It was quite an undertaking, involving lots of rewriting, editing and reorganizing, including plenty of self-imposed stress, but the latest draft of the pulp sci-fi is complete.
It could definitely benefit from a little more work – another draft or two would make it that much better, but it’s exactly the kind of fun thrill ride I set out to write, and I really like how it turned out. One of my guidelines has always been “Write something you would want to see.” Man oh man, would I want to see this. And based on some of the notes I received from my squadron of trusted colleagues, so would they. Such an encouraging thing to hear.
Quick side note – I absolutely could not have gotten this script to this point of development without those exceptionally helpful notes. Thanks, chums! Each and every one of you has once again proven yourselves invaluable!
Networking. Worth it like you wouldn’t believe.
So for now, I’ll be taking a little break to let that script simmer for a bit as my focus is redirected towards revamping the outline of the comedy spec. Thrilled to say that even that seems to be coming along nicely, including a most productive writing sprint that got me to the next plot point. Always a good thing.
As much as I hate setting up deadlines for myself, I’m really hoping to have a decent first draft done by the end of the year – at the very latest. If I can maintain a pace like I have over the past few days, no reason I wouldn’t be able to type FADE OUT by Thanksgiving.
An acquaintance recently told me about a small production company seeking material, and they (the acquaintance) thought one of my scripts might be a good match for it.
“Great!” I responded. “What do they need?”
“Your synopsis (with a logline), along with your writing resume. If they like what they see, they’ll ask for the script.”
Hold on one second. I had the synopsis, but a writing resume? Never heard of that before, let alone including it with the script material. Did such a thing even exist? What would it even look like? Was this some new trend of which I was unaware?
Apparently they do exist, but based on my experience and research, it sounds like being asked to provide one happens very, very rarely.
You’re probably thinking “Couldn’t they just look you up on IMDB Pro?” They could, but that doesn’t contain all my relevant details and information.
But this place wanted a resume, so I had to put one together. What to put on it?
I looked up what I could for “writer’s resume”, but got a lot of non-screenwriting-related information and examples. This resulted in a lot of tinkering around and adapting the best I could.
It all boils down to listing all of your screenwriting and screenwriting-related experience, along with any applicable accomplishments. Many writers with a personal website or blog have a page featuring some kind of version of it.
I wasn’t a produced writer, except for a writing credit on somebody else’s film school short, so I could mention that. Plus some material I’d written and filmed years ago as part of a freelance assignment which at last check was still available on YouTube.
Some of my scripts have won awards in reputable competitions. I listed the titles and their assorted results.
I included being a reader for a few screenwriting contests. (True!)
Oh yeah. THIS BLOG. Been going strong for years, plus a few accolades along the way. This triggered the realization that I could use some other screenwriting-related materials I’d written.
Turns out I had a somewhat decent amount of material to work with.
A little editing and revising, and off it went, along with the one-pager.
Unfortunately, the prodco passed. Not because of my lack of experience, but the script “just wasn’t what they were looking for.” No big surprise and no big deal.
But now I have a writer’s resume, which I keep updated. Chances are nobody’ll ever ask for it again, but I’m glad I put it together and have it ready to go. Just in case. Stranger things have happened.
There’s no doubt that some follow-up thoughts and comments to this will be of a “this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard” nature. And in some ways, I totally agree. But I chalk it up to just adding another tool to your arsenal of self-marketing materials. It took all of 15-20 minutes to put it together, so no harm done.
Normally, this would be the end of the post, but part of the reason I wrote about this is there are always writers on assorted online forums seeking feedback from other writers, and they get a lot of volunteers eager to offer up their two cents.
While it’s great that somebody’s so willing to help you out, what if their level of experience isn’t similar to yours? What if you’ve written ten scripts, and they’ve written two? Or still working on their first one? How much value would you give their notes?
It’s not a bad thing to ask somebody about their writing experience. It’s also not the best idea to ask a bunch of strangers to give you notes. You’re much better off building and developing strong professional relationships. Most seasoned writers don’t seem to have a problem discussing their experience.
So the next time somebody you’re not too familiar with says they’d be more than happy to give you notes on your script, don’t feel bad asking them how much experience they’ve had.
Or you could even ask to see their writing resume.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity to meet with some fellow Bay Area writers. Among their number was a writer who had written some small stuff, and was in the middle of working on her first big project – a TV pilot.
Even though I don’t know much about writing for TV, I and another writer offered up what advice we could. The recipient was very appreciative, and one of the things she said later on in the conversation made a very strong impression on me.
“I know the first draft isn’t going to be perfect, but I’m just really loving writing this.”
Truer words could not have been spoken.
Like I told her, I write stuff I would want to see. It’s taken me a long time and many drafts of many scripts to feel like I’ve really come into my own. Each time, the end result is a script for a movie I think would be an absolute blast to see play out on the big screen.
It always astounds me when a writer complains about having to write (or rewrite). If you don’t like doing it, WHY ARE YOU DOING IT?
It was genuinely pleasing to hear this writer who, despite the challenges she knew awaited her, was still excited about working on this project. Sure, she was still nervous about doing a good job and hoped the end result didn’t suck too much. No matter how many scripts you’ve written, that feeling never goes away.
