Odds, ends & everything in-between

A little of everything for all tastes
A little of everything for all tastes

It’s spring break this week, so script progress has been somewhat limited, but at least it’s still happening.  In the meantime…

-Had an unusual case of writer’s block yesterday. Scene notes in the outline had the main character asking something completely out of the blue, and I didn’t want that. Just couldn’t fix it, so rather than sit and stew in frustration, I stepped away. Potential solutions have been brewing ever since.

-Been reading some great material from assorted gurus – check out recent scribblings from Lee Jessup, Erik Bork and Michele Wallerstein. Each has some info and comments worth hearing.

-For all my fellow Passover celebrants, do NOT be misled by the way Manischewitz portrays its products on the packaging. Just about every one of their items tastes the same, no matter what it looks like. Trust me on this one.

-Seriously considering entering DREAMSHIP in the Tracking Board’s Launchpad contest. deadline is Sunday night. Details here.

-2nd year in a row of not being able to attend Wondercon this weekend in Anaheim. It’s usually here, but the idiots who run the venue can’t get their act together so it’s down in SoCal again. Hope fading it’ll return for 2014.

-Movie of the Moment:  Since it’s spring break, V and I had a double feature yesterday.  First up was OZ THE GREAT & POWERFUL (2013). Liked it, but didn’t love it. Thought it felt kind of sluggish in parts.

And you know how an antagonist’s goal is supposed to be contrary to that of the protagonist?  Didn’t really get that here. If they really wanted to stop Oz, wouldn’t they have been more active, rather than just sitting around?

Still, nice to see Sam Raimi include Bruce Campbell’s obligatory cameo, and I think I figured out where the 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 made its appearance (courtesy of a teaser from Campbell himself at a personal appearance a few weeks ago).

-Second movie was JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND (2012)  Never saw the first film – JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, but this looked like something V would like, and she did. Family-friendly Disney-esque adventure with some honest laughs (courtesy of Dwayne Johnson and Luis Guzman). Not a bad choice for family movie night.

-As always, what are you working on this weekend?

Warning! Contents approaching levels of overstuffedness!

Why this man isn't a megastar is beyond all comprehension
Why this man isn’t a megastar is beyond all comprehension

This past Saturday night, K and I got to attend an extra-special screening of that beloved classic film: Sam Raimi’s ARMY OF DARKNESS.

Part of what made it extra-special was that before the show, there was a live, onstage Q&A with the film’s star, the immortal Bruce Campbell.  Icing on the cake – Patton Oswalt was the interviewer. Yes, it was fantastic as bon mots were liberally tossed about, audience questions were handled with severe aplomb and a rousing good time was had by all.

Then the movie started.

We’d never seen it on the big screen, which definitely makes it that much more of an enjoyable experience.

If you haven’t seen it, make a point of doing so.  It’s silly fun and clocks in at an amazing 81 minutes, including credits.  That may sound short, but writers Sam and Ivan Raimi really jam a lot into it. There’s no fat, every scene serves a purpose AND advances the story. Earlier drafts and certain scenes may have been longer, but they kept what was necessary to effectively tell the story.

I was reminded about this important rule this week as I worked on my outline. While a lot’s going on in the story, there are still things I need to include (mostly subplot stuff). What I have to be careful about is making sure there’s not too much going on.  You want to engage the reader/viewer and keep things moving; not make them feel like this is a slog they wish they didn’t have to endure.

For now, the best strategy is to keep pushing forward and make sure the story and characters are solid.  Once I’m confident that’s been accomplished, it shouldn’t be too much of an ordeal to go back and trim the fat (since I always put in more detail than I probably should during the outlining phase).

Look at it this way: nobody wants to read a bloated script. Specs over 120 pages better be incredible to warrant that kind of page length.

Go through your pages. You may be reluctant to edit them down, but it must be done. Once you get started, streamlining is easier than you think, and it also gives you the chance to flex those creative muscles. Find a way to say something in less words.  You can do it.

You’ll be surprised and possibly even impressed with the end result.