Working my way forward

billion_dollar_limited

The process of writing actual pages for my pulpy sci-fi adventure is fully underway, averaging about 3-4 pages a day, which is just a smidge above average for me. I’m making a real effort to stick to this kind of output, and am hoping to keep it up for the duration.

There’s a lot of setup in the first act, and I was really concerned things would somehow get drastically out of hand and go on for too long , resulting in a script running something like 150 pages, but so far I’ve managed to keep it all in check. It’s all going according to plan. Still feeling confident to be able to keep it in that ideal target range of 110-120 pages.

And this is before any of the real editing begins. That comes after FADE OUT.

Speaking of editing, even though I was trying not to fall back into my habit of “write, edit, write some more”, there’ve been a few times when a few impulse decisions had to be made regarding whether or not something should be included. Since I was already concerned about too much material, many of them were cut.

In retrospect, they weren’t as necessary as I initially thought, so after they were cut, their absence had barely an impact on the story – if at all. Turns out they were in there more for my own benefit. I saw them as building up the key scene to which they were connected. I tend to overwrite during the outlining process anyway, so no big loss.

Working on both the outline and the pages has also made me realize that my talents seem to be a lot more suitable for this kind of thing. As much as I’d love to be a solid comedy writer, I feel much more at ease producing thrilling tales of adventure with some comedic moments thrown in.

They say you can tell a writer enjoyed writing the script because of how it reads. Like with all of mine that came before, that’s exactly what I’m hoping for with this one as well.

Resources at your fingertips

kent

Becoming a professional screenwriter is an incredibly difficult goal that takes a very, very long time to achieve.

This doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Just know what you’re getting yourself into.

One goal, lots of strategies

The me business – a 24/7 operation

Apart from writing, what are you doing to help yourself get there? There’s only one person who can be the most effective in helping you move forward. And you already know who it is.

A support staff of one

Are you networking? Trying to meet other writers? Offering to give notes or swap scripts?

When a writer meets a writer…

Are you entering contests to see how your script holds up under scrutiny?

The hazardous journey down Contest Road

Are you sending queries? Researching reps and producers?

Quit them or queue them up?

Part of every writer’s journey is the inevitable frustration and disappointment. Some days it will be very powerful, and learning how to survive and endure it is all part of the process.

How low can you go? Quite, apparently.

Expiration date: NEVER!

Not exactly “Kryptonian under a yellow sun…”

alex ross superman
…but yeah, kind of like that

As has been much documented ’round these parts, trying to make it as a screenwriter is a long, tedious slog. For anybody. And that includes me.

It is a slog into which I have voluntarily cast myself.

There has been, and probably will continue to be a lot of disappointment and frustration along the way.

It’s the nature of the beast. Nothing I can do about it.

Well, actually there is.

More on that in a minute. But first, an anecdote!

I was digging through my binder of notes and documents, some of which span back a few years.

Among them, the printout of an email from an “industry insider” totally trashing me and my idea after I’d revealed the idea for what would eventually become one of my low-budget comedy specs. There was not one encouraging sentence in this entire communique. “Give up.” “You’re wasting your time.” “You don’t have a chance.”

And that was some of the nicer stuff.

The person who sent it likes to talk the talk, but in my opinion, falls a bit short on walking the walk. I printed out the email as a reminder that if an asshole like this can establish a career (if you can call it that), then there’s no reason I can’t either.

Funny thing about me is that I’m quite the stubborn cuss. I may get annoyed, upset, distraught or even full-blown depressed about how lousy my situation may be at that particular moment, but sometimes you gotta hit bottom before you regroup, reorganize, and resume the climb, more determined than before to get a little higher.

Which sums me up right now.

I’m not there yet, but it feels imminent. While it would be great if something happened in the immediate future, I’ll remain realistic and at least work towards “something soon”.

I’d say I’m in a pretty interesting place right now. I’ve got some quality scripts to show, several in various stages of development (and much further along than expected), and a growing network of connections, many of whom are more than willing to do what they can. When more than one professional says to me “I can’t understand why you don’t have a manager/more interest in this script!”, then I guess I’m doing something right.

Even though there’s been a steady and gradual progress in “making things happen”, this is still all on me. This long, tedious slog will eventually come to a most satisfying conclusion – for the best possible reason.

So until that forthcoming day when fortune finally smiles down on me, I’ve no plans to give up and will continue to push forward. It’s getting close. Mighty close.

Up, up, and away, chums.

Not speeding-bullet-fast, but getting there

The cape helps.
The cape helps.

The edit/rewrite/polish of the western continues, and have to admit I’m actually surprised at how fast the process is moving.

Maybe it’s working with a pen and an actual hard copy of the script, which for some reason is always more productive than doing it on the computer.

Maybe it’s all the ideas stemming from the great notes and feedback I’ve received.

Or maybe it’s simply a culmination of the experience of having done this so many times before. Putting my money on this one.

I’d estimated the rewrite would take me maybe 5 to 6 weeks, schedule permitting. There are a few sequences that need some major work, some that need significant trimming, and plenty of minor tweaks and adjustments to be made. But just a few days in, and I’ve already passed the halfway point.

At this rate, there’s no reason I couldn’t be done within the next 2 weeks. After that, it goes out for one more round of professional feedback. I honestly didn’t think this would happen this fast.

I think maintaining a steady work schedule, a definite commitment to the craft and that internal drive/compulsion to succeed have all contributed to getting me to this point in my abilities. I’m more than willing (one might even say eager) to do the work, and the more I do it, the easier the whole process seems.

Of course there are days when I’m not productive, but even those are getting fewer and far between.

Hopefully you’re also able to devote some time each day to getting some writing done. Don’t be discouraged if it seems too hard or overwhelming right now. Keep at it. On top of that, get feedback and read scripts. Build up your knowledge and apply it to your work.

Before you know it, you’re done and ready to jump into whatever comes next (although it might take more than a single bound).

Being realistic in a work of fiction

You're upset about the scientific inaccuracies in a comic book movie about an alien who can fly?
Some people were actually upset about the scientific inaccuracies in a comic book movie about an alien who can fly

“The monsters attack.”

This simple line in my action spec outline was the catalyst for a major thought process that continues to grow by leaps and bounds.  Questions are being raised that demand answers.

In creating this world, not only do I have to develop the story you’ll be following, but also fill in a lot of details about the world itself – which just happens to have monsters in it, which leads to more questions.  It never occurred to me to consider subjects such as biology, geology and the laws of physics as they apply to monsters (all of which play a part in the story).

“But it’s just a story,” some might say. “Don’t worry about stuff like that.” But it’s exactly the stuff like that that makes the story better, plus it shows I’m taking this seriously – even if it does involve monsters.

I’ve always had an intense dislike for writing that takes the easy way out in explaining something, or does it in a very half-assed way.  It makes it seem like the writer didn’t care enough to do a little more work.

It’s very important to me that not only are the events of the story based in reality, but the setting is as well.  This is something I strive for in everything I write – no matter what the genre.

The more detailed you can make the world of your story, the more believable it’ll be. But be careful not to overdo it – too much detail creates confusion. Just give enough to make ’em say “Yeah, that makes sense.” or “I can totally see that happening.”

Now it’s back to my research on which metallic alloy would be the most effective for killing monsters. So far, tungsten carbide seems to be the frontrunner.