actually want/need are very different. Of course, most of the time a story decision isn’t predicated on what the fans want at all, but it doesn’t stop the fans from thinking they have influence. If you did what they wanted, you are a saint. If you did something they hate, you’re the devil. Doesn’t matter whether you even know they said they wanted it or not, you will be glorified or demonized regardless.

There is a positive side to this kind of immediate feedback — that is, knowing when your show is generating the right kind of emotion in the fanbase, or when they are so turned off, so apathetic and losing interest that the show needs to change directions. This can be challenging, given how far ahead the show is in production by the time early episodes air. It can make those changes like turning the Titanic around in the ocean. If the majority are excited, scared, pleased and happy with the story, it’s a great feeling. Even negative feelings are better than no feelings at all.

A few of those demanding fans like to hold a specific threat over the show — Do what I want or I will stop watching your show. They are so engaged in the show and feel such a part of it, that they lose sight that their viewership alone will not affect the writers one whit. It’s only when droves of fans leave (enter the Decline Phase) that the writers will sit up and take notice. Of course by then, it might be too late.

So, it’s important to know what your fanbase is saying, but it will always be far more important that the creators of content stick to their storytelling guns. Follow the story and the characters where they lead you, not where the fans want you to go. Ultimately, the creator must be happy with the work they create, even if it means you lose a few fans along the way. In this, social media is a like a siren song — it can be tempting to want to please your fanbase and give them exactly what they want. But that way lies madness. They will never be satisfied, and now you’ve told them that you will do as they say.

One thing I will say about the interaction of fans and creators is that there is a stronger desire to give the audience a great story with surprising twists. We are living in a glorious time of TV (I’d dare call it the Platinum Age, since the Golden Age has already been set in an earlier time). TV shows are richer, more interesting and diverse than ever before in the history of the medium. Because of that, viewers have watched hundreds and hundreds of hours of story in tv and film in their lifetimes. The expectations for a story are now higher. The audience is highly intelligent and intuitive about story. They know when you’re tapdancing to postpone events in the story and just filling up time. They also know when stories ring false. You have to consider how your story plays week to week as well as how it plays when it is “binged” in a few sessions. Binging on TV content is a new normal, and it is accelerating the rate at which people consume content. It isn’t just that they consume it faster, they now consume more, because they can. As they watch more TV and films, they become smarter and even more intuitive about story moves. Go back and watch some “older” TV from the late 70’s or early 80s — Magnum P.I. or even Hill Street Blues, which was considered very advanced and groundbreaking for its time. I bet you can predict what will happen in the stories more than half the time. Why is that? Because those stories were successful in their time and have been replicated over and over since. Subverting expectations is as important as meeting them. Even better is to exceed them, but that is a high bar to clear, indeed.

For all of the content consumed, even by us as creators, it makes us all smarter. It pushes us to take risks with our stories, and ask ourselves, ‘what if the obvious thing didn’t happen?’ or, ‘if this obvious thing does happen, how can the fallout be different than we expect?’ The pressure of fans demanding great story is terrifying to some degree, but to another, it is exactly the kind of catalyst many creators need to build amazing characters and stories. Audiences demand more, and so we must do everything we can to satisfy, without pandering.

Believe it or not (and you probably do believe it by now), there’s a 5th and final part coming — an Epilogue. We will wrap up all this chatter once and for all. It takes a personal bent, my personal experiences and how I feel about the whole thing. You know, if you’re into that.

 

 

Posted under analysis

This post was written by Shawna on February 13, 2015

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Fandom in the Social Media Age – Conclusions, Part Three

Fandom and the Changing Landscape

Fandom is always a grass-roots thing. It is nearly impossible to manufacture a fandom for a new show, comic, movie, book, etc. Fandom generates from the audience finding that content, connecting with it in a very personal way and then seeking to evangelize about that content with like-minded individuals (other fans) or new recruits. Fandom in its early stages, from my experience is all about finding more people to love the thing, so that thing continues to flourish and thrive.

Early on I stumbled on a real issue for our fans — what they were to be called. Generally speaking, fans find the perfect group identity — “Doctor Who” fans became ‘Whovians,’ “Star Trek” fans are ‘Trekkers/Trekkies,’ even “Harry Potter” fans had identity as ‘Potterheads,’ or even more specifically by the Hogwarts House with which they most identified. Our fans couldn’t quite come up with a name — Calling themselves ‘The Hundreders’ is just nonsensical, so they looked for identifying clues in the show… Delinquents? After all, the kids sent to Earth (the show titled ‘Hundred’) were all prisoners/juvenile delinquents… but then, what about the Grounders? But that felt divisive, rather than inclusive as well. They looked to the writers for guidance, but we weren’t very helpful either. While other show fan groups had identity, our fans felt they lacked one. Thankfully, the debate waned over the months, and I think everyone agreed that a group identity wasn’t necessary… at least, not right now.

It may seem a trifling issue to an outsider, but group identity is really important in fandom. It’s a badge of honor, a way of telling others ‘I love this thing and I want to associate myself with it, even if it is merely by taking on this label.’ I see it in Twitter bios all the time — Whovian. Browncoat. Gleek. Gladiator. (That last one is for “Scandal,” of all things). A group identity isn’t a requirement, and there are just as many shows without a name for the fans as those that do, but it certainly allows fans to coalesce around that identity far easier.

