Halloween shorty today due to yet-again busy times around Maximum Z HQ.
Among the highlights:
-Finished the initial overhaul for the outline of the comedy spec. The story is still kind of/sort of the same, but still significantly different than what it was. There’s still some tweaking to be done, but I’m really liking how it turned out.
-Got some notes back on a few of my scripts. For the most part, they’re pretty positive with some good suggestions, but there were also a couple of comments that made me question if my writing abilities are where they need to be. Maybe to a certain extent, but as it was pointed out to me, those comments are from one person, and one person’s opinion is not the final say. That’s something I really need to keep in mind.
-More writers asking me to do notes or engage in a script swap. Some new, some returning for more. Guess my analysis skills are improving. Happy to help when I can, but don’t expect a fast turnaround.
-A slow but steady output of query letters continues, with a handful of “send it” responses. Not a bad percentage so far. Not relying on any of them, but always maintaining a positive & hopeful attitude. Send it, forget it, on to the next one.
Thus the journey to being a working writer continues…
After having taken a longer-than-expected break from working on the comedy spec, I’m back at it now.
There were the occasional glimpses and minor touch-ups here and there, but I’d estimate it’s been at least several weeks, if not a little more than a month since I was really able to fully focus on it.
During that time (while working on another script), I kept thinking “what if I can’t think of anything new for this?” I also made a point of not looking at the previous draft of the outline; I didn’t want to unintentionally influence the new one.
But the moment of truth had arrived. The other script was done, or at least as much as it was going to be for the time being, and there was no more delaying the inevitable. I had to confront this monster head-on.
Having avoided looking at the previous draft for a while, some of the details were still there, albeit a little fuzzy. Somehow this enabled me to not automatically revert to thinking they were my only option. Instead, I took those details with the thought of “this is what could happen, but what would be a new and really different way of doing it?”
Applying that thought process, along with not feeling tied down to what it was before has really allowed me to come up with some entirely new ideas and approaches, many of which I would have never even contemplated before. Like chunks of an iceberg, elements of the previous draft are breaking off and drifting away, never to be seen again.
The core concept of the story remains intact, but more and more of how that story takes place are experiencing major changes. As of this writing, it’s somewhere past the halfway mark. As is usually the case for me, some elements that still need work, but a new and pretty solid and foundation is being laid.
Would I have been able to come up with any of this if I had dove right back in after finishing the previous draft? Highly doubtful. The material was still fresh in my mind, so it would have been significantly less likely for me to be able to not automatically go to it.
Taking this break, along with focusing on another project, especially one entirely different in genre, provided me with the opportunity to jump back into this one with a strong sense of revived creativeness. Even though it was still a bit on the daunting side, I came into it with a “You got this” attitude.
It also helped that I wasn’t being so hard on myself for not having every line be pure gold the first time out. This is still a work in progress, so everything remains in an ongoing state of flux.
For now, it’s coming along nicely, and forward progress is holding steady. As much as I would love for that to continue all the way to the end, I’m also a realist, so enjoying every productive day as they come.
I’d always heard the recommendation that after you finish a script, you should put it away, or at least not look at it for at least two weeks. That’s not a bad start, but I’d say a month might be better. That way you can give yourself the choice of going back and looking at what you’ve already done (which can be quite eye-opening in both good and not-so-good ways), or starting anew.
Now that I’ve done both, I can honestly say that both have proven equally effective in their respective ways, and I strongly suspect I’ll continue to go back and forth for future drafts of this as well as future scripts.
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.
As part of the overhaul of the comedy spec outline, I’ve been trying to come up with ways to make this draft significantly different from previous ones.
I’d managed to work my way through one of the subplots, and was now focusing on another one. But something felt very…off about it. It felt too preditable, in a tropey, tired cliche kind of way.
So of course, it had to be changed. But to what? That required a little more thought.
I tinkered around with a few ideas. Since this IS a comedy, what would be funny? That inspired some new trains of thought, with ongoing emphasis on “different”, “unique” and “original”. Finally, totally out of left field, one popped and stuck.
Boy, did it.
The more I thought about it and considered the possibilities, along with determining if it fit into the subplot and the overall storyline, the more it seemed to work. I honestly couldn’t recall seeing this idea in a script before.
Okay. This new idea creates a new objective for the storyline, so now it’s all about the “how things develop/how we get there”, PLUS figuring out how to present it in a way that’s original, unique, and funny.
Some more tinkering occurred, and it was all slowly coming together. There’s still some more work to do on this part and the rest of the script, and that’s totally cool.
The finished product will be significantly different from what it was before, and that’s really what this overhaul is all about.
Sometimes it can be tough for me to discard ideas and elements from previous drafts, but have found that totally wiping the slate clean and starting anew, or at least really pushing myself to come up with new ideas, is paying off much, much more than anticipated.
-Can’t let today go without acknowledging the ongoing and unwavering support I’ve received from the woman I’ve been extremely fortunate to be married to for the past 23 years as of this Sunday.
Writers – never, ever underestimate the importance of a partner who’s there for you through good times and bad. They are one of, if not your most valuable resource, and make sure they know how much you appreciate them.
Happy anniversary to my wonderful K. Love ya, baby.
My projects over the next couple of months are shaping up nicely.
-Finish overhauling the outline for the comedy spec and convert it into pages
-Some more fine-tuning on the pulp sci-fi (courtesy of a steady influx of good notes)
-Maybe one more pass on the western. Yeah, I know. But I recently got some keen insight on a few parts which could do with a little improvement.
The potential is still strong for all three, both in terms of contests and queries.
I have to say that this time around, my analytical and editing/proofreading abilities feel a bit stronger. Not that they’re the pinnacle of perfection, but at least slightly more developed than, say, a few years ago. That’s a definite plus. Nor would I hesitate to take full advantage of the sage advice of my squadron of savvy readers.
I feel a bit more prepared now, as well as a little more confident about ending up with a triad of really solid scripts.
That’s the hope, anyway.
Another part of my enthusiasm comes from seeing the results of some of the major screenwriting contests, some of which I entered and didn’t fare as well as I’d hoped. I’ll work on these scripts, send ’em out and hope for the best.
On a brief side note, I recently read the comment on an online forum – “Waiting for notes. What should I do to occupy my time?”
I suggested “Start working on your next project.” It’s what I would do. Can’t think of a better way to get your mind off a finished script than starting a new one or digging into the archives and touching up an older one. Gets the creativeness pumped up and really does help pass the time.
Anything that lets you flex your writing muscles while adding to your arsenal of material can only be seen as a good thing.