Fellowship Review: How to Make Distinctions
Please join us via zoom on Wednesday, March 30th at 4pm, LA time, for a Free Mini-Camp to discuss our Fellowship Application Review Process. This event is an extra show of support for applicants who submitted for the Women Going Places Fellowship (application deadline Friday, March 25th, noon). Alumni of all stripes are welcome to attend.
The practice and study of the compacted, highly-structured writing and storytelling style of movies and TV will improve your writing at every level. There are at least 10 single-sentence exercises at Writers Boot Camp that foster conceptual clarity and empower greater mastery of a writer’s entertainment goals and distinctions per each project.
In addition to newer writers, and even experienced writers, rushing through their applications, the number one problem with answers is that they are not personal due to reiterating platitudes. Instead of elevating the conversation about a topic or subject, writers at the highest level of the entertainment industry understand that execution on the page is a function of one’s fresh take on a classic circumstance or dilemma. To avoid being unoriginal, it’s necessary to own one’s individuality. That begins with thoughtfulness about how your answers will distinguish yourself from the usual, typical comments about a subject.
More About the Fellowship and Details About the Event Discussion
Since the start of the pandemic, Writers Boot Camp has provided more than $200,000 in fellowship and scholarship awards, highlighting opportunities to writers of diverse voices, including women. Still, as many winners have received awards–that of full $2500 scholarships to the 12-Week Basic Training–we have seen hundreds of applications that were non-starters. We have not disqualified anyone who didn’t follow instructions. But taking time to read through instructions and recommendations can make all the difference. One of the best traits of our Fellowship is that it’s more than a culmination–and winning is just the beginning of an educational process.
The topical questions on the application, which change per the creative focus and parameters, can tend to overlap and intersect since any individual artist, writer or filmmaker may have a multi-varied experience and background, areas of specialty and personal interest. The apparent oxymoron of striving to be “compact yet explicit” is a nod to the light touch required in screenwriting and television writing. Economy is very different from brevity, and many writers can express too little even in great length.
The Importance of Distinction in Expression: Ditch the Logline
This challenge and contrast alluded to above is parallel to the challenges of Writers Boot Camp’s unique Premise Line exercise. Not a slogan or TV Guide description, a Premise Line is a creative tool created at the start of the first Writers Boot Camp in 1989 that goes well beyond the story set-up that typically dominates a logline. A Premise Line more fully helps a writer identify the sources of material, depth of character interaction and fresh entertainment inherent in a project while indicating the structure of the story and highlighting the complication of events and relationships. That’s a lot to accomplish in one sentence–and it can be done!
The more effective description of one’s project will indicate how the story works without the need for long conversations to explain and supplement what is written. Unlike a logline, an effective Premise Line will preempt a producer or executive’s guesswork by indicating whether a writer visualizes story execution in 30, 60, 120 script pages–or in 250-350 pages of prose! Once you practice and study movies and TV, your prose will improve, become crisper, and better structured as well. We no longer take for granted that our alumni have hundreds of books and novels published, in addition to the countless movie and TV series produced.
During the Mini-Camp, we’ll touch on a few of the common problems that inhibit and misrepresent writers. We’ll suggest a short list of recurring issues and “hitches” that nearly disqualify a writer from the start, though Writers Boot Camp supportively accommodates certain latitude when it comes to the learning curve for newer writers. Still, it’s equally frustrating to see aspiring artists blow past straightforward guidelines, or highly experienced writers list achievements like a resume without context or distinction.
It follows that within any subject there’s a continuum in terms of how one determines to articulate the relevance of an idea to their experience and their personal journey. One of the challenges in project selection, writing execution and, yes, the answering of questions on an application, is whether the writer’s take on the subject expresses a vision, a fresh approach, a contribution not quite seen or heard before, which will extend the “creative conversation”.
Of session, we can see through history that philosophical and political sayings, and memes, are necessary to repeat on an ongoing basis if systemic problems persist, whether for a race or gender in our nation, or the world at large. However, the entertainment business requires that a story today, unless completed and executed fully by today, will be late to the party and derivative in comparison to the works of other artists, who anticipate a trend and are more forward thinking and, ultimately, advanced in their focus.
If you RSVP and then cannot attend, please let us know in advance. You can send questions for the discussion in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next Wednesday!