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Table of Contents

Title Page


1. The Writer Gene

2. The Art of Procrastination

3. The Write Environment

4. Writer’s Bl%#k

5. Tuning In the Radio

6. This Draft’s for You

7. The Art of Giving Notes

8. The Art of Receiving Notes

9. The Art of Executing Notes

10. Writing Partners

11. Pitching Stories

12. Writing for Hire

13. Art vs. Commerce

14. The Write Community

15. Live to Write Another Day





Live to Write Another Day


A Survival Guide for Screenwriters and Creative Storytellers


By Dean Orion

© 2013 Sky Father Media

Copyeditor: Jodi Lester

Cover Design: Mark Page

Interior Design: Christian Knudsen

All rights reserved. This book was self-published by the author, Dean Orion under Sky Father Media. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any means without the express permission of the author. This includes reprints, excerpts, photocopying, recording, or any future means of reproducing text.

If you would like to do any of the above, please seek permission first by contacting Dean Orion at

Published in the United States by Sky Father Media

ISBN 978-0-9890593-0-5


The writing of this book would not have been possible without the love and support of my beautiful wife, Rochelle, and incredible daughters, Eden and Avalon. I want to especially thank my pal Sybil Grieb, for inspiring me to take a leap of faith and go on this wild ride, and Christian Knudsen, who has not only been an incalculable resource, but a truly supportive friend. The boundless talent of Mark Page, who created the cover art, never ceases to amaze me. And I can’t even begin to describe how much I appreciate the work of Jodi Lester, whose editorial knowledge and invaluable work on this book have been both a Godsend and an education. Lastly, I am so very grateful to my brother Marc, who is always my most trusted read, and my dear friends Tom Teicholz, Maria Alexander, Trey Callaway, and Karey Kirkpatrick, who were also generous enough to read early drafts and provide blurbs for The Writer Gene website.


1. The Writer Gene


I was eleven years old when I wrote my first original story. It was the story of triplets separated at birth. One becomes a professional football player, one a rodeo champ, and the other a successful Hollywood actor. Then, lo and behold, at the ripe old age of twenty-one, they learn that they’re long lost brothers!

This could only have meant one thing. Either I had a serious personality disorder, or I was born to be a writer. Frankly, I think the jury’s still out.

I rarely go back and reread anything I’ve written over the years, especially the early stuff, but not too long ago when I was in the throes of moving, I stumbled upon my original copy of “Triplets” and couldn’t quite resist the temptation (not to mention the fact that it was a wonderful respite from the drudgery of packing boxes). Naturally, I got to thinking about how far I’ve come as a writer, how much I’ve learned, and how much I’d like to share with other writers, which is how the idea for this survival guide was born.

Needless to say, I was quite amused with myself as I read through that ancient manuscript. Like most kids, I had a pretty active imagination, which was obvious from the very first paragraph. There was no doubt I was having a lot of fun when I wrote it, absolutely relishing that magical moment in my life when I suddenly came to understand the power of words and how to manipulate them. But the thing that truly astonished me about this younger version of myself was the innate ability that I possessed, even at that tender age, to construct what was clearly a very sophisticated story. No one had taught me about the nuances of creative writing or storytelling, and to my recollection, Mrs. Shertzer’s sixth-grade class at Fifth Avenue Elementary School wasn’t exactly a hotbed of budding literary geniuses. Yet somehow, intuitively, I was able to create this perfect three-act structure for my “Triplets” masterpiece, a well-defined beginning, middle, and end that wove seamlessly back and forth between my three protagonists, built to an exciting climax, and paid off quite beautifully when it was all said and done.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you this heart-warming little tale to toot my own horn. Okay, maybe I am a little bit, but that’s beside the point. All I’m trying to say is that writing is in my DNA. It’s not just what I do, it’s who I am. In other words, for better or worse, I was born with the writer gene.

So what does this mean? What’s the prognosis for someone with this dreaded affliction, doc? Well, if you too are the proud owner of this lovely piece of biochemistry, then you know exactly what it means. It means that as much as you struggle to overcome your shortcomings or to be recognized for your achievements as a writer, as much as you get rejected, as much as you try to do other things with your life or make a living in other ways—even if you have to make a living in other ways—there’s just no chance in hell that you’ll ever stop writing. It’s like trying to defy gravity. It’s physically impossible.

In my experience, I’ve found that members of our little gene pool generally respond to this stark reality in one of two ways: either they do what I do most of the time, which is to be honest and admit how much they love writing, despite how incredibly hard it is to do well; or they do what I only do every now and again, which is to endlessly bitch, moan, and complain about how much they hate writing, because of how incredibly hard it is to do well. By the way, it’s also not at all unusual to hear a writer do both of these things simultaneously, sometimes in the very same long and laborious sentence, like I just did.

All joking aside

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