Good. Better. Getting there.

Billy Wilder
Never hurts to have a good role model*

Notes continue to come in for the pulp sci-fi spec, some contrary, many encouraging, and all chock-full of notable suggestions. With some coming from my trusted core of reliably savvy readers, there’s been one statement more than a few have included.

The gist of it is:

“This is the third script of yours I’ve read, and each one has shown a definite improvement over the previous one.”

It warms this writer’s soul to hear that sort of thing. And these are writers who pull no punches. They won’t hesitate to say something doesn’t work.

I’ve been working at this for a while, but it really feels like just the past few years have seen the most significant progress. Just goes to show what constant hard work can do, right?

Nor do I have any intention of slowing down. Doing my best to maintain a dedicated block of time and/or pages on a daily basis. The more you do it, the easier it gets (but is still tough).

The three scripts in question were all adventure-based, which enabled me to exercise a certain set of writing skills. With work now commencing on overhauling a comedy, an entirely new set will get the workout they deserve.

Crafting a sequence involving a train heist in the Old West, or a team of adventurers taking on a mad scientist? Piece of cake.

Writing a story involving everyday people in relatively normal (but funny) situations, peppered with smart (and funny) dialogue, all without the benefit of using special effects to enhance the story?

That is truly the next challenge to yours truly. It initially feels very daunting, but I’ve made it this far, and there’s no reason to think I can’t continue to push my way forward.

Should be a very interesting journey.

*Billy Wilder’s 10 Rules for Good Filmmaking (also applicable to screenwriting)
1: The audience is fickle.
2: Grab ’em by the throat and never let ’em go.
3: Develop a clean line of action for your leading character.
4: Know where you’re going.
5: The more subtle and elegant you are in hiding your plot points, the better you are as a writer.
6: If you have a problem with the third act, the real problem is in the first act.
7: A tip from Lubitsch: Let the audience add up two plus two. They’ll love you forever.
8: In doing voice-overs, be careful not to describe what the audience already sees. Add to what they’re seeing.
9: The event that occurs at the second act curtain triggers the end of the movie.
10: The third act must build, build, build in tempo and action until the last event, and then — that’s it. Don’t hang around.

A small gesture with big results

cheer squad
Yay you!

Something a little different today.  A humble request from me to you, which will hopefully become a regular thing for you (provided it isn’t already).

I’ve been exceptionally fortunate to have been on the receiving end of compliments and encouragment from my network of fellow writers (thanks, chums!), but have also gotten an immense amount of satisfaction in being the one doing the giving.

Nothing too gushing or overly effusive; simply words along the lines of “Way to go!” or “You can do it!” Maybe a little more if I know the writer and/or the project.

It may not seem like a lot, but that sort of thing can be much more effective than you’d imagine. Any writer appreciates knowing there’s someone out there rooting for them.

So what does this have to do with you? Easy. Take it upon yourself to do that for other writers you know; probably would take you all of ten seconds. And I bet you can think of least a dozen people for whom you could do this.

I’m not necessarily a big believer in “good deeds build good karma”, but there’s nothing wrong with just being a nice person, right?

And speaking of being nice to people, a couple of items added to the bulletin board this week:

-Author Cali Gilbert is happy to announce the release of her 8th book, the historical fiction Timing the Tides. The book is available for pre-order in both hard copy and Kindle versions.

-Writer/webcomic creator Gordon McAlpin has launched a crowdfunding campaign to create an animated short based on his webcomic Multiplex, which recently wrapped up a very entertaining 12-year run. Donate if you can!

Hopefully not too seldomly heard

callahan
Thanks, Harry! I’m glad you liked it.

So how’s your November writing project coming along?

Mine’s not too bad.

I’m a few scenes into Act 2, and things seem to be progressing smoothly, including coming up with a strong and slightly expository scene at the spur of the moment. Daily page output is fluctuating, but relatively steady; not sure if I’ll have a completed draft by month’s end, but think I’ll at least be mighty close.

This script is actually part of a collaborative effort (more on how that came about another time), so I sent the first ten pages to the other person, just to let them know how it was going.

Their response arrived the following morning.

“Fucking amazing! You are definitely on the right path. Amazing job!”

There was more to it, but I believe that accurately sums it up. They like what I’ve done so far, which in turn buoys my confidence, thereby inspiring me to keep charging ahead. Encouragement combined with enthusiasm is contagious.

Added bonus – several voicemails since then mentioning how they’re been reading those pages a couple of times a day and can’t help but feel a thrilled sense of anticipation about the rest of the script, along with its potential.

No complaints from yours truly about dealing with a case of the warm fuzzies.

A writer always hopes people like what they’ve written. True, not everybody will, but if some positive comments come from another writer whose opinion you value, wouldn’t that give you a little boost?

Who doesn’t appreciate a little vindication for all the hours put into getting to this point? We all know how much effort it takes to write something, let alone something that garners a positive response.

When I’m asked to read something, I’ll be honest with my thoughts on it. I’ll make appropriate suggestions of how it could be improved (which is usually the reason we’re being asked to read in the first place). But if I think it’s good, I won’t hesitate to say so. I will gladly point out what I liked and why I liked it.

Your readers are more than happy to give you positive feedback and words of encouragement, but they won’t do it because they like you or you’re their friend. They will do it because the material you wrote earned it.

And they’ll want you to keep doing it. And you’ll want to too.