Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Guest Blogger: Nina Bruhns

Everyone welcome Nina to the convertible! (Actually, Nina arrived in her own cute little SmartCar.) Are you beginning to think the Dark Enchantments chicks have taken over this blog? Well, we have, and will continue to do so! Nina wrote book #3, NIGHT MISCHIEF in the series, which features books set in a paranormal world (and all the authors involved are great friends; one of them is moi). :-)

Nina is giving away an autographed copy of her latest, TOP SECRET BRIDE to one lucky poster. Check back tomorrow for the winner's name! Here's Nina...

Hi! My name is Nina Bruhns. I currently write romantic suspense and paranormal romance for Silhouette.
So, anyone out there watching TV these days? Good grief. There are so many new shows, it’s taking me an hour just to decide which ones to Tivo! Of course, I may be paying extra attention, because I am currently enrolled in a Writing For TV course from the UCLA Writers Program. Tell you what, so far it’s been a real education. And not necessarily in the way you might think!

Why am I doing this, you ask? Temporary insanity? Ha ha. No, this year my personal goal is to take my writing craft to the next level, and the way I’m doing it is by furiously studying screenwriting. Whoa. What? Yeah. Screenwriting. If you write fiction and have never taken a screenwriting class (a real one, not some hour thing at RWA National) do yourself (and your writing) a huge favor and take one. Don’t ask. Just do it. Anyway, since I write genre fiction, I thought perhaps learning about how TV shows are written might be more applicable to my work than feature film writing.

Boy, was I wrong. Well, in a sense I wasn’t. As with romance (or mystery, or westerns, or sci fi), and especially category romance, there are guidelines that must be followed. Same for writing for TV. LOTS of guidelines. Yikes a’mighty, so many rules! And these are set in stone, too. Sheesh. Think brides/babies/cowboys is limiting? Try putting together a spec script for a network TV show. You will truly learn the meaning of bondage. Whoops. Did my Nikita just pop out? Sorry.

Anyway. I am learning tons. Mostly about myself and why I belong in fiction and not the world of TV writing. And it also answers one of the most persistent questions I’ve had (for years and years) when some idiot 20 year old male TV writer gets it wrong AGAIN (meaning women, love, sex, fill-in-the-blank, that we romance writers do so well), which is: why the heck don’t they ask a romance writer to at least consult on the script? Or maybe (gasp!) actually write it? Yeah. Now I know. We would never put up with their dang rules!!!

My name is Nina Bruhns. I write fiction. :D Drop by my website. I’d love to hear from you!
Good reading!


Kristina Wright said...

Hi, Nina! It's great to see you here! Best of luck with your television writing class and, of course, all of your writing endeavors!


P.S. Are you still in South Carolina? I miss Charleston terribly!

Helen Brenna said...

Welcome aboard, Nina!

I've talked to writers who've found scriptwriting classes helpful for their dialogue.

What do you think?

Laurie said...

Wow! I'm not a TV fan BUT maybe if a romance writer wrote the scripts.... MMMMMMMM ...interesting!!
Your smart car is adorable!
My daughter honeymooned in Greece (July) and fell in love with them over there. Due to the mountains and narrow, curvy roads the smart cars were extremely popular!
I'd love to read your new book!

Dara Edmondson said...

Love the car! I've been thinking about taking a screenplay writing class - never considered writing for TV class - might have to do that.

Cindy Gerard said...

Hey Nina
Welcome aboard! Great to see you here in the convertible. I just returned from Italy where the SMART car is the norm, not the exception. They are soooo cute!!
Hope you learn buckets in your new screen writing class but don't stop writing those great romances! We'll all miss them!

lois greiman said...

Nina, thanks for joining us. Great to have you here. So...I have questions about your car. Is it yours? I thought they weren't coming to the US until 2008. What kind of mileage do you get? I spoke to a man in Canada who said he got 60-70 but I'm not sure if he was talking liters or gallons or miles or kilometers. And I reallllly reallllly need one of those cars. Forget the convertible!

Meljprincess said...

Hi Nina!
Oh, goody, a chance to pick on you in a blog. Hee. No I won't this time...maybe...depends on your reply. LOL! You're an auto-buy for me, Sweets.
"Did my Nikita just pop out?" LMAO!
I'm an aspiring screenwriter too and I hope to take a class in my near future. Good luck with the Writing For TV course. :-)~


Meljprincess said...

Dang! My smilie got messed up.

Betina Krahn said...

Hi, Nina! Welcome to the convertible! Any friend of Michelle's. . .

I'm curious-- what kind of script rules? Time constraints? Phrasing? Or do they have to do with the kind of characters and plots allowed? Cause, as of this season-- it sure seems to me that anything goes!

