Reader Question: How to write about a historical figure, but not basing it off previous material?

August 20th, 2014 by

Question from Bretton Zinger:

I’m wondering about how you go about writing about a historical figure but not base it off of previous material. For example, let’s say I want to make a movie about George Washington. (He’s not the subject of my idea.) Numerous books have been written about him. If I’ve read many of those books, I have a reasonable understanding of his life. Is it possible to write an original script about him or would I have to secure rights to one or more of the books I have read that created my interest? Of course, I could do my own research by looking at his original correspondence, records, etc., but I would have still read the biographies of him and the material would obviously greatly overlap. Does that make sense?

Related question from Eric Harris:

How do you deal with stories that are partly based on real life people that are famous or infamous? Can you quote them verbatim for stuff they actually said? or should you make up dialogue for them? Can you make up stuff, change up timelines, make composite characters to tighten up the start and drama…and streamline it? Real life often does not fit the Hollywood 2 hour 3 act formula….so some finessing needs to be done.

I am not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on TV. And even if I did, I would not suggest you rely on me for any concrete legal advice.

That said, I think I’m pretty safe in stating this: If a person is in the public eye, they are pretty much fair game to do whatever you would do with them. I mean, for God’s sake, Hollywood produced a movie called Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I think I just summed up my argument right there.

Seriously, our 15th President. Emancipation Proclamation. Face on Mt. Rushmore. Saved the Union. And this is how Hollywood treated a real life historical figure.

As far compositing characters, changing timelines, making up stuff… there’s an old saying in Hollwyood: “Never let the facts get in the way of the story.”

In other words, Scott Myers, Non-Esquire says: “Go for it!”

Okay, let’s be serious for a second. Some of your choices would depend on the type of story you are writing and how historically careful you feel you need to be. If, for example, you are doing a drama that can best work by hewing close to historical facts, then you would need to do research to support that goal and shape the narrative accordingly.

But there is historical truth and there is aesthetic truth. And in almost every case, Hollywood is much more concerned with the latter than the former. Top Priority: Tell a good story.

Which brings us back to Abraham Lincoln, who as Bill and Ted discovered, has the last word on the subject with this advice to writers:

Any lawyers out there, please step in and steer Bretton and Eric onto the path of righteousness… and no culpability from a legal standpoint, if my expert analysis falls short of the truth.

Update: Go Into The Story Interviews

August 20th, 2014 by

Two things about interviews I conduct for this blog. First, one of the earliest goals I had with Go Into The Story was to use it to put a spotlight on screenwriters. This pertains to the weekly Screenwriting 101 series featuring writing quotes, the How They Write A Script series, aggregating audio, video and written interviews with literally hundreds of screenwriters and TV writers. It even extends to little things like Daily Dialogue: The only credit I note in each of those posts is “written by” or “screenplay by”. No disrespect to actors or directors, it’s just they always get publicity. Writers? Largely invisible. Which is ridiculous because I happen to believe the single most critical creative contribution to a movie or TV series is the script.

I know it’s not much, this humble blog directing attention onto writers, but at least it’s something.

So in that spirit about a year ago, I was talking with Franklin Leonard and he had a great idea related to the interviews I had been conducting with writers: Why not ask them for a head shot or preferred photo to accompany the interview posts? What better way to pierce through the veil of relative anonymity most writers have in Hollywood than by putting a face to a name.

And that’s what we’ve been doing: At the end of the series, I collect links to all of the interview posts, and include a photo of the screenwriter so everyone can see this name is not just a movie credit or a on the title pages of a PDF screenplay, but is attached to a real live flesh-and-blood person.

Now we’ve gone one step further. With big props to Wendy Cohen, GITS development assistant, and Dino Sijamic, the technical wizard behind all things Black List, we now have an updated GITS Interview archive with photos of most of the interview subjects. So click on the link and feast your eyes on the creative beauty of this group of screenwriters, TV writers, filmmakers and industry insiders.

The second thing: This summer, I basically had to temporarily shut down doing interviews because I have been so damn busy, but as September rolls around, I am gearing up to do a new round of conversations about the craft of writing.

