Ready. Set. Edit!

And I'm off!
Although the starter’s pistol might be a bit much…

My worries may have been for naught.

Fixing those angst-inducing scenes?  Not as tough as I expected. (Maybe I actually AM getting better at this. Wouldn’t that be cool?)

Final page count – 127, but the last page has 3 lines of text on it, including FADE OUT, so paring this down seems a lot more doable now.

So off I go to toil away with my trusty red pen.

In the meantime….what’s on YOUR writing agenda this weekend?

-MOVIE OF THE MOMENT – ARTHUR CHRISTMAS (2011) I don’t usually go in for modern-day Christmas movies, but this was an Aardman production,  which meant the writing  would at least be of good quality.

The plot – Santa’s nerdy younger son must deliver an overlooked present by Christmas morning.

Overall – fun, enjoyable, but not sure I would classify it under ‘the holiday season just isn’t complete without watching this’.

My biggest problem was how they handled the ‘all is lost’ moment at the start of Act Three. It felt like Arthur’s motivation was rejuvenated because the plot required it to be, not because of what was happening. If they had made it feel more organic, I would have probably liked it more.

Still, while some scenes fell neatly into expected/almost-cliched story points, there were others that pleasantly caught me off-guard.  I also liked how there was a lot of the wonderfully dry British humor (which could partially explain why US audiences haven’t embraced Aardman films).

If you’re looking for grown-up-friendly kid films this winter break, this and THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS would make for a good double feature.

A pair of potentially pressing perplexing problems in a possibly penultimate draft

today's blogpost brought to by...
today’s blogpost brought to by…

Being done with this rewrite is almost a reality; emphasis on the word ‘almost’.

There’s this one scene that’s really bothering me. Something about it feels very…off.  It’s necessary in that it wraps up a subplot, but the way it’s written feels less ‘show’ and more ‘tell’.

I’m not exactly sure how to handle this. The scene still works, but part of me thinks it could be better and another part wonders if it should stay as is. This is definitely going to require some figuring out.

One unfortunate side effect of making changes is it will most likely drag things out and make the script longer, which really is the last thing I need right now.

Which brings me to another issue.

This is at least 7-10 pages too long, so the next step after all the writing is done is to hack, slash and rewrite this down to a more agreeable length.  I don’t want a potentially interested party to be put off by the number of pages before even starting to read it. (Although in my defense, this is a real page-turner of a script)

I don’t like setting deadlines for myself, but with the end of the year looming, the rest of the month seems like a good opportunity to really wrap this script up once and for all.  I’ve been in contact with a professional writer who gives notes, so that’s where it’ll go when all is said and done.

Which will most likely lead to more rewriting, but you and I knew that was going to happen anyway.

Working with the voices in my head

All work, no play and all that...
I’m not crazy. I’m a writer.

When you’re writing out a scene, you probably visualize what’s happening in your mind. But how do you handle the dialogue?

Can you “hear” the characters?

There’s a big difference between reading what somebody’s saying, and actually saying it, or at least hearing it.

Which is why what the characters say is just as important as what we see them doing.

Case in point – I’m currently working on a pivotal scene in Act Three. Something the hero says must effectively convince the villain to do something, and those words really need to make an impact.

These lines have been rewritten at least maybe a dozen times, and may have to go through a dozen more until it feels right to me. Whatever it takes.

Among the many things to consider: Does it sound right? Does it sound natural (and not like “movie dialogue”?) Does it get the point across? Could a reader ‘feel’ the emotion in the text?  Is it too long?  Too short?  Too on-the-nose?  Is this something that character would say?

Give your dialogue a test run. Say the lines the way they’re meant to be said. Become the character and say it like they would.  Let your inner actor out.

But keep in mind your local Starbucks may not let you come back.

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.