And he’s off!

I managed to start putting together Act One.  Even though I only have approximately five scenes, and each one is basically a sketch of an idea, that’s more than I had yesterday.

And that’s nice.

Is it wrong for me to say the more I work on this, the more I look forward to working on it?  While I rack my brain trying to figure out what should come next, I keep referring to examples of what I’m trying to accomplish in each scene.

The opening where we meet our hero?  See the introduction of Indiana Jones in RAIDERS.  Is the villain a badass (Chigur in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN), or incompetent fop (not sure about that one)?

How many members are in the gang?  Should there be a love interest?  Can the proposed bounty hunter be likable or a complete mystery?

Questions to be answered for each scene, more into each sequence and none of it is easy.  Part of the fun of the writing is figuring things out.  At least it is for me.  I also like trying to stay ahead of the reader/audience so they can’t figure things out too easily.

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it here, but just in case, here it is again.  BACK TO THE FUTURE is my gold standard.  To me that is a perfect screenplay.  You can go on and on about CHINATOWN, which is also mega-impressive, but to me, BTTF is what I aspire to.  There really is nothing unnecessary in it.

Everything that is set up has a payoff, no matter how big or small.  I’ve read that co-writer Bob Gale worked super-hard on making sure everything worked.  And boy, does it.

THAT’S what I’d like this be like.

Will it?  I was about to say ‘probably not,’ but something tells me there is a slight, remote, kind-of possibility it could.  Maybe.

And that would be, of course, AWESOME.

But first I need to get past page five.


Do you remember the very last Calvin and Hobbes?  I don’t have it handy, but it talks about all the possibilities that await you/us out there.  How metaphoric.

That’s how LUCY is starting to shape up.  The more I think about what I could do with this, the more positive it feels.  To quote Steve Allen, this could be the start of something big.

No, really.

The writing group came over last night.  If we were able to stay a little more focused, we’d get a lot more done.  But I digress.

There were only five of us, and everybody ‘checks in,’ which means they give a little update as to where they are with their material.  A status update, I guess.

So when it came to me, I explained how I was abandoning BABY LIKES JAZZ because of my inability to write comedy, then explained how I came up with LUCY STEELE.

It got a positive, enthusiastic response.  Which was awesome.  They liked the concept, the story (such as it was) and the potential.  All of which I am also excited about.

I started compiling a list of everything that could possibly be connected with this story, including whatever I could think of regarding westerns, trains, post-Civil War America, and so on.  Not surprisingly, the list keeps getting longer.  Although I don’t plan to use everything, a lot of it could factor in somehow.

I feel like I’m on the cusp of having a plot-point outline done; still needs some fine-tuning.  Once that’s ready, I’m hoping a lot of it falls into place.

I’ve also been trying to figure out supporting cast, but I really want to have fun with this, so I may let my imagination run wild on this.  For some reason, the idea of a medicine show huckster-type character popped in and won’t go away.  That could work.

And a bounty hunter.  And a handsome authority-type figure (US marshal/cavalryman/etc).  Still working on those.

I’m also reminded of how much I enjoyed CAT BALLOU, which is also one of K’s favorites.  An often-overlooked western-comedy with the surprisingly-funny Lee Marvin and a catchy theme song.  I think I’ll have to watch that again to get a better sense of a female protagonist up against tremendous odds.

Once I get started, I suspect writing this may be as fun as DREAMSHIP was.

Not to get ahead of myself, but maybe this could be THE ONE that does it for me.  And that would TOTALLY AWESOME.

Of course, I have to write the damn thing first.  Well, one step at a time.

-Once again, I did not win the logline contest.  Ugh.  I’m seriously considering giving up entering.  Or at least giving it one or two more tries, THEN giving up.

Dad to the rescue!

I did hardly any writing today, mostly because my wonderful child was feeling under the weather and stayed home.  Ergo, writin’ was at a minimum.

That’s not to say I didn’t think about plot points for LUCY.  They’re still a work in progress.  Still digging the idea, too.  Although I’m a bit concerned what the writing group will think of it.  But that’s not until Sunday, so I’ll delay my anxiety for now.

I do find these kinds of days to be almost introspective, because when I hit a lull, I tend to surf the internets, and occasionally go back to one of a handful of screenwriting websites/blogs.

One in particular has the ability to be inspiring and oh-so-frustrating at the same time.  And it’s called scriptshadow.

A lot of the scripts there are really impressive; some of them not so much.

But the ones that are, are really well-written.  And that’s intimidating.

I like to think I’d be able to write something of that quality and caliber, but I also know I need to keep working at it.

I also need to remind myself that some of the scripts there are written by established, or at least experienced, writers.  Which I am not on either count.  But again, still working on it.

I liked the sci-fi script I read last week.  Tomorrow I’m checking out the “Green Arrow in a supervillain prison” one, which sounds promising.  The western was overrated. The guy living on his front lawn was okay. The ‘time travel’ thriller was pretty good. The social misfit junior high girl one was also pretty good.

It’s hard to determine what criteria the handful of reviewers use.  Everybody has different standards.

I think they still review one amateur script a month, which is a really good idea.  Twice a month would be better.  I’ve submitted DREAMSHIP twice, but nothing.  The guy behind it all doesn’t seem to care for that genre.  Too bad.

