I was doing some basic market research on television shows so called my expert, Howard Weaver; where the rest of us write down “one-ounce alcohol/day/week" on our doctor forms, Howard writes down “one-hour television/week/month.”
Me: What are you watching these days?
HW: The Great British Bake Off.
Me: Say again?
HW: It’s a BBC cooking show, where all they do is bake.
Me: You’re telling me The Beeb greenlighted a show where arguably the worst cuisine in the First World is center stage… I thought “British chef” was an oxymoron.
HW: Not anymore.. in fact, one of the judges is the well-known English chef Paul Hollywood.
Me: [pause] Well known to whom? Hey...are you grinding your own coffee again? Maybe not adding enough water to the press… letting it sit just a little too long and then nuking it?
HW: No, it’s a well-done show — the last one I watched did a spotted dick pudding with a creamy vanilla custard sauce.
Me: Geez Weav… don’t say that kind of stuff over the telephone, it sounds like code for something that’ll get us 5 years in a Fed Pen.
HW: You should take a look, you’ll be surprised.
I had no doubt I was going to be surprised, but in the same way as when your plumber calls and says, “Are you sitting down because I’m at your house and can’t.”
So, alack and alas, The Great British Bake Off is everything Howard said it would be… and more. Turns out to be real people from all walks of life in Britain, competing to be Britain's Best Baker. And there’s no faked tension between the contestants like you see on American cooking shows and none of the judges are shouting at anyone and pretty much everyone seems sane and having a good time without swearing at each other. What a stupid reality formula, right? Can't last... unless you count the 7 years it's already been on. Worse, now I’m hooked on it.
The judges are Paul Hollywood (got to be a stage name, right?) who seems completely normal; his sidekick is Mary Berry (come on, THAT’S got to be made up for a baker) whose claim to fame is cake queen of England (I just made that up, but she’s a caker… I made that up, too).
Two things you need to know before diving into this one: a) no one on the show — judges or contestants — can pronounce words in a manner you will recognize, e.g., “con-TRAH-ver-see” “frus-TRAY-ted” “boo-ter” (butter) and b) there are both dishes and ingredients that no mortal in the Colonies has ever heard of, so you often have no idea what's going to pop out of the oven.
And they do some oddly British things: the judges called for a suet brioche but in the spirit of The Empire (I guess) allowed a vegetarian version (for those of you not from a cold climate, “suet” is beef fat from around the kidney and is largely used in the US as winter bird food). This struck me as having a rib eye grilling contest and allowing a soy bean casserole to compete.
But, as we all know, that’s why we revolted… we didn’t like their expensive tea and gluten free soy beans were already on the boats headed for Boston. Looking for some Fake News… GOT SOME!
The GBBO is a fun hour, completely G rated (no bleeps on The Beeb) and charming beyond this era of television. It’s worth a watch just to prove to yourself that reality contestants do NOT have to be the worst of the auditioning herd… it would be fun to have coffee with any of them.
And, my apologies to Howard for what I was thinking about this show and his spotted dick. [Don't lie, you were just waiting for that.]
OK, you’re going to want to sit down for this because you need to take notes and there will be a quiz. COMRADE DETECTIVE is an Amazon buddy-cop show, released August 4, 2017… so it’s likely you’ve not seen it. You’d remember.
Here’s the official IMDB summary: “In the thick of 1980's Cold War hysteria, the Romanian government created the country's most popular and longest-running series, Comrade Detective, a sleek and gritty police show that not only entertained its citizens but also promoted Communist ideals and inspired a deep nationalism. The action-packed and blood-soaked first season finds Detectives Gregor Anghel and Joseph Baciu investigating the murder of fellow officer Nikita Ionescu and, in the process, unraveling a subversive plot to destroy their country that is fueled by-what else-but the greatest enemy: Capitalism.”
A little more research and you discover that the roles have all been dubbed in English by Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Chloe Sevigny, Daniel Craig, Bobby Cannavale (great actor and proud owner of an impressive package he fully exposed on Boardwalk Empire), Kim Basinger, Debra Winger, and a host of other big name talent.
But of course, all the screen acting is done by Romanian talent and the storylines are gritty, though 1980ish, just with well-done voice overs.
The plots are typical cop show stuff – murder, action, car chases – but against a constant background of subtle and not so subtle punctuations of communist propaganda and wildly out of character roles for Americans, who are always portrayed as the instigators, the profiteers, the shady and sneaky spymasters. For example, the American Ambassador to Romania is played over the top by a Romanian actress as slutty, duplicitous, and a deal maker.
