Building up to what it all comes down to

What he's holding represents what's at stake. Think about it.
What he’s holding represents what’s at stake. Hint: It’s not a rock

Time now for a very, very important question every writer needs to face:

Do you know how your story ends?

You come up with an idea, then proceeded to develop, shape, and organize all the stuff that happens in the middle, which eventually has led us to the where we find ourselves now: the big payoff. What the whole thing’s been about.

Everything your characters have been doing have been leading up to this. In theory, your first two acts have been about the protagonist’s world undergoing some drastic changes, how they dealt with it and now it looks like the bad guy’s going to win.

Which brings us to the grand finale that is Act Three, where our hero must somehow find a way to overcome these seemingly insurmountable odds, defeat the antagonist and hopefully come out of the experience a different person than the one they were way back when we first met them.

That being said, there’s still more to it.

-Your protagonist has a physical goal (what they want) and an emotional one (what they need). They can achieve both, just one or neither. Which applies to yours, and have you effectively steered the action to ensure that result? Can we see the changes they’ve undergone?

-Working with a subplot or three? If they haven’t wrapped up by now, better make sure to do it soon. Do you really want the reader to wonder “Hey! What happened to the part about ____?”

-Even a supporting character needs an arc to complete. Have you given each of them enough attention throughout the story to make this happen, and does their story wrap up in a convincingly believable way?

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned about putting a story together is that the central question (“Will the hero achieve their goal?”) is raised with the inciting incident around page 10, and each subsequent plot point raises it again, albeit with the stakes a little higher each time.

What happens in Act Three is where you show us how the central question is answered.

-And now, the much-heralded return of Movie of the Moment! This time, a way overdue look at GODZILLA (2014).

Wow. Everything PACIFIC RIM should have been. Instead of non-stop giant monster action, we get only glimpses as the focus is directed at the human aspect of the story. A much more effective approach.

While it’s not hard to suspend disbelief when it comes to a movie about giant monsters rampaging/duking it out in the downtown area of the city where I live, perhaps the most amazing piece of cinematic fiction (as observed by both K and myself) was in the background of one scene where a garage sign read “All-day parking $15”.

Now that’s make-believe.

Wanted: wonder, fun & excitement

Seeking this kind of vibe
Seeking this kind of vibe

This was parent-teacher conference week, so my after-school parenting schedule was shaken up a bit. As a result, not as much time to work on the mystery spec rewrite.

So in an attempt to make the most of my limited time, and without my laptop with me, I opted to tinker with the outline for the monster spec.

Like any good writer, I had my ever-present notebook and story notes with me. Seriously.  I keep them in my bag for just such a situation.

The first act is really coming together, with most of the focus now on working out the details of the gaps between the plot points of Act Two. And as happened before, I’m having a blast.

At its heart, this story is a pure pulp adventure, which is exactly the mood I’m going for. Grab you from page one and not let go as it gains momentum from there on, building and building until finally culminating in a jaw-droppingly amazing, can’t-believe-I-just-saw-that finale.

Simply put, my objective is to create a simple-yet-solid story with three-dimensional characters, using the spectacle aspect as support that keeps things interesting.

Similar to how it was with the western, I’m a huge fan of the genre and know what I as a member of the audience would want to see. I’m not looking to reinvent the wheel here; just tell a fun story. Hopefully my appreciation and knowledge of this kind of material will come through on the page.

What it really boils down to is the more I can make this a smart and exciting thrill ride, the better.

As I work out the story details, I’m keeping this in mind: If there was a free-of-plot-details trailer for this, you’d be overwhelmingly compelled to want to see it.  (Sort of what they’ve done for GODZILLA and GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY.)

Unfortunately, more of the same

What? A new, original idea? That's crazy talk!
What? A new, original idea? We don’t know if our brains can take it!

“Don’t remake good movies. Remake bad movies and improve them.” – John Huston

As a writer and fan of original material, it’s quite disturbing how many remakes and reboots keep appearing or are announced, with no sign of it coming to an end.