If you want a sense of some of the most devoted fanbases for TV shows right now, I found this article at TV.com highly amusing and mostly valid, given it was written last year.

The way that fans are able to connect and interact with each other today is a miracle compared to even 10 years ago. Of course in the stone age of 20 years ago, if you wanted to find fans of far flung TV shows, like “Doctor Who” (and yes, 20 years ago, you were a complete oddball if you were a Whovian) you had to hope you could find a local club/chapter or travel to a convention to find others of your kind. I once got a pen pal after writing to a club newsletter and connecting with another fan in Virginia who was also a fan. We were pen pals for years, finally met about 8-10 years after our correspondence began (through the MAIL!) Today, it’s as easy as tweeting “hey, anyone like #the100?” and probably a dozen people will pop up in your feed. Or on Tumblr, say “Hey I just started watching this show…” and hashtagging it appropriately and others will find you and you will find blogs of others. So easy.

This ability to find and connect with others means that fandoms spring up far more quickly. The fandom for “The 100” was pretty small throughout the first season, and didn’t really find a footing until the show finished the season and was headed to Netflix. The old formulas still apply — one person will convince their immediate friends to try out the show and either succeed (in which case, they can get together to watch) or fail (in which case, they go online to find like minds). It was easy to see the sparks begin to really fly and the blaze to grow, once there were artists in the fandom to create fan fiction and artwork.

Fan fiction has been around forever, it seems, and yet we are now in an age where you don’t have to write your fan fiction and hide it from the world — you can share it, have others read it and comment on it! You can take requests from people for situations and characters you want to read about, whether within the canon of the show or far, far outside it — mixing and matching romantic pairings to your liking, resurrecting dead characters and giving them perpetual life, and crossing over between shows, and the latest trend in fan fiction, creating alternate universes for the characters to experience whether it is present day high school to another show entirely (A fan fiction where Clarke, Bellamy, Octavia and Jasper are in ‘Glee’!) The possibilities are endless in fan fiction, so long as there are fans to write it. Within the last couple of years, Amazon and others have found ways to monetize fan fiction. A publisher/author sanctions fan fiction in some manner, allowing the use of the copyrighted characters/story/etc to be used for that purpose and be sold. It’s a limited area, but not completely out of bounds, given the origins of “50 Shades of Grey” from “Twilight” fan fiction.

The Fandom Life-Cycle

I’ve always been interested in the evolution and longevity of fandoms. Some show fandoms slowly peter out over time, but others burn forever. Managing social media for ‘The 100’ gave me a front row seat to the early stages of fandom and allowed me to discover how it developed to where it is now. I’m sure someone has actually done this before, but contextualizing it for myself really helped me understand my own past being in various fan groups as well as how that fandom acts.

Fandom is a bit like a hive-mind at times — it’s a collection of vastly different people oftentimes but they are all drawn together by this one specific show. The differences between people make it fun, but also provide the most danger and conflict — what feels like a perfectly reasonable thought or action to one person could be construed as offensive or out of line by another. And don’t even get me started on what constitutes a ‘spoiler’ and the window within which something can be considered such. (For the record, it appears to be the amount of time until there is a new episode). The hive-mind of fans can be a powerful force, and often it can be a majority or a highly vocal minority of fans that can really overwhelm the uninitiated. Fortunately, I am familiar with the ebb and flow of fandom and was able to weather most of the sturm and drang with minimal psychological damage (at least, as far as I can tell).

The Introduction Phase

The Life-Cycle itself follows the natural life cycle of any organism or group — There is the Introduction, the spark that starts a fandom. In our case, it’s ‘The 100.’ No show = no fanbase. (Note: I am well aware of the books on which ‘The 100’ is very loosely based. There certainly could be a fanbase for the books, but for the purposes of this demonstration, let’s assume there isn’t, since that is a typical scenario.) Once the show premieres, the fans begin to pop up, one by one.

The are the Early Adopters.

The early adopters are the canary in the coal mine. By their actions and words you can start to see where you will draw most of your fans. The fanbase for ‘The 100’ cropped up mostly from the CW’s core demographic — women ages 18-34, with outliers on each side of the age range and gender. The pilot, which is generally acknowledged even by Jason, is very likely the worst episode of the entire show, which isn’t great for creating a fanbase. Early Adopters tend to be able to see past the deficiencies to give the show another chance to impress. Generally, I give a show four episodes beyond the pilot if I find it interesting. If after 4 I’m not invested, I cut it loose. Two exceptions: “Fringe” I gave 6 episodes to, because I actually loved the pilot, and once they figured out what they were doing after 6 episodes, I knew I’d be a lifer. More recently, “Gotham” I have been giving a very large allowance of episodes. It is only at Episode 14 I have begun to really waver. It’s the first episode I have been dragging my feet to watch, because I’m just not sure I want to continue on with it.

For ‘The 100’ it is generally accepted that if you can get through the first 4-5 episodes of the show, you will stick with it. The first three are rocky, but the show begins to take shape at episode 4, moreso with episode 5, and by 6, the show is pretty well on its way. That’s a lot of good will, but the Early Adopters are the ones who make it through those episodes and start recruiting others to watch the show.

