Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great pleasure that we present to you this list. Writers on the Storm received 907 submissions--outstanding for a first-year-contest--and even more remarkable was how many GOOD scripts there were. We had a LOT of considers and recommends--over 20% of our submissions! Maybe that's because a lot of you guys are Coverage, Ink clients and have been working to develop and hone your scripts. Whatever the reason, a lot of scripts rocked the house!

To everyone on this list, a big congratulations. We will be reading your scripts again in the semifinal round. To all of you folks who didn't make the quarterfinals, don't get discouraged! Sometimes success is just a quick polish or maybe a class or a script analysis away. And to that end, we plan on sending out the mini-analyses on every submission by June 9th. . We will announce the semifinalists June 20th.

And don't forget that everyone who entered Writers on the Storm gets $10 off any Coverage, Ink analysis throughout 2006!

Without further ado, we proudly present the WOTS quarterfinalists. Nice work, everyone!

2012 by Susan Yeich
2 Bedroom 2 Bath by Scott Liapis
4-1-9 by Jake Van Vuuren
50-50 by Robert Henry Hill
58 Nights by Irving de la Concha
Absolution for the Innocent by John Heim
Adelitas by Sarah Vaill
A Family Dream by Constance Brenner
Age Before Beauty by Doris Gill
All the Stars In the Heavens by William Stoddard
American English by Phil Swinburne
Amputation Station by Richard Smith
Amy's Porch by Jennifer Buttell-Kersey
Ariadne's Thread by Stephen Callen
Attack of the Toaster! by Greg Quinn
Balls of Different Sizes by Robert Tobin & Leslie Coogan
Beneath The Mask by Robin Warder
Black Rising Sun by Susan Yeich
Blonds by Elizabeth Winstead
Blood Brothers by Patrick Wier
Blood of Angels by Reay Jespersen
Bloody Mary by Erica Land
Blue Notes by Vishal Reddy
Booker T. by J. Hol
Boys In Red by Jeffrey Davis
Broad Daylight by David Leonard
Broken English by Alexander Stirling
Broken Heartland by Greg Daubenspeck
Brutes by Mark Glinski
Bull Riders Only by Melinda May
Bury The Lead by Maureen Murphy
Butcher #57 by Lando Barbagli
Chasing Stephen Spielberg by Robert Tobin
Clear Heels by Dave Cooper
Colter's Hell by Robin Russin
Community Sports by Tom Thompson
Constantine the Great by David Mulholland
Cost of Living by Kellen Hertz
Cougar Run by Sean Kelly
Count Her Clock Wise by Christopher Canole
Crush On You by Maria Lusby
Danny Longlegs by Kelly Rowley
Dead End by Christopher Fry
Dead Man Running by Terence Loose
Demon Slayer by Anthony Pindrock
Diamond Trust by Tim Rosenow
Dimmesdale by Doug Molitor
Divorce In The White House by Dane Edward McCauley
Double Bind by Greg Daubenspeck
Driver Ed by Bill Ward
Echoes of Tiananmen by William Flannigan
Empire of the Wolf by Michael Kogge
Every Time I Go To Staten Island by Irin Evers
Exposure of War by Kevin Caruso
F*Stop by Roberta Degnore
Far From The Tree by Mary Batchellor
FATS by Mitchel Resnick
Felix The Flyer by Christopher Canole
Film As Literature by James Merrill
Finding Center by Richard Rossner
Finding Love At Mardi Gras by Anna Maganini
Fire and Rain by Phil Smy
Fire Ants by Daniel Barwick
Fishtown by Aaron Schnore
Forces Unseen by Curt Nickels
Fortunate Sons by Roy Schmitz
From the Old World by Adam Mosher
Fury by Dane Edward McCauley
Game Night by Chris DelliCarpini
G.I. Samurai by Carlton Saito
Good Ole Boy Band by Jason Ancona
Good Television by Matt Dallman
Healing Marie by James Ossi
Heavens to Betsy by Brad Hennig
He's A Winner by Warren Clarke
Hellsville by David Agranoff
High and Low And In Between by Suzanne Carney
Hopper by David Kurtz
Humanimal by Tim Wells
Hung Jury by Jason Siner
In Search of Captain Childe by Heather Rose
Ink by Eric Anderson & Scott Smith
Invasion of the Pod People by Craig Proudly
Iron Men by John Metzner
Jackie's Girls by Joan Kufrin
Jerusalem Idol by Lewis Papier