Which raises the question: Why do I do this? After all, it is quite a bit of work. I don’t ask a series of fluff questions, rather I screen movies and read scripts of the writers I interview, and try to generate in-depth questions I hope writers, both aspiring and professional, will find illuminating and inspirational. And that answers the question: I do it because most of the journalistic attempts at interviewing writers may be well-intentioned, but if the interviewer doesn’t really have much understanding or appreciation of Story, they’re not likely to ask questions that would be of much educational benefit for GITS readers. That’s what I try to do. Ask questions about the creative process, story choices, and the craft.

I’m not a journalist and I’m learning as I go along, but I’ve gotten enough positive feedback from readers and, frankly, the writers I interview, that what goes on in those conversations is of value to people.

So starting next week, I will be reaching out to a list of writers I am putting together who I either know or have some form of access to, many of them recommended by readers or other writers, in order to set up interviews through the fall.

That said, if you are a professional screenwriter or TV writer, you enjoy the type of interviews I do, you support the idea of sharing with others your insights into the craft and creative process, do not hesitate to reach out to me privately via email, or if we follow each other on Twitter, direct message me.

I try to interview a wide variety of writers: Those who have recently broken into the business, Black List and Nicholl Fellowship writers, established writers, veteran writers. I am especially keen to feature women and writers of color because I believe it is important to promote diversity in the creative arts.

So again, if you are WGA member, have had one or more movies produced, or have won the Nicholl Fellowship or had a script make the Black List, and you would like to contribute to the online conversation about the writing craft, please get in touch with me to discuss a possible interview.

In addition, one thing I’d like to do with this next round of interviews is open up some of the questions to GITS readers. So as I firm up the schedule for this fall, with the writer’s permission, I will post an invitation to readers to pose questions to each writer I will be talking to. I’ll pick the best questions from the lot and do my best to work those into the conversations.

Let me close by saying I have learned a lot by doing all of these interviews and this in particular: By and large, writers are incredibly passionate about their craft. It is genuinely exciting to hear them discuss their projects, their approach to Story, and their love for movies and TV.

If nothing else, I hope readers can absorb that enthusiasm and use it to spur their own creative efforts.

Onward!

“Barely Legal Pawn”: With Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Julia Louis-Dreyfus

August 20th, 2014 by

Via Thompson on Hollywood (Indiewire).

5 Screenwriting Skills: #3 — Experience

August 20th, 2014 by

[Originally posted March 20, 2013]

During the nearly 5 years I’ve run this blog, I have been privileged to do one-on-one interviews with a number of screenwriters, especially this year as I set a goal to post a Q&A per week for 2013.

Over the course of those interviews, it’s been fascinating to learn the variety of approaches to the craft, yet at the same time how certain themes recur.

Recently I was struck by five personality traits and five skill sets that keep popping up. So I thought it would be helpful to do a series, a checklist if you will, of aspects of things we should be mindful of as we develop as screenwriters. Today:

Screenwriting Skill #3: Experience

Yesterday in reference to Knowledge, I mentioned my screenwriting mantra: Watch Movies. Read Scripts. Write Pages. And I noted how the first two fuel one’s Knowledge. Today we consider how the last one feeds the subject of today’s focus: Experience.

Obviously a screenwriter needs to put a certain amount of time into conjuring up ideas, developing stories, and pounding out pages. Whether it’s 10,000 hours, 100,000 pages, or 1,000,000 words, there is a kind of experience we can only have by writing… and writing a lot.

Billy Wilder and long-time writing partner I.A.L. Diamond

In that vein allow me to veer down memory lane. Before I was a screenwriter, I was a stand-up comic. And before I was a stand-up comic, I was a musician. In that capacity, I had the great pleasure of performing for 2 years with Pat Flynn [we went by Myers & O'Flynn]. After many years performing with the incomparable New Grass Revival, Pat was voted into the Hall of Fame by Frets magazine as an acoustic guitarist. Here you can get a taste of Pat’s incredible musicianship:

How did Pat get so good on the guitar? In part because of this. We lived in the same apartment complex down valley. And when I’d stumble over to his place after waking up about noon, I’d almost always see him positioned in front of his TV, watching a soap opera, endlessly practicing scales on his guitar, a sort of mindless repetition for hours on end. Day after day. Week after week. Then he would take that muscle memory and put it to use in our gigs night after night. Week after week.

So here’s the story. In 1978-1979, one of the many gigs Pat and I landed was at a club in Snowmass Village (Colorado) called The Last Resort where we performed apre ski before heading off to our nighttime engagements in Aspen.