This leads to the second group in Fandom: The Evangelizers.

Most people in a fandom exist in at least one category and more often multiple categories. The Evangelizers and the Early Adopters are generally the same people, the difference is that The Evangelizers are the ones drawing new people to the show. There are plenty of Early Adopters who continue to watch but aren’t recruiting more viewers. The Evangelizers are the ones going on social media and shouting from the rooftops that they love this Thing and other people should really try watching this Thing, because they think new people will love it too. These are the fans you want to nurture and support on social media the most. They are the ones putting extra time and effort into building the fanbase.

Throughout the Introduction Phase of the fandom, it’s chaotic. Fans haven’t coalesced, they exist in pockets, but as more people begin to watch and more pockets form, the more likely they are to go on social media and talk about the show. The main benefit of social media to fandom as I’ve said before is the speed and ease with which fans can find each other and really converge into an entity — THE FANDOM. In the past, this process could take years, sometimes even occurring after the show is long gone (original ‘Stark Trek,’ ‘Firefly’) and sometimes the fervor of a fandom can even resurrect the dead. Now of course, the fandom is almost immediate. A show exists, the fandom exists, virtually simultaneously. The question is whether your show will have the ability to grow.

The Growth Phase

The fandom exists, but is still in a delicate state. If the show’s quality falls, it can kill a fandom quickly, before it ever really takes root. The Early Adopters and Evangelizers lose interest and fall out. The fandom falls apart.

But if you can sustain the interest in the show by providing great content, the fandom will enter the Growth Phase. This is where you start to really gain traction. Most of the growth of ‘The 100’ fandom happened after the show arrived on Netflix in the U.S. and premiered its 2nd season, which just happened to be the same day. Let me remind you of this chart:

The100Writers Twitter Followers

The100Writers Twitter Followers

While it’s true that we picked up a lot of followers to the Writers’ Room account after I took over running it, the largest spike of followers happens on that line between early August and late November. Hmm, let’s parse that… oh, yes, that would be October 22nd, the day it hit Netflix and Season 2 premiere. From that moment, the fandom had fully entered the Growth Phase. The show had been picked up for another season. Fans had reason to invest time and energy into the show, since they knew there would be more of it. That can be a huge decider for a fanbase. If a show gets canceled it could enter Cult Status, the ‘canceled too soon’ syndrome of many shows, that are beloved long after they’re gone. Or, it could just vanish, almost as if it never existed. I tried to find a good example of this and came up with “Heroes,” the NBC show, but ironically, it’s coming back years after its cancellation.

In the Growth Phase a few other types of fans emerge. The Artists and The Critics.

The Artists are the fans who are so inspired by the show, they are compelled to create their own art, whether it is visual, written, even aural! These are the fanart creators and the fan fiction writers. Their love of the show feeds their creativity, and gives them license to play in the world that the show has created. Until the last few years, these artists might have feared copyright infringement issues, but studios and networks have come to understand the value of fanart and fan fiction to the success of a show. We encountered the issue surprisingly early of fans wanting to purchase merchandise. The writing staff submitted design ideas and suggestions to the studio, but as of yet, no major brands have signed on to produce anything, despite the demand from our fans. Fortunately, in the new landscape, there are plenty of sites where designs can be created and produced and sold. WBTV has very smartly partnered with Cafepress to evaluate fan designs and authorize them for sale, taking a small cut of the profit and allowing the fans to profit as they sell these items to other fans. What an amazing new world — no longer are marketers dictating what should be made and sold — fans are!

The Critics can be a force for good or ill within a fanbase, usually both. There are the professional critics, of course — TV critics who publish reviews and recaps for the masses and amateur critics, who post their own analysis and reviews of the show. Critics are incredibly valuable as well for helping to draw new fans of the show, and if you happen to have very well known and respected critics love your show, it’s a Godsend. The downside to The Critics usually comes from the amateur branch. This is where the dark underbelly of a fandom brews (and every fandom has one). These are The Dark Critics.

The Dark Critics are fans who, for reasons known only to them, watch the show, but can’t seem to find anything they like about it. It’s one step removed from hate watching, because these fans actually do like the show… but an outsider cannot for the life of them understand why. The Dark Critic picks apart the show to minute detail – looking for gaffes, errors whether they be scientific, logic, continuity. They sometimes disguise themselves as the Social Justice Fan, but it isn’t with the same goal of improving the show, but rather to tear it down. These are the people you need to be able to identify and AVOID AT ALL COSTS. They are toxic, and can draw you in to endless debates without any hope of convincing them they are wrong. They don’t care. They won’t admit defeat, they won’t change their minds, and even if you can prove them wrong, they’ll just move on to some other defect they find in the show to exploit and blow up. Almost all of my missteps in social media came at the hands of the Dark Critics, who I either didn’t identify early enough or got lured into the conflict, like a trap. They are wily, and willing to do anything to prove their point. I’m sure there’s a psychological study in here somewhere of why these fans are the way they are, and if someone ever wants to do that study, I’d love to see the results.

