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ClarkeC writes...

Hey Mr.Weisman, managed to check out Starbrand and Nightmask and it was pretty good to no one's surprise. Also congrats on a season 3 of Young Justice. I just have two questions regarding that show.
1. You mentioned that there was both a timeline(that only you and Brandon are privy to) and a series bible(with details like Vandal Savage being Attila
the Hun supposedly). In the context of Young Justice, is their a difference or are they more or less the same.
2. You mentioned on this site that you used post cards and a giant billboards with different cards with different colors to establish certain dialogue or plot points. Do you also use them for events off screen such during the time skip or prior to the series?
Thanks in advance for time.

Greg responds...

1. They are two different documents. I'm constantly updating the timeline. The bible, I haven't looked at in five years.

2. Index cards, not post cards. And, yes, sometimes.

Response recorded on February 28, 2017

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Zaggadabba writes...

1) How do you try to keep things unpredictable when you know that by the simple law of enough monkeys with enough typewriters, some fan out there will figure out any twist sooner or later?
2) How do you balance keeping a villain interesting/likable without making it so much so that the audience roots for them instead of the protagonist?

Greg responds...

1. Can't worry about that. We tell the stories that we want to tell. That our characters tell us we need to tell. Inevitably, some percentage of our audience will figure out our game. Inevitably, some will be surprised. If the story is well-told, hopefully both groups will still enjoy it.

2. Give them motivation that makes sense, but don't sugarcoat their actions.

Response recorded on February 16, 2017

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Robert Misirian writes...

Hi Mr. Weisman. I remember we met in WonderCon last year and I asked you questions about writing spec scripts for cartoons. I remember you said that I should write three scripts, then go over them, and only submit one of them if you're absolutely sure it's good.

Knowing what you and your crew got away with in Young Justice, how do how people like you and Gennedy Tartakovsky on Sym-Bionic Titan get away with the TV-PG content and make your show with teens in mind? And since I plan to make TV-14 shows for the main Cartoon Network channel, would the channel accept them?

Greg responds...

You'd have to ask them. The needs of ANY given channel are constantly changing.

And I don't write for an older audience. I write on levels so it works for the widest possible audience.

Response recorded on November 30, 2016

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Kelli writes...

Hi Mr. Greg! Firstly I'd like to say how much I truly enjoy your shows and shows you've written for, you've been an inspiration to myself as a writer for a long time. You're one of the greats!

I have some questions about writing, if that's okay.

1. As stated previously, I admire your writing greatly and wanted to know if there are some tips you could give me in writing a series focused on a team and writing for multiple characters? I'm currently working on my original ideas, and I'm a little embarrassed to admit that a lot of my writing pace and story planning/arcing is influenced by watching shows such as Spectacular Spider-Man, YJ, TMNT and many others including comics like Kanan: The Last Padawan (I own every issue)that you've written for. But writing for multiple characters can become difficult since I write in third person.

2. Have you ever gotten "bogged down" so to speak in writing a series planned on spanning over a period of time?

3. Lastly, do you find it hard to focus on what's happening in the series currently instead of jumping to the conclusion because of exciment for the end? If so, how do you stay focused?

Just for fun question: When not writing for tv, what's your prefered voice for writing, first or third?

Thank you for your time, and I can't wait to read/watch what you write next!

Greg responds...

1. I've answered questions like this before, so check the WRITING and WRITING TIPS archives here at ASK GREG for more details. But it's hard to answer your question, because I'm not clear what you're trying to accomplish. When you say you're "writing a series," what does that mean? Television? Movies? Books? Comics? Short stories? A proposal for one or the other or all? Are you asking me about choreographing action or about juggling storylines or something else?

2. Sure.

3. Sometimes. DEADLINES help me focus.

4. I don't have a preference. It depends on the needs of the specific story.

Response recorded on November 21, 2016

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Anonymous writes...

What do I need to write in character biographies? As I'm making my project, the way I do my character bios, I write a lot of backstor, the characters' personality, birthday and age, and a bit of present, etc. Is that all necessary or do I need to do them in a better order?

Greg responds...

There aren't any rules. You do what you need.

Response recorded on November 18, 2016

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Marvelman writes...

