Showing posts with label writing advice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing advice. Show all posts

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Goodreads Asks Me 8 Questions

Goodreads has asked me a few questions over the years, so I thought I'd share them. Feel free to visit my Goodreads Author Profile Page HERE. If you have a book-related question for me, put it in the comments!

Ask the Author: Roger Eschbacher

“Got a question? Feel free to ask about my books, being an author, writing for animation, or writing in general.” 

Answered Questions (8)

If you could travel to any fictional book world, where would you go and what would you do there?

Roger Eschbacher: Easy...Middle Earth. Every few years I reread the LOTR books, and each time I finish them, I'm sad that I can't live there. What would I do? I've always been drawn to the Maiar (wizards) and the Dúnedain (Men of the West, descendants of the Númenóreans), so, hopefully, I would be an honorable member of one of those groups.

Who is your favorite fictional couple, and why?

Roger Eschbacher: My favorite fictional couple would have to be Arwen and Aragorn from "The Lord of the Rings." There is much sadness in their shared past and future, yet their love remains undeniable and, ultimately, there is great hope, too.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

Roger Eschbacher: I get to write down the stories I want to tell and then share them with people.

Where did you get the idea for your most recent book?

Roger Eschbacher: I get 85% of the ideas for all of my books on my daily walk. I'll have a vague notion about what type of book I'd like to write and then mull it over for the next few days (or sometimes longer - the Norse anthology I'm working on took over a year to puzzle out). Then, at some point, a workable idea will pop into my head and I'll hurry home to make sure I get it all down. The other 15% of the ideas come when I'm taking a shower.

How do you get inspired to write?

Roger Eschbacher: I mostly get inspired to write on my daily walks. My thoughts drift during the delightful monotony of stomping around the same route every day and the next thing I know I've got a new story idea or a fix for a plot problem.

How do you deal with writer’s block?

Roger Eschbacher: I write TV animation for a living and, to be honest, can't afford a luxury like writer's block. If I don't deliver outlines or scripts in a timely manner, I don't get paid. I apply this discipline to my novel writing, too, although I do have days when I don't feel like writing at all.

What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Roger Eschbacher: I’ll approach this question from the “How do I get started?” angle. First, read a lot of books. Every one of my author friends is an avid reader. Decide which kind of books you like to read the most (for me it’s fantasy and sci fi) and concentrate on reading lots of those kinds of books. You’ll not only be doing this for fun, but also to learn different ways to put a book together—the right and wrong ways to tell a story.

Once you are well-versed in the type of book you’d like to write, start writing. By that I mean, stop coming up with excuses not to write (“What if it’s terrible?” “I just don’t have the time right now.”) If your first draft is “terrible,” you can fix it later. You do have the time, you just have to organize your schedule better. Write for an hour instead of vegging out in front of the tube, for example. Set a daily goal of a couple hundred words and do your best to stick to it. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it adds up.

In short, stop making excuses and start writing.

What are you currently working on?

Roger Eschbacher: UPDATED 10/08/20: I've got three books in various stages of completion.

1) I'm almost finished with the first draft of "Ghost Star 2," a YA space opera. 2) I'm working on the full novel version of my Viking fantasy adventure, Undrastormur. 3) I'm waiting on the cover art for "Elvenking," the third and probably final book in the "Dragonfriend" series.

Still freelance writing for animation. Lately it's for "Hello Ninja," which is a pre-school show for Netflix.

Thanks, Goodreads!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Animation Writer FAQ: Mining for Advertisers?

Q: I am in the process of preparing a pitch bible for 52 X 11 (Roger note: 52x11 = fifty-two, eleven minute episodes) animated series and I wanted to know if there is a format or process to prospect advertisers to get them on board. I would definitely be beating the odds if I have an advertiser already. 

A: I've never done it that way nor have I heard of anyone else successfully recruiting advertisers in order to sell an animated project. That's just not how it's done in the U.S. (as far as I know). The usual method for getting a show on the air is to do a pitch bible (character designs, descriptions, etc.) and then set up pitch meetings at the various networks such as Nick or Cartoon Network (which is infinitely easier if you have an agent). So, to answer your question directly: No. I am unaware of any format or process that is used to "prospect" advertisers.
Thoughts about the above question? Got a question about animation writing in general? Leave it in the comments or send it to me via the CONTACT tab. 
 Prospector art by Tony Oliver from Denver, CO, USA (by way of Wikimedia Commons)

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Animation Writer FAQ: How to Get an Animation Agent