Let’s be clear, The Dark Critics aren’t just critics posting negative reviews. Negative reviews are fine, and completely understandable. But most critics post the negative because they love the show and they just had a problem with this episode or this character — they are generally positive and like the show, and are just showing their disappointment or disapproval of story, not wholesale condemnation of the whole enterprise.

There’s another group of fans that are there all throughout the Growth Phase, and frankly they are the majority…the silent majority. I call them The Wallflowers.

Online they are known as Lurkers — they are the fans that enjoy the show immensely, and might even tweet now and then. They might even be Evangelizers within their social circle, but they generally sit on the sidelines and just enjoy the show for what it is. They are the fans who buy merchandise, but don’t produce it. Who read fan fiction, but don’t write it. They follow the writers and or the actors but don’t tweet at them much if ever. They are the heart and soul of the fanbase. These are the ones you forget are there, because they aren’t visible, but don’t forget them — they ARE there. I probably only interacted with .5% of our total Twitter followers — The other 30,000 of them had to be there too though, just watching the show and reading our tweets. They are the ones I appreciate just as much as any Evangelizer, and they tend to reflect the fandom that is just happy to have the show to watch, and don’t get involved in any inter-fandom conflicts that might erupt. In truth, I identify with this crowd, because I’m usually a part of it. I’m the kind of fan who loves a thing but doesn’t go up on a mountain top to preach the gospel about it. These are my people, and I love them.

One of the greatest moments of working on the social media came from interacting with a fan who was very much a Wallflower. The fan sent a private message to the Tumblr account indicating that he/she was a depressed teen, who had found some comfort in watching the show and thanked us for it. I could sense from the tone of the note that this person was someone prone to self-harm, and it alarmed me. I felt an obligation to reach out to this fan and tell them that they could contact us any time they were feeling down, and we’d be there for them. They thanked me for that too. It was profound to feel I had helped someone or at least made a small impact on their life that particular day. It isn’t often we can say that, and this job gave me that opportunity. For that, I will be eternally grateful.

This is the kind of fan that represents a Wallflower. There are so many disaffected, cut off teens, and they all find each other for solace on Tumblr. Because of that Tumblr is a very tricky place to navigate, and everyone is warning about “triggers” and violent content that could disturb some less well-adjusted people. It certainly made me aware that there are a lot of teenagers out there experiencing severe depression and isolation. It worried me greatly.

I have more to say about this and other societal shifts at another time (Part 4? ) But there were things I experienced while managing social media that significantly changed my world view.

The Growth Phase can last months or years, depending on the longevity of the show. Shippers will ship one couple, then another. Fans will join and drop out, some maybe rejoining. A lot happens during the Growth Phase. Frankly, I can’t really discuss the last two phases in relation to ‘The 100’ specifically because it is still very early in its life-cycle.

But I will discuss them generally…next time. Yep, there will be a Part 4: Maturity and Decline of Fandom and the future of social media and fandom.

 

Posted under analysis

This post was written by Shawna on February 9, 2015

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Over the Wall

It would seem this blog exists in some kind of bubble, which I only manage to pierce in January and then never again return inside until the next time January rolls around…

Hello friends, old and new… here we are again. A new year, a new blog post. It’s how we roll around here.

So, how was 2014? Some bad? Some good? A little bit of both.

I took a quick look at my ‘new year’ post last year at this time and my goal was to get “over the wall” and into a TV writers’ room. I was smart not to specify whether that would be as a staffed writer or as an assistant. Hedging my bets is always wise.

Well, I did it. I got over the wall! As an honest to God TV Writers’ Assistant.

So, on that score, 2014 was pretty good. Mission accomplished!

But of course, that wasn’t my only goal. You don’t know me very well if you thought it was. No, no… I always have far grander goals… like, get hired to write something for money! Pitch a show, maybe even sell a show! Get into the WGA!

We did get hired for one project in February, which then never materialized. That was a major bummer. Then we got more general meetings. More hobnobbing. One meeting led to us to hooking up with apitching a show at SyFy (it didn’t sell, but hey, we pitched it!) Then, on the strength of a project that still hasn’t gotten off the ground, we were asked to write a take for a tv movie. The producer liked our take and paid us to write a treatment! We don’t know if the movie is a go yet, but PAID TO WRITE….

But no WGA membership yet.

So, the 2015 goals. You know they are lofty. Ambitious. But we are determined, my sister and me. We can’t be bargained with. We can’t be reasoned with. We don’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And we absolutely will not stop, ever, until… we are staffed.

Staffing. WGA. Let’s go, 2015. We’re ready.

Posted under randomness, writing

This post was written by Shawna on January 2, 2015

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The Importance of Study Hall

Someone (sorry, don’t recall who) posted an article on Facebook, which I actually read — a rarity! It’s a little bit of psychobabble and some hippity-dippity stuff about why most people don’t find their purpose in life. I think a lot of it was true, but more importantly, it lead me to a realization. I believe I discovered my purpose in life way back in high school.  In Study Hall.

Study Hall was that glorious period of the day where you had no class instruction — you’d sit at a desk or a table (one year my study hall/study period was in the cafeteria) and you’d work on homework assigned in other classes or try to pass notes.  Some would attempt to be disruptive, mostly out of boredom I suspect.  I, of course, like the good student I was at the time would do homework, and prevent myself an hour of lost TV time at home — in my house, you could only watch TV if your homework was done.  Some days, though, I’d have no homework to do.  My time was split between two activities in those cases — reading a book or writing.

