This weekend's outstanding LA Beats Workshop attendees
This weekend’s outstanding LA Beats Workshop screenwriters (with the head Cat)

Our latest LA Beats workshop just wrapped up late yesterday afternoon, and I gotta say: There’s a centrifugal force going on in these things that is starting to build in all new ways.

We’ve had such creativity come out of the Beats Weekends lately. I don’t know if I am getting clearer about how to describe this method, and learning better, faster ways to explain it, or if the writers who have discovered us are just better at their j-o-b, but we’ve had an inordinate number of home runs lately…

.. and transformations right before our eyes.

Keep in mind you walk in with just an idea sometimes, and by the time Sunday night rolls around, you are standing in front of the class pitching title, logline, and 15 beats. It’s amazing to see these stories evolve.

It’s all about the repetition of each step — and it doesn’t matter if you use this technique in class, or back home. The “call and response” of figuring out what you’ve got can be emulated anywhere: In line at Starbucks, among friends or strangers, when you pitch out your scenes and incorporate feedback, your story just gets better and better.

And when you’ve really got one, you know it.

The good pitches do not require our undivided attention. In fact, I like to think of the perfect place to pitch as being a cable car going down some winding San Francisco street, with your listener on the other side of the car. If you can catch that person’s attention with your hero’s dilemma, if you can keep their interest as you yell above the noise of ringing bells and accelerating g-forces, that’s probably the one to write.

You know it when you hear it.

Sunday nights have proven to be highly inspiring to me. As I head home with those pitches from class still on my mind, I can not only see how each developed –sometimes miraculously — but how well this peer-to-peer model works! The writers that come to class are exceedingly generous, helping each other with title suggestions, plot point fixes, and brand new ways to “see it.”  This weekend we had a couple of drop-in guests who marveled at the interplay between the writers. And all of the suggestions are pitched out so constructively. The peer-to-peer model of note-giving works so well because we are unbiased. We’re just an audience like any other audience whether we find them in an elevator, on a cable car, or at a studio.

Work it out and win. Think clearly and let us in on your story. You too will hit a home run.

p.s. I am off to London Tuesday, and looking forward to meeting all my UK friends this weekend for our two day extravaganza May 2-3.  I will check in Thursday from England and grateful for the wonderful turn out.