Good to be bad

a good villain can make all the difference

Today’s progress involved finally introducing my antagonist .  A short scene, but moves things ahead on several levels.  But it was also fun to write.  Villains are always fun.

Reveling in a sense of overall wickedness.  Pursuing their own sinister goal, which they consider perfectly sensible. Adhering to their rules and morals, which may go against those of the rest of us.  The chance to tap into one’s dark side and let loose.

And if you can create a villain with depth and personality, all the better.

This all comes back to the recurring theme of pure, simple enjoyment. For me as the writer, having a blast during the process AND getting pages done.  And if the writing part is fun, then it doesn’t really seem like work.

For whoever reads the finished product, the feeling of entering a new and exciting world. Wondering what’s going to happen next. Getting swept up in the adventure-ness of it all.

That’s what I’m striving for.

Thick skin? Try bulletproof

I’ve been reading and writing scripts for some time now. I’ve had limited success with original material, so I have a fair idea what works and what doesn’t.  I can read a script and quickly reach a conclusion regarding whether or not the writer knows what they’re doing.

Stuff from the Black List?  For the most part, top-notch, quality stuff.

Trigger Street?  Not so much.

I’ve read three scripts so far, and each one was poorly written.  There’s no other way to say it. Part of the deal is that I’m supposed to offer constructive criticism to the writer, which I try to do.  I don’t sugarcoat anything, but I also don’t savagely tear the thing to shreds.  I want to be entertained, but if reading a script is more like a chore, then I’m going to point what’s wrong and what needs to be fixed.

I received this email in response to a script I read last week:

“Try and add a couple of positive thoughts into your reviews. It might stop authors from quitting their game. Unfortunately for you, I’m more resistant to slander. Most authors rare (sic) not, however. I hope when you release your personal screenplays, people are more apathetic.”

I hate to break it to this person, but if they want to be a screenwriter and MY critique hurts their feelings, then they better stock up on Kleenex and pints of Ben & Jerry’s.  Yes, writing a good script is hard, but if you can’t take constructive criticism, then you’re in trouble.

I’ve heard it numerous times:  YOUR WORK HAS TO BE ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.  You may think it is, but trust me. It isn’t.

When I joined my first writing group, I thought my script was great. When I got it back, almost completely covered in red comments, I was devastated.  How could they?  After I calmed down, I re-read their comments.  I came to realize that each one had merit and would actually help make the script better.  I still had a lot to learn.

I’ve been writing for a good number of years, and have slowly built up a resistance to comments.  Every writer has the option of being selective about which comments to consider. While it’s nice to get raves and positive feedback, sometimes heeding the ones that start with “you might want to consider…” is actually better because they are trying to HELP YOU MAKE YOUR SCRIPT BETTER.

And I don’t want somebody reading my script to be apathetic. I want to know what works, what doesn’t, and why.

I’m a big boy. I can take it.

The joy of words

lots and lots of words in here!

After days of reading and commenting on scripts, I was happy to jump back into working on my own stuff today.  Apparently time really does fly when you’re having fun.  Which I was.

Even though this is a rewrite, in some ways it feels like a brand new start. I’m allowing myself to let loose and write what I feel like.  Within reason, of course.   It’s quite liberating.  It boosts the self-confidence and makes the script that much more enjoyable to read.

The one thing that slowed me down was attempting to put an abstract into words.  I was able to do it last week with the polar opposite of what I was working on today, and really liked that. I was hoping to accomplish the same thing today, but it still doesn’t have that same pizzazz like last week’s.  Time to implement the ‘don’t look back and move on’ rule.

>Insert monkey pun here<

Don’t know how I could have forgotten, but earlier tonight I suddenly realized that APE is next weekend.  APE is the Alternative Press Expo; sort of a mini-Comic Con for small and/or self-published comics.  It’s very anti-mainstream, and there’s always some good stuff to be found.  Definitely cheaper to go there than to the big cons.

I’ve gone for a number of years with my pal Neil.  He’s always been more into the darker stuff, despite his sunny exterior.  And after years of not being allowed to go, since some of the stuff is very adult in nature, V got to go with us last year.  She enjoyed it, especially since there was more kid-friendly stuff than I remember.

Some of the artists I’ve had the pleasure of meeting include Keith Knight, Raina Telgemeier, Gene Ha and Ted Naifeh.  Each has produced really great material.  Check ’em all out; buy their books.

APE has always been a later-in-the-year alternative companion to Wondercon, but not so this time. Due to renovation work at the convention space, the powers that be are moving it to Anaheim for 2012, with the intent of coming back to San Francisco in 2013.  There’s some skepticism that it will return.  I really hope it does.  It would really suck if it doesn’t.

There’s definitely something about being able to leave the house, drive ten minutes and walk onto the convention floor.  Everybody should be able to do that.

Next up – Act Two

just some of the music playing while I write

Finally finished Act One today.  It probably needs a little tweaking, but for the most part I like how it turned out.

A potential agent once said the previous draft was good, but could use some ‘punching up.’ Until recently, I wasn’t sure what that was supposed to mean. But reading other scripts over the past few weeks, including ones that have circulated throughout the industry, really helped me understand how it could be accomplished.

My writing used to be simple, straightforward and to the point.  No flair. No pizzazz.  But this time I’m striving to have fun while I write, as well as make it fun to read.  So far, seems that way.