Let me clear at the outset: I am not an expert in writing program/fellowship applications. I merely pass on the advice and comments of those who run them.


I’ll be moderating a panel at San Diego Comic-C0n on what writers do wrong. “Writing the Wrong” scheduled to be the night of Friday, July 21 will  have panelists elaborating on their personal What Not To Do lists. On the panel are two people who know a lot about the writing program applications. Carole Kirschner, head of the CBS Diversity Institute’s Writers Mentoring Program, and Kristi Shuton, Manager at Disney ABC Talent Development and Inclusion, will also focus on common mistakes of fellowship applicants.

Do They Want a Sob Story?

The subject of personal bios came up in a Facebook group that I belong to. When I see questions about program applications, I always hearken back to comments Carole Kirschner makes. I’ve seen her on panels and listened to interviews with her. She is most forthcoming about the ins-and-outs of the writing program process. Her latest appearance on Pilar Alessandra’s On The Page podcast may make your head spin.

Kirschner advised not to make people feel sorry for you. Now, granted she was talking about meetings and barraging the other person with a sob story. But one can infer that the programs may not be looking for the sob story for the person bio section of the writing program application. And that makes sense? After all, you’re dealing with writers. Writers who think they can outdo every other writer with a story of tragedy that will rip your heart into confetti. I’ve talked to several applicants who confessed to fudging the truth on their applications.

So if you’re getting your umpteenth genocide survivor–even though the applicant indicates she hasn’t left White Bear Lake, MN since the day of her birth–wouldn’t you think the decision makers would be looking for something else?


What is It?

Just what are they looking for?

Listen to Kirschner’s interviews on On The Page for other nuggets advice, and you may get your answer. She also frequently teams up with Alessandra for her all-day TV Writing class. And Kirschner has launched her Carole Kirschner’s Hollywood Bootcamp: How the Heck To Get Your First or Next Job in Entertainment e-course. (Facebook page)

And come to SDCC 2017 panel! More updates soon.


–Ken Choy

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