Part 4)   How Do You Hone Your Voice And Keep It Fresh?

Fresh Ideas

All the old adages on how to write and develop your voice are true: Write from your experiences, write what you know, write the story you want to see. We’ve heard these all before and they are all tried and tested methods for advancing your voice.

We have seen why this advice plays such an integral role in developing your voice throughout our three previous articles on “What is a Fresh Voice and Why it Matters to Your Career”. The number one piece of advice I can add to this is to be passionate about life. Be conscious and aware of what’s in your head and your heart and what it wants to say. Be inquisitive and be observant, of people and events from the past and future. Be well-read in literature, and be well-versed in cinema. But most importantly write, write, continue to write and then rewrite. 


2015 Fresh Voices Headline Judge, Hossein Amini, in His Own Words...

Hossein Amini HeadshotFor me a fresh voice is something we all have. It’s our unique view of the world and our unique emotional response to it. The tricky thing with screenwriting isn’t necessarily how to find that voice but how to free it from all the other acquired voices in our head. That’s not to say being influenced by other people’s work is bad, just that our inspiration from that work should also be fresh and singular. Nobody reads a book or watches a film in the same way. Tarantino’s writing is hugely influenced by other filmmakers yet it still feels original.


Hollywood type writerAspiring screenwriters share a big dream: Selling a screenplay.  That’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it?  It’s with that in mind that most put pen to paper – or more likely put fingers to keyboard.  As such, writing a screenplay that’s un-filmable seems like a fool’s errand.  Why would you write a screenplay that no studio would want to purchase?  Well because it’s sometimes these screenplays that get attention and become your calling card to the industry. The following are five types of un-filmable, not-likely-to-get-purchased screenplays that are still worth writing!


When Should I Start Sending Query Letters to Agents and Managers?

Stressing Query LettersWe get asked this question a lot!

You’ve probably heard about actors, actresses and models getting their big break by an agent at the coffee shop, stopped at the traffic light, on the beach! A good look and a charismatic vibe can be spotted a mile away. But how do writers get noticed? Are you supposed to work your abs, get a fit bathing suit and hope your script gets discovered while you strut your stuff? I don't want to disappoint you, but it's not gonna happen!


Nadeem RajwaniIn April of 2016, Fresh Voices named Kenyan born screenwriter, Nadeem Rajwani, the Grand Prize Winner of the 2015 Fresh Voices Screenplay Competition. His Nairobi set screenplay, “City In The Sun”, took home the Grand Prize Award, and in addition won three Fresh Voices Spotlight Awards including the “Culture & Heritage Award”, “Best Ensemble Cast”, and “Best Foreign Script Award”.

The story is an interwoven tale of two men from very different backgrounds, providing for their families in profoundly different ways. It explores the family dynamic from these two divergent perspectives and touches upon such powerful themes as domestic violence, its effect on the family for generations to come, and the uplifting message of the limitless heights we will go to for our loved ones.

Additionally, the film is a portrait of Nairobi; an international city still struggling to shrug off its third world past. As such, the narrative investigates such timely and relatable social themes as police brutality, corruption and points a finger at the social injustices that remain between the have’s and have not’s. While Kenya may seem like a world away, it is very much a story that plays out in our own neighborhoods on a frighteningly regular basis. The climax of the film is a story of two worlds colliding in completely unexpected ways.

The deftness with which the script is written, and the confidence in how such a complex story plays out, is surely that of a writer we wanted to know more about.

Below is an interview with 2015 Fresh Voices Grand Prize Winner Nadeem Rajwani on how he came to screenwriting, how he came to Fresh Voices, and how he came to win!


Jupiter Ascending Theatrical Posterby Vance Berk

Since I first saw Jupiter Ascending in February 2015 it’s climbed the ranks as one of my all-time guilty pleasures.  Why?  Although the Waschowskis’ film was a catastrophic failure both critically and at the box office, I think it’s an important learning tool for any aspiring science-fiction writer on what NOT TO DO.

At the time of its release, I was writing a feature-length spec script based on a universe I’d been developing since high school.  Leaving Jupiter Ascending, I learned 6 important lessons that would influence every key decision as I developed my own Science Fiction Space Opera.


ATX FestivalWith the ATX Television Festival opening in Austin, Texas this weekend, Fresh Voices competition chairman Joel Mendoza was interviewed for an article on what makes a perfect pitch.

“I think that a lot of writers tend not to spend enough time…putting together a coherent pitch. And when they do get in front of somebody, they tend to go off on tangents and not be as focused as one needs to be,” he says.

Mendoza recommends focusing on the three basic points of your story—what does the protagonist want, what stands in his or her way, and how do they overcome it?

“If you can think clearly in those blocks then you’ve got a good chance of gaining somebody’s interest,” he adds. “Beyond that, always enthusiasm, positivity, and being able to be a salesman. At the end of the day, that’s what it is.”

Read the full article for Get In Media here.... 



Its Good Enough To Ship2

How do Bridezillas happen?  They happen when someone seeks absolute perfection where absolute perfection is impossible.  They happen when 99% isn’t enough.  They happen when you have someone who believes that everything must be in the right place or it should never be done at all.  Bridezillas should never be writers!

The best writing advice I ever heard was from a professor at my alma mater who told me that the greatest skill a writer can have is to know when his work is done enough.  I was, at the time, writing a paper on the gentrification of Washington D.C. during the 1990s, and I mistook the advice to mean that I could stop when I get to the bear minimum of pages required, not do a spell check, say “Eh, it’s good enough” and go to the local bar to have a 22 ounce glass of some frothy IPA I convinced myself was delicious, but really I hated and was just trying to convince that girl in my “Federalist and Anti-Federalist Writings of Pre-Colonialist North America” class that I was cultured and mature. - - Don’t judge me. We’ve all had that phase.


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