Just to make sure the central message of communism is better and capitalism is the corrosion of the world, there’s at least two scenes in each episode where there is some not so thinly veiled dialogue about it – and that doesn’t count the little side shots the actors take at capitalism throughout the series.
Surprisingly, however, the acting is good, the production values are great and the dubbing superb. You wonder how they managed to remaster this from an old Romanian series done on Soviet era equipment. So I asked myself that exact question as I was watching an episode where the hero reads the riot act to the American Ambassador whereupon she cusses them out.
And then Sherlock Holmes suddenly occurred to me, “When you dismiss the impossible, whatever is left, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.” Did it seem likely the Romanian government would greenlight a propaganda series, in the middle of the Cold War, where an American Ambassador cusses out two local detectives? Elementary, my dear Watson. And no.
What Sherlock was trying to tell me was that none of this is authentic, but the real story makes you want to watch it more.
Channing Tatum asked producer buddies to bring him the worst ideas they could think of and, as a group, they would look for hidden gems in the wanton waster. The winner was COMRADE DETECTIVE, a spoof of a Communist propaganda television show from the 1980s. There was an actual 1980’s show in Czechoslovakia named “Thirty Cases of Major Zeman” and another from East German entitled “Polizeiruf 110.”
The goal then became to make a show with “propaganda and inaccuracies obvious to a western audience… to make the subtle nature of modern propaganda more clear.” Their third mentor series was “Lethal Weapon” to make sure audiences had a familiar touchstone to the cop-buddy genre of the ‘80s.
In making the series, they don’t cut any corners. First they write the scripts in English and have them translated to Romanian; then the entire show is shot with Romanian actors speaking Romanian or Russian, as called for. Then they cut the whole thing together to make a full episode in Romanian – and THEN they come in with the voice talent who dub the entire episode.
What do they get for their money? A pretty good show as long as you give yourself over the suspension of disbelief that this was shot in the 1980s as a propaganda series. Do NOT expect “Lethal Weapon” though you will see Griggs all over the screen!
It’s fun, absurd, quirky and with the same hint of grit as everything else in the 1980s. The only mistake they make – and what actually tipped me off – was the lack of any language screen on the stories… and I could not imagine the Cold War Romanian government would allow such a show to use coarse language that even American broadcast channels won’t allow at present.
But it’s a fun watch, it doesn’t have to make sense and fully qualifies as escapist television, you filthy capitalistic running dog vermin!
THE RANCH is an original Netflix series that is groundbreaking in two regards: a) it is deceptively formatted as a traditional multi-camera 30-minute sit-com, shot on a soundstage, using the same sets every week, and employs a traditional laugh track as punctuation; but b) it is written, directed and performed as an adult comedy, using language and situations you will never see on the major broadcast networks. And in merging those two disparate formats, THE RANCH heralds a new form of television comedy – one that has been awaited since M*A*S*H invented the dramedy.
The actual stars are Sam Elliott, who plays a conservative, bone weary rancher and Debra Winger, who plays his wife of 40 years who owns the only bar in town, also bone weary – but mostly of being stuck in a small town with a husband from whom she is growing apart, despite their deep and abiding love for each other. It isn't that love has escaped them, but rather they've been beaten down by life's continuing erosion of the spirit and optimism it held for them when they came together. You kinda get the idea that what they really need isn’t a divorce, so much as the ability to date other people so they’ll have new stories to tell each other.
The name star that sold the series is Ashton Kutcher, an actor in the weight class of Pauly Shore and Pia Zadora. Actually, I have nothing against him except for the tiny detail that he’s not an actor; like Charlie Sheen, his roles are repetitive and bland and totally without the spicy snap of vanilla ice cream. Kutcher plays the son of Elliott and Winger; a failed semi-pro football player he returns to the ranch to re-think his life and future.
The hidden genius of this series is that it really isn’t about Kutcher’s character, nor the characters of the women (two) he dates, or his brother’s on-going crusade to live up to Kutcher’s reputation as a cocksman and minor celebrity. The genius of the series is that it’s not a comedy so much as a tragedy tarted up as comedy: the throughline upon which everything turns is the failing marriage of Beau (Elliott) and Maggie (Winger) and the fall-out wrought upon the family.
The writing is exceptionally good when you consider they are breaking ground by combing two formats everyone knows has never gone together: the broadcast sit-com where the worst word ever muttered is “freaking” and an actual adult storyline with the language adults use.
