Matthew Arkin has been passionately involved in the exploration of character, plot, and motivation since he began his professional acting career at the age of eight. After graduating with honors in English from Wesleyan University in 1982, he continued his studies at Fordham Law School. He was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1986 and practiced law until 1989, when he decided to follow his passion and return to his acting career.
Matthew currently directs the Acting Intensive Program at South Coast Repertory’s Theatre Conservatory in Costa Mesa, California. He has extensive Broadway, film, and television credits, and has appeared numerous times Off-Broadway and in many of the nation’s most prestigious regional theaters, working on new plays with some of our finest playwrights, both established (Donald Margulies, Richard Greenberg, Annie Weisman) and newly emerging (Barbara Dana, Steven Drukman, Samuel D. Hunter, and Michael Hollinger). This work has kept him intimately connected with storytelling.
His first novel, In the Country of the Blind, has garnered considerable praise, and is highly recommend if you’re into modern noir detective stories. You can check him out on Goodreads here and find his website here. And his LA Times interview is here!
Matthew is currently accepting manuscripts, scripts, and screenplays for critique. Please contact Meghan if you’re interested in working with him.
From Robin Orsini:
In the summer of 2013, I was encouraged by my mate (who wisely had not read my writing—we were living together) to submit for editorial review at a writers’ conference what I fancied was a novel. I chose two editors who offered their services—for a fee, of course—and submitted to each of them several chapters of my so-called “novel.”
One was Meghan Pinson—editor, owner, & driving force behind My Two Cents. The other shall remain nameless. I cannot say now what drove me to choose either editor, but it’s entirely possible that the self-deprecating name of Meghan’s company, My Two Cents [worth] appealed to me all by itself. Call it serendipity, if you will—I do!
My first meeting with the other editor was disappointing—to say the least. That editor ran the text I’d sent over through an editing machine for corrections of grammar, punctuation, syntax, etc., which would have been like buying an eight-week-old baby his first adult army fatigues. In short, there was nothing gained by this meeting other than to prematurely acquaint me with the miracles of computer editing—considerable, no doubt, but completely irrelevant at that point in time.
I met with Meghan in a garden patio on the campus where the conference was held. She handed me a pre-printed one-sided form filled with her hand-written remarks in response to the issues to be critiqued: Synopsis, setting & description, plot & conflict, etc. The form had a point system which happily Meghan crossed off altogether—I would have come in with a negative score, no doubt, rather than with some digits on an 80-point scale. On the obverse of this daunting point sheet, Meghan penned a long, hand-written note. She wrote, among other things, ”I feel like there is humor in here that wants to come out!” and added three bits of encouraging advice: “Keep writing,” “Focus on character,” and “Don’t be afraid to cut the underbrush, if you want it to sing,” and she added a smiley face. To be perfectly honest, if I’d gotten what I wrote, I’d have written a terse note to the presumptuous would-be novelist: “Don’t leave your day job—ever.”
When we sat and discussed the “novel,” she brought out my and her notions of the plot, the theme (revenge), the main character (not even remotely who the synopsis seemed to suggest), and limitations on the time the novel should end. I went home feeling that I should get back to writing as soon as practicable rather quit writing altogether—and I did.
After the conference, I spoke briefly with Matthew Arkin—“my” editor—and we hit it off extremely well. I did not know then how well we’d get along, but I want to relay what happened about six months ago when I submitted my finished novel to Matthew for a comprehensive critique—in late 2016.
Matthew not only read every word in the novel, but also checked whether certain words I’ve used were etymologically proper at the time the historical novel takes place (1797–1929); whether I resorted to “telling” where “showing” was called for; whether there were inconsistencies and ambiguities; where he felt that adding dialogues and descriptions were vital; and the like. He waxed ecstatic when he liked what I wrote and did so without a hint of envy or misgivings. In all, he appended 219 critical comments and complimented me 77 times. If you’re a writer, these compliments are better than an oxygen mask in a smoke-filled room. They are like an oxygen tank for an underwater diver. I want to state that I have agreed with 98% of Matthew’s comments, that is, 215 out of 219, and we discussed the rest on the phone. I have now finished my second re-editing, and eagerly await Matthew’s comments on my latest endeavor.
I am here to tell the world that Matthew & Meghan are brilliant editors, astute readers, wonderful human beings, and the editors you want for your work. If you want quality, reliability, professionalism, and honesty, I highly recommend the team at My Two Cents! Besides, My Two Cents is a wonderfully whimsical name—why would you think of going elsewhere?
I spoke with Matthew today! I was SO nervous to hear what he had to say (I told you his picture was intimidating). But, to my surprise, he was wonderful. He was very clear in his critique and told me what he liked. He also told me what needed work and the why behind it, which is very important to me.
So glad that our paths crossed!!!
From Scott Holley, author of Becoming the Teacher You Wish You’d Had: A Conversation About Teaching:
After laboring over a manuscript for months, it is hard to be objective about what one has written. That’s why Matthew Arkin’s critique was so helpful. He was able to bring an objective perspective to what I had written, a perspective that was both encouraging and more than fair. He pointed out passages that needed further elaboration, uses of excessive jargon, and examples of inconsistency in my point of view that all needed to be tightened. Rather than being prescriptive, he raised questions, challenged my thinking and helped me to refine what I was trying to achieve in writing this book. The manuscript is much better now than it was before as I incorporated perhaps 80-90% of his suggestions making changes that have both sharpened and deepened what I had originally written.
After a very long day, I finally had the chance to read Matt’s critique. I almost cried at the beginning when he wrote the whole premise of the book. I shouted, “He gets it.” There were many parts of the critique where he was very detailed in his thoughts about each part of the manuscript. I like that nothing was confusing for me, and I understand his point of view. There were a lot of points that were dead on about the book having problems. Seeing all the problems on paper made me realize I really missed some loose ends and I have a lot of work to do. I have a few things to clarify with him (like the relationship between two characters and the Native American folklore story), and when I talk to him maybe he will see why I wrote things the way I did. But I loved every bit of the critique and felt that this was exactly what I needed. I will need to re-read a lot of parts of it just so that I don’t miss anything. Overall, I am so grateful to you both. I can’t wait to start writing.
Overall, the entire process of contacting you, working with you and Matthew, and the call has been fantastic. I’m thrilled I was able to actually speak to someone in person . . . as I was able to gain more insight as to what really worked / didn’t work and what I need to focus on in my re-write.