Jocks & Geeks by Marla Brandon
Jonathan's Missing by Leslie & Michael Green
Kakakarma by Carlota Bennett
Kingbird & Franklin by Donald Adams
Lady Jazz by Jean Hunter
Life Is What You Make it by Russell Dye
Looks That Kill by Robert Gemmill
Lost Souls by Bryan Carrigan
Love Conquers All by Dane Edward McCauley
Love Unexpected by Antoinette Ojeda
Lurch's Friends by Larry Boodry
Magick by Jeff Spry
Manhunters by Don Perez
Masque by Kellen Hertz
Miracles by Zack Heath
Mirror Mirror by Douglas Hall
Mister Perfect by Carri Karuhn
Mock Trial by Alex Lerner
NightStop by Tom Zambrano
Play With Fire by Karen Mobayed
Pool Guy by Saena Yi
Princess Reborn by Lee Tidball
Projekt Outcast by Dennis Shutty
Purr by Dave Hackett
Quiet Storm by Marc Kravitz
Rap Mitzvah by Jacqueline Frazier
Rational Panic by Robert Rhyne
Reality Show by Sara Denson
Red & Dead by Patrick Udomsak
Richard by Kathryne Sheard
Rise by Jason Crittenden
Rochester by Terry Frazier
Rotten by Hal Jordan
Sandscape by Joe Lam
Sandwiches & Chips by Ritchard Shadian
Santa Ana Winds by Paul Jarnagin
Scent by Ronald DiPrimio
Sculpting Acacia by Richard Abercrombie
Second Chance Dog by Mark O'Neill
Sherlock & Jack by Jeff Wolverton
Shroud of Darkness by Max Adams
Shuffle Hustle by Kevin Lewis
Smashed by Lisa Dahlseid
Sole Pursuit by Jason Siner
Songs For The Dead by Mark Tompkins
Sons of Illusion by Adriana Cepeda
Soul Calling by Victoria Sambursky
Spitting Image by Andrew Smith
Spring Break by Murray Spitzer
Stars and Bars by Troy DeRego
Stick & Stones by Kathryne Sheard
Stuck in the 80s by Seth Argabright
Sultana by Laqueta Lewis
Ten Shots of Tequila by Ted Gurich
Terror Alert by Bernie Felix, Jr.
The Art of Deception by Kevin Caruso
The Art of the Dodge by Donna Miller
The Backup by Anthony Sclafani, Jr.
The Beneficiary by Marshall Thornton
The Big Four Oh by Bernie Felix, Jr.
The Brick Layer by Laqueta Lewis
The Contest by Elizabeth Winstead
The Crescent City by Cathy Krasnianski
The Curse of Nostradamus by Robert Williams
The Dark Radius by Frederick Kim
The Dollmaker by Ned James Beedie
The Domain by Michael Raymond
The Essence of Anarchy by Brian Ivey
The Essence of Emily by Jack Brinkerhoff
The Fickle Pickle by Eric Johnson
The Fraternity by Jeff Wiegand
The Fun In Funeral by Mario Mojico
The Good War by Murray Spitzer
The Great Quest by Steve Weissman
The Joshua Device by John Connell
The Kray Survivors by Ronald Randolph
The Last Act by Nathan Perkins
The Last Campaign by Parrish Griggs
The Last Flight of The Blackbird by David Cooper
The Last Princess by Jacquelyn Prell
The Last Sky by Barbara Senatore
The Long Night by Barry Barclay
The Magick of Time by Patricia Joyce
The Man Behind The Man by Michael Brand
The Maple Gods by Lisa Judge
The Mothership by Scott Shackelford
The Newly Dead Game by David Warfield
The Perfect Proposal by Phil Olson
The Rut by Kevin Caruso
The Second Coming by Leroy Bryant
The Secret of the Smile by Robin Russin
The September Issue by Jeremy Vogel
The Stunning Box by David Bertoni
The Walk-Ons by Alexander Drummond
The Want Ad Widow by Sharon Shipley
The Rock of Abandon by Stephen Blackburn
Time Shift by Richard Joslyn
Time Surfer by Sandi Steinberg
Timing by Anthony Sclafani Jr.
TJ by Don Grail
To Dream of Life by Bradley Duncan
Tony See and The Salvador Deception by Russell Riggins
Top Story by Alberto Valenzuela
Tray People by Fred Pakiewicz
Trio by John Zussman
Tsunami Warning by Carlton Saito
Tunnel Rats by Robert Marks
Two Kings by Jason Wall
Tyler Hudson's Christmas Eve Adventure by Carol Hoffman
Ultraviolet Child by James Ossi
Vincent's Shadow by Don Perez
Viral by Mark Kratter
Voyage To Freedom by Larry Hedaa
War of the Galaxies by Thomas Eng
Warrior Pride by Fred Maske
Witness Creek by Ross Buckner
Worse Than Prison by Rick McCormick
Year of the Hangman by David Russotto
You're Invited by Jennifer Barrow
Zebalun by Peter Rex Wilkes
Zelko by James Dickson

