Oh, the possibilities! – OR – It’s nice to have choices

September 1, 2015
Either way, I win

Either way, I win

With the books officially closed on my western spec (unless someone of influence wants to develop it further? Operators are standing by!), a certain question has been popping up on a regular basis:

“So what are you working on next?”

(This is a close relation of that other inevitable question: “What else have you got?”)

Any writer should have an answer ready. Doesn’t matter if it’s one script or three or ten. I’ve said it before, but it can’t be emphasized enough. The more you can build up your arsenal of material, the better.

Not only does this give you more scripts, but it also means you’ve been doing a lot of writing (and rewriting), which can only help improve your skills and the quality of your material. One of the things I’ve noticed from doing rewrite after rewrite is that each subsequent draft is a little better than its predecessor.

I try to always be working on something. Whenever I’d take a break from the western, my focus would shift to another script. Results always varied; sometimes I’d get farther along than expected, or not as far as I’d wanted, or just kept going until I got to a point I considered enough. It was all prep work for each individual project, with the underlying message of “it’s all part of the process”.

So where am I now?

I’m feeling fortunate in that I’ve got several scripts to choose from, some of which have multiple drafts, whereas others are still just an outline-in-progress. No matter where they are in the development stage, the heavy lifting is already out of the way in that they exist.

All of my options are viable (to me), each for its own reasons. Do I want to go high-concept or low budget? Comedy or popcorn adventure? There is no wrong answer.

I haven’t made a final decision as to which script I’ll work on next, but whichever one it does end up being, it’ll be the right choice for me, and I’m pretty psyched about getting started on it.

Again.


What makes the muskrat guard his musk?

August 28, 2015
My medal is metaphorical

My medal is metaphorical, yet still bulky

The rewrite’s done, and all of a sudden, I’m nervous. Like, ridiculously so.

I’ve sent scripts out before, but this time something is making it a lot different.

A fear of failure.  Of rejection.

What if nobody likes it?

What writer hasn’t gone through this?

But as I tell K every once in a while – the only way I could fail is if I stopped trying, and I don’t plan on doing that either.

It may be that after all this time, the idea of possibly being that much closer to actually achieving my goal is kind of overwhelming.  This is where that internal voice kicks in.

Do I have what it takes? Is the script just about ready to be sent out?

Damn straight. I’ve got a lot of confidence in this script and my writing ability.

I can and will do what it takes to make this work.

I wrote this a little over 3 years ago after finishing the final draft of my fantasy-adventure. That script went on to some moderate contest success and got me a manager.

Now I’m getting ready to repeat the whole thing with the western. I like to think my writing’s improved since then, but every word still applies today.

The fear never really goes away. I’ll always be nervous when I send out a script, but I’d be rather be nervous sending out a script than not even trying.

I’ve been doing this for quite a while, and each draft gets me a little bit closer to reaching that goal. Is this the time that it finally happens? I certainly hope so, and if not, I’ll just keep trying.

For all the fear and trepidation I feel during this part of the process, it’s my drive to want to succeed that always wins out and keeps me going.

And a very hearty thanks to everybody who’s helped me along the way to tell this story about a girl and her train.

Can’t wait to show you what comes next.


The end is nigh. Near. Comin’ up fast.

August 25, 2015
An apt metaphor if ever there was one (unless you're a manager, agent or producer, in which case we can talk about it)

An apt metaphor if ever there was one (unless you’re a manager, agent or producer, in which case we can talk about it)

A self-imposed deadline is fast approaching.

At the end of this week, all operations on my western will stop. The time between now and then involves one last edit/read-through to really tighten it up, but when I close the file in a couple of days, that’s it.

Mostly because I’ve been working on it for so long, and toiled through several major rewrites, that I’m simply feeling burned out on it. Plus at this point, it really feels like doing any more extensive work on it would probably have the opposite, negative effect and do more harm than good. And I like this script too much to have that happen.

As it reads now, it’s a pretty solid example of my writing style. Even if it only ends up being a calling card that results in some assignment work, that’s perfectly fine with me.

Is it perfect? Of course not. Is it above average? So I’ve been told; excessively so, according to more than a few people not related to me. Is it a rousing tale of thrills and adventure that puts a new spin on an old genre? You’re darn tootin’.

I couldn’t have gotten to this point without all the helpful comments and support of some very talented writers and consultants. All of it has helped me make the script as good as I think it can be. For now. I also like the idea of coming back to it in a few months to get it ready for next year’s Nicholl or PAGE.

But the time has come to bring down the curtain once and for all. It has been an amazing experience that I honestly believe has made me a better writer and definitely upped the quality of what I write. As one of my reliable note-givers said to me, “As good as your writing is on this one, your next one is going to be even better.”

I sure hope so.


I’d wager this is you/me/us

August 21, 2015
The thrills and glamor of writing a screenplay

The thrills and glamour of writing a screenplay

Wouldn’t it be great if every single time you sat down to write, you produced something just flat-out jaw-droppingly incredible?

It would also be great if you could eat an entire pie by yourself and not get sick, but that ain’t gonna happen either.

You work hard and do the best you can, and that’s all you should ask and expect of yourself.

You know what you’re capable of. You set goals, and make the effort to accomplish them. You push yourself to keep getting better.

You might hit the target on the first try, or it might stretch into double-digit territory. Every victory moves you forward.

What separates you from someone who “has been thinking about writing a screenplay?” You are ACTUALLY DOING IT, and even though you know firsthand what a frustratingly aggravating and slow-as-molasses-in-January process it is, you soldier on.

Just finished a draft? You both dread and look forward to the inevitable rewrite.

You do not suffer writer’s block gladly. In fact, you challenge it. With a vengeance.

Faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, you think your way through/around it to a solution. You practically thrive on your ability to keep going, despite how high the odds are stacked against you or when it feels hopeless.

You want this so bad it actually does hurt.

That spark of creativity burns blindingly bright inside you, and you fan the flames as often as possible.

You write because you can’t imagine doing anything else. Coming up with ideas, stories, scenarios and characters brings you a special satisfaction that only a select few can relate to.

A lot of us go into this with dreams of making a career of this. Some will succeed, many won’t, but we don’t let that deter us.

We all have a rocky road ahead, so make sure you keep doing whatever you have to in order to stay on it. The final destination is well worth it.

Happy travels, chums.


Turning your characters into people

August 18, 2015
Make each one of these a distinct individual. And...go.

Make each one of these a distinct individual. Ready? Go.

One of the notes I occasionally get (as many others have as well) is that my characters are good, but could use some more depth.

No matter how big or small a part a character plays in my stories, I try to make them seem like real people. Sometimes it works, and most of the time it needs more work.

I don’t go through the whole “create a detailed character history” thing, but as I work progresses on each story, I get more of a feel for what kind of person that character is and hope I can transfer that to the page.

So today’s post is going to be a little different, and involves audience participation.

How do you develop depth in your characters?

There’s no one right answer, and everybody has their own way of how they develop a story and its characters, so it would be great to hear what works for you.


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