Sadly, this is how the industry works, with most of the studios afraid to take a chance on something new and original, as opposed to something that’s already proven itself.

But apart from a few exceptions, how many of those trips back to the well have been successful?  On top of that, there’s no avoiding a comparison to the original, with the remake usually found lacking.

Putting this in perspective – I’m a huge fan of the original ROBOCOP, which will have a remake released in February. I have no desire to see it because the trailer doesn’t make it look that interesting, and I don’t see the point in remaking it in the first place.

Counter to that, the forthcoming GODZILLA remake/reboot looks great because it appears to be a smart, new approach to the story, and definitely feels like a significant improvement over the one from 1998. I really hope it doesn’t fall victim to PACIFIC RIM syndrome – big build-up, followed by big letdown.

Now they’re announcing Ed Helms as Frank Drebin in a reboot of THE NAKED GUN. Have they no shame? Apparently not.

The movie-going public wants, no, craves new stories.  Look at The Black List, or the latest batch of Nicholl finalists. This is high-quality stuff, people. Just about any one of them would make for a great film.

There’s a ton of fantastic original material out there, but all we can do as writers is keep writing and hope somebody believes in it enough to drum up the courage to do something with it.

Counterattacking those 3 dreaded words

Writing the script was easy compared to getting past this

“No unsolicited submissions.”

Just thinking about them fills me with dread. Yet another obstacle to conquer.

Granted, this phrase was practically everywhere in the HCD section on production companies (the library didn’t have the Representation book). Figure maybe 1 out of every 150-175 companies were open to receiving, so it’s a safe bet they’re constantly getting bombarded with submissions. It’s enough to make a lesser writer throw up their arms and say “This is never going to work!”  I’ll still follow through with that select few and see if anything happens, but this is no time to throw a pity party.

The underlying theme for this stage has become “There HAS to be a way,” and thanks to living in the digital age, the most powerful tool in my arsenal is literally at my fingertips. And yours too.

Chances are you can find what you seek online if you’re willing to work at it.  I’ve been scouring websites, forums, etc. for suggestions about where to post my script for potential interested parties. There’ve been a few that seem to have potential. Some charge a small fee, some are free. It’s up to you to decide which works best for your needs. You might be hesitant to spend a couple of bucks, but isn’t it worth it if it gets you that much closer to reaching that goal?

Sure, this whole process is a crapshoot, but I’ve got nothing to lose and would rather keep plugging away than give up.

But I’m also confident about the quality of my script and am equally confident there’s somebody out there who will like it enough to want to do something about it. In the meantime, I’ll keep on doing what I’ve been doing – writing, researching and hoping for the best.

Yay for me

I finally heard back from the person needing help rewriting their script.  Yep.  I gots me a writin’ project.  Technically, a rewrite, but work’s work.

I’m still having trouble with the directive to fix what needs fixing in the wide margins and leaving the dialogue alone. I’m also to leave in certain descriptions so they serve as a reminder of what the scene is supposed to look like.

But you’re the director! Shouldn’t you already know that?  I try to keep the descriptions as condensed as possible.

Oh well. Nothing else to do but forge ahead.  Based on what I’ve read so far, I’m steeling myself against the strong possibility of working on a poorly-written script.  At least before I get my hands on it.

After I filled out my part of the agreement and sent it back, I realized this is the same person I dealt with last fall who was looking for someone to write a 120-page Bollywood script.  That crashed and burned for me before I even got started. Wonder if it eventually worked out?

-Didn’t realize it’s been a while since the last Movie of the Moment. Nothing so far – been too busy, but hopefully soon.

-V wants to see THOR, but it’s PG-13.  I have no problem taking her, but K says it may be rated that because some parts may be too intense, especially for V.  V says she wouldn’t be scared, but when somebody whimpers and buries her face against your chest during her very first glimpse of Godzilla popping his head over the Japanese countryside, it kind of makes you re-evaluate the situation.