Be the word

quadruple threat
An early inspiration for my efforts (image by Hirschfeld)

Apologies for the lack of a post last week. We had to travel to a different time zone for a family function, and the jet lag really took its toll on me. It’s tough to compose something when you can barely stay awake.

But I’m back, rested, and ready to get back to work.

Among the items on the “list of stuff that needs attention”:

-continue working on the horror-comedy outline

-work with latest batch of notes on the comedy spec. Hoping to have that latest draft done sooner than expected.

-research potential representation firms to query

-look into setting up at least one networking event for SF/Bay Area writers. Previous ones were pretty successful, and are great for establishing connections.

-Among the comments that came in for the comedy spec was how it might benefit from a table read. Never did one before, so investigating setting one up. Anybody out there who’s done it?

There are a few other items going on, but those are the dominant ones for now. At first glance, it might seem like a lot, but it doesn’t feel that way to me. They’re all just parts of the machine that is me working on making a career out of this.

I think the biggest factor here is time management. I do what I can to allot a certain amount of time per task. Work on my own stuff for an hour or two. Spend some downtime at work researching reps and prodcos, then send out some queries. If an idea hits when I’m not actually writing, I jot it down immediately – mostly because I don’t trust myself to remember it a few hours later.

One caveat – If I have to do notes on a friend’s script, all attention is diverted to that. If they were reading mine, I’d want them to be just as focused on my script, so the least I can do is return the favor.

Now, I totally get that no two writers have the same schedule, so everybody will tackle things their own way and at their own pace. Maybe you can only spare an hour a day for anything writing-related, or you get up earlier than you need to because that’s your designated writing time. Any and all of it’s fine. You do what works for you.

The important thing is to be doing something. Anything that helps you along.

Also remember, and I can’t stress this enough – everybody’s path is different. What works for that other person might not work for you, and vice versa. Don’t stress out over feeling like you’re running behind. The only person you’re competing against is you.

Not sure where to start? Easy. Be a writer and write down what you’d like to accomplish. I suggest starting small – list three things you could do today to help yourself out. Write three scenes (or three pages). Send out five query emails. Contact the writer of that logline you liked in that online forum.

Get into the habit of giving yourself stuff to do, and there’s a good chance you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much stuff is actually getting done.

By you.

Exactly! -OR- The perfect fit

robot monster
Not as good as a gorilla suit and a retro space helmet, but mighty darned close

The new story has been in development for a few weeks now, and I can proudly say it’s coming along nicely. Plot points are in place, and the filling-in between them continues, albeit slowly. Still quite a ways to go, but any progress is good progress.

The more I work on it, the more excited I am to take this one on. I love the concept, think it’s got a lot of potential, and it just seems like it’ll be a lot of fun to write.

Full disclosure – it’s a horror-comedy, and that’s all I’m saying for now.

Part of my usual writing m.o. is seeking out feedback from other writers. Since the actual story is still under construction, I opted to start with the basics and asked a handful of savvy colleagues their thoughts on the logline.

Reactions were positive. Plus, some keen insight and suggestions as to what might make the story even more unique and original, and how to avoid “stuff we’ve seen in these kinds of stories before”. Those, in turn, triggered a new round of ideas, which then led to unearthing what may prove to be the most important idea of them all:

The thing that gets it all started.

Not the inciting incident, but a certain something that forms the foundation of the story itself – before the actual events of the story get underway. Without this, the story wouldn’t even be able to exist (or at least be a lot tougher to pull off).

It was perfect.

A feeling most satisfactory, to be sure.

But wait. It gets better.

A little more time (plus some invaluable real-life-based research) caused me to discover that not only does this new idea do a rock-solid job of tying the whole story together, but it creates constant, relevant, and increasing conflict for all the characters,  makes for a great ticking clock, and really lets me have fun with the whole concept.

Goosebumps, I tell ya!

