Urban Possibilities: Together We Shine

Together We Shine is a powerfully uplifting evening of spoken word and music from the inspiring students of Urban Possibilities.

This very special evening is happening at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood (Los Angeles), Monday, Nov. 11 (Veterans Day) and Now Write! has some comp tickets to share.

Now Write! editor Laurie Lamson is a proud supporter, volunteer and sometimes teacher for the Urban Possibilities empowerment and creative writing program designed to tap the power of inner city potential.

Send a message with your name and email address if you want free tickets for this  not-to-be missed event.


International Screenwriters’ Association Podcasts with Now Write! Contributors

As the host/moderator for International Screenwriters Association for the last 2 years, I’ve had the pleasure to learn firsthand from some very talented and inspiring professionals.  Many of them were contributors to Now Write! Screenwriting, Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror (Feb. 2014) or both.  Here I’ve compiled all the Now Write! contributor podcasts to share.  – Laurie Lamson

timthumb-1.phpThe Craft of Writing For TV and Film with Pen Densham (Now Write!  Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.)

A lively conversation with two-time Oscar nominee Pen Densham about his experiences and the insights he’s gained from working in the entertainment industry as a writer, director and producer.  We also talk about the craft of writing for film and TV and take listener questions about Pen’s career and about his book Riding the Alligator: Strategies for a Career in Screenplay Writing.

christineconradtcuLife as a Horror/Thriller Writing Professional with Christine Conradt (Now Write! Screenwriting & Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.)

Learn what to expect once you make your way into the Hollywood trenches.  Christine discusses what it’s really like to be a working screenwriter in Hollywood, including the nuts and bolts of what to expect when you’re hired by a producer, how to manage the relationship and respond to script notes.

timthumb-3.phpFilm Genre for the Screenwriter with Jule Selbo (Now Write!  Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.)
Film Genre is an important aspect of the film narrative. It is important for the screenwriter to understand film genre’s place in the story so that he or she can deliver on audience expectations – and maybe even move the screenwriting form forward.

timthumb-2.phpSeven Surefire Secrets to Breaking Into the Film Biz with Barri Evins (Now Write! Screenwriting.)

You’re hundreds of miles from Hollywood, California. Or maybe you’re just around the corner, but it seems far away. You want to break into the film business. But how? This class gives you a road map to get you from here to there. With Barri Evins. Barri has taught at Pixar, DreamWorks Animation, the UCLA Producers Program and the American Film Institute.

(Note: I personally took Barri’s seminar mentioned in the podcast and it was FANTASTIC! – Laurie)

timthumb.phpClear and Tight Writing with Will Akers (Now Write! Screenwriting.)

Crushing to learn:  nobody wants to read your stuff, unless it’s your mom.  You are duty bound to give the reader a document that is 1.) clear and 2.) easy to read.  Will Akers will show you how to clean up that first draft. Will has written scripts and series television for studios, independent producers, and television networks. He is Chair of the Motion Pictures Program at Belmont University.

timthumb-4.phpStorymapping THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION with Daniel Calvisi (Now Write! Screenwriting.)

Daniel Calvisi and William Robert Rich, hosts of the Story Maps Screenwriting Podcast, will break down and discuss THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION with a beat-by-beat structural analysis that explores its classical structure, as well as the non-traditional elements that break from the Hollywood norm.

DevorahRubensteinIs Your Script Ready? with Devorah Cutler-Rubenstein (Now Write! Screenwriting & Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.)

Devorah Cutler-Rubenstein breaks down her critical evaluation checklist geared towards helping you see if you are truly ready to put your story out there. Bonus discussion: Insider tips on getting yourself ready for that all-important meeting, pitch, and elevator moment.

Brad.thumbAdapting Articles, Books and Life Rights to TV and Film with Brad Schreiber (Now Write! Screenwriting & Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.)

Brad has written for all media, done consultations for worldwide clients when he was V.P. at Chris Vogler’s Storytech, and has been writer-producer for PBS. Brad created the series North Mission Road, which ran six seasons on truTV.

Free Teleconferences from Intl. Screenwriters’ Association

I’ve been the host for International Screenwriters’ Association teleconferences for the last 17 months and I love sharing my passion for screenwriting, and writing in general, with my fellow writers.  These exclusive FREE teleconferences are only available from I.S.A.  Many of the talks are relevant for dramatic/narrative writers in any medium.

ISAbanner_wo_468x60 FREE




I had the opportunity to speak with one of my favorite writing teachers, John Truby, about the Oscar-nominated scripts from 2012.  It was a pretty exciting year and a great conversation.  (BTW John’s book The Anatomy of Story belongs on every writer’s shelf as much as the Now Write! books do.)  Listen here.

In the last few months I’ve also had the chance to chat with a few contributors to the upcoming next book in the Now Write! series: Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror:

Jule Selbo headshotMost recently, I had a truly informative talk with Jule Selbo, PhD about Film Genres.  This conversation is very relevant for anyone interested in genre writing, not just screenwriters.  We discussed everything from romantic comedy to crime, thriller, action and horror, and how various genres can be combined effectively. Listen now.