Have you seen "Pushing Daisies?" STRANGE show. Voice-overs telling the story, strange character arcs. . . can't imagine where it's going, besides to a dead end. I'll be interested to see how the writers handle this. Also "Chuck". . . appealing characters but no real direction. . . and "Journeyman" seems so random it's annoying.

Care to enlighten us?

Michele Hauf said...

Glad to have you here, Nina!

I've love a Smart too, but I'm happy with my Mini right now.

So I know you're busy because you're taking SO many classes for your writing lately, but I think we'll see you pop in here later this afternoon.


Michele Hauf said...

Oh, Betina, I loved PUSHING DAISIES! But now you mention it, yeah, hmm, where can they go with it? But I love the surreal sort of James and Giant Peach meets Maxfield Parrish look of it. Cool.

Anyone seen Dirty, Sexy Money? I'm liking that one. Bit of a throwback to the 80's nightime soaps, but the characters are just extreme, so can't wait to see where they go with it.

Betina Krahn said...

Yeah, Michelle. . . Pushing Daisies is really a fascinating show. Not very "Hollywood." A neat hero (kinda yummy and kinda strange) and an adorable heroine. The fact that the dog has survived for years (love the mechanical hand he uses to pet the dog!) says there's hope for hero and heroine. . . but there will have to be a loophole somewhere for them to have any hope of happiness.

What other new shows have caught your collective eyes?

Betina Krahn said...

Yikes. "your collective eyes"?

I meant-- hey, everybody, what new shows have caught your eye?

Argh. I'm having brain f***s.

Debra Dixon said...


Welcome, babe! Love the car.

Tell us more about some of the rules.

Cynthia Cooke said...

Hey Nina,
So you know how there's a little cliffhanger gap right before every commercial break, is there any real secret to those? I try to put it gaps constantly, and sometimes it's just so danged hard!! LOL!!

BTW -- Bettina -- I'm loving Journeyman. Not so much for the timetravel, but I love all the family dynamics.

Cynthia Cooke said...

Sorry, Betina, I gave you too many tees!! We have a Bettina in our neighborhood, so I'm used to the double t.

Cynthia Cooke said...

p.s. You couldn't get me in that little toy car, I'd be afraid of being smooshed! It is cute though!

Christie Ridgway said...

The Smart Car doesn't look that much different than my 1987 Cabriolet...the dh is trying to get me to part with it for the garage space (we have 5 cars, don't ask) but it's so much fun to drive and park. I don't take it on the freeway anymore, though.

Nina, I have taken a few weekend-long screenwriting seminars and learned a lot. Also learned that the film people don't get romance any more than it appears the TV people do. Are you taking the class long distance? I'm in SoCal, but UCLA is too long a drive for a weekly meeting.

Nathalie said...

Nice car :) It is great thta your are Green :) though it would not be really cool that a hero came out of a Smart!

Lily said...

Clearly writing for TV must be very different than writing abook... I have to say I prefer reading a book than watching TV.

Nina Bruhns said...

Hi all!

Wow, you guys are amazing with the comments and questions! I'll try to answer them all. If I miss one, please kick me.

First, hi to all my friends out there! (Charleston misses you too, Kristina ;D.) It’s great to see you all here! I’ll admit I’m terrible at keeping up a blog myself. I’ve had a few starts and stops, but life and “real” writing always seems to intervene. Ah, well. So, it’s really fun to be able to be your guest here on RWTTD!

Nina Bruhns said...

Okay, the screenwriting class. Well, actually, I’m currently taking 2 different classes from the UCLA Writers Program (online, Christie...I used to live in SoCal and drove an hour in to classes there, but now I get to sit at home in my jammies with no makeup or traffic jams ;D).

I started the TV writing class a couple of weeks ago, and just today started the second, which is about Theme and Structure in screenwriting. The second promises to be completely, totally awesome, judging by the info/assignments/lecture posted by the teacher already. Yep, I know. 2 classes. I’m totally insane. Did I mention I have a book due Dec 1? The good news is I’m taking them Not For Credit ;D.

Anyway, I highly recommend that every fiction writer take a few screenwriting classes. Not to learn screenwriting, but because of the things you will learn about plain old “story”. I’m telling you, these people really, really, REALLY work hard at their craft and have a LOT to teach us fiction writers about how to put together an awesome story that works on several levels. For me, I am currently working on “theme” and how to integrate theme into my fiction writing. Lest there be any mistake whatsoever, I have NO ambitions to write screenplays for movies or TV. I take these classes solely to improve my fiction.

What will you learn? Structure, structure, structure. The basis for a great story, regardless of medium, always starts with great structure (which includes a whole cluster of stuff like conflict, turning points, dark moments, etc etc). Then, you’ll learn character and dialogue until you want to scream. Trust me, this kind of torture is good for you :D.

Christie Ridgway said...