I still have those notebooks, filled with scribbles and doodles, but also with stories — stories about my friends, horribly bad poetry, a musical I thought I’d write about Death coming on his white horse and taking the dying to a huge party in the afterlife.  I wrote “Star Trek: TNG” fanfic before fanfic was a thing you posted on the internet.  I wrote an episode of Tom Baker era “Dr. Who” for my friends and I to film (but never did) — it was written in stage play style, because I didn’t know what a screenplay looked like.  The local library didn’t exactly cater to budding screenwriters in Morton, Illinois.  A half dozen notebooks full of dreams and stories and uninhibited lyrical fancy.

What’s interesting to me now, and why it occurred to me at all is I wondered why it seemed so easy to be so creative and prolific back then.  Was it just my youth and my general ignorance and naivete about most of the world? We talk a lot about the intrusion of technology into our lives, but I can get distracted by doing crossword puzzles… no, I think the key to my writing success those many years ago — in study hall, there was nothing else to do.  It was homework, read or, in my case, write.  I wrote to escape the boredom.  I was actually not much different than those kids trying desperately to disrupt the class, to escape their boredom; I just chose to disrupt mine on paper, foraging through my brain for any story that would entertain me for 50 minutes.

So, what did you do during study hall?  Could it have been the way you found your purpose in life?

Posted under randomness, writing

This post was written by Shawna on January 28, 2014

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Here We Go Again.

New Year. 2014. Whoop-edee-doo!

No, truly I’m excited for the year, just like I was excited for last year. 2013 had a lot going on. Here’s a sample of my year:

* Retained agent (yay! I’m still repped!)

* Went on about 12 pitch meetings for a project, which ultimately didn’t sell

* Went on about 10 general meetings with people/companies which read our scripts and liked them.

* Had one staffing meeting, which, did not result in staffing, but hey. Progress!

* Boss has two tv show projects going, one of which has been announced, another which hasn’t. So that’s two shots at potential future employment!

* Began developing a web series with my sister and writing partner Julie for an established brand. Watch this space.

* Completed writing a multi-platform series (for money!) with Bernie Su though it is clinically dead right now.

* Completed two new spec pilots, started a third.

So, it’s been a hell of a year! A lot accomplished, but yet, it feels like we are back to running the race — staffing looms, so we have the new pilot to finish, and of course other projects we are dying to write.  And here I am, after trying to get the old blog restarted in September/October trying to figure out if I can try, try again.

What choice do I have? Shut it down? Perish the thought…

How’s your 2014 outlook?

Posted under writing

This post was written by Shawna on January 12, 2014

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Scribosphere Carnival #3 – Criticism

Michael Patrick Sullivan at Red Right Hand is in charge this week, and he’s come up with a very intriguing topic.  In his words:

This week’s Scribosphere topic is how we each take criticism, or how we don’t, who do we seek out to provide it, and what do we do with it once we have it, how we give it, or, you know…whatever.

Let me start with this very important admission: As a kid, I was terrible at taking criticism.  My dad would constantly tell me that I needed to grow a tougher skin because I would inevitably burst into tears at even the smallest bit of criticism, constructive as it might be.  Of course as an adult, I realize that back then I might have also been uncontrollably bursting into tears due to my undiagnosed chemical imbalances, but that’s beside the point.  No, the point is, that over the decades, I have definitely gotten a thicker skin, and now I actually look forward to receiving notes and criticism of my writing.

I think I finally learned how to accept criticism when I realized that I wouldn’t become a better writer without it.  I believe too, that when you begin to critique the work of others, you gain a new appreciation for how difficult it is to be the bearer of criticism.  If you understand the difficulty in taking notes, it makes you more mindful on how to give them.  But, some people do not know how to give a note.

Let’s talk about that…

How To Give Good Notes

It may seem corny or even kabuki, but it does honestly help to soften your criticism with compliments.  Often in my writers groups now, I or others in the group will say ‘skip the compliments’ because we are there to work and we don’t need the platitudes to ease the pain of getting the tough love.  But when you give notes to someone you don’t know as well, and don’t know their level of pain tolerance, it’s a good idea to err on the side of “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”  Start with pointing out something good, and make it more than just a surface level platitude — were the characters really interesting? Was the plot intriguing? Did you like the writer’s voice? Was it a quick read? Funny? Exciting? Do more than just say you ‘liked it’ – writers tend to equate that with ‘it sucked’ — specificity of positive attributes will endear the writer to hearing what you have to say, particularly if you can be observant and astute about it.  The less specific you are, the less it feels like you actually read the damn thing.  Note good dialog or a great scene description — give them the page number! Let them know that you read it, you have real notes and you aren’t just placating them with positivity (like, say, your mom or your significant other).

Once you’ve got the sugar down their gullet, it’s time for the medicine.  There’s a way to administer this that causes less pain.  “I hated x” tends to be a bad way to give a note (unless you know the person really, REALLY well). I mean, that’s like stabbing someone in the neck!  Look, you are trying to make this as painless as possible.  We all know there’s some kabuki going on, that we are following a little bit of a script in giving notes, but that’s okay.  It’s what makes it possible for us to really hear the note and digest it.

