No Article This Week

My computer died. (It was so dramatic. It froze, and then the start up disk disappeared. I was texting Apple tech support for about three hours before they decided it was better to just send it in to be repaired.) It’s been a little hard to try and get anything done with my phone, and very ancient iPad, so I’m foregoing a main article this week. I can kind of type stuff but it’s just like pulling teeth.

But I’ve got some article ideas for you to look forward to! Are you excited?!

  • Cozy Autumn Essentials; great products to make writing more cozy and comfy in the coming months!
  • Finding Your Voice; exploring some of the super unique voices in cinema (think Joss Whedon’s works and shows like Hannibal). And how to balance between making your voice your signature and telling your story.
  • A review of the podcast, Dead Eyes! I’ve been listening to this and it’s a really interesting, funny look into the actual reality of Hollywood.

That’s what I’ve got so far. Anything pique your interest? Is there anything you’d like me to write about? Comment below and let me know!p

Also! I’m trying to reach 100 followers on Instagram! I’d love to get in touch with you there. Find me on there, betsythegremlin!


I’d be super chuffed if you joined my email list. Get the latest Gremlin news and exclusive downloads! I never spam and I’d love to keep in touch with you!

On Chadwick Boseman’s Passing

Rolling Stone Magazine

As if this year wasn’t bad enough we lost a great one. He didn’t even let the world know he was sick, choosing to slip quietly back into the universe. It’s devastating.

In my most basic fan-girl state I’m sad about the loss of T’Challa; a monumental force in the world of superheroes. But he was also Thurgood Marshall and Jackie Robinson; he brought his all to so many good roles (made better by his talent!) and it’s just tragic that he’s gone.

As a writer still trying to break into the industry, it’s not like I knew him. His loss doesn’t affect me as much as it does his family and friends. But more than once I was writing characters thinking that Boseman would be a good fit for the role (as if I’d have any say). His talent was beyond measure and the world is just a little less bright without him.

RIP Chadwick Boseman. A true light in the darkness has gone out.

How to Work and Write and Not Go Crazy

Finding a balance between following your dreams and working to pay the bills.

Writing is amazing if you love it. But for most of us trying to break into the business, it isn’t lucrative. (In fact, I wrote a whole dang post about things I do to manage my money specifically so writers can keep writing.) Maybe your novel will be the next big thing and get on Reese’s book club list, but the chances of that are slim, and in the meantime, you gotta pay the bills. Work comes first. And that’s okay.

In the past few years, I’ve had a myriad of jobs; service-oriented, administrative and editorial, and a few weird things in-between. Working full-time (while also balancing depression, anxiety, and PCOS, ugh) made the idea of coming home from work and writing seem utterly ludicrous. I imagine it’s the same for many of you.

Balancing life and a passion for writing is so freaking hard.

As I reflect on my past, working full time and writing, I’m surprised by how much I was able to get done. (Right now I’m living at home and not working and feel like I’m getting nothing done! Thanks, Covid-19 angst!). I had a whole slew of projects and was pretty productive on all of them. I realized that I had worked out a few little systems to balance my writing life with my work life. Again, it was hard; I wasn’t having the best time, but I knew I had to keep going up that mountain.

Here are some things I’ve learned that make the climb a little easier;

Write 100 Words (or 3-5 screenplay pages) before work.

(or after work, it’s your life)

Every day, sit down and try and write 100 words. It’s that simple. Usually, by the time you hit 100 words, you’re on a roll and can keep going until you lose steam. It’s not a lot of words, I get that. In fact, it’s a downright negligible amount of words if you’re trying to write a novel. Even then, sometimes 100 words can feel like pulling teeth. If that’s the case, hit your 100 and walk away; you’re still 100 words richer. (And if you’re one of my screenplay audience, 100 words is comparable to 3-5 pages of screenplay. If you can get 3 pages of screenplay done a day, you’ll have a 90-page screenplay in a month.)

It doesn’t have to be good either. Just getting the words on the page is an accomplishment. You can edit later

(And look, this section was about 130-ish words! See? it’s not that bad!)

Rage! Vexation! Empurpling! – Writing Effective Anger.

