Looking back (and a peek ahead)

Me around 10:30 on New Year’s Eve

As the end of the year gets closer, one can’t help but be a little reflective of how the past 12 months have gone, and in this context, it’s all about the screenwriting and its related subjects.

-My western. A labor of love finally put to bed once and for all. This script has gone through A LOT of changes, and both I and it could not have gotten to this point without the sage feedback received from many of my trusted colleagues.

-Other scripts. Over the course of this year, I completed a first draft and two outlines (with a third in its final stages), all for separate scripts. I may not be as productive as I’d like, but think this is still pretty good. I’m hoping that at least two of these will be completed scripts by this time next year.

-Establishing a career. I’ve always said that each draft of every script gets me a little closer to accomplishing that dream of being a working writer. 2015 saw some strong progress on that front. My writing’s getting better, I discovered I’m pretty good at pitching, and found out the hard way what should and shouldn’t go into a query letter. It’s an ongoing learning process, but I’m getting there. Hopes are high of moving to the next level or two in 2016.

-Networking. The number of writers I’ve connected and interacted with has definitely grown by leaps and bounds. Some have been in person, while most have been via social media, but the benefits have been tremendous all around. From exchanging script notes to being a sounding board for ideas to plain old moral support, you couldn’t ask for a more helpful bunch of folks. Hopefully they got as much out of it as I did. Highly recommended.

-Running. After involuntarily taking a year off, I got back into the habit of going for runs and took part in four half-marathons this year. Didn’t set any new records, but stayed within my realm of expectatins. Really glad I did them and already looking forward to the ones next year. How does this relate to screenwriting? Well, apart from the standard quote of “It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon (or half-marathon, in my case)”, it’s about determination, endurance, perseverance, and setting a goal and working towards achieving it. All necessary elements involved in writing a script.

-The blog. This year saw the wrap-up of my series of interviews with scripts readers and consultants. I still keep in touch with a lot of them, and happy to say that a lot of those posts continue to get hits. Thanks to all of you for that. In the meantime, no big changes planned for what you read around here, but I’ve got a few ideas.

Thanks for reading, happy new year, and may we all get some kickass writing done in 2016.


The perfect gift(s)

cocktail party
Celebrate in style!

Holiday edition shorty today.

I sincerely hope you’re enjoying the day by spending it with family, loved ones, friends, and/or the important people in your life.

No doubt they’ve been witnesses to your ongoing journey as a screenwriter, and are fully aware of everything good and bad that’s happened to you this year. Make sure you show them a little appreciation. They’ve earned it.

I’d also like to express my thanks and gratitude to everybody who’s been reading and interacting with the blog. It wouldn’t be this shining example of a social media juggernaut without you.

Behold my awesomeness!

A little ego indeed goes a long, long way

Time now for a question I’ve been pondering quite a bit lately:

When talking about yourself and your accomplishments, how much is too much?

Yes, you should be very proud of whatever success you’ve achieved. You want to have confidence in your writing and your abilities, but you also have to be careful about overdoing it.

It’s a fine line between “My script made it to the Nicholl semis! Yay!” and “My script made it to the Nicholl semis. Am I not amazing?”

Then there are the writers who continuously mention their success (“That reminds me of when I was working on my PAGE Silver-winning script…”), or even worse, exaggerate. I’ve read of a writer who touts having won a prestigious contest, when the truth is they won for their genre, not the overall grand prize. Two very different things.

Some people tend to forget that claims can easily be verified on the internet. So don’t lie, unless you enjoy the truth coming back to bite you on the ass.

I’ve had dealings with writers and directors who would rattle off their accomplishments without any prompting whatsoever, including one filmmaker who, during a 45-minute conversation, mentioned at least three times the fact he’d made three films and two mentions of how an A-list actor was interested in one of his scripts (a claim now several years old, and as far as I know, nothing has yet to come from it).

Counter to that, I’ve read updates from writers who, despite their success, remain relatively tight-lipped (“Sold a script today. Looking forward to working with ____ on it.” And that’s it.). I can appreciate that. You’ve said what you wanted to say, left it at that, and moved on.

Speaking for myself, I opt to keep quiet. If somebody asks, I’ll mention having some moderate contest success, but prefer to not be the instigator. I don’t mind tooting my own horn, but I don’t want it to drown out the rest of the conversation.

The Force is strong with this one

Don’t get your knickers in a twist. This isn’t about that.

Star Wars: Episode VII officially opens today, and my God, what an impact this is having. I’ve been a fan since way back in ’77, but not to the point of sleeping in front of a movie theatre for days on end.

I’m opting to wait a couple of days and let all the crazy hoopla die down. It’s not like it’ll play for a week and disappear. Even the neighborhood theatre up the street is playing it on both screens. That’s saying something.

Looking at this phenomenon from a screenwriting point of view, you can’t help but be impressed with the world that’s been created here. Count me among those inspired by the creativity on display in these films and who strive to achieve something similar with our own work.

I’ve written before how I’d love to write the next STAR WARS (as would a zillion other writers), but I don’t mean a sprawling epic space opera, although that would be kind of cool.

I’m talking about an entertaining story of memorable characters and situations that you never get tired of seeing. That thrills you with its overwhelming sense of wonder. The sheer joy of being swept away as this tale unfolds before your eyes and ears.

Do I have that ability? Hard to say, but I like to think so. Nobody thought STAR WARS was going to do well, and you know how that worked out.

So in the meantime, I’ll keep plugging away, telling my own stories the best way I can, and hope that someday I come close to accomplishing something similar. At the very least, it’ll be fun trying.

See you at the movies.


How’s it going?

public speaking
Go ahead. You’re among friends.

From what I’ve been reading on the internets, a lot of you are making some excellent progress with both your writing and your careers.

I’d love to hear more. Feel free to share the latest development(s) for you and/or your writing. Anything worth noting you’d like to tell the world? Doesn’t matter if you’ve made a sale or written 2 pages in your latest draft. It’s all good stuff.

I’ll go first.

I’m about halfway through outlining the story for a sci-fi side project, working on some script notes for a few friends, still trying to break the story for my new idea, and my western has advanced to the semifinals of the 2015 Screenwriting Action/Thriller contest.

See? Nothing to it.

Your turn.