Monthly Archives: June 2012

Kids, Don’t Try This At Home

This is me working on the first Daria novel.

I’ve got a version of the manuscript open on my laptop, at left, and a master copy open on the desktop. The laptop uses Pages and the desktop uses Word. The laptop is a 2012 model and you scroll away from yourself to move downward. On the desktop, you scroll toward yourself to do the same. Plus, of course, there’s some amount of ambidextrous typing involved.

Complicated? Oh, hell yes.

But it lets me maintain a pristine “master” version of the novel, which I can differentiate with the edited versions bouncing between my editor, my agent and me; as well as between my various computer platforms.



Why I Love ‘The Newsroom’

I’m loving Aaron Sorkin’s “The Newsroom.”

“The Newsroom,” starring Jeff Daniels (from left), Emily Mortimer, Sam Waterston, Olivia Munn, Dev Patel, Thomas Sadoski, Alison Pill and John Gallagher Jr.

I’ve only seen the pilot. It could stumble. If it does, I’ll be there for the ride.

This is not the most popular position to take right now. It’s not popular among journalists. It’s not popular among television critics. Almost everyone seems to be rooting for this HBO series to fail.

I watched the pilot twice. I watched it the first time for the story and the second time for Sorkin’s words. I want to know: How is it that guys who write better than I do, write better than I do?

Sorkin writes with passion and poetry. He’s a stage writer, and he can’t shake that training. He writes for the cheap seats and the balcony. I love that.

Sorkin was the Golden Boy of television — especially among us journalists — because of “Sports Night” and “The West Wing.” Then he tripped over “Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip.” In whole, it was not great. Some of it was wonderful. Some was tedious. And because of that, a lot of people look back at themselves gushing over Sorkin’s earlier writing and are a little embarrassed. “The Newsroom” is a good opportunity to distance themselves from the earlier gushing.

Is “The Newsroom” an accurate portrayal of life in a newsroom? Nope. Is it passionate and poetic? Yeah. Is there room for artistry over accuracy in fiction. God, I hope so.

I’m loving “The Newsroom.”

Wow, What a Cool Compliment!

One of the best reader compliments … ever!

A really nice guy named Walt sent in the following comment regarding CRASHERS:

“I have never been so involved with reading a book as this one. I felt, to put it better, a return to ‘old time radio,’ the plot, characters came alive in my mind, such as radio did before television.”

Wow. Really: Wow.

For a guy who prides himself in being a storyteller, you can’t do better than to be compared with the great storytelling of classic radio. I’ve been fortunate enough to study a bit of pre-television radio drama. There were no better image-painters than those folks. Believe me.

Thanks, Walt!

Great Trick For ‘Casting’ Your Novel

Katy King and I tried a trick this weekend to help push forward one of our manuscripts.

The problem is this: Five characters in the novel, all of whom are involved in the same field of work. But all five of whom are different enough that the readers will be able to identify them, and separate them, throughout the book.

Got it? Serious problem. Say they’re five detectives. How do you introduce them on page 20 in such a way that they’re still recognizable on page 200? You don’t want the reader thinking, “Who is this, again? I gotta flip back …”

Here’s how we solved the problem: We cast the book. We found five actors from Hollywood to “play” the characters in our heads. We picked three men and two women. They range from actors in their 40s to their 70s.

We went to Google images and downloaded five head-shots.

We pasted them into a Word document.

Now we needed names. Katy went to and got the full cast-and-crew list for a big, Hollywood blockbuster. There are hundreds and hundreds of people credited on a big film like that. Since it’s filmed in multi-ethnic Los Angeles, or shot on location around the world, that gives you a vast reservoir of ethnic names.

Where were our five characters from? One is a tough guy from Chicago. We opted for an Irish name. One is a law-and-order type from California. We gave her a Latin name. Cliché? Yeah, but I can live with that.

We looked at the names side-by-side. We had a “Peter” and a “Patrick.” They won’t work by page 200. We changed one. We had two last names that started with the letter S. We changed one.

OK. So we had five faces, five names, five regions of origin.

Now, print out the Word document and file it away. Whenever we need a scene with the five characters, we can pull it out, look at the faces, regions and names, and then begin writing dialogue and creating their voices.

Hell of a good trick. Try it on your next manuscript.

‘Lock Artist’ May Get Hollywood Treatment

Screenwriter Shane Salerno has acquired the film rights to Steve Hamilton’s excellent 2012 Minotaur thriller, THE LOCK ARTIST.

Salerno also is working with director Oliver Stone to adapt Don Winslow’s novel SAVAGES, for release this summer.

THE LOCK ARTIST is a fantastic read that focuses on a mute young man who has the skill to open any lock. The novel took home this year’s Edgar Award for Best Novel.

No date has been announced for the film adaptation, and there is no word yet on potential cast or directors.

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