And while this IS a Hollywood production – which is code for the women are hot and the men cut and buff – it is not an unbelievable Hollywood production like Rizzoli & Isles where the women are hot and wear 5” Jimmy Choos to a bloody homicide scene. The supporting cast is seasoned and speak the language of a ranch town. And if you want to expand your horizon of what an adult sit-com could be, you haven’t lived until you hear Debra Winger shout “fuck” in complete exasperation.
And that, in a nutshell, is what makes this groundbreaking and worth wasting some time on. Not the language so much but rather the fact the show illustrates real life by punctuating its storylines with the language of anger, rage and frustration, and does not shy away from the adult topics of love, sex and commitment.
THE RANCH will not be everyone’s cup of tea. You may find your expectations of what kind of situations and language accompany a laugh track are jarred up by this adult combination. And you may find the humor banal and repetitive. But give it a couple of shows and see what you think after you get used to the format. One thing you won’t expect are the storylines: in a recent one, Kutcher’s character (Colt) and his girlfriend (Heather) are at a hospital so she can get an abortion; they talk themselves out of it and decide to have the child – not your usual Hollywood ending!
It just concluded its third season and has been renewed for its fourth, due out in December. Because Netflix is a streamer, don’t assume THE RANCH has been out three years; it debuted in 2016 with 10 episode seasons, which Netflix calls “parts” for some reason.
The melding of formats alone is worth your time. My guess is, however, that THE RANCH is going to be around for as long as the present actors want to be involved – it’s that different. And it will take everybody else a while to hold hands and convince themselves the paradigm has changed again.
Everyone wants to swim, but nobody wants to be the first to jump into the pool!
"Indian Summers" is one of those period pieces only the Brits could do, as only they seem to have the courage to examine the warts of their history with an unflinching eye. This is a two-season mini-series and my only criticism is that is didn't run longer.
It is March 1932 and the ruling Raj has already seriously plunged into the explosively deep decline of the British Empire as it spirals into decay throughout India, punctuated by riots, rallies around Gandhi and myriad competing parties all jockeying for power and position.
Yet, seemingly oblivious, the British aristocracy observes tradition and escapes the sweltering heat of Delhi by moving the entire government to the cooler summer capital of Shimla, (in the foothills of the Himalayas) where peerage, entitlement, private clubs for English only and dressing for dinner remain the order of the day.
The world, meanwhile, continues to wallow in the Great Depression, as Japan invades Manchuria and Hitler begins his ascent to power. The Raj, however, is more concerned with inter-racial marriage, RSVP exclusive parties, who will get appointed to what commissions and how best to stave off home rule.
These are the closing days of the British Empire and we watch its futile, impotent efforts, notwithstanding highly proclaimed best intentions, to wrest control of a land too diverse to be denied a complex democracy.
Exotic, historical, and realistic describe this series done on a scale of David Lean and Lawrence of Arabia — you can’t not see the massive tea fields and think, “This is just too big, it’s gotta be CGI.” The joke, however, is slightly on us inasmuch as the series was filmed in Penang, Malaysia, not Shimla, owing to the modernization of Shimla and the remaining colonial structures of Penang.
In the U.S., we think we know pretty much everything there is to know about the nuances of making a television series, e.g., if the best thing about a series is plot, it’s going to wind up on a broadcast channel; if character is what you’re looking for, you’re going to wind up part of a cable audience.
But the Brits think there is a third element that often gets ignored over here in the Colonies called “acting,” at which they tend to excel. And excel they do in "Indian Summers."
Julie Waters (Harry Potter) is the conniving grande dame, Henry Lloyd-Hughes (The Inbetweeners — could there BE a more English name) is the Viceroy to be, but for certain interracial bedroom indiscretions, Nikesh Patel (Honour) should be arrested for stealing the series in his portrayal of a young Indian civil servant torn between what he is and what he could be, along with his love affair with an English (code for "white) woman… there's more of everything including people you love to hate and hate to love.
The depth of character actors in this series is impressive: Art Malik (True Lies), Roshen Seth (Gandhi), Guy Williams (Sherlock Holmes), Patrick Malahide (Game of Thrones), and Rachael Griffiths (Brothers & Sisters), just gets us started.
And wonder of wonders, they manage to do all this -- portray the transition of an epoch, the birthing pains of a nation, forbidden love between classes, race and status, the struggle between that which is legal and that which is moral -- they manage to do all that and more WITHOUT waving guns at one another in each episode.