Q: I've written a feature animation script. I've contacted some animation studios first but they considered it an unsolicited submission. I've also contacted literary agencies, but most agencies represent only action, fiction, sci-fi, horror, and not animation. It seems that it’s very difficult to submit my animated script to the studios, especially that these kind of scripts are generated in-house. May ask you to mention to me, to your knowledge, some agencies that still accept submission queries from animation writers? Or a production company that deals with animation studios?
A: Finding an agent is the best way to go. Many literary agencies have at least one agent who handles animation. Try contacting as many as you can and asking if they have such a person on staff and go from there. If they don't have one, ask if they wouldn't mind pointing you in the direction of an agency that does.  They'll likely say no, but you never know. You can also try contacting TAG (The Animation Guild) and the Writer's Guild of America's "Animation Caucus" and asking them your perfectly reasonable question. 
Two agencies I can think of that are exclusive to animation are Gotham and Natural Talent. I'm sure there are more. You can Google their contact information.
Good luck to you! 
Thoughts about the above question? Got a question about animation writing in general? Leave it in the comments or send it to me via the CONTACT tab.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Author FAQ: Tips on Writing Non-Fiction

Q: I have a question for you regarding book publishing. I finished my personal book which I am
considering, sending out. Can you give me any tips on this? I first poked around the bookstore to
get names of publishers that already publish books in the same category as mine. -- Tom K.

A: Well, first off, that's a great place to start. It certainly makes sense to look around for publishers of books similar to yours since, in theory, they're already open to that kind of work. As you know, my

area of expertise is in children's books. I assume your personal book is not a children's book but non-fiction, maybe an autobiography? There are a number of publications that can point you in the right direction for getting your adult market book looked at. There's a magazine called Writer's Digest that contains useful tips. They also offer several publishing bibles. The one for kid's books is called Children's Writers & Illustrators Market. I'm guessing they have a similar title for the type of book that you've written. These bibles are printed yearly and contain contact names and submission information (do they require a query letter first, how many chapters a particular publisher likes to get, etc.). Very useful, but kind of pricey (c.$25) -- you may want to do your research with them at the library.

Another option would be to look into going the self-publishing route which is currently the path I'm following. I've covered that subject in a good number of previous Author FAQs so a quick search of my site's archives should help you find the info you need. The Archive Search is in the right-hand column.

Have you poked around online, yet? That's what I did when I first tried to figure out how to submit my kid's books. Online research lead me to the website of a trade group of children's book publishers that listed all of the contact info and whether or not a certain publishing house was accepting open submissions, etc. I submitted to a number of them and the fine folks at DIAL BFYR were the first to bite. I'm sure there's a lot of helpful info for non-fiction books within the vast expanse of the world wide web.

Best of luck with your personal book!

Thoughts about the above question or about writing books in general? Leave them in the comments or send them to me via the CONTACT tab. Thanks!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Animation Writer FAQ: Getting Started, Pt.2

Q: (follow up to Pt. 1) I'm currently doing all the things you suggest both in the FAQ and your email. I suppose patience is the next thing I have to practice. I'm continuing to write spec scripts for pretty much every cartoon show I see, from Gravity Falls to Littlest Pet Shop to Spongebob and more. I have not done any live action spec scripts, though, so I suppose I should try one or two of those. Would you recommend living in LA as a requirement for success? Right now I know a few people (hence how I got the agent) but I know it's always a good idea to meet more. 

A: Yes, definitely add some live-action scripts to your collection of writing samples. You never know what the folks who do the hiring might want to read. 

As to whether or not you should move to LA, far be it from me to advise someone to completely uproot their lives on the "chance" of getting work in your chosen/dream profession. But... if you're serious about writing animation, you have to live where the work is. 

While there are small animation production companies sprinkled throughout the US and Canada, this is where the big boys and the networks (WB, Disney, CN, Hasbro Studios, Dreamworks, etc.) are concentrated. NYC has a healthy animation scene, too, but I'm not very familiar with the setup there -- maybe one of my East Coast friends could comment. 

Bottom line: Your chances of getting work increase exponentially when you're available to drive over to Burbank to meet with a Warner Bros story editor who's giving out freelance assignments.

Thoughts about the above question? Got a questions about animation writing in general? Leave them in the comments or send it to me via the CONTACT tab.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Animation Writer FAQ: Writing Animated Features

Q: I am a writer and I've got an idea for an animated feature. I just have the idea and couple of different endings. I have two contacts through my sister in LA who are producers for big animated companies. I spoke to one and she definitely believes it is definitely a full-length feature film that no one has done, yet. She told me that I needed to own it as long as I can, write the treatment, screenplay. I have no experience in writing scripts. Do you have any advice or can suggest any materials that someone like me could follow? I get very frustrated when I write. So far I am just watching as many films as I can and reading other scripts. -- Marie

A: Hi, Marie. I only write TV animation, but I'm happy to share a thought or two on how to write an animated screenplay. Watching lots of films and reading lots of scripts is a great place to start. When you feel like you're ready to start writing, I would recommend three other things. First, even though "no one has done" a script like yours yet, determine an animated feature that your idea most closely resembles, then hunt around on the web for a copy of that script (there are many resources, some free) and use it as a model/template for your own idea. I'm not telling you to copy it, just to use it to see how professionals execute an idea similar to your own.

