A few important reminders (for me and anybody else)

high school classroom
“I know you didn’t do as well as you’d hoped, so look at this as a learning experience.”

Yet another busy week around Maximum Z HQ, including quite a bit of doing script notes, polishing the latest draft of the comedy spec and punching forward on the horror-comedy outline.

Fun stuff all around.

It also included my western placing in the top 15 percent of this year’s Nicholl, which is the second time for this script, and third overall. Not bad, but still not enough to get to the quarterfinals. At first I was feeling kind of down about it, but realized (and was reminded by more than a few colleagues) that a much larger number of scripts didn’t even make it that far, so I should still regard this as a positive.

Suffice to say, it looks like there’s a little more tweaking in store so as to get this script and at least one other ready for next year (along with a few other top-tier contests).

Since this blog recently hit the 9-year mark, of course there are some previous posts of relevant content.

A screenwriter’s 5 stages of grief (contest edition)

A little-post comp analysis

My race, my pace

Fall back. Regroup. Hit ’em again.

In it for the long haul

To all of you who had a script advance in PAGE and/or the Nicholl, my heartiest of congratulations. Steps are already being taken to reinforce the notion of me being among that group next year.

That’s the hope, anyway.

Looking back, glimpsing ahead, and a minor adjustment

new year's eve
Just one more glass of champagne, then it’s back to work. Promise.

As 2017 wraps up, it’s only natural to engage in a little self-evaluation.

How many of your writing goals were you able to check off this year? Most of them? Some? A small-but-decent fraction? Hopefully you don’t need to mark the box labeled “None”.

One of mine was to complete at least three scripts. I managed two drafts, a revised outline, and one and a half rewrite/polishes (one still a WIP). Pretty solid results. A very hearty thanks to everybody who devoted the time and effort to give me notes. I hope my notes for yours were just as helpful.

Using those notes and the results of a few conversations, I think I’ve been able to up the quality of my writing a few notches. It still has a few levels to go, but it definitely seems better than it was. The next round of drafts should be really interesting,  both in terms of working on them and how the end results turn out.

I wanted to read more scripts, which actually happened, but not entirely in the way I expected. I didn’t do as much reading of scripts for the purpose of entertainment or gleaning some helpful guidance because I ended up reading over 100 scripts for several contests. Don’t know if I’ll do it again, but still glad I did it.

On the gaining representation front, lots of query emails were sent. Maybe one response out of ten expressed interest in reading the script, with each ending with a “thanks but no thanks” or “just not what I’m looking for”. A bit disappointing, but not totally unexpected. Along the way, I also worked on being more strategic about the process, researching potential recipients and re-drafting the query to (in theory) really sell the concept of the script.

And what would an ambitious screenwriter’s year be without contests? My western made it to the seminfinals of a few smaller contests and the top 20 percent for the Nicholl (not too shabby), but once again whiffed it for PAGE. I’ve become somewhat disillusioned regarding contests, so will most likely really cut back on them. Maybe just stick to the big three.

There was the most pleasant experience of going to Los Angeles to attend a table read for one of my scripts. I like the idea of doing one or two of them locally, so looking into that for 2018.

I hosted two screenwriting networking events, which connected me with some very talented writers from right here in the Bay Area. Definitely plan on doing that again at least once this year. Highly recommended, especially if you’re not in Los Angeles and want to expand your own personal network.

On the half-marathon front, I ran five races this year – the most ever in one year for me. Still averaging about two hours, which isn’t bad – for me, but the quest for 1:55 continues. Already signed up for three next year, with maybe one or two more expected to be added into the mix. Like with screenwriting, improvement takes time, effort and dedication. A good pair of socks and strong knees also come in handy, and that applies to both.

Finally, this blog. As always, a great experience doing what I can to offer advice to help other writers, recounting my experiences and the lessons I got out of it, and presenting some interviews with some truly interesting and amazing creative folks. I am truly grateful to everybody who’s stopped by to take a look, like a post and make a comment.

But it’s also been exhausting. Producing posts twice a week on top of dedicating time to write and make a career out of it has simply gotten to be too much. I still enjoy doing the blog, but want to refocus my energies. So as of January 1st, I’ll be reducing my weekly output to Fridays only, and sometimes even that might be iffy. It’ll most likely be on a week-by-week basis.

I hope you had a most productive 2017 and wish you all the best for an even better 2018.

See you in seven.

Quite the quandary

coin flip
I prefer to decide using logic & common sense rather than this

I’d like to discuss something that’s been weighing heavily on my mind for the past couple of weeks, and I sincerely hope you’d be willing to chime in with your thoughts.

But first, a little backstory…

A few years ago, I did some interviews with writers who’d had their scripts featured/reviewed on the script-oriented website Scriptshadow. Those can be read here and here. Based on the correspondence I had with each writer at the time, the result of their script being on the site yielded some positive results. Representation, options, almost the whole shebang – save for an actual completed film, which is probably an important thing to keep in mind.

In the years since, I’ve connected with a few more writers who experienced similar results from having their scripts spotlighted on the site, including one that saw their script purchased. Not too shabby.

Here’s how it works. Readers are invited to submit the basic details about their script – title, genre, logline, and a brief write-up (Why You Should Read). The site’s host selects five from the myriad submitted and posts those details. The one that gets the most votes from the reading public is then reviewed by him, aka Amateur Friday.

So here’s the thing:

Is it worth it to send in a script?

There’s no guarantee my material would be picked in the first place, but I’ve tried many other avenues with little to no success. It’s almost an “I’ve got nothing to lose” approach. And this is no last resort; just something I’ve been contemplating.

While part of my interest in this is the potential for exposure to folks in the industry, there’s also the opposite side of the coin in that my script would be out there in plain sight, losing the chance for first impressions. If it got a negative review, it seems more than likely it would then be seen as damaged goods.

Some of the writers said they were really glad they did it. Others were more or less indifferent about it. Nobody said they regretted it.

To add to that, I’ve read a vareity of mixed reviews about the site and the host. In fact, way back when I would read the site on a daily basis, (which is now more like once or twice a month), I often found myself disagreeing with him regarding his thoughts of why he liked or didn’t like a script.

So the floor is open. Feel free to chime in with your thoughts. Go for it? What have you got to lose? What the hell are you thinking? Turn around and don’t look back?

And no one-word answers please. A little elaboration and the reasoning behind your opinion would be greatly appreciated.

*Chances are the link you took to get here were listed as “Quite the quandry”, which is a total spelling goof on my part, and as you can see, has since been corrected. Thanks, Phil!

A cavalcade of classics

vintage dj
Spinning the hits and spouting some snappy patter!

Another time of busy-ness around Maximum Z HQ, so thought I’d offer up some previous but still quite relevant posts.

Enjoy!

A support staff of one

Avoiding the dreaded unfilmable

Strong rope & solid knots required

Best seat in the house

Behold my awesomeness!

The holiday assortment pack

candy
Every one a delight in itself, and none of the calories

In a recent Twitter exchange, the person with whom I was conversing mentioned, “You’ve covered a lot of ground with your blog.”

I never really thought of it that way. I just try to write about stuff I consider both appealing and applicable for writers. Sounds like others might share the same opinions, which is always nice to hear.

Since I’ve been doing this for a good number of years, the catalog of posts goes back quite a ways, covering a wide spectrum of topics. Despite their age and the occasional outdated writing update, the intended content of many of them remains relevant.

With that being said, here are a few posts from the past couple of years I think still make for informative and entertaining reads.

Enjoy.

I want instant gratification, and I want it now!

The good bad of your antagonist

One question to rule them all

The dreaded unfilmable

In it for the long haul