More like chiseled in frosting

Didn't work out right the first time? Go back and do it again.
Sometimes you just have to go back and do it again

Y’know one of the best things about putting together a story?

If something doesn’t work, you can change it (and most of the time, the change is for the better).

Most of the details in my western outline seemed pretty solid, and they were transferring nicely to the steady output of pages.

Then I got to the culmination of a big sequence – it involved a shootout. Something seemed out of place. I read the thumbnail sketch of the scene in the outline again.

Wait a minute.  Where did the one character get a gun?

A quick check of some previous scenes. There was no opportunity for that happen.

So now I’ve got a choice to make: keep it as written in the outline, or try something different.  Keeping it would mean going back and changing several scenes, which could also potentially slow the pace of the story. I opted for something different.

The end result was a shortened scene that retained crucial story and plot points, which gave them more of an impact. I also went with ending the scene ‘bigger’, keeping with the overall tone of the story.

There’s a good chance this will also result in having to rework parts of the big finale, but for now I like the way it plays out.  Besides, there’s another chance for a rewrite for the better.

So even though you think your story’s ready to go, chances are more than likely you’re going to reach a point where something has to be changed, fixed, altered or just plain rewritten.  Don’t see this as a negative – welcome the opportunity with open arms.

You want each scene to advance the story in the most effective way possible, and now you’ve given yourself the chance to do that.

Ask yourself if this is the best way a scene can be done. If not, what can be changed so it not only does what it’s supposed to, but does it better than your original version?

Then do the same for the next one, then the one after that, until you reach the end.

Simple, no?

It may be a cliche, but it’s still true

Something seems intriguingly different here...
I always did enjoy standing out in a crowd

Familiar, but different.

That’s what we’re told Hollywood wants. But the more I read the loglines or concepts of spec scripts that sell, there sure seems to be a lot more ‘familiar’ and a lot less ‘different.’

I mean, how many stories of an aging hitman/cop/gangster out for revenge or to settle one last score do we really need?  Or a family/child terrorized/haunted by demons/evil spirits? Or a career-focused woman who would gladly throw it all away for a shot at true love?  Or a man-child acting unrealistically outrageous?

And let’s not even get started on the Tarantino ripoffs.  There’s only one of him, so stop trying to write like him. Please.

Every so often, something truly original will come along and capture the public’s attention. It’s labeled a success, and before you know it – BOOM. A deluge of poorly-written, second-rate copycats.

Thus the challenge all of us are facing – write something original. Something they’ve never seen before.  Sure, you can incorporate familiar elements, but the tough part is putting your own spin on them.

I strive to write stories that are different. I want you to remember my script because of it’s originality (as well as being extremely well-written and entertaining, but those go without saying).

Take a good, hard look at your story. What makes it really stand out from the rest?  If you can’t easily answer this question, then you’ve got some editing and rewriting to do.

Remember, it’s you versus every other screenwriter out there busting their ass just as hard as you to succeed. Harder, even.

I’m in. Are you?

Gimme a few seconds to catch my breath

I'll get back to work in a minute. Promise.
I’ll get back to work in a minute. Promise.

Hokey smokes, am I exhausted. But it’s a good exhausted because there’s just so darned much going on in my universe.

First and foremost, the churning-out of pages continues. It’s a good thing I know how to edit, because it’s really going to be necessary. Basically, my scene-to-page ratio is rapidly becoming misproportioned. A scene originally intended as half a page ends up being one, one and a quarter pages, so I’ll have to figure out how to cut it down to the absolute bare bones and make it, say, a quarter of a page. Challenging, yes, but doable.

In some ways, the transition from outline to pages at first seemed rash and premature. But since I think my writing is a lot stronger than it was before, it doesn’t bother me as much. As a result, I can crank out 1-2 pages a day with confidence, and be as equally confident that the inevitable editing phase will be just as effective.

What’s also cool is being able to write while V takes part in her many after-school activities.  I find a nice, quiet spot and type away. Productive and makes the time fly by. Even better if there’s free wifi (loves me that Pandora!).

-Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve become more active within the online community Stage 32, which connects all type of creative folks from around the world. I’ve made some great connections, including the sharing and critiquing of pages, as well as somebody who read my script and offered to forward it to an associate with a ‘highly recommend’ label attached.  Nice.

-I haven’t been able to run as much as I’d like to, but I make sure to get a good one in on weekends. This past Saturday, I did 12.44 miles in 1:50 and change, for a pace of about 8:45. It felt great, and boosted my hope of breaking 1:55 at the Oakland Half-marathon on March 24th.

Not sure if it’s my shoes or just me getting old, but lately my right heel has been getting really sore after I run. It seems to hit a few hours later, and originally lasted for about a day, but the length of time and intensity of pain have each been shrinking. My retired-doctor father says it’s bursitis. K thinks it’s the shoes, which are about a year old. Knowing me, it’s probably both.

-Movie of the Moment – GOON (2011) If you like hockey, you’re going to love this.  I don’t even remember if it was released in theatres, but it’s on Netflix streaming now. Seann William Scott plays completely against type and is very effective as a soft-spoken, nice guy thrust into the ragtag world of Canadian minor-league hockey.  A lot of fun, but knowing something about hockey will definitely increase your enjoyment.

Blink and you’ll miss this post

Current script status: up to page 7, and getting ready to introduce my bad guy. Oh, this is going to be fun.

My page-a-day method seems to be working out nicely. Some days it’s perfect, while some days it’s just enough.

-Got to read a fantastic script similar to mine in a handful of details, while the rest is totally different.  Nothing to worry about.  If anything, it’s a great example of what works to tell this kind of story.

-Been woefully lax in getting this podcast up and running. Have to set more time aside for it. Just need another 1-2 hours in the day. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

-Movie of the Moment – CLASH OF THE TITANS (2010) Man, did this suck.  Almost feel compelled to see how the sequel compares. Almost.

I’m guessing this was a result of studio interference, since Travis Beacham, the writer of A KILLING ON CARNIVAL ROW and this summer’s highly-anticipated PACIFIC RIM, was one of the writers. I’ll stick with the 1981 version with Harryhausen effects, thanks.

-Since you’re in the know about my stuff, how is YOUR latest project coming along? Good, bad, need help? Let’s work together, gang.