Anger is a weird emotion. It’s very basic — compare it to envy or trepidation or love — but that does not mean it is necessarily easy to write. It can be both basic and enormously complex. Anger sucks. Being angry is hard and raw and weird. As with most things, even though the concept of anger is a simple one, the execution of it on the page is complicated and people often fail.

Translation: A lot of times dialogue that’s supposed to be angry comes off as flat. Oops.

Post Header, B&W Lion roaring with text 'Writing Anger, with a free printable'.

Why is this though? We all know what anger is. We’ve all felt it at one point or another. Furthermore, we have all experienced many of the various shades and forms anger can take. Everyone over the age of ten has probably felt various nuances of anger. The anger you felt as a young child when your sibling was being a jerk is different than the anger you feel when a professor critiques your work in front of the class. This, in turn, is different than the anger you feel when you believe a partner may be cheating on you. Maybe all these things make you scream, but they’re all different and all stem from different places.

Here’s the weird truth: anger itself is not a base emotion.

Kids Like Pizza: Writing Realistic Children!

Let’s talk about the differences between writing children in screenplays and novels, versus writing adults!

This post is part of the Dialogue Doctor Series, where I talk about writing effective dialogue!

Blog Post Header; a young girl walking through the woods. Text reads 'Writing children effectively.'

I wish I could say writing child characters was the same as writing adults but I’d be wrong. Further still, I wish I could say that writing children was an easy task. That’s even more wrong. We’ve all seen movies with children in them, which means we’ve all seen movies where the child’s lines are either exceptionally on-point or awkward and stilted. 

(Note, this has nothing to do with the performance of child actors, but rather the lines they’re given within the script. Sure, sometimes children aren’t very good at acting, but that doesn’t mean they deserve bad dialogue.)

Oftentimes you can tell if someone has interacted with kids or not based on the dialogue they give their child characters. Frankly, being around children makes writing children’s dialogue easier, but sometimes we just can’t hang out with kids for no reason other than to hear them talk; that’d be weird.

Read on for a few key tips to focus on when it comes to writing children’s dialogue.

Gremlin’s Adventures in Influencing

I’ve been trying my hand at ‘influencer’-y things (ugh) and trying to get over my massive amounts of self-consciousness. It feels futile; I’m not influential. My 75 followers probably don’t want any influencing. It’s just kind of a silly experiment. Especially since I can’t go out and see things and take pictures in cool locations, considering the current plague going on.

But one of my favorite Instagram users mentioned that they were self-conscious sitting down. It’s a challenge to be sure. I must’ve taken like forty pictures and these were the only three I was happy with. But also I can see what I actually look like — overcoming the huge disconnect between my mind and body (the dysmorphia is real), as well as being a plus-size person in front of the camera. It’s interesting to challenge myself this way. I’m pretty good at writing, and I’ve always been good at moving my body (I’ve got a black belt in karate for Pete’s sake), but looking at myself and being in front of a camera is a completely different hurdle.

But I kind of like it.

I kind of feel good about this, flub and thunder thighs and all. I’m never going to be a size two. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t celebrate my body for all the gifts it’s given me. I’m cute. I’m pudgy. I sit down and look okay doing it!

The thing I’ve gleaned from this more than anything else is just keeping trying things that scare you. I was terrified of posting these pictures to my instagram, but it all worked out in the end.

Try something terrifying. Try something that makes you a little apprehensive. It’ll work out, I promise.

The 6 Worst Screenwriting Mistakes You Can Make

Are these common mistakes holding you back?

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I read and edit scripts professionally (as well as for my other writing friends, because that’s what friends do), and I’ve noticed some mistakes that happen over and over again, especially with new writers. These common mistakes cripple a story! Screenwriting and the film industry is a brutal business. Avoid these common mistakes to give your screenplay a leg up from the competition.

1. No conflict.

One of the main tenants of screenwriting —literally something drilled into every class meeting in my screenwriting program at UCLA — is, “add more conflict.

What does that mean though? The phrase ‘adding conflict’ is almost like a shibboleth within the film industry. Conflict does not mean the dictionary definition of conflict, it means challenge.

But it’s still true that the best way to make a screenplay better is to challenge your character’s goals and motives. All characters want and need to do* certain things throughout their story arcs, and making it harder for them to achieve those things makes your story better. This applies to both screenwriting and regular novel/short story writing.