Next, you may want to pick up a copy of Syd Field's classic how-to book, Screenplay. It'll bring you up to speed on how to structure a screenplay. There are similar books out there, but I learned how to do it from Syd.

Finally, you may want to invest in some screenwriting software to make sure your script looks right. I use Final Draft, which is the industry standard. This kind of software is a little pricey but I think well worth the investment if you plan on writing professionally. Good luck!


Thoughts about the above question or about writing for animation in general? Leave them in the comments or send it to me via the CONTACT tab.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Sci-Fi Novel Update

After receiving some wise counsel from several of my author pals, I've decided to go the Kindle Scout route with my space opera novel. As my friends pointed out, the concern about "having to do a lot of promotion" to get people to nominate my book is a hollow one. I was reminded that even traditionally-published authors have to self-promote like crazy these days (unless they're already big name authors or celebrities) and self-published authors definitely have to do that. The consensus: if I was fortunate enough to get a publishing contract with Kindle Press, it wouldn't be so bad to have Amazon as a marketing ally. In other words, worth the effort.


Sci-Fi Wallpaper from Fond Décran (not my cover art, but cool nonetheless)
To get things just right, I'm in the middle of a heavy-duty polish edit of the manuscript. I lopped off the first chapter to get things moving right away and am currently involved in the somewhat tricky process of seeding anything of importance from the former Chapter One into the rest of the book. Somewhat tricky, but also fun in a jigsaw puzzle kind of way. I'm also doing a chapter-by-chapter edit for continuity and overall readability. At the end of the above edit I'll go through everything one more time by having MS Word read my words back to me in its quirky Text To Speech voice (I use "David" because he sounds like an authoritative robot 😉).


I'll get everything together--manuscript, cover, logline, brief summary, etc.--and submit it to the folks at Kindle Press. At this point, the self-promoting (begging) will begin in earnest, and for thirty days I'll be promoting  the link to my "Kindle Scout campaign page" and asking friends, family, and interested parties to go there and nominate my book for publication (free and easy, all you need is an Amazon account). Expect this to happen within the next week or so.

On a related note: I commissioned a super-cool cover for my book and I'm very much looking forward to showing it to everyone when my campaign launches. See ya soon!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saturday Question: Pimping Your Animation Idea

From Jojo: 

Q: Hallo there I am sorry to bother you but I kinda need a little help and gaudiness. I have an idea for an animation film but I can't really show it to anybody without having a manager or an agent first and I have no idea how to do that. Can you please help me? Thanks very much.

A: Just like the studios and production companies you'd eventually like to reach, most reputable agents or managers are uninterested in "ideas," especially from unknowns (I assume you're an unknown, if not, what the heck are you doing asking a question like this to an unknown like me?). They're much more likely to respond positively to a well-written query in which you very briefly describe your idea and then offer to send YOUR SCRIPT. That's right, I said script. Aside from claiming a recommendation from J.J. Abrams (don't do this unless you really have one), writing a script is the only way I know of that you, currently an unknown, will get a legitimate agent or manager interested in your "idea." 

As far as your needing a little gaudiness (assuming that wasn't an autocorrect error), I'd suggest checking out Mardis Gras or carnivale footage on YouTube and seeing if you can crib some tips from there. ;)


Got a question for a self/traditionally published author and TV animation writer (who'd be perfect for that show you're staffing)? I thought so. Leave it here in the comments and I'll try to answer it on the following Saturday.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Wassup, King Arthur?

Over at io9, Lauren Davis shares some interesting writing advice in her article, "How to make sure the language in your historical fantasy novel is period-accurate." She references The Jane Austen Word List created by fantasy author Mary Robinette Kowal to help her weed out period-inaccurate words for her novel, Glamour in Glass, set in the same time period as Jane Austen's books. To build the list MRK assembled "all the words that are in the collected works of Jane Austen to use for my spellcheck dictionary."

While I have to admit I didn't go too crazy about this in Dragonfriend, preferring to come down on the side of middle-grade "readability" rather than being overly concerned about historically accurate Old English vocabulary, I did ask my editor, Darren Robinson, to flag any eye-poking anachronisms.

A few of the words Kowal ended up pulling out of her book "because they either didn’t exist in 1815 or that didn’t mean what they mean now" are: "cliquish," "mannequin," "laundry," "titanium white," and "wastepaper basket" (for which she writes, "Weird note. Trashcans, wastepaper baskets, garbage cans… none of these exist even as a concept. Everything got reused, fed to the pigs, or burned in the fire.")

For me, it was more a case of catching myself wanting to put in modern (American) slang words like "okay" and having Darren flag things like "biz," "Father Christmas," and "halfpenny" which he correctly points out, "only dates back some 700 years, long after Arthurian times." 

How about you? Any vocabulary challenges in your own work of historical fiction (fantasy or otherwise)? Or a case of being derailed by anachronistic word choice in a book you were reading? Let us know in the comments.

Eater of the Dead: A Dragon Friend Excerpt

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