If only I were getting paid to be this busy…

Steinbeck typing
There are worse role models

It’s been a busy couple of days with no sign of letting up, so another shorty today.

-Sorry to say a lot of my time recently has been taken up dealing with technical issues for my email and this blog. Many’s the time I wanted to fling my laptop against the wall due to something not doing what it was supposed to be doing.

-Latest batch of query letters sent. A handful of “send it!” (fingers crossed for that one to the big prodco), a handful of “thanks, but no thanks” and a lot of silence from the rest. Undeterred, I’ve got a few new lists ready to go.

-Got some great suggestions and feedback on my 1-pagers, so rewrites are underway.

-A hearty thanks to those who’ve contacted me about “scripts wanted” listings which are potentially solid matches for some of mine. Follow-ups are in progress.

-Still working on script notes for a few of you. Your patience is greatly appreciated.

-Huge thanks to those offering their support and words of encouragement during some recent times of feeling lousy, confidence-wise. Knowing you’re in my corner means a lot.

-Even though I’ve been super-busy, I’m still doing what I can to do some actual writing, both for my own projects and some outside ones I’m involved with. It’s not always easy, but really making the effort to get something done each day.

Have a great weekend, and hope you get some kickass writing done.

Don’t open that door!


Another busy week around Maximum Z HQ, with a significant part of it involving waiting to hear about the potential future of some of my projects.*

I hate the waiting. It opens the door to allow fear and anxiety to stroll on in.

A friend who’s a director put it very succinctly: It’s all about control. A lot of that stuff is out of your hands now, which makes you nervous about the outcome. You have to redirect your attention to anything and everything for which you can take charge, and do something with it. The sooner the better.

How absolutely true, and it was exactly the reminder I needed.

In my case, that comes down to the work and all things related. It’s easy to forget how many things with which I’m involved. My own stuff (which is a growing category unto itself), giving notes, networking, sending out queries, just to name a few.

Sure, it would be great for everybody to respond quickly, preferably with news of a positive nature, but it doesn’t work that way. These things are known to drag out for excruciatingly long periods of time, and me fretting over it is the last thing I need.

I wouldn’t even be surprised if I get an email in a few months about one of these that I’ll probably have totally forgotten. It’s happened before.

Keeping busy really does help you stay focused and keep the negatives at bay. It might not be easy, but do what you can to slam that door shut, lock it and throw away they key.


*heard back from a producer soon after posting this. They passed on my script, which sucks, but will now re-double my efforts with the other projects.


Best seat in the house

alone in theatre
The next person who comes in will sit directly in front of me. Guaranteed.

I recently had the opportunity to revisit the outline for my pulpy adventure story after having not looked at it in several months, and wanted to see what was needed in order to get me a little closer to being able to start on pages.

Time was limited, so I was only able to get through the first half. It was a pleasant surprise to discover that a lot of it still held up, plus an added bonus of some small inspirations resulting in tweaks that strengthened a few of the subplots and tied a few them together in a better way.

And of course, some of these new developments were a total change from how I’d always imagined them. This happens a lot for me.

But what was really the most positive experience out of this was how easy it was to “see” the story play out. It was as if I was in a private theatre, watching my imagination come to life on the big screen, complete with surround-sound. It definitely reinforced the kind of story I’m trying to tell.

When you’re putting your story together, or writing it, or even just reading it, how easy is it for you to visualize it? Do you “see” it as if you’re watching it in movie form? Is it a smooth transition from coming up with the idea to putting it on the page so it reads how you originally imagined it?

And therein lies part of the challenge. It’s just not an easy task, or at least isn’t for a lot of writers. It takes time to find the right words.

You might know what you want to say, but can’t find the exact way to say it, so you tinker around with it, trying and trying until something takes hold. Or maybe after writing it down, actually seeing it on the page makes you realize “this might not have been the best way to do it,” so you jump back in to come up with something new.

Sometimes I even go so far as to narrate aloud while acting out what’s happening for that particular part of the story (or as much as I can while sitting at my desk), which really helps, despite how silly it might look to somebody else.

As writers, the gears of our imaginations are always turning. Always. You could be doing something totally ordinary or mundane, and then, like a bolt from the blue, come up with a solution so perfect and now-obvious that you can’t understand why you didn’t realize it before.

So you work and work, making your writing better to the point that anybody reading your story will eventually be able to “see” it the way you want them to.


The unscientific term would be “gut reaction”

trust your feelings
Learn to trust your feelings. Even with the blast shield down.

I’ve had the experience of working with some writing, both my own and other people’s, that required a second opinion. For some of them, I was the second opinion, while the others involved my work being reviewed.

An experienced professional asked me to take a look at another writer’s script, accompanied with their excitement and enthusiasm about it. Upon reading it, I found it severely lacking in a lot of screenwriting fundamentals (bad structure, shoddy character development, etc.), and said so as part of my notes of what was needed to improve.

I like to read a script twice before giving notes on it, and it took a lot of effort to get through each one – especially the second time. That whole time I was wondering “Where is this enthusiasm coming from?” This person knows what a good script looks like, and this one, to me, didn’t meet any of the necessary criteria. And if they felt this way about this script, could I trust their judgment on others?

Last week I’d been given the offer to have my query letter reviewed. I put it together with the elements I considered vital: quick one-sentence pitch, logline, reputable contest results. As fast a read as possible.

The response read like something churned out by a machine. Their recommendation was to follow “their blueprint”, which involved a lot of fill-in-the-blanks, how it’s similar to successful films (the more recent, the better!), telling the story from only the main character’s point of view, and concluding with “why I think this will be a hit” OR the underlying theme. The end result is several big unappealing blocks of text.

All of this felt totally and absolutely wrong. If I were the intended recipient, I might start reading, but would most likely lost interest very quickly and be very hard-pressed to want to continue, let alone finish it.

(With no intention of ever actually using a letter written following their guidelines,  I put one together and submitted it for review, just to see what they would say. Their follow-up comments reinforced my doubts, but that is a topic for another day.)

As you probably guessed, I’ll be sticking with my original format.

The takeaway from both of these experiences is that a writer must not only develop their writing and storytelling skills, but also the ability to trust their instincts. Know what works, not only for you, but in an overall sense.

Don’t always assume the other person is in the right. Sometimes they’re not.

Everybody will have an opinion about something. You might agree wholeheartedly or think the other person has no idea what they’re talking about. It takes time to learn how to determine which is which. You will make mistakes and bad choices along the way, but make the effort to learn from them so you don’t do it again.

Like with writing itself, the more you work at it, the better at it you’ll become.