This is an intriguing, provocative, and poignant series. Is it authentic… which is to say, does it present the era truthfully and represent the people accurately? I have no idea. I did not issue from the loins of British aristocracy, never been to India, and am conversational in its history only insofar as WWII and "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."
My point is that when you embrace a period piece you have to recognize it was written, directed and edited through the contemporary lens of revisionist history — it may or may not be authentic, but it’s not a documentary. So, if you swing onto Amazon Prime some night and fire up "Indian Summers" and hate it because they “got it all wrong” — you could be right. But if you don’t know any better, it’s a hell of a story with fine acting and stunning cinematography!
Enjoy the ride because unlike so many contemporary television series, you will not have to suspend disbelief.
“Queen of the South” (USA) takes us into a sexy, ethnic, fast moving world with which we have some general familiarity but no actual experience, i.e., the raw and dangerous world of the Mexican drug cartel trade as it spills across the border into Texas.
We’ve all been witness to the ravages of drugs on America and no matter what your politics, somewhere in the back of your mind there lives the ever resident question, “Where does it all come from and why can’t it be stopped?” Beats the hell out of me and I’m not telling you “Queen of the South” has the answer. But where realism collides with authenticity on television, “Queen of the South” is the explosive result. This may not be how it really is, but if it isn’t I damn sure don’t want to be anywhere near the real thing.
“Queen of the South” is based on the book “La Reina Del Sur” which was a huge hit on USA’s Spanish language sister network, Telemundo. Whatever they did on Telemundo, they worked out all the kinks because the show is firing on cylinders: a cast that looks like early release, a storyline that feels ripped from a long-term undercover DEA operation that got leaked to the L.A. Times, characters with compelling traits that are real people traits and – get this – no make up and lead men and women without six-pack front ends with their shirts off.
Perhaps the most refreshing thing about “Queen” is its honesty. You can dress it up and walk it around with a lot of psycho-babble but at its core it chronicles the lives of the desperate few who are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed in the criminal enterprise of drugs. And “Queen” is starkly honest about it all: through the camera, you’re along for the blood (and there’s plenty of it), the smuggling, the violence and just general depravity, the corrupting of officials, the duplicity between partners, the sex between the young soldiers (men and women) coming up and the leaders (Boomer aged) at the top. Sidebar: The young sex is hot -- there's a cut away scene in episode one on the hood of a car that will have you hitting "back." The older sex is honest, you're NOT going to hit "back," but you are going nod your head in appreciation that you won't lose the moves.
“Queen” paints anything but a pretty picture of this sordid, squalor exploitation of the human condition save for one undeniable fact: money runs like water and the only limitation on your ability to be successful is the level of violence you are willing to put forth.
A lot of the dialogue is in Spanish and runs without subtitles – if you speak Spanish you quickly understand why no one wanted THAT in subtitles! But curiously, a lot of the English IS in subtitles because the bi-lingual actors who speak English do so with an accent and the titles may help.
The production values are stunning… it’s like they shot this for a movie, then cut it up for a series, i.e., HD all the way. The actors are accomplished, accredited, and well known internationally -- many you’ll recognize but won’t know their names. For this review, it doesn’t matter – what matters is that they’re working together like a giant Swiss watch to bring you a show that’s simply never been seen on television before. This is a ground breaker.
Written 5.30.2017 on Facebook, posted on JoeActon.com 6.3.2017
I've been busy doing my own writing thing so have been remiss in keeping up with my writing page. My bad. Am catching up:
Stanley Tucci is one of the few actor-directors I’d stand in line just to watch him stand in the same line. As an actor he brings to a role a multi-layered nuance that isn’t on the page, which writers appreciate: body language verbage… rhythm and cadence to dialogue… responses that allow other actors to land their lines. He's the consummate professional.
So when I learned he was going to be in the Amazon series "Fortitude" I was eager to catch it, as it also included actors which had appeared in "Game of Thrones." I was not disappointed. "Fortitude" is set in a Norwegian research station and takes us to a new world of both sci-fi and crime drama. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil season one for you, but suffice so say Tucci does not reprise his role in season two.
Dennis Quaid replaces Tucci as the brand-name actor in "Fortitude" for season two and though an accomplished and experienced actor his nuance tends to be more hammer-like; nothing wrong with hammers, it’s almost impossible to build a house without them. In this case, however, the house was already built so I was concerned maybe the wrong tool had been chosen to continue the build.
