Dipping into the archival depths

Just unearthing a few more invaluable nuggets of wisdom

Lots and lots of activity going on for the hard-working staff at Maximum Z HQ. Writing of pages, giving of notes, assisting with development of outside projects, and assembling material for future posts, just to name a few.

So what does this mean in regards to today’s post?

While our number one priority remains, as always, to provide you with entertaining content, sometimes the producing of original material runs into a bit of snag, resulting in a lack thereof.

But never fear. All is not lost.

Thanks to having just over 8 years’ worth of material to pick from, there are plenty of opportunities to occasionally run a classic (i.e. old) post.

And today is one of those times.

Here’s a post from April 11, 2012, and the subject matter is still relevant. Plus, it features one of my favorite titles and photo captions.

Vamoose! Amscray! Skedaddle! Rampaging thesaurus on the loose!

Added bonus: stronger brainpower!
Egad! A gargantuan leviathan extirpating a metropolitan venue!

I read this the other day and loved it.

It’s too easy to rely on everyday verbs while you’re putting a script together.  The more picturesque a word, the more visual it becomes.  It makes the script that much more exciting and interesting to read.

I usually have two minimized windows running while I’m writing. Pandora for creativity-inducing background music and Thesaurus.com for when I just can’t think of a solid alternate verb. It might take a little effort to find the one that fits, but oh the satisfaction when you do.

Not sure if  a verb works? Follow the example in the quote and read the sentence aloud. Try it with different verbs. Which one sounds spot-on? Does it not only convey action but mood as well?  If somebody storms into a room, you can probably guess how they feel.  Compare it to somebody who slinks, sashays or (always a favorite) moseys in.

The writer’s job is to paint a picture of the story in the reader’s mind. And you want to hold their attention by using words that will do just that. A compelling story with fleshed-out characters helps too, but dull writing makes for boring reading.

I can’t remember the exact wording or who said it, but there’s this great quote that says something like “There are a million words in the English language. Use them.”

Sound advice indeed.

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.

So glad I didn’t listen to myself

How I originally intended to start this writing session
How I originally intended to approach this rewrite

Since it really has been years since I last looked at my mystery-comedy spec, and not wanting to be too heavily influenced by what I’d written before, I figured this rewrite would be completely fresh. A clean slate. Blank page from the get-go. A whole new ball of wax.

I sit at my desk, all set to open those floodgates. My notebook’s open to this new set of plot points, ready to be fleshed out. Pandora cranks out the sounds of the Rat Pack and the 50s jazz club scene (appropriate mood music for the story’s setting). A hot cup of joe within reach. Overall, a perfect writing scenario.

So what thought immediately pops into my head?

Yep. I’m gonna check out what I wrote before. But just out of curiosity. It’s not like I’m going to keep the whole story. Besides, it’ll be interesting to see how far my writing’s come since then.

This is also why you should never, ever throw away old material. You never know when you might come back to it.

I open the 1-pager. Okay, I remember this part. Wait. I don’t remember that. Whoa, where did that come from? Wow, this is a lot more detailed than I remember.

Finishing that, I automatically wonder how the script reads. A few scenes stick out in my memory, but most of it is long forgotten.

I’ll just take a look at the first few pages. Promise.

Hmm. Not as bad as I thought. Some of the dialogue is a little too on-the-nose. Too many adverbs. Character descriptions could be better. Some good set-ups I instantly recall how they pay off. This subplot’s a little weak.

A quick glance to the upper right corner to see what page I’m on. 26 already? Hokey smokes, this thing is flying by.

By now I feel almost obligated to finish reading it. 35 minutes later, I did.

The overall consensus: still needs a lot of work, but a much more solid foundation to start with and there are some ideas I’d like to incorporate. It’s kind of reassuring to know I’ve already taken care of a lot of the heavy lifting.

A few days ago, I was concerned this was going to be a real slog, but now – not so much.