As it turns out, the owner of The Last Resort had a teenage son who wanted to learn how to play electric guitar. Just a few minutes watching Pat perform convinced The Kid this dude slashing mad riffs on his Ovation guitar was going to be his personal musical guru.

Wanting to keep the boss happy, Pat agreed to give The Kid guitar lessons. At their first session, Pat gave The Kid some scales to practice.

At the second session, The Kid shows up. Pat asks, “Did you do you scales?” The Kid replies, “Nah.” “Why not?” The Kid said, “Checked out my favorite band Wishbone Ash. Man, their lead guitarist learned how to play his wicked guitar totally by dropping acid.”

Two choices: Work hard and practice scales or take acid and become a rock god.

Trust me, if you want to succeed as a screenwriter, the whole taking acid route is not the preferred path.

In my interviews and conversations with screenwriters, pounding out scripts is one common key: John Swetnam writing 17 scripts before landing a gig. Michael Werwie with 9 before winning the Nicholl. Carter Blanchard writing 15 drafts of “Glimmer” which went on to sell in a bidding war. This same refrain: You need to write to gain the experience necessary to succeed.

Of course, experience is not just about what you write. It’s also about how you live. You need a certain amount of living life to feed your creativity, your emotions, your soul.

But mostly it’s about writing pages. Find a story. Commit to it. And writing the hell out of it. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

That’s the main way you get experience.

Tomorrow: Screenwriting Skill #4: Voice.

5 Screenwriting Skills: #1 — Talent

5 Screenwriting Skills: #2 — Knowledge

From last week:

5 Screenwriting Traits: #1 — Passion

5 Screenwriting Traits: #2 — Courage

5 Screenwriting Traits: #3 — Consistency

5 Screenwriting Traits: #4 — Flexibility

5 Screenwriting Traits: #5 — Persistence

Movie Trailer: “Big Hero 6″

August 20th, 2014 by

Written by Don Hall & Jordan Roberts, Robert L. Baird and Daniel Gerson, comic by Duncan Rouleau and
Steven T. Seagle

A group of six superheroes are recruited by the government to protect the nation.

IMDB

Release Date: 7 November 2014 (USA)

Free Screenwriting Resource: The Definitive Spec Script Sales List [1991-2013]

August 20th, 2014 by

When I first broke into the business in 1987, one of my agents told me this: “Movies coming out in theaters represent what the studios were buying 3-5 years ago. If you want to know where their heads are at today, track what projects they’re buying now.”

As a result of that insight, I have been pretty consistent in tracking spec script sales since that time. This list is, as far as I know, the most comprehensive of its type. Not only an historical record, but also a great resource for brainstorming new story ideas.

Note: Tracking spec script sales is an inexact science. Some deals are made public. Others are not. Some deals that are made public are options for very little, if any money. I rely on deals noted in the trades, as well as sales I can confirm with agents, managers and/or the writers themselves. So while these deals are extensive, I make no claim for 100% accuracy because that is simply impossible.

Go here for links to a year by year accounting of spec script sales from 1991 through 2013.

Go here to access links to all of the select group of Free Screenwriting Resources from Go Into The Story.

Each day in August, I’m going to highlight a screenwriting resource available on the blog. Why? Because with over 15,000 posts and 70+ archive topics, I want to make sure readers are aware of the many, many assets available here for reading and research. And they are all free!

Script To Screen: “All About Eve”

August 20th, 2014 by

A scene from the 1950 movie All About Eve, written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and featuring one of the most famous lines of dialogue in movie history.

Plot Summary: An ingenue (Eve) insinuates herself in to the company of an established but aging stage actress (Margo) and her circle of theater friends.

Here is the scene in the script:

He hands Eve's drink to Karen. Max has wandered off. Other
guests are arriving. Margo gulps her drink, hands Bill the
empty glass. He puts it on a passing tray. Margo takes a
fresh one at the same time. 

			LLOYD
	 The general atmosphere is very
	 Macbethish. What has or is about to
	 happen? 

			MARGO
		(to Bill)
	 What is he talking about? 

			BILL 
	 Macbeth. 

			KAREN 
		(to Margo)
	 We know you, we've seen you before
	 like this. Is it over - or just
	 beginning? 

Margo surveys them all. 

			MARGO
	 Fasten your seat belts. It's going
	 to be a bumpy night. 

