A Writer’s Diary: October 2015

This week, I’m revising the new pilot. It occurs to me that I didn’t stop working long enough to enjoy the moment of finishing draft one; I was already diving back into the beginning and reorganizing scenes and sections of dialogue. Given the subject matter, which is kind of difficult, I’m especially concerned with getting the tone right. Believe it or not, by the way, when I’m writing the tougher moments, the soundtrack to my personal writer’s room has either been classical with lots of cello, or other soundtracks – or the silliest, perkiest pop music ever recorded.

I’m just gonna say it: Katy Perry’s “Firework” has been on heavy rotation. Don’t judge me.

Despite the seriousness of the storylines, it’s been fun to write the characters, and as usual I have my favorites, which change session to session. They’re what are going to make this (or any) show work. I feel good about my process in coming up with characters, but haven’t gotten the hang of just knowing that I’m telling a story with properly-calibrated obstacles and conflict.

I’ve been hibernating quite a bit to finish this draft, eating and sleeping it, practically. This show is more indicative of the type of  I envision writing generally, while my first pilot, Pirate Queen, is a big action-oriented series with a grand scope. So I want to get the new one ready and start shopping it as well. At this point, I can at least refine the all important logline and pitch for the new show.

Last month, I wrote a post with a colleague for my “day job” blog that crosses over well here, about how to overcome creative blocks. It was a blast collaborating with a visual artist and designer on that; I love getting ideas from other creative folks on how to feed and nurture creativity.

In part, that’s why I’ll be recapping Manhattan when season two premieres next week. Because watching other folks’ stunningly executed complex television is so good for the old confidence. I kid. Of course it’s good to keep consuming and reading new stuff as I’m creating my own work.

And I should wrap up a proper draft of my pilot #2 shortly. Plus, I’m developing a couple of ideas to turn into freelance pitches. In some ways, I feel as though I’m huffing up a lot of stairs to keep up, frankly. That could just be a subconscious preoccupation though, since I work in a sixth floor walkup studio in the city, and our elevator operator and I take the same lunch hour. Which means: BONUS WORKOUTS. I’ve got this, October, but I’m working for it.

Speaking of overcoming blocks, workouts and freelance pitches…this week’s writing class assignment beckons.

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Hurry Up and Wait

I should be working on my new pilot script, but it’s been one of those days when it’s very hard to get a good groove going. I’ve got a beat outline, which is the fun part, since it’s sequencing all of the story elements just so. Of course, things will be slightly reworked when I actually write the corresponding scenes, but that’s the shuffle to come.

OK, so there’s more than one fun part.

I’ve been doing a lot of character development, getting into people’s heads, learning about them, and what makes these characters tick. That’s another fun part.

The new project is quite different tonally from PIRATE QUEEN, the pilot I’m currently pitching. As for PQ’s status, I titled this post “Hurry Up and Wait” because that’s a lot of what I’m up to. For now I can just say that there’s been some interest. And I’d rather not jinx anything. I’m glad the television academy recognized Game of Thrones last night at the Emmys, because now I can point out that there’s another exciting show out there, ripe for the buying, with swordplay, political plotting and fierce warriors. And in mine, the lead is a woman and we’ll not be using violence against women as “entertainment”. (I know, SHOCKING.)

One of the reasons I wrote a show that literally has a woman warrior as the lead has to do with how women usually appear in such period action pieces. They’ve been princesses, or damsels in distress, but rarely if ever have they taken matters into their own hands to take care of themselves and the people they love. And even if my show is a bit adult, I want girls to know there are other kinds of women characters out there, including Grace O’Malley, the lead of PQ.

Hopefully, you’ll all get to see her onscreen. That would be another really fun part.

A Writer’s Diary: What’s in the Hopper this September

Hi. It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?

By my count, it’s been about four years since I was blogging here (or anywhere) even semi-regularly. Like many folks who got started in the early 2000s, there came a point when taking a good break was the best thing to do. Then, I was writing a lot for a job. And then, happily, more life kept happening, but it didn’t lend itself to this format. Those were great for different reasons – they’ve led to my current job, among other things – but as time went by, I kept coming back to my folders and notebooks of screenplay and TV series ideas that were sitting, languishing in cabinets and boxes. And one day, I decided it was high time to do something about that.

So I started working on scripts in earnest. I took a couple of workshops and courses, wrote every night and weekend, edited every day to and from work on the train, and lo and behold, I’m now networking and pitching my first TV pilot concept and script. Even more exciting? I’m working on my next script, and incubating the idea for the one after that, even more eager to keep learning and growing as an artist. It’s the most creatively satisfying work I’ve done in recent memory, perhaps even ever.

And that’s the short version of what I’ve been doing for the past year and a half or so. That’s the creative turn that I plan to write more about here as it unfolds.

You can see my first pilot script, PIRATE QUEEN, a period drama about Grace O’Malley, on The Blacklist (if you’re a member) and via Stage 32. If all goes well, we’ll all get to see it on the air. Sooner rather than later would be great.

In the meantime, I’m working on my next pilot script. Until I’ve copyrighted it, I’m keeping the concept under wraps, but it’s a very different show. The story is a provocative contemporary drama about community and family. I’m looking forward to writing it, which should take until early October. And as I said, I’m incubating the idea for the third series, this one a workplace drama. I’m awash in random notes and scribbled names for that one as we speak.

And what else is up next here on Ginsberg’s House?

My two most recent posts are a hint. They’re an episode recap of episode 8 of Manhattan, WGN America’s series about the Manhattan Project, and a season one overview post to bring people up to speed on the show and who’s who on the show.

Here’s the deal with those. I love MANHATTAN, but I wrote the recaps to capitalize on a lot of work I did on a spec script for the show that I wrote last year. (Spec scripts are scripts for shows that are already on the air you do as a writing sample or for educational purposes, not your own original pilot.) I learned a lot while doing so, and I figured this was a good way to make use of that work. I’m throwing some good karma to a show I feel deserves some love, in the hopes that someday, someone else helps do the same for PIRATE QUEEN or another creation o’mine.

To that end, I’m planning to recap season two here, starting in October.

In the meantime, I also have a guest blog post on The Philadelphia Story for Go Into the Story (The Blacklist’s blog).

Happy writing, all!