Requisite post of appreciation

From me to you
From me to you

As writers, we’re all on our individual paths. Our journeys towards whatever goal we each have are chock-full of good days, bad days, ups, downs, twists and turns.

Despite knowing this is not an easy thing to do, we soldier on. There are countless obstacles, pitfalls and other hazards to slow us down, test our confidence and push our endurance to the extreme.

The one saving grace as we put ourselves through this sometimes hellish process is we don’t have to do it alone.  There are lots of other writers out there struggling with the same problems, but it’s up to each of us to be willing to seek out help from those other writers.

That’s part of the reason why I started this blog. I wanted to write about my writing, and offer up what might be considered helpful advice or a word of encouragement to anybody willing to hear it.

To say this has been a positive and gratifying experience would be an understatement.  I’ve been extremely fortunate to connect and establish good working relationships with a lot of talented writers, and hope the trend continues.

It’s great when somebody likes a post or makes a comment, or retweets or favorites the link on Twitter. Even if it’s just somebody checking out the blog for the first time, that’s pretty cool too.

I’m just a guy who likes to write, and is extremely glad to be part of a community of other writers just like me.

So thanks for…well, everything. I hope you’ve enjoyed it so far, and hope you’ll stick around.

Tying it all together

Nothing better than a solid connection of two loose ends
Nothing better than connecting those potential loose ends

Even though I just started this rewrite of the mystery spec, I’m firmly entrenched in the practice of always thinking “What’s the best way to tie this in?” for every scene. It’s something I strive for every time.

No matter how seemingly small or insignificant a part of a scene is, we as writers must be compelled to make sure it all fits not only within the context of the scene, but also within the story as a whole.

Everything should serve a purpose. If it doesn’t, why is it there in the first place?

Think of it as a slight variation on setup and payoff. While those usually apply to the plot (or at least should), tying things together is more of a way to support what happens around the plot. Anything that doesn’t belong is going to be even more noticeable.

It drives me crazy when something happens or is in a scene for no apparent reason. It’s easy to fall in love with your own writing, but don’t put something in because you think it should be there. Have it in there because it has to be.

Taking it in the opposite direction, I’m always impressed to realize after finishing a read (or viewing) how something tied in, but didn’t recognize it at the time. This can be tricky to get a handle on. You don’t want to be obvious about it, but also don’t want to make it too obscure.  It takes practice.

So the next time you’re writing, editing or proofreading, keep in mind to constantly ask yourself “Does this really belong here?”

 

Those two magnificent little words

...but not really
(…but not really)

Actually, those words are “Fade Out,” as in The End of The Script, but you get the idea.

You reach that point in your work, type them in, and hit ‘save’. You take a second to sit back and savor the moment – an incomparable feeling of exhilaration.

Which is exactly what’s happened with the latest draft of the western spec now complete (added bonus – slightly ahead of schedule). I’ll allow a few minutes of satisfaction as it heads into the next round of feedback.

As expected, changes had to be made and darlings had to be killed, all based on some suggestions from the previous draft and a little last-minute inspiration. The end result – a stronger story with the characters getting a little more dimension.

At least that’s how I’m reading it.

So rather than be concerned about potential reactions, I’ll be distracting myself by jumping right into work on the mystery spec. If I can maintain my writing regiment of “whenever I can”, I’m hoping to have a first draft done by the end of the year. Fingers,  crossed, anyway.

-If you can spare a couple of bucks, please consider donating to this. I’ve never been there and don’t live anywhere near it, but think it’s incredibly important to help small, independent movie theatres stay in business. There are two weeks left, so give if you can.

Keeping the lines of communication open

uhura
Starfleet’s emergency backup plan for when Skype’s not working

Since signing with my manager earlier this year, our back-and-forth emails had somewhat dwindled. It seemed to be taking longer to hear back, and even those brief messages were less than encouraging.

Despite working on the new spec scripts, this, combined with my overactive imagination and requisite writer’s self-doubt, made me convinced that nobody was interested in the script.

And I mean nobody.

*Side note – want to feel even worse about yourself? Seek the opinions of those on a public forum. I think I’m truly done with that.

I needed to do something, which turned out to be sending my manager an email asking if he was available to talk.

Best thing I could have done.

I explained to him how I was feeling frustrated about not knowing what was going on, and asked if there was anything I else I could do to help move things along (apart from keep writing).

He totally understood, apologized for being incommunicado, and gave me the update – who the script had been sent to, including several studios and production companies. One studio had passed, another was still reading it, and somebody at a prodco really liked it and wanted to see what else I had.

We also discussed getting the new specs to him, the potential of one of them with a well-known production company and how he was adding a staffer who’d be more in the middle of all the action.

This ten-minute conversation was able to wash away all my self-doubt, inadequacy and just plain lousyness.

It’s hard enough to get representation, but once you do, it’s not all up to them. These people are busy, so it’s easy for you to fall off their radar. You have to be the one to remind them you’re still there. Don’t be afraid to ask “can we talk?”.

If you have questions or concerns, ask them. As I mentioned, it’s all too easy to let your imagination run wild and start generating counterproductive thoughts. The occasional update chat is the best way to stay positive and keep yourself focused.

Seeking the feng shui-ness of your script

A place for everything, and everything in its place
A place for everything, and everything in its place

Got some great notes for my western spec. Some of the suggestions involve significant moments I hadn’t considered – now I have to figure out where these should take place. A daunting task indeed, but also not too challenging.

It’s one thing to plot out a story, but knowing how to do it effectively is a little more complicated.

You can’t just throw stuff in there and hope it sticks. Information has to be doled out appropriately so it not only fleshes out the characters, strengthens and advances the story and the plot, and most importantly, keeps the reader/audience interested.

If you’ve put together a solid outline (as you should before moving on to pages), all the help you need is right there in front of you. Take a look at how your story develops. Do things happen the way you want them to, and do they happen when you want them to?

As you work your way forward, are you seeing potential opportunities for where something could be added or possibly changed? Would that scene from way back near the beginning work better somewhere later on?

Once you find somewhere that scene could go, is it a good fit within the flow of how the story’s developing? Does it keep that forward momentum going while providing us with some kind of necessary information?

Take the time to figure these kinds of things out. It may be frustrating now, but once you work your way through it, you’ll have a better script and wonder what it was you were so worried about.