She downs the drink, hands the empty glass to Bill, and
leaves them. She passes two women, gabbing by the piano. As
they see her:

			WOMAN #1
	 Margo, darling!

			WOMAN #2
	 Darling!

			MARGO
		(passing)
	 Darlings...

She arrives at the landing just as Addison comes up with Miss
Caswell. Margo takes a drink from a passing tray. 

			MARGO
		(to Addison)
	 I distinctly remember striking your
	 name from the guest list. What are
	 you doing here?

			ADDISON
	 Dear Margo. You were an
	 unforgettable Peter Pan - you must
	 play it again, soon. You remember
	 Miss Caswell?

			MARGO
	 I do not. How do you do?

			MISS CASWELL
	 We never met. That's why. 

			ADDISON
	 Miss Caswell is an actress. A
	 graduate of Copacabana School of
	 Dramatic Arts. 
		(his glance is attracted
		 by Eve coming downstairs)
	 Ah... Eve.

			EVE
		(deferentially)
	 Good evening, Mr. deWitt.

			MARGO
	 I had no idea you knew each other.

			ADDISON 
	 This must be, at long last, our
	 formal introduction. Until now we
	 have met only in passing...

			MISS CASWELL
	 That's how you met me. In passing. 

			MARGO
		(smiles)
	 Eve, this is an old friend of Mr.
	 deWitt's mother - Miss Caswell,
	 Miss Harrington...
		(the two girls say hello)
	 Addison, I've been wanting you to
	 meet Eve for the longest time-

			ADDISON
		(murmurs)
	 It could only have been your
	 natural timidity that kept you from
	 mentioning it...

			MARGO
	 You've heard of her great interest
	 in the Theater-

			ADDISON
	 We have that in common. 

			MARGO
	 Then you two must have a long talk-

			EVE
	 I'm afraid Mr. deWitt would find me
	 boring before too long. 

			MISS CASWELL
	 You won't bore him, honey. You
	 won't even get to talk. 

			ADDISON
		(icily)
	 Claudia dear, come closer.
		(she does, and he points)
	 This is Max Fabian. He is a
	 producer. Go do yourself some good. 

			MISS CASWELL
		(sighs)
	 Why do they always look like
	 unhappy rabbits? 

			ADDISON
	 Because that is what they are. Go
	 make him happy. 

Miss Caswell drapes her coat over the rail, heads for Max.
Addison puts Eve's arm in his. 

			ADDISON
		(to Margo)
	 You mustn't worry about your little
	 charge. She is in safe hands. 

			MARGO
	 Amen.

Eve smiles uncertainly at Margo as he leads her away. Margo
looks after them. She downs her drink...

Here is the movie version of the scene:

First thing to note, the line “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night,” was named by the American Film Institute at the #9 most notable movie quote of all time. But it’s what happens after the line that ratchets up the plot, Eve connecting with Addison.

One thing interesting about scripts from this era is how close the actors stick to the dialogue as written. Few changes if any as is the case here. There’s a reason for that: During the first half-century during the evolution of movies, and especially during the 30s and 40s, many films were adaptations of stage play. Indeed, many screenwriters were playwrights. And in that world, the writer’s words were sacrosanct.

This attitude prevailed in Hollywood and it was only with the emergence of the director as auteur and the growth of method acting that we saw a screenplay coming to be perceived as a blueprint for production.

One of the best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

Daily Dialogue — August 20, 2014

August 20th, 2014 by

Sandy: Let it rain.

He shots a basketball and misses.

Reuben: So I did a lot of thinking last night, and there’s something I’m pretty excited about.
Sandy: What’s that? (off basket) Nice. Let it rain.

He shoots and misses again.

Reuben: I feel like I might be ready to move on, you know, get my life back on track. So, I’m going to ask Polly Prince on a date.
Sandy: Oh, that’s a mistake. She’s not right for you dude. Rain dance.

Another brick.

Two GUYS walk up.

Guy 1: Hey. You guys want to play some twos.
Reuben: Actually we’re in the middle of a conversation right now.
Sandy: You douchebags bring your A game?
Guy 1: What was that?
Sandy: I’m just messing with you, Sasquatch. Let’s get it on.

Along Came Polly (2004), written by John Hamburg

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week: Smack Talk. Today’s suggestion by uncgym44.

