Another trove of more treasures

As the lockdown continues, here are some works of your fellow creatives to help you pass the time – plus an informative opportunity for aspiring TV and webseries writers. Take a gander at the offerings below.

The Arab Messiah

Jeff Naparstek

Book [via Kindle]

Historical Fiction

A young woman on an archaeological expedition brings the past back to life with the resurrection of an ancient Pharaoh.

Into the Black, A Sci-Fi Mystery (Janey McCallister Mystery, Book 1)

Beth Barany

Book

Sci-Fi Mystery

Anything goes at Bijoux de L’Étoile space station casino—until theft turns to murder and first-time lead investigator Janey McCallister must find the killer before he escapes into the black.

Page Turner Awards eBook Finalist

The Joy of Self-Publishing 101 Kept Secrets

Diana Mugano

Book [paperback & Kindle]

Inspirational

If you need reasons why you should publish your book look no further. This book will answer your questions. All the best on your journey of publishing a book! And do not forget life always offers maybe even when you cannot clearly see the possibilities in front of you, keep your writing alive!

Liam McPhee and The Thief of Laughter

Marlena Evangeline

Book

Young Adult Fantasy

The rugged shores of Scotland in the 1800s, with its highlands and heaths serve as a backdrop for the inviting faerie-tale like story of Liam McPhee, an eleven year old hero that faces an array of almost insurmountable challenges in a young adult fantasy designed to attract all ages of readers.

liammcphee.com

The book comes out on Nov 1, so here’s a link for preordering.

Wedgie & Gizmo

Suzanne Selfors

Book

Middle Grade

The story of a blended family, as told from the alternating and singularly distinctive voices of the family pets: a deluded evil genius guinea pig named GIZMO, and his happy-go-lucky rival, an equally deluded Welsh Corgi called WEDGIE.

Amazon Best Book of the Month

Kinsane Entertainment

Webinar for TV writers – TV and Web Series Creators

Terry McFadden

Your written pitch document is usually the deciding factor that determines if your show will be bought. How is yours fresh, different, comprehensive and most of all you? Details in the link.   https://scriptwritersnetwork.com/events/pitching-you-in-your-written-pitch-document-for-tv/

Is your story worth fighting for?

Will Kane knows what it's like to feel like one against everybody else
Follow Will Kane’s example (except without all the shooting and stuff)

The rewrite of my mystery-comedy has been put on hold because I’m teaching myself how to write a mystery, or at least how to be better at writing one. I bought a book and everything.

But I also don’t want to not be writing, so I’ve also decided to return to the low-budget comedy. It’s been a while since I’d read the outline, but it holds up more than I thought. Sure, it needs work and there are some spots where it says something like “SOMETHING FUNNY HAPPENS!,” but overall, I like it (hold onto that statement for just a bit).

Several months ago, I’d had the opportunity to have a brief chat with a writer who specializes in comedy. He asked what I was working on, so I pitched him the idea. He liked the concept, but was quick to poke holes in the story vis-a-vis the logline (which has since been rewritten), and didn’t care for how I had the story play out (as delivered in my thumbnail presentation).

“X should happen instead of Y! Having THIS CHARACTER connect with THAT CHARACTER is all wrong!” Plus some additional words to that effect.

Gosh.

I wasn’t expecting a standing ovation, nor did I expect it to be proclaimed a work of genius, but if this guy didn’t care for what I had, did that mean it was doomed before I even started?

Nope. Quite the contrary.

Several key things I had to remember:

-this was his opinion. One person, which is not a majority.

-his sense of humor and comedy stylings could be totally different from mine.

-it’s a work-in-progress in its very early stages. The end result will most likely be very different from the starting one.

-I think it’s a good story. Always have, always will. I have no intention of abandoning it or making any significant changes so as to gain his approval. I’m not writing this for him.

Every writer spends a lot of time coming up with story ideas, and then developing them as far as they’ll go. Stick to your guns if you believe in your story, but don’t totally block out advice and suggestions. Use what you think works best. Remember – this is YOUR story. If you think it works, then by all means, do what you can to make things happen.

It’s great when you get encouragement, but you’ll also encounter a lot of naysayers (“I don’t get it/like it, so it must be a bad idea.”). It’s all subjective. Everybody likes different things. If you believe wholeheartedly in your story, you have to do your absolute best to get the rest of us to be just as interested in reading it.

Just make sure to tell that story in the most entertaining, original and professional way possible. That’s all.

Just a moment of your time, please

It’ll only take this long, right?

Even though I don’t actively participate on a lot of online forums, I still enjoy reading them, occasionally throwing in my two cents when I think I have something worth saying.

On one such forum, an experienced writer offered to provide detailed notes on the script with the logline he liked the most. He was very detailed and meticulous in laying out the guidelines and rules, including that the script “MUST be ready to read NOW. No exceptions.”

Up until that caveat, I’d thought about submitting the logline for my mystery-comedy, but knew the script still needed work, so instead opted to hold off and wait until I thought the script was ready. And I said words to that effect in the comments.

Much to my surprise, he responded almost immediately.