But to simply see her face light up while she described the story (which is a real doozy, believe you me) and hear her talk about what she’s experienced so far, including doing the research involved, and learning what to do and not to do regarding formatting, it was just really, really pleasant.
I’m sure a lot of us do this because the title “storyteller” really suits us to a tee. Are some better at it than others? Sure, but instead of being discouraged about what you perceive as a lack of progress, try seeing every time you write as a chance to learn and improve. Because it is. It’s certainly been that way for me, and I strongly suspect I’m not alone in that.
I got the impression our little chat gave this writer an extra little jolt of encouragement that she wasn’t expecting. She doesn’t know when the pilot script will be ready, but I told her not to worry about that and just keep enjoying writing it.
I suspect she will.
-Friend of the blog Andrew Hilton (aka The Screenplay Mechanic) is offering a special deal as part of his stellar screenplay analysis. (Editor’s note – his notes helped shape my western into what it is today)
If you use any of his services, refer a friend, or write a Facebook review of your experience using his services, you are automatically entered to win a free DVD of the motorcycle documentary WHY WE RIDE (of which Andrew was a co-executive producer).
The winner will be chosen on October 1st. The holidays will be here before you know it, and if you or somebody you know loves motorcycles, this would be an excellent gift (as would purchasing some of Andrew’s script services for that special screenwriter in your life).
-My time in the San Francisco Half-marathon the weekend before last – 2:02:56. Disappointing, but still glad I did it. I blame all those uphill stretches in the second half. And probably not training enough.
Next race is coming up in a few weeks in Oakland. Pleasantly flat Oakland. Training a little harder for it, with the intention once again of hoping to break the 2-hour mark.
The latest batch of notes on the pulp sci-fi spec have been analyzed, some even incorporated, resulting in the latest draft.
Thing is, something still seemed a little off about it. But after having spent a good chunk of time on it, I opted to give myself a little break and skip jumping right back in, and instead put it aside to simmer while I focused on a few other projects.
A couple of weeks have passed since then. The time felt right. I opened it up and simply started reading in the hope that maybe the solution would simply present itself along the way.
A lot of it still held up. It’s still a fun, fast-paced action-packed story.
But what really stood out this time was how there was a lot of unnecessary text on the page. It wasn’t a matter of overwriting; more of a “maybe a little more than you actually needed.”
I went back to page one and started editing, line by line. A word here, a phrase there. More and more of my darlings were being lovingly obliterated from existence, creating a somewhat tighter story that didn’t sacrifice any momentum (so far).
Some of the notes also mentioned the occasional lack of information in terms of backstory. I occasionally have the habit of thinking I’ve included an important detail or at least allude to it, when it reality – nope.
Using this fine-tooth comb approach has also enabled me to identify and plug up holes in the plot. Sometimes I might stumble onto a minor issue I didn’t even realize was or wasn’t in there, and am able to take care of it. Again – tighter and continued momentum.
This draft continues to progress nicely, and I’m hoping to wrap it up soon – but still making a point of taking my time and thinking my way to each solution.
-I’ll be running the first half of the San Francisco Marathon this weekend. While a time of 1:55 would be great, as long as I beat the 2-hour mark, I’ll be fine.
-If you’re a screenwriter in the San Francisco Bay Area or northern California region, and want to meet other screenwriters, the NorCal Screenwriters’ Networking Shindig on Sunday, July 30th, might be just what you need. 2-4pm at Kawika’s Ocean Beach Deli (734 La Playa – a block from the ocean!). Cost – FREE! Drop me a line if you’re interested.
Here it is the last day of June, signifying the halfway point of 2017, which means it’s time once again for that most lauded of blogpost topics:
The Project Status Update!
This is your opportunity to give as much or little info as you desire regarding what you’re currently working on, finished so far this year, or plan to jump into in the coming months.
Mine’s pretty simple and straightforward.
-Currently revising two scripts – a comedy and the pulp sci-fi spec. Already have a spec rewrite project lined up for when both of those are done – target start date is end of the summer.
-On the non-writing front, I’m signed up to do 4 half-marathons between now and the end of the year. A slight chance that number might potentially increase by one or two, but it remains tentative. As long as I can keep my time under the 2-hour mark, I’m good.
So how’s 2017 been for you, writing-wise?
A few items from the bulletin board:
-Filmmaker Steve Davis has launched a crowdfunding campaign for his World War 2-era short No Glory on Indiegogo. Looks pretty cool. Donate if you can!
-Even though the focus around here is mostly on screenwriting, a lot of writers are also interested in writing for television. The National Hispanic Media Coalition TV Writers Program is accepting applications from Latino writers between now and August 7. If you qualify, give it a look-see!
-If you’re a screenwriter in the San Francisco Bay Area (or the general northern California area, or just happen to be in town that weekend), the NorCal Screenwriters Networking Shindig will be taking place from 2-4pm on Sunday, July 30th, at Kawika’s Ocean Beach Deli at 734 La Playa (between Balboa & Cabrillo, just a block from the Pacific). Let me know if you’re interested in attending. Hope you can make it!