Way back when I may have mentioned something about letting some of the higher-profile bloggers about this one, just to see about getting the word out.  Now that I’ve been doing this for a few months, I’m more comfortable in letting more of the outside world see it.

Movie of the Moment: THE BLUES BROTHERS, but only because it’s on Encore right now.  As much as I love watching it, I’ve got RUNAWAY TRAIN from Netflix and really should watch that instead.  It’s not like Encore won’t show Belushi and Aykroyd again.

I remember seeing the trailer for it when we went to see THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK in the theatre.  The first time.  Can’t get over how thin Aykroyd was – 30 years ago.  God, I’m old.

Goosebumps, I tell ya!

I didn’t get to do much story development today due to time constraints, but what I did accomplish was the ongoing fleshing-out of the LUCY outline.

Last night before I went to sleep, I thought I hit on the right first act turning point and midpoint, but didn’t write them down!  Argh.  So the latter half of this afternoon involved trying to reach back into my subconscious and get them back.

I think I sort-of managed to do that.

I worked on filling in the blanks of my little ‘plot milestone’ sheet, and there were some spaces that remained empty longer than the others.

What I think my next step really needs to be is where I write down all the things I can think of that would be connected with the major plot elements of the story, and see if anything develops out of them.

I’m sure this will pay off; it usually has before.

The more I work on this, the more excited I get to do it.  I really think that when all the elements are in place, this thing will take practically no time to write up.

But I have to make sure it works from both the story and thrills perspectives. I want to keep the reader/audience enthralled.  That’s right.  Enthralled.  This is supposed to be a western-adventure that I would want to see; even pay to see, so it HAS to be good AND exciting.

I think I can do that.

-This past weekend was the Alternative Press Expo, or APE as it’s commonly called.  My friend Neil and I have gone for about the past four years, except last year (timing).

It’s a great mix of independent comic artists and writers.  Some are people who xerox stuff at Kinko’s, fold and staple the ‘books’ themselves, then sell them.  Others are people who actually have a publisher.

It’s a nice alternative (hence the name) to the biggies, like WonderCon and Comic-Con, which is kind of nice.

This year we had to take V, since K was unavailable.  While I’m sure a lot of the stuff was over her head, she took great joy in spotting things she knew, like sketches of Spidey, the guy who sold fuse-bead interpretations of Pokemon characters (which we bought one of), or the guy who does some awesome Clone Wars sketches ($20 for a head sketch, $50 for the whole body, neither of which were purchased by us).

I always feel  bad for the people who are hawking stuff that doesn’t appear to be interesting.  It’s so awkward to smile as you pass by, thinking “There is no way in hell I’m buying anything from YOU!”  But maybe they sell a few things, possibly even breaking even, and enjoying themselves.  What do I know?

Going back to the artists’ angle, there are always a ton of incredibly talented artists there with all this phenomenal art for sale, mostly prints, but sometimes the original.  Like I told Neil, if I bought every piece of art I liked at APE, I would have no space left on the walls, and no money left over; not to mention probably a less-than-thrilled wife.

So now the countdown to WonderCon begins.  Only 164 days left and counting!!

-My sister-in-law is visiting, so no Movie of the Moment tonight.  However, I did watch RIO BRAVO, which was okay, but a little long.  Two hours would have worked fine.

The next night was NIGHT TRAIN TO MUNICH, a pre-WWII British spy thriller with a very skinny Rex Harrison.  It dragged a little in the beginning, but got better as it went along.  It also had Paul Henreid as the bad guy, but I know him best as Victor Laslo in CASABLANCA, so it was an interesting contrast.

What was nice was it actually raised the question of “WOULD HE DIE?”  I won’t give anything away, but it keep you hanging on until the very end.


Ooh, harsh!

I got a big envelope in the mail yesterday.  Before you jump to conclusions, it wasn’t anything official or important.

It was the first act of the first draft of BABY LIKES JAZZ, which I finished some time in August.  I think.  Anyway, I sent that out to the writing group back then, expecting comments and feedback.

The woman who organizes the group finally got around to her comments.

And boy did she.

Basically, she tore it apart.  There really didn’t seem to be anything about it she liked.

Keep in mind this was a first draft.  I know and accept that it would need a lot of work.  I don’t have a problem with the criticism, but it seemed like she was annoyed it wasn’t better.

What really threw me was the comments sheet, which I’m guessing is comparable to what a professional reader would fill out.  I was intrigued more by how she put it together rather than what it actually said.

The fact that I had basically abandoned BABY LIKES JAZZ probably helped.  But it does make me wonder/concerned how she’ll react to LUCY STEELE.

But I’m not going to worry about it.  As much as I wish I could write comedy, action-adventure is more my style.

The whole experience reminded me of the first time I got a script back from a peer.  It was covered in her infamous red pen.  This was about ten years ago, so I wasn’t used to criticism and thought I was a better writer than I actually was.

I wasn’t.  All that red made my confidence crumble.  That really was the start of me being able to pick and choose from comments and feedback, no matter how harsh or nice they were.

Granted, I don’t know the complete background of this woman.  Maybe she just takes this way too seriously.  And that’s not right.