Not so much. Quaid does a good job for the role created and "Fortitude" keeps you on the edge of your chair the entire season, which I just binged. This season is a little grittier, which is to say the body count is higher — and if you’re wondering how the shower scene in "Psycho" would be shot today, the answer is in season two of "Fortitude."
You don’t need to have watched season one to watch season two. Tucci’s cop role is gone; Quaid’s role is a struggling fisherman; Richard Dormer is the sheriff who’s missing but shows up in episode one; Sofie Grabol is the governor about to fired; and Parminder Nagra is a research scientist. About these actors… they are all superb. Dormer was in "Game of Thrones;" Grabol was lead in the Danish original version of "The Killing;" and Nagra has done extended roles on "ER" and "Blacklist."
All in, Tucci or no, season two of "Fortitude" is worth the watch. If you got the grit!
Written 3.25.2017 on Facebook, posted on JoeActon.com 6.3.2017
Amazon Prime is running a couple of F. Scott Fitzgerald related series that are worthy of a look. Fitzgerald, who came up in what we now think of as the Age of Jazz, wasn’t then the great American writer he is now considered to be. He’s probably best known for "The Great Gatsby" (1925), widely considered to be his critique on the excesses of the American dream. He continued this criticism in 1941 in his last – and unfinished – novel, "The Last Tycoon," plotted to be a send-up of Hollywood and its excesses."The Last Tycoon" is now a series on Amazon starring Matt Bomer (White Collar) and Kelsey Grammar (Frasier), both of whom are excellent in their composite character representations of Irving Thalberg (Bomer’s role as Monroe Stahr) and Louis B. Mayer (Kelsey’s role as Pat Brady).
Only the pilot is available as Amazon did not take the show directly to series, but chose to shoot the pilot first and wait for reaction – which was strong, so they are shooting S1 now. Even if you’re not a Fitzgerald fan, the pilot is worth a look-see – the acting is strong, the production values high and story compelling, i.e., didn’t know Hitler influenced major studio productions during his reign? Didn’t know the Nazi’s had an office that only dealt with Hollywood and how they portrayed Jews and/or the German government? Watch this pilot – you won’t be disappointed in anything, except the greed that rules the souls of men.
Also on Amazon Prime, but with the entirety of S1 ready to watch, is "Z: The Beginning of Everything" and follows the lives of Fitzgerald and his muse, drinking buddy and wife, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald. Christina Ricci channels Zelda and simply IS Zelda. David Hoflin is the self-centered, arrogant and terminally unsure of himself, Fitzgerald.
If there is a literary couple about whom more has been written than these two, I’d like to know who they are, so you may or may not like the portrayals here. But again, Amazon has adhered to the old-school Hollywood axiom: put the money on the screen, the result of which is yet another series with fabulous production values.
The era is not one ordinarily explored in a television series, so be prepared to be transported to a simpler time, but with the same emotions, convictions and quandaries of today. We are after all, the same humans… just with different toys.
Written 2.27.2017 on Facebook, posted to JoeActon.com 6.3.2017
As you no doubt do not recall, I was one of three screenplay finalists for the TV competition at the Other Worlds Austin Film Festival, billed as the largest sci-fi film festival. Out of three, I fully expected to take fifth place, since the only sci-fi conceit was that animals talked, to us, in our world and that’s the way it always has been. So, fifth place. At best.
Stupefyingly, I just got word PRETERNATURAL: Flight of the Godwits, won. First place. Not fifth. Holy crap... next thing you're going to tell me is that animals DO talk.
Here’s the short-link to the announcement, plus the opening to the teleplay (which has changed since I submitted): http://bit.ly/2l8F0qp
Written 12.10,2016 on Facebook, added to JoeActon.com 6.3.2017
Concept and Premise with the Big Idea thrown in and out
I knew I was destined to be a writer when I got this call, “Acton, I just had this wild-ass idea and instantly thought of you.” If you get a call even remotely similar to this, you can be sure everything you’re about to hear is a concept – the big idea, the GREAT idea, the 35,000 foot view, the dream bubble that popped when the alarm clock blew up three shots of Jack Daniels too late.