DenshamI was also lucky enough to speak with Pen Densham about his experiences working in the entertainment industry as a writer, director and producer responsible for the revivals of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, TANK GIRL, ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES and much more.  We also talked about the craft of writing for film and TV.  His book, Riding The Alligator offers terrific insight, encouragement and inspiration for writers in any medium.  Listen now.

_T3X1111Christine Conradt wrote BETRAYED AT 17, THE PERFECT NANNY and about 40 other made-for-TV and independent movies.  We had a lot of fun discussing what to expect in the Hollywood trenches – what it’s really like to be a working screenwriter in Hollywood, the nuts and bolts of what to expect when you’re hired by a producer, how to manage the relationship and respond to script notes.  (Christine also contributed a terrific exercise to Now Write! Screenwriting.) Listen now.

Laurie Lamson

Sexy Panel With THE SESSIONS Filmmakers

I recently had the honor to interview a pair of truly inspiring filmmakers.  It was part of a day of panels put on by my friends and colleagues at Sherwood Oaks Experimental College.

Producer Judi Levine and writer/director Ben Lewin are the pioneering team (and power couple) behind the multi-award nominated and winning new movie: THE SESSIONS.

This remarkable, hilarious true-life film of a severely disabled, yet utterly disarming poet / journalist on a quest for a sexual experience may be one of my all-time favorites.  The actors pull you in completely – even the tiniest cameo performances ring with truth.  It tells a compelling story that is empowering and uplifting.  And what a fun emotional ride!

Unknown-1One of the highlights of the conversation was discussing with Ben his process of figuring out how to shoot the sex scenes.  At first he imagined all the clichés, but it dawned on him that he couldn’t really relate to what he referred to as”sexual Olympians” in Hollywood movies and TV.

So he decided to take an almost documentary-style approach to the awkward scenes between Mark O’Brien (played by brilliant John Hawkes) and Cheryl Cohen Greene (played by Helen Hunt – nominated for an Oscar for this role).  Their experience is so very real, funny and touching.

BenLewinLLandJudiLevineAs I said on the panel, I believe he has created not just a wonderful film, but a healing experience for an audience – it helps people feel more relaxed about their own sexuality and insecurities.

To me this is what the greatest filmmaking is all about – beyond providing a supremely entertaining experience, THE SESSIONS has the power to change the way you think about yourself and your own life.

– Laurie Lamson




Guest Post by Dinty W. Moore: Writing and Creativity as a Peculiar Crossroads

One of my favorite writing quotes of all time comes from Flannery O’Connor, well known for her sharp observations and refreshing honesty. “The writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet,” she said.  “His problem is to find that location.”

O’Connor manages in these two short sentences to say so much about the mystery, the dedication, and the frustration of writing, while also reassuring those of us who have temporarily lost our roadmap to creativity that this is normal, ongoing, and to be expected. The peculiar crossroads is indeed elusive, which is why artists are both crazed and exhilarated most of their days.

O’Connor was Catholic, of course, and may not take kindly to my equating her views with a central Buddhist concept, but that connection is something else I like about this quote.  And O’Connor, while spitting in my eye, would perhaps applaud me for having the courage to say what I mean.

So here goes:  I think O’Connor is also speaking here of enlightenment.

The Sanskrit word for enlightenment, bodhi, means “awakened.” For a long time, I held all of the common misperceptions that we in the West usually have about Buddhism – most of what we know of the tradition was often learned from New Yorker cartoons of a mystic sitting atop a mountain. One of those misperceptions is the persistent idea that enlightenment is the final goal of Buddhism; that once enlightenment was attained, the ethereal Buddhist sits, perhaps glowing and smiling at the lesser beings trudging along the path below.

That, of course, is utter nonsense. Enlightenment is of no use unless it is employed to better the world for all beings, and enlightenment—like any awakening—can come and go. Indeed, it can be very fleeting.

Writers who struggle with a poem, or story, or essay, for draft after draft after draft, may on occasion experience a smidgen of enlightenment. It is the moment that the perfect word, or precise action by a character, or the ideal phrasing of an idea, is revealed to the writer.

So often, this ideal phrase or line of dialogue is more of a discovery than an invention. It is often a flash of sorts, like the proverbial light bulb above the head depicted in cartoons. This flash of insight doesn’t come from thinking, from intellect, or from reason; it comes instead from a more mysterious part of our awareness. For that moment at least, it can seem as if time and place and eternity have somehow met.

Once a writer is fortunate enough to experience such a moment, however, she doesn’t stop.  Her job is to find that “peculiar crossroads” again, to somehow pinpoint the ever-shifting “location” where insight forms. And then, once the story or poem is finished, the search begins again.

Dinty W. Moore is a Now Write! Nonfiction contributor, and the author of The Mindful Writer: Noble Truths of the Writing Life, as well as the memoir Between Panic & Desire, winner of the Grub Street Nonfiction Book Prize in 2009. He also edited The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction: Advice and Essential Exercises from Respected Writers, Editors, and Teachers. Moore has published essays and stories in many literary magazines and The New York Times Sunday Magazine. A professor of nonfiction writing at Ohio University, Moore has won many awards including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction. He edits Brevity, an online journal of flash nonfiction.