The kid has potential

What that first draft seems like

Reading so many scripts over the past few weeks has motivated me to consider sending some of my older work to TriggerStreet and ScriptShadow to see what kind of response I might get.  I like to think my writing has improved since I first started out, but it would be interesting to see what others think of some earlier efforts.

I have two scripts I’d be willing to put on display, but first I had to find them from within my scattered files and flashdrives.  I managed to dig up my zombie western from just over 8 years ago. I skimmed through the first act, and it wasn’t as bad as I thought.  The writing’s a little weak, but it moves along nicely.  I had completely forgotten just about everything apart from the main story.  I think a lot of it still works, including some of the jokes.  Some of those still hold up too.

This isn’t my best work. Far from it. I had to stop myself from rewriting certain lines because I wanted to leave it untouched.  I like the idea of sending it out as is to see what kind of reaction the me of 8 years ago would get.

A writer should occasionally go back and look over their early stuff to gauge how their skills have developed and (hopefully) improved.  You may be pleasantly surprised by a scene or snippet of dialogue you don’t remember whatsoever, then be even more surprised when you realize “Hey, I did write that, didn’t I?”

Movie of the Moment: THE RED SHOES (1948). I’d been led to believe this was a classic. Apparently it’s one of Scorsese’s favorites, but I was bored, and subsequently disappointed.  I don’t mind ballet, but this just didn’t do anything for me.

Thick skin? Try bulletproof

I’ve been reading and writing scripts for some time now. I’ve had limited success with original material, so I have a fair idea what works and what doesn’t.  I can read a script and quickly reach a conclusion regarding whether or not the writer knows what they’re doing.

Stuff from the Black List?  For the most part, top-notch, quality stuff.

Trigger Street?  Not so much.

I’ve read three scripts so far, and each one was poorly written.  There’s no other way to say it. Part of the deal is that I’m supposed to offer constructive criticism to the writer, which I try to do.  I don’t sugarcoat anything, but I also don’t savagely tear the thing to shreds.  I want to be entertained, but if reading a script is more like a chore, then I’m going to point what’s wrong and what needs to be fixed.

I received this email in response to a script I read last week:

“Try and add a couple of positive thoughts into your reviews. It might stop authors from quitting their game. Unfortunately for you, I’m more resistant to slander. Most authors rare (sic) not, however. I hope when you release your personal screenplays, people are more apathetic.”

I hate to break it to this person, but if they want to be a screenwriter and MY critique hurts their feelings, then they better stock up on Kleenex and pints of Ben & Jerry’s.  Yes, writing a good script is hard, but if you can’t take constructive criticism, then you’re in trouble.

I’ve heard it numerous times:  YOUR WORK HAS TO BE ABSOLUTELY PERFECT.  You may think it is, but trust me. It isn’t.

When I joined my first writing group, I thought my script was great. When I got it back, almost completely covered in red comments, I was devastated.  How could they?  After I calmed down, I re-read their comments.  I came to realize that each one had merit and would actually help make the script better.  I still had a lot to learn.

I’ve been writing for a good number of years, and have slowly built up a resistance to comments.  Every writer has the option of being selective about which comments to consider. While it’s nice to get raves and positive feedback, sometimes heeding the ones that start with “you might want to consider…” is actually better because they are trying to HELP YOU MAKE YOUR SCRIPT BETTER.

And I don’t want somebody reading my script to be apathetic. I want to know what works, what doesn’t, and why.

I’m a big boy. I can take it.

Look out! It’s the iBorg!

So THAT'S what happened to Steve Jobs...

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we are currently a one-computer family.  Unfortunately, it’s my 6-year-old IBM laptop, which has become very tempermental in the past few months.  My eyes roll and I swear under my breath every time “(Not Responding)” appears at the top of my screen.

But this week that’s going to change.  After years of being a PC, I’m making the switch to a Mac. I have no idea what to expect, but it’ll definitely be interesting. I’ll have to contact the fine folks at Movie Magic Screenwriter to find out if I have to buy a new version or if I can switch over. I’ve used MMS since way back, when it was originally called Script Thing.

This will be the third Apple product in my possession. I already have an iPod and an iPhone. No doubt an iPad is somewhere in the future as well; it looks like the perfect venue for checking out a script without lugging a laptop around. It would probably just be easier to have an Apple logo tattooed somewhere scandalous and install an earbud jack and USB port somewhere easily accessible.