“Now that’s what I love to see. Writers respecting the investment of time and energy of others. I’m taking about five hours out of my life to do this and I want to feel the script I’m about to read will be worth it. Good on you, Paul, for being so conscientious. It’s one of the responsibilities of a writer no one tells you about, but it’s absolutely vital for building and sustaining a career.”

I never thought of it that way because I was looking at it from my perspective: I didn’t want offer up a script I didn’t consider ready yet. But he makes a very good point – the other person has their own schedule, and you need to be respectful of that.

It’s easy to forget that even though you’ve put a lot of time and effort into your script, now you’re imposing on somebody else to devote a sizable chunk of their time to giving it a solid read-through. That’s a lot to ask, especially when they’ve offered to do it for free.

When somebody asks me if I can take a look at their script, I always let them know it’ll probably take me longer than I think to get those notes to them – and it usually does. Nobody’s complained about it (to my face, anyway). And when the situation is reversed and someone’s giving me notes, I’ll send the script with a note of thanks and that there’s no rush. I’ll distract myself from the waiting game by working on another project or two.

We all only have so much time to spare to devote to work on our own material, let alone someone else’s. Just be grateful and appreciative that someone’s willing to sacrifice some of their time to help you out, and definitely be just as willing to return the favor.

In a timely manner, of course.

This is feedback?

I'M LOUD, WHICH MEANS I'M RIGHT!
I’M LOUD, WHICH MEANS I’M RIGHT!

Oh, the hell and agony I must endure so as to spare you, my loyal reader, from hopefully having to experience the same thing.

Once again, your humble author has been savaged by the sharp knives of online criticism. This time around, it was regarding the logline for my mystery-comedy.

Perhaps I’d been lulled into a sense of false security by recently receiving positive feedback on it from other sources. Feeling buoyed by those encouraging comments, I posted the logline somewhere else. Even though I like how it currently reads, that doesn’t mean it can’t still be improved.

Ever notice that a lot of online forums are usually organized with the intention/suggestion/guideline that participants “offer up helpful advice” to those seeking it? More on that in a minute.

There was one positive response, which was quickly shoved aside by one of a more…negative nature.

Among the highlights:

“…probably one of the worst concepts I’ve ever heard.” (*Ahem* PIXELS?)

“Maybe if it was written for 5-year-olds…” (because that hasn’t worked for Disney)

“That’s how hokey your entire concept comes across as. Sorry, but I think it’s truly dreadful. (sad face emoji)” (So glad they threw the emoji in or I would have totally missed their point.)

Younger-writer Me would have not taken these comments well. Present-day Me laughed my fucking head off.

You don’t like it? Fine. Makes no difference to me. But why all the hate and insults? All I’m reading are the thoughts of a bitter asshole who doesn’t understand the term “constructive criticism”.

If your overall message is simply “Your idea sucks, and now I’m going to shit all over it!” then what’s the point of even saying anything? Do you think your vitriolic rant is going to make me suddenly stop working on it?

There were so many ways I wanted to respond, and came really close to doing it several times, but instead opted to just stay silent. No matter what I said, it would probably be misconstrued and more than likely start an unnecessary battle of words. Not worth it.

Remember that little guideline for the group regarding “helpful advice”? How exactly does anything that was said do that? Anybody can say they don’t like something, but at least give a valid reason why. Another member chimed in that “you have to take the comments if you post”. I agree, but that means the comments have to be worth taking in the first place.

A friend offered up this reminder: “When someone criticizes, it needs to be specific and constructive. Otherwise, it has no value.” I’d say that’s pretty accurate, and definitely applies here.

An even more amazing aspect to this whole thing is that this is the exact same person who issued a similar diatribe over the logline for my western last year. As far as my research can tell, they are still a self-proclaimed “director, producer, screenwriter and script consultant,” although without any identifiable credits or internet presence.

The whole purpose of providing feedback is to use your knowledge to help the other person make their something better, and in a way that’s not insulting or belittling. In this case, neither happened.

This was just an angry opinion showing a total lack of knowledge, help and encouragement, and definitely could not be considered feedback in any true sense of the word.

Class is in session

All I need now is the magnifying glass
All I need now is the magnifying glass

When I start on a new project, I make a point of reading scripts and watching films that are similar to the kind of story I’m trying to tell.

This time around, it’s a rewrite of my mystery-comedy, so among the works being studied are CHINATOWN, L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT (comedy, remember?). There are a lot more to consider (suggestions are always welcome), but I don’t want to overdo it. As much as I love submersing myself into these stories, I would like to eventually get around to actually working on the script.

Putting myself through this has a double benefit: I get to see solid examples of elements of the story and genre, which forces me to come up with different ways of how to tell a similar story but with my my own stamp on it. I’ll also be the first to admit that my skills at putting a mystery together aren’t exactly the best, so studying these will hopefully help me get a better sense of how to develop that part of the story.

Since this also happens to be a story I’ve worked on before, a lot of it is already in place, but there’s still a ton of work to do, with lots of ideas and changes being considered. Luckily, I have a few previous drafts to mine for material. Almost like starting anew, but with something very familiar.

My hope is that studying these scripts and films will help me get a better understanding of how all the puzzle pieces fit together in those stories, which will in turn will help me figure out how to do the same with mine.

This is the kind of homework I actually look forward to having.