Hi. A little while ago I requested a character oriented slant for a hypothetical third season of Young Justice. I want to rescind my request. As I sit here working on my YA novel, I realized that no writer can work that way. He/she can only tell the story she wants to tell and hope other people like it.

Greg responds...

Yep.

Response recorded on October 10, 2016

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Taylor writes...

Hi Greg,

In your opinion, what are some of the key factors that separate a good story/script from a poor one (especially as it applies to writing in episodic television)?

Thanks

Greg responds...

Uh...

Good structure.

Story that comes out of character.

Dialogue that sounds like something human beings would actually say.

Some amount of surprise.

And if we're literally talking about the script itself: PROOFREADING!

Response recorded on October 07, 2016

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Mark Snelling writes...

Hello Mr. Weisman,

I'm very much a writer like yourself and am trying to break into the animation industry with a story of my own; its tone and maturity much like Young Justice, which I loved by the way (Go Robin!).

My questions are:

1.) How much should I have in my story's portfolio before I pitch my idea to various networks? I already have concept drawings, practice scripts, and I'm having an independent studio make three animated shorts, but what would you suggest?

2.) Who, generally, should I know or get to mentor me in breaking into the industry? I was trained as an Engineer before realizing my true passion for storytelling.

3.) Any other tips I may have missed?

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Greg responds...

1. Less is more. You already have way more product/content than I'd use to pitch an original idea. The thing you may be missing is experience. But you never know. Sometimes they go for it.

2. As many folks as possible. Networking is an important skill.

3. Proofread religiously.

Response recorded on October 06, 2016

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Mexi Gremillion writes...

Hi Greg!

My name is Mexi Gremillion and I am going to be writing for film and television when I finish college in May. I was wondering if I could ask you a few questions possibly about your experience as a creator and writer of fantastic television series like Gargoyles and Young Justice via email if possible, but it is totally fine if I ask you publicly on this sort of forum. I love your work and it's totally fine if you don't answer this, but I hope you do. Thank you so much for your time.

Sincerely,

Mexi Gremillion

Greg responds...

Hi Mexi,

I'd prefer to keep things in this forum. I know you asked this question nine months ago, so if you're still checking this, I'd recommend that you look at the Ask Greg archives under WRITING and/or WRITING TIPS. See if your questions were asked and answered already. If you still have more questions, post them here.

Response recorded on September 20, 2016

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RexBlazer1 writes...

Hi Greg,

I'll try and keep this short, as I'm sure your busy and having things to do, but basically I would like your honest opinion on something. And no, don't worry, it's not about ideas for any of the things you've worked on, nor anything that I or others have written.

Anyway, I'm an aspiring writer who wants to make his own series, and there's an aspect of storytelling that I can't seem to decide on. You see, I have always felt that there are, primarily, two types of villains:

1. The kind who do bad things and don't care
2. The kind who believe that their actions are justified

Summarily, I can't seem to decide which one is worse, as it could really be argued either way. I've asked some friends what they think, and have gotten back different answers.

Admittedly, the self-justifying villain tends to fall under a trope that I have a disliking towards:

Knight Templar - a villain who is convinced that he/she is the hero.

And, after thinking about it, there is at least one thing to appreciate about the "bad and don't care" villains; at least they have no illusions about what they want or what they're doing. Plus, we've seen a lot of the self-justifying villains in recent years, to the point where I think it might be overused. Which is why I think a balance between the two needs to be met, as too much of one can get old fast.

But anyway, I mainly just wanted to ask which type of villain you think is worse; the "bad and don't care" kind, or the self-justifying kind?

Greg responds...

I take some issue with the reductive nature of your question. And so I think you're going about things the wrong way. It's not about which is worse. It's about what fits your character. Take, as an obvious example for this website, GARGOYLES.

We have two rather unique and memorable lead villains, DEMONA and XANATOS. I suppose you could reduce Xanatos to your definition of a type one villain. And I suppose you could reduce Demona to your type two. But there are moments when Xanatos thinks what he does is justified, and moments when Demona does a bad thing and just doesn't care. There are also moments when each has done truly heroic things.

The point I'm making is that a great villain is nothing more or less than a great CHARACTER. Write a character with consistency, backed by consistent motivation and history and I don't really care if he or she is type one, type two or type three. (Because, among other things, I doubt that there are truly only two types.)

Response recorded on September 08, 2016


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