Media to Manuscript: What I’ve Learned from Editing Commercials

As a scriptwriter, I’ve learned the value of editing scenes–particularly when developing short commercial spots.

You’ve got 30 seconds to grab the viewers’ attention and convey a story. Every. Word. Counts. You end up leaving out scenes you think were really great and cutting lines you thought were important.

Then, the spot airs, it’s effective, and you realize it’s better for having been whittled down from the original.

Shooting a commercial spot with Lola the 'Super Dog'! View more at:

Shooting a commercial spot with Lola the ‘Super Dog’! View more at:



If we apply this to novel writing, it makes us better writers, and our manuscripts stronger. What we think is “essential” is often just part of us, as authors, fleshing out our characters and stories. This is part of the process of building a story with layers, and characters with depth. HOWEVER…less is more totally applies here. If a scene can be cut without affecting the MC, then you should probably cut and paste that baby in your archives, or cut file.

Try it out—it probably makes your MS move faster, and thereby, more interesting.

Happy Writing!

Lessons from the Set: Action Drives a Scene

Just came off set, and sitting down to revise my MS. After watching actors and observing what best “sells” a scene—makes it feel most authentic—I’m applying what I learned to my novel writing.

Use action to drive a scene. Don’t forget to give your characters business (stuff they do with their hands). No one just stands there and talks. Or if they do, it’s very boring for audiences to observe.

A scene should move your characters from one place to another. Movement builds the momentum of the story and reveals your MC’s arc.


Working on Set as First Assistant Director

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Extraordinary in the Ordinary

I love exploring the supernatural or preternatural possibilities of characters because it lets me find the extraordinary in the ordinary.  And, yeah–it allows me to develop scenarios that wouldn’t happen in real life!  But even better is when I find transcendental qualities in normal, human situations.

When I research for a novel, I love finding fragments of history that touch on this.  The “posy” ring that Kylei wears in The Descended, and the one Kieran wears later in the story, is such an ardent portrayal of this.  Words etched in a ring; vows pressed against the pulsepoint of a love’s finger.

Kylei’s ring:  Me pectus et ego a abeo     (Translated) My heart and I until I die

Kieran’s ring: Without my love I backward move

These are from actual 17th century posy rings.

Vows hidden inside interlocking bands.  Extraordinary within the ordinary. Who wouldn’t want that kind of love?

Even if your soulmate doesn’t have angelic ancestry…