Trivia: According to an interview, Jennifer Aniston stated that the reasons she worked on this film was both to work with her friend Ben Stiller and to dance the salsa.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary by uncgym44: “Ben Stiller’s character is trying to have a heartfelt conversation with a friend. The inclusion of them playing basketball, adds movement and a dynamic element to the scene. Taking what could be potentially boring dialogue, and making it hilarious.”

If you have a suggestion for this week’s theme, please post in comments.

The First 15 Pages

August 19th, 2014 by

A guest post from Tom Benedek, screenwriter (Cocoon), educator and co-founder of Screenwriting Master Class.

Structure is everything. Perhaps. Breaking down the moving parts of the opening pages of the best screenplays yields a means to understanding their creative DNA. Putting all those pieces together — character intros, plot points, color of setting — is job one.

AND there is that other realm of it — writing style. Emotional attitude. Tone.

As I start writing the first script pages on a new project, I want two things to be going on. I need to get all this information about the story and the characters set in motion and I want to engage my reader emotionally. One and the same? Yes and no. All the ingredients for a wonderful script may be in the writer’s mind, in notes, in outline form. But the means, the voice on the page has to deliver all that and build this special emotional bridge with the reader.

Bringing your own unique voice into your screenwriting work is crucial and difficult. You can’t direct on the page. But you can emphatically present the moments of the story from your own point of view, bring your emotions to the piece. Simultaneously, the job is just tell the damn story. But this trick of keeping the voice of the storyteller in there somehow matters.

“In the broadest possible sense, writing well means to communicate clearly and interestingly and in a way that feels alive to the reader. Where there’s some kind of relationship between the writer and the reader — even though it’s mediated by a kind of text — there’s an electricity about it.” — David Foster Wallace

Creating that “electricity” is so difficult and essential. Your passion for your story and characters may just offer all that from the beginning. For most of us, it becomes necessary to labor over the words – to create that electricity in the text.

“Writing well in the sense of writing something interesting and urgent and alive, that actually has calories in it for the reader — the reader walks away having benefited from the 45 minutes she put into reading the thing — maybe isn’t hard for a certain few. I mean, maybe John Updike’s first drafts are these incredible . . . Apparently Bertrand Russell could just simply sit down and do this. I don’t know anyone who can do that. For me, the cliché that ‘Writing that appears effortless takes the most work’ has been borne out through very unpleasant experience.” — David Foster Wallace

Most of us mortals, David Foster Wallace included, are forced to manufacture that electricity in rewrite. It may be there in fits and starts (or everywhere, bless you) in that first draft. Mainly, it is just essential to start out mindful of what you want and to have thought through the main ingredients of your script. So they will be evident in those first 15 pages you rough out. You won’t find your voice unless you start writing. So — you have to get those first 15 pages into script form. Then, you can edit them and reinforce your emotional bridge with the reader.

I will be teaching a one-week online class at Screenwritingmasterclass.com next week: The First 15 Pages. There will be plenty of consideration of the essential structural ingredients — character building, plot development techniques, etc. for the opening pages. The class will also consider the practice of writing – finding your voice, fulfilling your creative mandate as you write or rewrite the first 15 pages of any script project. By reviewing the essentials in a few great scripts, you will see where the magic is — along with the sound structural fundamentals. Here is the link to the class.

I look forward to the opportunity to work with you!

Tom is a wonderful writer and teacher, and this is the type of learning experience that is crucial to the craft: Learning how to get into your story setup in an effective and entertaining way. So I encourage you to check out Tom’s new class here.

The myth of the overnight screenwriting success

August 19th, 2014 by

One of the choice members of the Mystery Hollywood Twitter community is @MysteryBritExec. She is candid, can be wickedly funny and has a wonderful way with the English language, apparent even at 140 characters per tweet. She also offers keen insights into the business.

To wit, earlier today MBE went on a short rant. I thought it was well worth spotlighting in full:

I REALLY NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS ARTICLE. Novice Screenwriter on Selling His First Script to Steven Spielberg.

Because elsewhere on the internet, this story as been sold as a real overnight success piece of bullshit.

As though one minute he was writing on a small UK comedy show. The next minute, TA-DA, Big Shiny Hollywood Surprise!

Don’t be sucked in by the dream machine. Matt has been working relentlessly at the highest level in UK TV/Film and US film for a LONG time.