As fun as it was to come up with that, the hard work’s just beginning. Second and third acts need a ton of work. Doing whatever I can to avoid cliches and tropes usually associated with this kind of story. And to address the comedic aspect, really trying to make it funny.

Won’t be easy, but as I’ve discovered with my most recent rewrites, might not be as totally insurmountable as expected.

Actually, I bet it’ll be a blast.

Inquiring minds want to know

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Who’d like to go next?

Taking a look at the ol’ calendar on the wall, it looks like it’s been about three months since the last round of the ever-popular Project Status Update Time (or PSUT, which is an extremely lousy acronym, and will henceforth never be used again.)

This is your opportunity to let the rest of us know what’s been going on with you and whatever project or projects you’re currently undertaking.

Got a short you want to share? Trying to put one together?

Finished a draft? Started a new one? Run into a little trouble in Act Two?

Need help with a logline? Trying to finding the right lines of dialogue?

Connected with anybody new? Discovered a phenomenal new gem of a movie?

Got something you want to announce?

I’ll start the ball rolling.

In the middle of providing notes on a couple of scripts. Putting together a new batch of interviews (very excited about these). Gearing up to fine-tune the outline of another low-budget comedy. Considering writing a short. Seriously considering converting one of my story ideas to work within another medium.

Watched TRUMBO and THE REVENANT. Fantastic performances from the lead in both.

How about you?

Knocked down, but not staying there

Skating Waiter
Just give me a sec to get back on my feet. Bonus – drink remains unspilled

The Chinese restaurant script got the standard “Just isn’t what I’m looking for” response from a producer.

Years of experience has taught me how to properly respond to this kind of situation.

“Well, that sucks. Okay. Moving on.”

Thus the struggle continues to gain a new foothold on this constant uphill climb. But I’m in it for the long haul.

Sure, it’s frustrating to get yet another “no” about a script, but getting upset about it won’t do me any good.

And what better way to get over it than by working on something else with the intent of making this one that much better? And there are plenty of something elses to keep me occupied.

A revamping of the outline of an older script continues, with pleasantly productive results (along with some phenomenal feedback on the logline). More insightful notes have come in for the comedy spec. Setting up a few more get-to-know-you meetings with other local writers*.

(*A meeting last week with one writer about her current project resulted in me being able to offer up some suggestions to another writer feeling frustrated about his. He, in turn, felt very encouraged with a renewed sense of hope, and was excited about some possible new avenues to try. I’m just happy to help.)

Hearing “thanks, but no thanks” still stings, but only for the briefest of moments. It’s taken a very long time for me to get to this point.

A few months ago, all that pressure I’d been putting on myself just went away. And I’m a lot better for it now.

And patient.

Success will happen when it happens.

But having it happen sooner rather than later would still be much appreciated.

Is it that time already?

pocket watch
Land sakes. Where has the time gone?

Yes, that’s right. Because you demanded it.

Well, not really, but it has been a while.

So without further ado, time once again for the much-heralded and talked-about Project Status Update Time!

For those unfamiliar with the concept, which I would imagine is pretty clear from the name alone, this is your opportunity to give a quick mention regarding the latest on your latest project, no matter what it is.

Doesn’t have to go into too much detail. Just what you’re currently working on, and how it’s going.

Hit your page quota for today? Got to a pivotal scene or significant plot point? Finished that rewrite? Feeling stuck? Seeking the right wording for that logline?

In search of help/guidance/suggestions of any sort? All you gotta do is ask.

Did a little networking and connected with another writer? Signed a deal? Had a good meeting? Packing up the car and heading for LA?

Got something to crow about? Want to vent any pent-up frustration?

Don’t hold back. You’re among friends here.

Real quick for me. Just about done with the 2nd draft of the low-budget comedy. One sequence needs revising, followed by maybe one more quick polish, and then it’s off to some of my reliable readers.

Also have some reciprocal reading to do for some of those aforementioned readers. Quite excited about diving into these.

How about you?