Can’t forget B, C and possibly even D

It’s not all about Dorothy, right?

It’s been a productive couple of days.  I worked a ton of hours on the air, made two well-received pies for Thanksgiving, and even got some writing in.

I’ve reached the part of the outline that says “The End,” but it’s not time to celebrate just yet.  Far from it.  There’s still a lot that has to be done before those words can really be applied.

While the main storyline has wrapped up, it became glaringly obvious that I’d completely ignored my supporting characters. I was so focused on the main character, I forgot to give the others something to do during the climax/showdown portion of the story.  And that’s just wrong.

This has the potential to become a somewhat sticky problem. It’s important that the individual arcs and storylines/subplots each come to a satisfying conclusion, but just as important not to overdo it and drag things out too long (e.g. LOTR: THE RETURN OF THE KING).  There’s always a way to wrap things up. The challenge is finding the right one AND making sure it works.

As always, this is going to take some carefully-orchestrated and organized planning.

Still, any progress is good progress.

-Movie of the Moment. This weekend was also good for making a dent in our Netflix queue.

-BLACK DYNAMITE (2009) A hilarious satire on blaxploitation films that really feels like it came out of the 70s. Star Michael Jai White was also one of the writers.

-DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME (2010) A great combo of martial arts and supernatural mystery set in 7th century China. V was really excited to watch this at first, but in the end was too freaked out. End result – more kids movies for now, leading into…

-PUSS IN BOOTS (2011) or IF ZORRO WAS A CAT. Since there’s a western element, I enjoyed it, and probably would have loved it if I was a cat person.  A sequel to this would be more preferable than yet another SHREK film.

You want realism? Go outside.

You invoke the ‘i’ word? I beg to differ

“…the idea of a female train engineer during the time of steam locomotives or even into the early decades of the twentieth century is, I think, virtually inconceivable.”

This was part of a comment that pointed out the historical and factual inaccuracy and basic impossibility of the concept behind my western-adventure.

My problem isn’t with what this person is saying. They’re entitled to their opinion.

What bothers me is that they seem to just flat-out refuse the idea that such a story could, or even should be considered.

Which is exactly why I want to write it.

We don’t go to the movies to watch a reflection of our lives. We go to see a story told in an original and interesting way. The more original and interesting, the better.

I happen to think this one has the potential to be both.

It may not be a 100 percent-accurate depiction of the era, but I’m not setting out to make a documentary.  This is escapism. Pure and simple.

Besides – how could I pass up the chance to give my imagination a workout like this? This is why I write.

There will always be those who shoot your ideas down, or at least find fault with them.  Listen to what they have to say, take what you want from their comments, and ignore the rest. Then go write what you want.

If they think they can do a better job, by all means  – let ’em try.

Figuring my way out/through

The solutions are in there somewhere. Just gotta work at finding them

In an attempt to keep the outline momentum going, I’ve been making a sincere effort to squeeze in some writing on a daily basis. Sometimes it may only be 30 minutes or an hour, but I can’t keep making excuses as to why I’m not writing when I’ve got the opportunity to do so.

Lighting a fire under my ass is the only way. This thing ain’t gonna write itself.

And this is especially true now because I’m a few scenes into Act Three, and it’s quickly becoming all uphill from here.

I’ve got a semi-workable previous draft to work from, but some of the story details have been changed.  My next task is basically figure out what happens next using the practical approach: plot out each storyline, then weave them all together into an intricate, compelling and satisfying finale that ties up a lot of loose ends.

Daunting, but not impossible.

Also doesn’t hurt that I’m working a double shift on Thursday, which means lots of time to make some good headway. Dare I even consider reaching The End? We’ll see…

-Movie of the Moment. WRECK-IT RALPH (2012) – the latest from Disney*. If you were part of the 80s arcade experience and stayed involved with video games into the present, then you’ll probably enjoy this.

I liked it, but more for how the story was told, rather than what it was actually about.  It was impressive how there were a lot of setups throughout Acts One and Two that all paid off during the climax of Act Three. (I’ll be keeping this in mind for my outline).

Maybe the one thing that really stuck with me was that during the second half of Act Two, the focus seems to move away from title character Ralph and more towards supporting character Vanellope. I’m trying to figure out how it could have stayed more on Ralph.