I tend to start with big, general notes first — structure issues, for example.  Plot. Characters.  Start with the big notes first.  As an inverse to the positive, what gave you trouble? (what did you “bump on” — a common term for something in the script that jolts you out of the reading, making you aware of the mechanics beyond the story; a question, point of confusion, a contradiction)  Once you have your big overall note stated, you can get to specifics — where do the bumps occur?

Now, you may want to give the writer suggestions.  There’s a way to do this, and I’ll address ‘suggestions as notes’ in a few paragraphs.

Sometimes a script is just a train wreck.  It’s not small things, minor fixes — it’s just a hot mess.  Usually the hotter the mess, the nicer you have to be in dishing out the notes.  Because not everyone knows…

How To Take a Note

It’s inevitable.  You’ve read this script for this person, taken the time to read it, digest it, dissect it, figure out what works, what doesn’t, and when you go to tell them the news — they just seem defensive. Oblivious. Angry. In denial.  Any or all of these.

Defensiveness is the worst.  If someone gives you a note, you must fight the instinct to argue it.  Don’t tell your note giver that they are wrong! Wrong! WRONG!! This person has taken precious time to devote to your baby.  You asked them for their feedback.  The proper thing to do is keep your mouth shut, unless the person asks you a question for clarification.  That doesn’t mean you just nod and smile — that’s a sure sign you aren’t listening, another way of being defensive.  It is possible for the note to be wrong.  Very often you’ll get contradicting notes.  The important thing here is to take your emotion out of the process.  Before I go into a meeting or a setting where I am about to receive notes, whether in a professional capacity or in a group of peers, I mentally divorce myself from my project.  I try to imagine that this is someone else’s script, and I am hearing the notes as an impartial bystander.  Sometimes this doesn’t always work (I mean, I’m not made of stone after all!) but it does help.  If the note giver is doing all of the things I suggested above, the process is almost pleasant.  You want to know where the problems are — knowing where you aren’t being clear with story, character, intent will help you make a better script.  Isn’t that what you want? You want these notes! “Give them to me!!”

Okay, sometimes the person giving the notes isn’t very good at expressing themselves.  They say “I hated X.” (and they really don’t know you well enough to get away with that).  They stab you in the jugular.  It’s hard — you weren’t expecting that pain and wow, someone just called your baby ugly.  Take a moment.  Count to three.  Do NOT rebut, argue, cry, laugh or scoff.  Just write the note down.  Here’s the thing — they may not have given you a good note, in fact, it could be really crappy — but generally if someone gives you a note on something, even if the note itself doesn’t make sense, it’s indicative of something.  If you get the note more than once, obviously you need to look at it.

Some people want to give you suggestions.  We can’t help it — we’re writers, we see a problem, we want to help fix it.  Executives love to give you suggestions.  The problem is, their suggestions are usually wrong.  They tend to suggest things that fix the symptom, not the underlying problem.  You have to learn to see the note within the note (yeah, this process gets very Inception-like).  I take all the notes — those I agree with, those I don’t, because hours, days, weeks later, I may read that dumb note and realize it isn’t so dumb.

There’s a way, as the note giver, to provide suggestions, but you can’t just say “you should do Y instead of X.”  That is a sure-fire way to get the receiver of notes to completely shut down and ignore everything you have to say.  You may have the brilliant fix for them, but you know what? It’s their script.  They need to decide what to do.

Instead of “you should have a car chase here” the better way to make a suggestion is “I think your script loses momentum here– perhaps you need some kind of action sequence – maybe a car chase? I don’t know, you decide what it is, but it just feels like nothing is happening.”  Another favorite device is to talk about the “bad version,” a) because it most likely is the ‘bad version’ of something and b) it allows the note receiver to understand you aren’t necessarily prescribing that a solution, just using it as an example to illustrate their point.  There is a rare chance that the “bad version” is actually the right answer, but let the note receiver figure that out.

Wow, I had a lot more to say about criticism than I realized.  I suppose the TL;DR version (too long, didn’t read, for you not into the whole brevity thing) is: Don’t Be Mean. Don’t Be Defensive. Everybody be cool and respect the other party.  It isn’t easy to be on the giving end or the receiving end of notes, but these little tips can help make it just a bit easier for everyone involved.

 

Posted under writing

This post was written by Shawna on October 7, 2013

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Scribosphere Carnival #2 – Workflow

Jonathan was tagged with starting us off this week, and he’s provided a great topic to explore:

WORKFLOW – Everybody has one, and none are the same. Inspired by a post from John August (referencing THIS SITE), you should explain where and when you write, what hardware you use, what software you use, and what you would change about how you write. Have at it!

Where and when do you write?