A lot of those who opine about writing insist the order crescendi of a story is idea, concept and premise, each of which succeeds the other and builds the previous. So, the way it would work in their world is… let’s say you were a fisherman watching the calendar flip over, seemingly faster and faster. One day, as you’re pulling on your socks and make that old man groan, it suddenly occurs to you, “Well, I know what. I’m going to write a story about an old guy fisherman. There’s lots of old-guy fisherman and they’ll love this story.” OK, there’s the idea.
You give it some thought and then, “All fishermen are basically liars, so let’s say this guy is just plain unlucky at fishing – couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat – and hasn’t caught anything in months.” Now there’s a concept-like thought.
Now you’re really cooking and it’s, “So the guy takes his boat way out into the ocean, chums up his lines and BAM! gets lucky with a huge fish, so big it tows him around for a couple of days until the old dude comes to understand the fish and meaning of life – but in a showdown, stabs the fish to death. The end. Sorta… probably need some fill-in, but there you have it.”
Right. Well… this story is so boring, Hemingway killed himself after writing it and Spencer Tracy wanted to after he played the fisherman. But, you’re a fisherman, so it’s THE BIG IDEA.
But when you get right down to it, the idea and concept can conflate into the Joe Acton Lazy Writer’s “No Big Idea” Concept: “An old, unlucky fisherman catches a big fish which damn kills him before he kills it.” Done. That’s the conceptual heart of the story. You need a starting place and you got it without spending $200,000 for an A.B. Literature, Harvard. It ain’t “high concept” like “Planet of the Apes” or “Snakes on a Plane,” but you’ve where you need to be to start lining up the dominos of your story.
The premise… where all average stories come to die. What you had when you dreamed up your “old-guy fisherman” story was just a thought which inspired you to write. Now you add character (timbre, persona, tone), a problem and a goal and you got yourself a premise looking for some laptop time. So now, you’ve got, “An old unlucky fisherman catches a big fish which damn near kills him before he kills it as he learns the meaning of life.” This kind of premise writing will likely get you kicked out of any good Lit department but if you were in a Lit department you wouldn’t be reading me. And you’d be an author… I’m just a lowly writer.
All right, settle down. This is just a blog and you’re not paying for it and we ARE cutting some corners on a classic to wander around holding our shovel of discovery about writing. So I dug a hole, big deal. And Hemingway probably didn’t kill himself over “The Old Man and The Sea” given he won a Pulitzer for it and it rocketed him to higher levels of fame and fortune. But it was his last work, he wrote it in eight weeks, and called it the best he could writer “ever, for all my life.”
Eight weeks is really hauling the freight for writing a book, never mind a boring classic. This was not a Big Idea book; it had been cooking in his head for a long time and he clearly had concept, premise, character, theme, problem, goal, resolution well mapped out. This kind of clarity just does pour from you as quickly and easily as The Big Idea. My point, circuitous and rambling as it now well seems, is Big Ideas are for politics, investors and preachers. Writers need a frame work in which to build the world in which they torment their characters, be it comedy or drama.
This may be a little late in the missive to mention, but the best writers (IMHO) strictly adhere to the KISS principal: KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID. Honestly, you can get quickly and easily wrapped around the axel of academia and lose sight of the goal – to tell your story, in your own voice, in a manner which fulfills you. That’s it. No amount of conforming to the rigors of academia nor convention will make your story any better. Acton’s Rule: think big, do it yourself, don’t follow convention. My experience is that there are no rules and you break them at your own peril (not a typo); nonetheless be bold, be audacious, dare to be different.
Everyone isn’t going to like your concept. And if they do, they might not like your premise. And if they do, they might not like your thematic direction. And if they do, they might not like the narrative throughline. And if they do… you get the drift. By definition writers are an acquired taste that not everyone will spark to. There are no end of reasons people won’t like your writing and the only thing you can do is bash on. You’re not writing for them, you’re writing for you.
Concept and premise are important because understanding them helps you better interact with people pretending to care about your writing. A little sarcasm there but you need to understand that when people ask what you write, a) they’re being polite because they don’t consider writing a big boy/big girl job; and b) they’re asking you a concept question – they’re not asking about the story itself. If an editor or producer asks what you write, you do not come back with, “First the earth cooled.” If a friend of your ex asks, however, you can go with, “Sadomasochistic religious horror for the young adult market” and they WILL toddle off while texting.
I should have a clever sign off line like Rick Stevens on PBS, “Keep on traveling.” But I don’t.
All the big-shot writers have their ten rules on how to become a big-shot writer. They're all crap. Here's the REAL top ten rules of ALL writers: big-shots, medium-shots, or no-shots: