Two non-writerly questions for you

Inquiring minds want to know
Inquiring minds want to know

1. Seen anything good lately?

Thanks to Netflix for finally updating some of their content. I’ve been working my way through Season 3 of THE WALKING DEAD (phenomenal, of course) and Season 1 of ARROW (better than expected, a little cliched here and there, but still fun). Next up – second half of Season 7 of DOCTOR WHO, followed by either BREAKING BAD, MAD MEN or finally getting around to BATTLESTAR GALACTICA.

-Watched SHARKNADO (2013) – so bad, it’s extremely bad – and THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ADELE BLANC-SEC (2010) – a live-action adaptation of a French comic book that started out charming and strong, but lost its footing in the second half.

2. How’s your latest project coming along?

As chronicled here, my 3 projects are all moving ahead slowly, with confidence levels gradually increasing for each.

That’s me. Now you.

I’ll take “Potpourri” for $300, Alex

All this AND he plays hockey
All this AND he plays hockey

-I’ve been burning through my stash of unplayed podcasts at a rapid pace (including Scriptnotes), so I’m looking to add maybe one or two more to my library. Any suggestions?

-Since my current project has a 40s/50s noir vibe to it, playing era-appropriate music on Pandora really helps capture the mood (dig that crazy sax, man).  I may even don my fedora while I write to complete the transition.  If I enjoyed scotch or bourbon, there’d definitely be a glass of it on the desk. Guess a stiff cup o’ joe will have to do.

-My original intent with the rewrite was to completely start over, but the more I read the previous draft, the more potential I see. For now, it’s all about figuring the best way to combine ideas and elements from both.

-If there’s a writer whose work you really like, find out if they have a website, blog or on Twitter and send a friendly note telling them exactly that. Everybody likes a little compliment now and then.

-Could somebody please tell Netflix to get their act together and put Season 3 of THE WALKING DEAD and Season 7 of DOCTOR WHO on streaming? Haven’t we waited long enough? This might be my chance to finally start watching BSG, BREAKING BAD or MAD MEN.

-Definitive sign autumn is here – pumpkin pop-tarts (or toaster pastries, if you want to avoid the copyright infringement) at Trader Joe’s. They’re…okay. Maybe I’ll just make more pumpkin bread instead.

-Hope your latest project is going swimmingly. Enjoy the weekend, and try to write something.

Ch-ch-changes

Sometimes it’s necessary, no matter how hard you fight it

Working on this rewrite has definitely helped me improve as a writer.

I started the process thinking “Okay. I’ll change what I have to in order to make this better.”

But the more I worked on it, the more I thought “I like it the way it is. Maybe I don’t have to change anything.”

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

The whole point of the rewrite is to CHANGE IT TO MAKE IT BETTER. Look for ways to improve what’s already there.

Maybe it’s something small, or maybe it’s something that completely changes the dynamic, but no matter what, you do what’s necessary to make your script stronger.  Even if you don’t want to, which makes it that much harder.

Case in point: DREAMSHIP has a supporting character I love. He was a blast to write, and I thought he had a pretty solid backstory, but some high-quality feedback opened my eyes to the fact that there needed to be more to him. How could I fix that? I ran through various scenarios until I found what I needed: flip his personality around.

And much to my amazement, everything I had come up with before not only still worked, but now even more so. He’s got more depth as a character, including a more satisfying arc, and I’ll be able to create more conflict with him in later scenes.

Lesson learned: I didn’t want to change something I considered ‘just fine the way it is,’ but I had to accept that those changes had to be made. Sure, they were hard to deal with at first, but they improved the story.

Now I’m not as hesitant about making changes, and my script is that much better for it.

Perfect! Brilliant! Oh, wait…

Not bad for a first attempt. Try again.

For some inexplicable reason, my brain decided to cooperate and I was able to navigate a somewhat twisty-turny route that got me to the end of Act Two. After some self-inflicted nervous anticipation, it actually worked out better, and admittedly easier, than I expected.

But all is not sunshine and roses. There’s one short sequence that still bothers me.  As it reads now, it comes across as too comedic, almost even silly, and it doesn’t seem to match the tone of the rest of the story.  At the time it seemed great, but in retrospect…not so much.

My first instinct is to dive in and change it. But before I do that, I need to approach it from several angles. Does it move the story forward in terms of plot, character and theme?  What other way (or ways) could this happen so it still maintains the overall feel of the story? How could this play out so it surprises and entertains  the reader/viewer?

Granted these are things that should apply to every scene and sequence throughout the entire script, but they’re always in the back of your mind when you’re narrowing your focus.

-As far as I know, there are still some slots for this fantastic opportunity. If you can attend, I highly recommend it.

-I recorded a special summer movie preview edition of The Script Adventurer! earlier this week with some movie-loving chums. It was a lot of fun, and will air Monday at the usual time (1PM PST on radioslot.com).

I also found out how to break the bonds of your computer and listen to the show on your smartphone. Open your phone’s web browser, go to radioslot.com, click on ‘Listen Now’, then click ‘Listen Now’ under the Talk Slot section. On the right side of the space marked ‘Now Playing’, there should be 4 little icons. Click the left-most one – WinAmp. And voila! My dulcet tones should be working their way into your earholes. Let me know how it works for you.

Ain’t 21st-century technology grand?  But sadly, still no jetpacks or flying cars.

So close I can taste it

Not my first choice for a celebratory meal

You know that feeling when you’ve been working on something for a very long time, and then you get to the last part? The little voice inside you saying, “Don’t stop! You’re almost there!”

That’s where I am with this edit/polish.

One scene remains to be rewritten. I did a lot of last-second rewriting throughout the whole thing over the past couple of days, but this one’s pretty important – wrapping up some minor subplots. It would be too easy to fall into the trap of putting too much into it, so this is going to take some planning.

It was a challenge to go through this as both writer and editor. Not only did I have to make sure everything was working in terms of the plot, story, character development, and that kind of thing, but also had to keep an eye out for spelling mistakes, overuse of prepositional phrases, repetitive dialogue, etc.  End result – leaner, tighter, faster-moving pages.  I hope.

Also nice – page total down 4 to 111, and I already know a few things here and there that could be taken out, or at least changed.  Part of that will also depend on the feedback and comments I get from the select few I’ll ask to read this latest draft. Count me among those who appreciate constructive criticism.

-Movie of the Moment – DARK SHADOWS (2012). Entertaining, but poorly written. Too much tell, not enough show. Lots of set-ups without payoffs, and vice versa. Characters disappear for 30+ minutes. Didn’t like the ending either.  Just because you like the guy who wrote PRIDE, PREJUDICE & ZOMBIES or ABRAHAM LINCOLN, VAMPIRE HUNTER doesn’t mean you should have him write your movie. Incidentally, the trailer for the latter made K laugh harder than anything in the movie we came to see.

I thought Johnny Depp did a pretty good job as Barnabas, but I wonder how he would do in a non-quirky role. (Although I am interested to see the forthcoming LONE RANGER, but not because of Depp).

Not necessarily something I was looking forward to, but glad I only paid $6 to see it. Also – way too many trailers!  Ben Affleck’s ARGO looks really good. Adam Sandler’s THAT’S MY BOY looks like total shit.

-If you’re in the Westwood area of Los Angeles this summer and want to get really serious about writing a screenplay, you can’t go wrong by clicking here.