As always, the voice talent is perfectly matched with their characters – especially John C. Reilly as Ralph, Jack McBrayer as Felix and Jane Lynch as Calhoun.  It was also surprising to see Sarah Silverman have a much bigger role than expected.

I’d categorize this as another movie I enjoyed in the theatre, but don’t feel like I need to own it. Same thing applies to BRAVE from earlier this year. Still, Disney always does high-quality work and it’s a feast for the eyes on the big screen.

*I originally thought this was a Pixar production, but it’s not. Proper edits have been implemented.

“She pressed a couple of 38s against my chest…

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

…and then she pulled out some guns.”*

*I heard this joke years ago and still find it extremely hilarious. To commemorate Mickey Spillane’s birthday, I once used it at the end of a traffic report on a public radio station. The program director was not amused.

With company coming, I was forced to finally get around to unloading some more boxes from our semi-recent move. These just happened to hold books I’d amassed over the years. Many of which could be classified under the category of ‘the pulps’.

It’s been a long time since I read any of them. If you’ve never experienced the sensation of immersing yourself in a world of tough guys, brassy dames, femme fatales and itchy trigger fingers, then you’re really denying yourself one of life’s simpler pleasures.

There’s a definite charm to this kind of storytelling. Since the writers got paid by the word, not only did they have to be prolific, they had to also make sure the writing was strong enough that you’d want to keep coming back for more.

I also love how even though the stories are from the 30s, 40s and 50s, once you get past the time capsule aspect, they still read as fresh and exciting.

But I’m positively ecstatic when it comes to ‘men of mystery’ stories like The Shadow, The Spider and Doc Savage.  Give me a stack of those, a comfy chair, and maybe a properly-made gin and tonic, and I am one happy guy.

I never really made the connection before, but I suppose the scripts I like to write could kinda-sorta be considered variations on pulp stories. Or at least leaning in the direction of the fantastic.

A rip-roaring adventure involving flying pirate ships. A revenge-seeking woman in the Old West. A scientist battling monsters to literally save the world.  They all sound pretty pulp-y to me.

At first it seems too challenging. “I’ll never compare to those guys!”  But if you take the aspects of what you like in those stories, put your own personal spin on them, and let your imagination run wild… voila!

A pulp story all your own. In my case, one in screenplay form.

Remember the old adage: Write what you know.  You probably know more than you realize.

Back to basics

Feels like I just did this

Work on the outline revamp is temporarily on hold while I divert my attention to something equally, if not more important – the logline.

This thing has been through countless revisions, and the last time I had rewritten it, it seemed…okay.

Not so.

It was too wordy, and didn’t sum up the story the way it needed to.  So back to the interwebs I went for guidance.

There are lots of opinions about what constitutes a good logline, but the general consensus is that it should include the hero, the hero’s goal, what’s at stake, and the antagonist.  Some suggest adding the ‘ticking clock’ factor, but that could make it unnecessarily longer. Use at your discretion.

The logline should also convey what sort of story this is going to be. If it’s a comedy, it should sound funny. An adventure should sound exciting. You get the idea. Let them know what they’re in for.

The logline should pique their interest so much that they can’t resist wanting to read the script.

Sometimes a writer will include some kind of vague generalization, or a phrase that evokes emotion, such as “…and learns about himself in the process.” Personally, I don’t care for those. It’s like the writer doesn’t trust the story enough to interest you, so they throw that in. The items listed above should be enough.

Since I’m always open to feedback on anything I work on, feel free to take a look at my assorted loglines (right there under the ‘Scripts’ tag up top) and give me your two cents.  Do they work? How could they be improved?  Don’t be shy. I’m happy to do the same for you.

-The screenwriting blogs have been very busy the past couple of days with this whole “Emily Blake vs Carson Reeves/Scriptshadow” conflict. I’ve been an avid follower of both, and think it’s a shame it’s come to this.

Scriptshadow is a great resource for learning the craft, but if this is something I’m spending an exorbitant amount of time and effort on, then I want to the one responsible for reaching that goal.  And $1000 is WAY TOO MUCH to charge for notes.  I had to make sure I could afford this before I submitted. (Incidentally – definitely worth it)

My original plan was to submit DREAMSHIP to SS and see if anything happened. But now I’m not sure I want to.  I’ve been pretty good about working on my own, and I’ll probably stick with it.

I’m also planning on following Emily’s lead and subscribing to Done Deal Pro. $24 a year is a pretty good deal, and probably worth my time.