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


We've been working through the night to get all the scripts read by May 31st. And we did it. We will be posting the Writers on the Storm quarterfinalists WEDS 5/31.

We'll also announce the quarterfinalists in our newsletter which will go out in the next few days and post them on our websites.

Sit tight, folks!

--Jim Cirile

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Hey, guys! We know you're all waiting on those contest results. We just wanted to let you know that we're almost done. We expect to post the Writers on the Storm quarterfinalists pretty soon. We received a lot of entries, more than double what most first-time contests receive, and so we've been working overtime to get those scripts read and to write mini-evaluations for every one.

Most of the Coverage, Ink submissions (for analysis) submitted before the contest deadline have already been read, and we've been able to give several folks the good news that they've made it to the quarterfinal round. And while obviously not everyone can advance, we're pleased that all of you guys have been telling us how much your writing has improved from working with our analyses and making those revisions. There's always Writers on the Storm II, folks... it's never too early to start getting ready ;) (Okay, maybe it is too early--we had one fellow ask us if we were going to start up the contest again in June '06. Er, no on that one. Check back in January '07.)

One other thing to remember: even if you do not advance to the QFs, every entrant receives a mini-analysis, PLUS $10 off any Coverage Ink script analysis for the rest of 2006--so everyone's a winner. To claim your $10 discount just mention "WOTS contestant" on your Coverage, Ink order form.

Check back here soon for more, and GOOD LUCK, everyone!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Is Your Spec a Spec?

Cast a critical eye on your script with this handy quick reference guide from Coverage, Ink founder Jim Cirile.

So you got yer 128 pages of genius all ready to send to your agent or manager or even that producer’s assistant’s plant guy you met at last year’s Wombat Walloping Festival. Hold, young varlet! Run through this quick checklist of common mistakes BEFORE sending it out.


Great actors will fight to play someone who is complex, richly detailed and interesting. Giving the character back story, family, friends, hobbies, quirks, peccadilloes, idiosyncrasies, etc., goes a long way towards building a multidimensional person that we want to watch a movie about. Does he or she have a dramatic flaw or a goal? What personal problem does this character need to solve? How does he arc or change? What does he learn during the course of the story, and how does it enable him to resolve his internal AND external issues? As Michael Lent incisively observed in a recent column, if your script is under 95 pages, that should be an immediate red flag—what’s likely missing is depth of character, which needs to be established in the form of character-defining scenes in Act 1.


Whenever you find your story heading in a predictable or cliché direction, do exactly the opposite thing than what the formula dictates. That will keep your writing fresh and give the reader that much-longed-for “surprise on every page.” If a reader can foresee where the plot is obviously going, you can bet her interest will evaporate like a saucer of isopropyl in the Gobi. So throw the reader a few curve balls. Use formula to your advantage. Know that at a certain time, formula will dictate a certain plot beat will happen. Then don’t do it. Do something completely different instead. Nothing makes a jaded reader love a script more than dashing their expectations! But that doesn’t mean they’ll love some contrived, ludicrous plot beat just because it breaks the mold. It still has to be logical--just unexpected.