A benefit of having one computer is that while K uses the laptop for her purposes, it forces me to work with pen and paper.  Since I’d rather use my computer time to write pages anyway, I’m using my spare time to work on editing my LUCY outline.  It’s been more helpful than I expected.

Yesterday involved cutting out a big chunk of the first act – almost 9 scenes. While I hated to do it, it had to be done.  But it tightened the story, sped things up and kept the action going.  Besides, I can re-use some of the cut items later if necessary.

-I started reading an assigned script from TriggerStreet. I’m only on page 7, and so far, I’m not impressed.  Only 115 pages to go. Oy. This ain’t gonna be easy.

Title? We don’t need no stinkin’ title!

Okay.  I’m back from a rousing hockey tournament at Lake Tahoe, where V’s team came in 3rd out of 6, including their 2 wins with her in goal.  In fact, she was awarded the MVP puck for their 8-1 victory on Saturday night.  Overall, it was very exciting.  Cold, but exciting.

Just before we left, I was introduced to Triggerstreet.com, a screenwriting review/forum website (Kevin Spacey is one of the founders). Part of the way they work is having members review other members’ scripts.  I haven’t submitted anything yet, but plan to in the near future.

But it was the forum that especially intrigued me.  I decided to take the plunge and posted a question about my logline for LUCY.  I did that on Thursday afternoon.  By the evening, I had a few responses and something like 75 views.  What’s cool about the set-up is that you can opt to get an email notification that somebody’s responded to your post.  A lot of the drive up to Tahoe was spent checking them out.

I have to say I got some really good feedback, and even better, got what I feel is a stronger logline for the story.  I thought about posting that 3 Stooges one just to see what people think, but I’ll hold off for a little while.

Speaking of which, I sent in the old LUCY logline and the 3 Stooges one to the logline contest.  Neither one won, but honestly, I don’t really think that much of some recent winners.  I may try again with the new LUCY one.  It’s a wait-and-see situation.

-As much as I thought/hoped it might happen this weekend, I didn’t get a lot of work done on the outline.

So now that I’ve got an outline I like much better, I felt I had to start over with it, albeit with a few minor changes.  But as I was looking it over, there didn’t seem to be much I thought had to come out.  There are still a few places where I may have to make some slight readjustments, but it may not be as daunting a project as I originally thought.

And I may have stumbled onto a solution for moving the story along.  All I have to do now is figure out how to incorporate it into the story. Which I think I can do

Movie of the Moment:  A few to go over. First the original BAD NEWS BEARS. The other girl on V’s hockey team owns this, and we watched it on Saturday afternoon.  Watching it now as a parent is a lot different than when I was a lot closer to the age of a lot of the cast.  It was really weird watching Walter Matthau, especially since I’ve seen more of his work in recent years.

But the story and the writing still hold up.  Some good jokes sprinkled around here and there, but more would have been nice.  It’s also really weird to have a PG movie from the mid-70s have so much mild cursing in it.  From a writing point of view, the character development is strictly textbook, but effective.  What was also clever was that only a handful of scenes are set inside; a majority are set at the ball field.  And you get to know almost all of the kids on the team; just a handful don’t serve much purpose.  I know they made a remake with Billy Bob Thornton a few years ago, but I don’t see the point.

The other movie was LOST IN SPACE, only because it was on TV today while I was working.  I saw this in the theater back in 1998, and enjoyed it.  Not a lot, but worth the $6 for the matinee.  Incidentally, this would be a great choice for the Filmsack guys.

But looking at it today, it really drags in some places and the dialogue doesn’t really do much for me.  I still don’t understand why they didn’t just kill Gary Oldman’s Dr Smith.  He tried to sabotage their mission and they still let him live?  Ridiculous.  And don’t get me started on the cgi monkey alien.  Lame.

Akiva Goldsman, who wrote it (as well as BATMAN & ROBIN, but also A BEAUTIFUL MIND – go figure), has become more of a producer and has thankfully let his writing career diminish.  While I love the concept of the movie, this one just felt forced and could have been a little shorter.  Still, to me it’s one of the slightly better 60s-TV-show-based films, as opposed to that big ol’ chunk of cinematic Velveeta known as WILD WILD WEST.

Now just try to get that gigantic steampunk spider-tank out of your mind.

You’re welcome.