Saturday, January 22, 2005

Renting PBW

Couple of people have asked me to talk more about the writer-for-hire work I do. I can't get into a bunch of details, because then the people who rent me could sue me for violating the terms of my contract, but most of it is fine. I like the work, and I don't get too attached to it. Money comes fast. Often writer-for-hire jobs pay pretty decent wages.

As a writer-for-hire, you are expected to do as you're told. None of this "STET" business. No, you do have to do what they want, when they want, whatever they want. No matter how they want it, or how often they want to change that.

Let me give you a rundown on an (entirely hypothetical, of course) writer-for-hire gig:

Act 1: The First Proposal, or Editor Has A Great Idea and Hires PBW to Write It

Editor: We'd like this Big Nasty character in the book. Important. Comes into the story to blah blah blah. We want it in there because we think it's a good idea. Not that it works with anything else in the story, and we don't have a plot, but we heard you were really good at fixing things like that. So. [Big Teamplayer Smile] Can you handle it, PBW?

PBW: (What's with this We shit?) Sure. (writes Big Nasty character and blah blah blah into proposal. Works a plot. Makes Big Nasty character fit into the plot.) There you go.

Act 2: The Second Proposal, or Editor Panicks A Bit

Editor: We loved your proposal. Great how you managed to find a plot in that mess, heh heh heh. Only we don't think this Big Nasty character should be really big. Or nasty. Or blah blah. Would you mind changing that?

PBW: Okay. (changes to average, not-so-bad character in second proposal, minus blah blah) Here are your changes.

Act 3: Proposal Approved, Sort of, or Editor Makes a Decision. Kinda.

Editor: We really loved your second proposal. A couple of minor changes, though. Like this average, not-so-bad character. We now see this character as more kindly, wise, well-adjusted, that sort of thing. And the blah? Should really be hooey. No need to send in another proposal, hon. Just write the book that way, huh?

PBW (through gritted teeth): Right. (Writes book with kindly, wise, well-adjusted character, cuts out blah, adds in hooey. Already knows she's going to regret it, but turns in manuscript) Here. All yours.

Act 4: Revisions, in Which Editor Demonstrates Stunning Power of Recollection

Editor: Nice work. I'll say that several times, by the way, in between making snide comments versus giving you clear instructions on what I want revised. And about this kindly, wise, well-adjusted character; what's with him? And why all the hooey? Change that to something else, will you? Doesn't work for me.

PBW: (Smashes head into monitor repeatedly.) Sorry. (Considers buying back the contract. Removes gloves. Changes kindly, wise, well-adjusted character to thinly-disguised parody of editor. Makes the hooey back into blah blah blah with an emphasis on the blah. Encrypts a flaming personal metaphor that, if ever discovered, will get PBW's ass so fired.) Here you go.

Act 5: In Which We All Live Happily Ever After

Editor: Fabulous job! Had us worried there for a bit, what with that character and the hooey, but we pulled you out of that nose dive, eh? No need to thank us.

PBW: (waves at Accounting Department) Check, please.

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