Beware WORDINESS. A screenplay is not a novel. An overwritten script is not going to win you any points. Use the FEWEST WORDS POSSIBLE to convey your idea. Comb your script for redundancies in dialogue and scene description, and excise all unnecessary words/sentences/paragraphs/pages. Go through it line by line, asking yourself “Do I need every word in this sentence?” Remember, brevity is the soul of wit. Some good writer wrote that.

Producer Dan Ostroff once said that a poorly written script with a great story is worth a lot more than a well-executed one with a poor idea. But there aren’t too many of those see-the-forest-for-the-trees folks out there. You might be a natural storyteller who can hold a roomful of people captivated, but if you struggle with composing a sentence and don’t understand the concept of subject/verb agreement, you should probably consider finding a writing partner.


Is your script sponge—er, movie-worthy? Is the central idea one that you can see millions of people spending ten bucks to see? The toughest note a reader can give is “Even the best-executed version of this story would likely not interest any producers.” Remember that the studios and even indies are specifically looking for projects that have a strong hook or bring something new to the table. Your straight-forward serial killer thriller isn’t going to interest anyone, because that theme is tired, your script brings nothing new to the genre, and the buyers can always adapt a James Patterson novel if they need a serial killer thriller to fill their slate. Similarly, your fantasy adventure movie with the enormous budget... why would any studio spend $100 million to make your movie when they can adapt a bestseller with its built-in audience? If it takes you six months to think of a unique, high-concept, commercial idea, then take the time. You’ll know when you have The Idea when you pitch the one-liner to someone and his eyes light up.


Get pro-level input on your script from your agent, manager, producer, a script analyst or coverage service. You ARE doing that, aren’t you? All scripts need work. How well the writer is capable of putting aside ego and implementing notes has everything to do their likelihood of being successful. More often than not, the writer will fix only the easiest notes, for example: “the dialogue on page 87 was a bit on the nose,” yet will ignore “our lead vanishes for 36 pages, leaving insignificant secondary characters to pass the time with small talk.” Oftentimes significant changes need to be made. They may require tossing out an entire act, completely rethinking a main character, etc. In short, they may require for you to DO SOME WORK.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


LET'S SAY Someone tells you that your writing is "on the nose." You nod your head and go, "Uh, okay." But if you're like most folks not "in" on the Hollywood shorthand, you have no idea what this means. So I'm going to lay it out right now.

"On the nose" simply means that in your dialogue, people say exactly what they're thinking.

Unless you're writing Data or Spock, that's generally not so great. In real life, people tend to avoid saying what they really think. They talk in circles, they hint, suggest, say things elliptically or simply with a look. Maybe they even say the exact opposite of what they mean, sometimes sarcastically, sometimes not.

Look at these two dialogue excerpts. The first is quite on the nose. The second is not. Which is better dialog?
Are you accusing me of stealing?

Well, I do jump to conclusions
a lot. But you seem generally
untrustworthy, and I'm still
gun-shy from my disastrous
failed marriage, so yes, I am
accusing you of stealing.
Hmm. Or how about this:
Are you accusing me of stealing?

Huh? Of course not! I just...
No, no, definitely not.

Jody sighs, uncertain.
Obviously the second example sounds a bit more authentic, and less stupid to boot... although the first version could work for a quirky character in a comedy.

You want your dialogue to sound like something a human might actually say, right? Read it ALOUD. Have a friend read it with you. Does it flow naturally? Does it seem clunky? How would you rephrase it into something perhaps not so on the nose, but that still gets the meaning across? Remember you can use all sorts of tricks--a coy look, a roll of the eyes, a dismissive wave, a sigh, biting of the lip, a raised eyebrow, etc.

And then even when someone explains it to you, more confusion inevitably follows. So is it ever okay to write on the nose? The answer is YES.