Man, I'm a structure wonk, Nina, so that sounds so cool. When you're done with the class, I'll ask you what you thought and look into it myself. I have deadlines too, but heck, we always have deadlines.

Thanks for joining us today, BTW!

Nina Bruhns said...

So, this morning I actually finalized my order for a Smart car! I am so excited! And yes, Lois, they are coming in 2008. But you can go to the Smart website and pre-order one for $99 (fully refundable!), and choose your options, etc. I’ll admit I normally drive a Prius, so this is actually a step “backward” for me, green-wise ;D. But who can resist the Smart? So cute! And when I get tired of it I’ll give it to my daughter, who will be going off to college in a few years. No back seat, you know. ;D. Do they let guys into dorms these days? Rats.

I chose a convertible, naturally. In the blue in the picture. That was taken on the Smart “roadshow” which recently stopped in Charleston. There are still a few weeks left, so check the website to see if they’ll be in your city if you’d like a test drive! Warning: they have a very European feel to drive, with not a lot of the luxuries we in the US are used to in our cars. Phooey. One of the things I love about the Prius is the space-age feel to the cockpit. The Smart is sort of like driving a VW bug. Yikes. But all the cute guys look at you and smile and wave, so I'll get over it :D.

Lila said...

Very interesting post... and I am ashamed to say I have never read any of your books.

A convertible smart!! It is clear you don't live in the cold ;)

Nina Bruhns said...

Re Smart mileage...
Oops, Lois, I forgot to answer your mileage question. I believe the man you talked to probably owned a Smart with a diesel engine. They get amazing mileage, so I believe him. The normal Smarts get around 40mpg. A diesel gets around 60mpg, which is about the same as a new Prius will get. Unfortunately Smart is not offering the diesel option in the US. Don't know why (okay I have my suspicions, but do not get me started on politics). :/

Nina Bruhns said...

Several of you asked about the restrictions in TV writing. I was pretty shocked myself. Apparently each series has a series “formula” and even the show’s own staff writers may not deviate from the rules established by the producers. They are terrified of losing ratings if they deviate from what the viewers expect.

For instance. In class, the assignment is to work up a spec script for a currently running show. I chose MEDIUM, and came up with a plot where Joe suddenly starts dreaming about a dead relative (I used the excuse of his PTSD) and Allison temporarily loses her powers and has to watch him struggle with his newfound ones, all the while solving a crime that turns out to be connected to this dead relative of Joe’s. It’s the obvious kind of role reversal that we do all the time in romance. Well, no way would that fly. One is not allowed to deviate from the established story set-up of Allison being the one with the powers and Joe being the supportive but very non-psychic husband, the teacher made very clear (in a nice way of course).

So, I changed my show to Criminal Minds and am doing something pretty standard and, IMO, not nearly as interesting. Yeah. And we think certain romance lines have tough guidelines! No way. These people have to wear creative straight-jackets. I’d hate that!

Nina Bruhns said...

LOL, Nathalie! Clearly, you haven't seen A Good Year with Russell Crowe. A fantastically romantic movie (and frankly, I usually dislike Crowe) and he drives a Smart! You must watch it!

And Lila, I hope you'll pick up Night Mischief ;D. Let me know what you think! Nope, I don't live in the cold. I live in Charleston, SC, where the weather is sultry and the Southern men are just plain hot. ;D.

Nina Bruhns said...

Allow me a small plug :D. My home chapter, LRWA, will be hosting the fabulous, fantastic, famous and formidible Hollywood screenwriter, BLAKE SNYDER (who guested as a PAN keynote a few years back I believe), for a weekend seminar this February. If you are within striking distance of Charleston (or an airport!) you will never again get this incredible opportunity to learn from a true screenwriting guru...with other FICTION writers, so his emphasis will be more on story/structure and not screenwriting, per se. But hurry, because he only accepts 12 people per class and it's already filling up. Please go to: for more info and to register. Stephanie Bond and I have already signed up; hope to see you there!

Nina Bruhns said...

TV faves? For the new season I think I'm with Michele on Dirty, Sexy Money. Love it. Also like Chuck, Californication (did you know that the writer of this show is SRS author Kat Creighton's daughter Ildy?), Journeyman and (god I hate to admit this) Cane. I really wanted to like Practice but don't really. Can't wait for Women's Murder Club on Fri! I hope it doesn't disappoint.
I know I'm forgetting something...

Nina Bruhns said...

Okay, the commercial break cliffhangers? Try studying Scene and Sequel. Cliffhangers are usually either a Disaster or a Decision. Pretty easy if you follow the S&S formula :D.

Nina Bruhns said...

No, wait, that's not new.
Who else misses Studio 60?

Anonymous said...

love your books nina. gret to have u hear

kim h

Anonymous said...

Loved hearing about SIS agent; would love to be one or read about one anyway.
cool car!!!