I wish I could say that I have a really regimented routine, but honestly, most of the time, I write where and when I can.  I do have a desk which I bought thinking it would really increase my productivity, but in actuality, it more or less has become storage space.  Most of my writing happens exactly where I am now – sitting on my bed (I know, the worst) with or without the breakfast tray I use as a “desk” (right now it’s ‘with’)  I goodly percentage of my writing happens while I am at work and I have some time between projects for said boss — that writing happens in their former nursing chair w/ ottoman which rocks – literally.  That little corner has become my daily workspace.  Finally, I also make a dent in my writing at a little place called Solar de Cahuenga. I used to go here almost daily when I was unemployed for awhile, but I’m back to weekend visits and the occasional late night visit, since they’re usually open until 1 AM.  I love the vibe of the place, and now that I have a laptop with decent battery life again, I am no longer limited to one of the five or six tables which have outlet access (it’s the one thing I’d improve about the place, but then, maybe it would only cause me more headaches finding a table).  There’s outdoor seating, free wi-fi, and a decent menu of food besides the usual coffee bar fare.  I do try not to be a bad patron and I always buy at least a large iced tea (which is strangely addicting) when I am there for an hour or two.  For longer marathon sessions, I’ll buy lunch or dinner.  Back in the day, I’d hike to Solar, but now that employed and likely on a schedule, I drive and park nearby or splurge the $3 for the onsite valet parking.

Sorry, that turned into a bit of a commercial for Solar. But still. Good place.  Good coffee. A lot of regulars.

As for the hours I write, erratic.  If I’m at home, anytime in the evening. If I have insomnia, I might be up writing.  If I’m at work, middle of the day.  If I’m at Solar on the weekend it could be any time or evening on a weeknight.  As I said, no set schedule.  I’d like to say I write every day, but somedays, my brain needs a break.  Still, I’m far more prolific now than at any time in the recent past, so there’s that.

 

What hardware do you use?

Dell laptop.  I’m on my third one since 2005(ish).  I have my iPad which gets used a lot for note-taking and updating Google Docs and some for Final Draft, but I’m getting ahead of myself…

 

What software do you use?

Final Draft for all scripting.  Google Docs for breaking story with my sister and creating treatments/outlines.  Sometimes we transfer to a Word Doc or PDF for distribution, if we are presenting any of those documents to our writers group.  That’s about it.  I’ve never been keen to try any of the fancy pants outlining docs, and I’m not really a notecard person.  We just build outline bit by bit, starting with the structure and filling it in as we go along.  Pretty simple, I guess.

 

What would you change about how you write?

I admire my boss’s workflow.  Of course, writing is his full-time job, so he really treats it that way.  He gets up very early, like 4 AM and he writes for about 4 or 5 hours.  Then he takes a break to actually get ready for the day, particularly any meetings he might have, and depending on if he has deadlines, he’ll be back at it in the afternoon.  I think it’s really key that he does this every day — he writes every day, for several hours before the main day even starts, so if his day is filled with meetings or appointments, he’s already gotten work done for the day.

I, on the other hand, am not a morning person.  I have the tendency to write late rather than early.  It’s too easy for me to make excuses for not having written that day (my day job, other activities which filled the time) and then declare myself “too tired” to stay up and write.  Lately though, I’ve been on a bit of a tear, with real dedication to getting the script written and passed off to my sister for her round.  This has given me more discipline, but it isn’t consistent.  Might be that I get a lot done at work, or I get it done when I get home.  Solar gets used for marathon sessions of several hours when I have work to do.

On a more crafty than logisitics note, my sister and I are ramping up to dual processing -working on two different projects simultaneously, handing each one off to the other when our work is complete.  Ideally we’d be getting twice as many scripts completed in a year, simply because we are each always working on a different project.  We were able to test this out a bit earlier in the year, when we were revising one script while drafting a second.  As I’d finish acts, I’d give it to her for her pass and she’d hand me the revisions she’d been doing, so I can take a look at them and do a pass.  The other advantage this gives us is not getting burned out on a single script quite so fast, since we are always directing ourselves to something else in short order.  What we don’t know if this method will ultimately speed up our processes or slow us down.  Time will tell, but I suspect it will make us faster and give us more routine.  As soon as we “finish” one project (it goes out for reads, etc) we cycle in a new one.  The old one my come back around for rewrites, but it will be done in tandem with something else.  Feels efficient.

 

On an unrelated note, I’m really enjoying Scribosphere Carnival so far.  I’d really like to see other screenwriting bloggers get involved, so if you are one of those bloggers, why not jump in? I promise, the water’s fine.  Don’t make me come over there.

 

 

 

Posted under blogs, writing

This post was written by Shawna on October 5, 2013

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Scribosphere Carnival #1 – Time Capsule

Welcome to the first Scribosphere Carnival!  Before I get into this week’s topic, a few bits of background, and the posting rules.  I know most of you who decide to participate will want the instructions right up front before I start actually writing on the subject.  Will make life easier if we always post the rules, first, but I don’t expect that to happen every week…

So, first, what is the Scribosphere Carnival?  Simply, it is a way for blogs which are covering the topics of screenwriting for film, tv and the web to join together.  Each week, one blogger will declare the topic of the week.  Those who choose to participate will blog on that topic at some point during the week, and then post a comment on the OP (original poster’s) blog with the link to their post in the carnival.  That’s it! Pretty easy, right?