To come about it another way, think of your favorite movie. Is there a scene where ‘nothing’ happens? I imagine there isn’t, (unless it’s a really artistic piece.) If there is one character in the scene, they’re trying to get something done (the ’trying’ is the challenge/conflict). If there are two characters, they are having a conversation or interaction with their unique wants and motives (their motives and interaction is the source of conflict).

Adding conflict is what makes a scene a scene. Again, it’s not adding fights and fisticuffs; if anything, it’s adding ‘story.’ The best stories happen in the conflict.

*The very first article I wrote on medium a few years ago was about ‘wants and needs’ and explaining what that actually means! Check it out!

If you’re going through hell, keep going…

It’s odd that just last week I was worried about submitting to screenplay competitions. That was the main thing and a real source of almost stress.

I say ‘almost,’ because my father had a health scare last Saturday; he went to the hospital. He’s fine now, but I thought I knew what stress really before it happened. I had some tough college years and experiences but it was nothing compared to this. It was surreal too in a post-Covid19 context; how do you experience a family member in the hospital when you can’t go in and see them in the hospital? Again, he’s fine now, and that’s also a source of stress because the doctors cannot tell us what happened. I know nothing about the world of medicine but how many possible causes are there for a person’s lungs and heart to fill with fluid?

I’ve been less than productive so far this week because of what happened. The face of a parent’s mortality can do that I guess. I’m taking it easy, hoping I can come up with my screenplay articles by the end of the week.

Life is weird and comes at you from unexpected places.

At least my dogs are cute. What a boon a ding-dong poodle is.

Do you still believe these outrageous film industry myths?

There are plenty of myths and misconceptions about the world of screenwriting and film, just like any industry. The pervasive untruths that people believe about filmmaking are pretty wild, and before I got enmeshed in this world I believed plenty of them myself. (Heck, part of me still wants to believe that I can make bank with screenwriting. Ce n’est pas vrai. C’est la vie).

Here are some of the most common and most untrue myths about screenwriting and the film industry that I have come across.

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Myth: It’s lucrative.

piggy bank

Fact: This is one of those myths that makes me laugh. For the most part, you cannot make a living on screenwriting alone. At least until you’re fairly well established, and even that can be a bit of a tossup. The majority of screenwriting gigs for movies are commission based; you don’t know where the next job is coming from once you’ve finished the one you’re working on. Sometimes big payouts for a script get publicized. Various entertainment and industry publications will tell you about the latest acquisition by big-name directors and up-and-coming writers, utmost scripts rarely get bought. Those that do rarely make the kind of seven-figure payout you think of when you think of Hollywood.

I don’t write screenplays for the money; it’d be nice to make some but I’m not kidding myself. I write because I love it. (And because I want to eventually have someone buy my script and Chris Evans star in it, and then meet me and fall in love with me. Obviously. This is a sound plan.)

(If you’re a poor writer like me, here are some of my favorite financial resources for making and managing money!)

Competition conniption.

I’m trying to decide if I want to tweak and submit one of my pilots to competitions again. There’s a few that are due on the 31st, and the pilot did okay last year (AFF Second Rounder good! Yippie!), so it’s not a completely impossible option. Hell, it might be a good shot even. I’m almost optimistic. Almost

I just don’t want to get my hopes up. That messed me up last year. Even when I got the email saying I was a second-rounder, I felt bad about it. Good, but not good enough. I’m older and wiser this year, but I know if I submit to anything there will still be that small flicker in me that says “This is it! This is your chance.” When it isn’t “it,” it ain’t great.

This industry can be a real kick in the pants sometimes. Just a real wallop of angst.

And I feel kind of duplicitous because I tell my clients and anyone reading this blog that a good screenplay can go a long way. But I’ve had a few good screenplays under my belt, (like actually good, I’m not just being arrogant), but they haven’t made it very far.

I’ll figure this all out, but I also don’t want to be dishonest about how draining this career choice can be. Everyone’s writing screenplays, which means competition is fierce. And I’m probably the least competitive person on the planet. If nothing else, getting into screenwriting has been an exercise in not just rolling over onto my back and letting the world mow over me.

I’ll do it. The submission fee isn’t that pricey, and every little bit of exposure matters in this industry.

Wish me luck, and tough skin.