Here's the rule of thumb: There are two places in the script you should be right on the nose in your dialogue. The first is when you're describing your protagonist in the first ten pages. You want to make sure people GET what your protagonist's dramatic flaw is--the problem he's going to arc out of by the end of the story. So it doesn't hurt, for example, to have a supporting character say about the protagonist...
Man, Ryan might really get ahead
if he didn't keep shooting himself
in the foot with his
holier-than-thou attitude.
Smack! Yep, that one probably deviated someone's septum it was so on the nose. Yet it's often necessary. Even if we SEE (and we should) several instances of Ryan's aforementioned behavior, it's often necessary to "hit it hard" and state the dramatic need clearly. This is so folks GET IT. It also tells you what the theme of the story is, or what the story will REALLY be about--George's evolution into a better person.

The other time we want to be on the nose is when we're telling folks exactly what the plot is, or in other word's, the protagonist's goal. This generally comes at the end of Act 1 and propels us into Act 2, like this:
Fine. I'll get your damn prize-winning
Cavalier King Charles Samoyed back
to Anchorage in time for the fricking
dog show, all right? And no bounty hunters
or representatives from FEMA are going
to stop me!
There you have it--very succinctly we have the protagonist tell us exactly what he intends to spend the next two acts of the movie attempting to accomplish. No beating around the proverbial bush here. Hit that puppy on the nose.

One other time you might want to be on the nose: in your description. Keep in mind that the "on the nose" note generally applies only to dialogue. Your description should be lean and clear. You do not want to risk losing anyone by being cute or sarcastic or evasive.

Now get back to writing, folks! (I know I won't. See piece on procrastination below...)

--Jim Cirile

Sunday, May 07, 2006

That's a Wrap!

It's all over except the shouting.

As I write this, it's 12:15 AM on May 7th. Writers on the Storm is now officially closed. The contest exceeded all our expectations. We blew past the number of entries of most first-year contests (with plenty more to arrive by mail over the next couple of days) and quite a few established ones. That's good news for everybody--it means that the industry will sit up and take note, and it also means that we'll be able to bring Writers on the Storm back to you again next year, bigger, badder and beefier.

But the best news of all is that our coordinators tell me that they have been blown away by the quality of the submissions overall. According to coordinator Portia Jefferson, our ratio of good scripts to so-so ones is much better than any other contest she's ever worked on. Hopefully this means you guys are true students of the craft, always striving to improve--and the results are on the page.

Right now we're in the process of reading all the submissions. This is going to take a bit of time since we have to provide mini-analysis on each submission. But we still plan on announcing quarterfinalists on 5/31. Check this blog or for updates.

So from the WOTS/Coverage Ink team to everyone who entered--a hearty THANK YOU for helping to make Writers on the Storm a smash hit. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to e-mail us at

You guys rock!

--Jim Cirile

Friday, May 05, 2006

Procrastination... Is Making Me Wait

Right now I am not writing.

Oh, it FEELS like I'm writing. I'm behind my computer. My fingers are clacking away on my Saitek Eclipse backlit keyboard. I've got my e-mail open in another window, which somehow in my mind is vaguely related to writing. And heck, I'm writing something about... well, not writing.

When it comes to procrastination, I am the master. I must eliminate every single last thing that can be done before I can even open Final Draft. First, of course, there's e-mail. Then there's phone calls to return. Then there's a mess in the kitchen. Then there's political blogs to read, online petitions to sign, scores to check. My daughter's fingerprints on my monitor need to be Windexed off. And oh, crap, I have to begin cooking supper (okay, it's 1 PM, but preparation is all.)

Before you know it, I've burned up most of my allotted 4 hours of writing time I give myself 3 times a week. Which is bad, because I've got deadlines. My column is always due next week. I'm not sure how, since I only have to deliver it every two months, yet it always seems to be due next week. I've got a screenplay due in 5 weeks. I have three rewrites on other scripts that I really should get to. Folks are waiting for those, too.

Sigh. Okay, I will. As soon as I have lunch. And go get my car washed. And scrub my toilet.

Something tells me I'm not alone. Could that be? Are there OTHERS of you out there who are in fact reading this basically as an excuse to not be writing? For shame! Close your web browser this instant and go write! In fact, if your write it on a blog, send me the link so I can read it and... not... be writing. Oh, never mind.

--Jim Cirile