They fucking LOVE this story. But it hurts writers to sell this nonsense.

He has re-written projects at the highest level. He doesn’t stop working.

Matt Charman is about as far from being a novice as the world is sane right now. ACTUAL END.

Here are some excerpts from the article in question found in The Hollywood Reporter:

Steven Spielberg typically works only with the most in-demand writers— from Tony Kushner to David Koepp. But don’t tell British playwright Matt Charman, 35, whose first screenplay is the director’s next film.

—-

Charman, who lives in London with his wife and 18-month-old son, talked to THR about his improbable move from pitch to production in less than a year and being part of Hollywood’s most exclusive inner circles.

What was the genesis of this screenplay?

I love the Kennedy administration and that period in American history. I found a footnote in a history book. It referred to James Donovan and the fact that he was a lawyer whom JFK had sent in to negotiate with Castro. There was a little asterisk, and down at the bottom of the page, it mentioned that he was also responsible for the prisoner exchange of Francis Gary Powers [an American pilot whose spy plane was shot down] for [Soviet spy] Rudolf Abel. And I thought, “This guy’s a lawyer, right, and how does that work?”

When did it come to Hollywood?

I pitched it to DreamWorks [senior vp production] Jonathan Eirich in October. I met him in a waffle shop in Los Angeles. He said, “Look, I’m going to go in right now and repeat as much of this as I can for Steven Spielberg because I think he’ll love this.” And by the time I landed back in the U.K., I had an amazing phone message saying, “Steven Spielberg would like to talk to you.”

Describe that feeling?

It was the most exhilarating and nerve‑racking experience in my life. Suddenly, his voice is there on the phone: “Matt, I heard you’ve got a great story to tell me. Shoot.” I gave him the pitch, and I talked him through the whole story. I got to the end of it, and he said, “How fast can you write it? Because I’d love to direct it.”

How fast were you able to write it?

I turned the first draft around in about eight weeks. Next thing I know, I’m at lunch with Steven Spielberg.

The impression is that a “novice” can stumble upon a story, somehow manage to tell it to an exec at a random waffle shop, line up a phone pitch with a major filmmaker, knock out the script in two months, then voila! Immediately become part of the Hollywood in-crowd. It’s that easy!

@MysteryExec, a leading light of the Mystery Hollywood crowd, followed up with his own observations on Twitter:

Yearrrrrrs of work before success usually. Sometimes a decade. Sometimes more.

It’s a ‘sexy’ story to say something happened overnight for a creative person. But it’s 100% bullshit.

Tragedy happens overnight. Success doesn’t.

You aren’t given some miracle career by selling one spec. Nor is one script an indicator of a writer’s ability to have an entire career.

You forge relationships, continue to work hard, and the best of the bunch never stop pushing to do better work.

You wanna be rich? One script isn’t going to do it.

Here’s how you win the lottery: you play the lottery. Filmmaking is not an easy path to cash. Especially not now.

This echoes something I have been preaching since I started this blog in 2008. There are no short cuts. There is no magic formula. Beware hucksters who try to sell you anything resembling the ‘keys to a million dollar spec script’. Because you know what? It’s not just about the script. You need to learn the craft: Think Concepts. Watch Movies. Read Scripts. Write Pages. Live Life.

Your goal is not to sell a spec script. It’s to build a career. A great spec script can be crucial, but that is a means to an end. Once you break into the business, you want to be in a position where you know your chops and have a fundamental grasp of the craft, you understand something about yourself as a writer and a person, you have taken the time to learn about the entertainment business and a writer’s place in it, you have solid writing habits in place and have developed your own approach to cracking and writing a story under deadline.

Being a novice-who-breaks-into-Hollywood makes for great copy. Shrinks the distance between Tinsel Town and Your Town.

But as @MysteryBritExec and @MysteryExec point out, this is essentially a myth. And even if it were true, it’s not where you want to be. Rather when you break in…

You. Want. To. Know. Your. Shit.

The only way to do that is through years of immersing yourself in the craft… living life as fully as possible… and doing the hard work of ass-on-chair writing day after day after day after day…

If you aren’t following the Mystery Hollywood crowd on Twitter, you absolutely should. Consider it part of your education. For a list of many of the denizens of that mysterious community, go here.

And special thanks to @MysteryBritExec and @MysteryExec… for laying the truth on us!