So there are a few guidelines, which will not only make it easy for people, particularly the OP to find your Carnival entry:

  • Please copy the title of the carnival post for your post on your blog. You should use the title of this post for your own entry.  You should also copy the topic as it is described by the OP and paste it into the top of your post.
  • Once your entry is posted, come back to this blog and link to your post in the comments below.
  • A follow up post by the OP will collect comments from those who have suggestions for the next carnival. The OP of the current carnival gets to pick the topic for next week! [This should be the only time an OP will both originate a topic and pick the following week, which I get to do because this was all my idea. 😉 ]
  • The OP should post on Monday. Everyone who participates has until the following Monday to chime in.
  • The carnival topic can be about anything screenwriting related — craft, business, etc.
  • As the OP, you should continually update your post with links to all of the participating blogs and their entries.  It is recommended that participants also link to each other’s posts throughout the week, but it is not required.
  • Participants are required, however, to post to the OP’s blog post on the topic at the top of the blog, i.e. “Shawna at Shouting into the Wind has posted this week’s Scribosphere Carnival topic which is…[link][topic][/link]
  • It is recommended that you tag or categorize your posts with the following terms: ‘scribosphere’ and ‘carnival’ but not required.  This would be for your own search and organizational purposes.

With those guidelines out of the way, here’s this week’s topic:

TIME CAPSULE — This topic is actually a 3-parter. First, recount your journey in screenwriting up to this point in time.  Second, tell us where you are on your journey now.  Finally, for the really fun, creative part — blog as if it is one year from today.  What has the past year of your journey been like? What has changed? Be as realistic or not as you like — it’s your time capsule! One year from now, we will revisit our time capsules to see how we did with our predictions… Your post can be as long or as short as you like — the most important thing is to have fun with it!

Okay, on to my response to this topic…

I’ve been on my journey for ten years now, going on eleven.  When I started, I had read one book – Syd Field – and was attempting to write rom com features while living in Orlando, Florida.  I had been out of college for seven years, when I decided I needed to radically change my life.  I got myself relocated to L.A. and my sister and I moved in together.  It would be another six years working along side the industry, but not really in it, taking classes at UCLA, really learning the craft, before I was laid off from my job and forced to focus exclusively on writing for awhile.  In 2011 I got a job working as an assistant to a successful tv and feature writer, and my sister and I found an agent who wanted to represent us last year (at Gersh).  Now my sister and I are fully committed to being staffed within the year on a tv show, and we will continue to write pilots so we can pitch them out.

September 23, 2014

Julie and I are on script this week.  The room is breaking the tenth episode of the season, but we are responsible for writing the ninth.  If my blogging is light, it’s because we have to submit our draft by the end of the week.  It’s nerve-wracking — this is our first tv script together.  We’ve each gotten story credits before, and of course, we’ve written that web series, so we are versed in the realities of production, but this is it — our first solo story/script.  I can’t wait for you to see it.  I hope it doesn’t suck.

 

** Sorry for how late this was posted Monday.  I had a surprisingly busy day today, so it took awhile to get this done.  I may expand my entry throughout the week, but I wanted to at least get something out there for people to see what it is we are trying to do…

Participating Blogs:

 

Posted under blogs, writing

This post was written by Shawna on September 23, 2013

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Clear Skies – 17 months later

I actually meant to write this post five months ago, but you know how it is. You blink in April and it’s suddenly September. I haven’t blogged a lot in the past year — all you have to do is look at the dates of the last five posts to see that’s true — but it wasn’t for lack of interest. It’s been a very busy year.  Julie and I got an agent. We pitched a pilot all around town (though it didn’t sell). We went up for staffing and came close… I watched the webseries project go into limboland after completing the draft…

And through all of these trials, I’ve been in a good place, mentally.  Seventeen months ago, I bared my soul to you all about my struggles with clinical depression. I had really gone to a dark place and gratefully came out of it, with a lot of support from family, friends and you (and medication). I still have the daily worries and concerns, the occasional bad mood and even a few down days, but those negative moments are easily handled.  I allow myself to have a bad day, but it doesn’t turn into a bad week, a bad month, a bad year… When you are suffering depression and not coping, it is so easy to start down the spiral. The key is to see when it is happening and acknowledge it, without getting caught up in it.

Believe me, it would be hard to take the amount of rejection we’ve received this year if I were still feeling as I did last April. The perspective I have to keep is that with each rejection comes a new opportunity.  Each executive I meet, each person I pitch or draft I complete is one step closer to the goal, to be a staffed writer on a TV show.  Nearing the end of my 10th year in Hollywood, I am as close as I’ve ever been to the goal, and now I’m so close I can almost see it. It’s funny how the closer I get, the stronger my resolve has become — a year ago I worried how I would feel if I wasn’t staffed by now.  Now I don’t worry about if but when. I feel it will happen, and I just have to keep pushing.

I want to thank all of you for sticking with me, whether it’s here on the rarely updated blog, on Twitter or Facebook, in Meatspace… it means a great deal to me to know you are out there. I hope to see some of you “old skool” bloggers in a couple of weeks, when we meet up at Morrison in Los Feliz to catch up and talk shop.  I’ll also be back in Austin next month for the Austin Film Festival, so for those who I miss in L.A., perhaps I can see a few of you there. Otherwise, we’ll always have The Scribosphere.

Here’s to continued clear skies and fair weather… and to reaching the next milestone.

Posted under randomness, writing

This post was written by Shawna on September 4, 2013

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