The last batches of notes are coming in for the animated fantasy-comedy spec, and believe you me it is SO MUCH better for all of them.
I had faith and confidence in the story and the writing when the initial drafts were done, but it was the as-always-invaluable feedback I got that really helped fine-tune and polish to what it is now.
Bonus – everybody really liked the story and had fun reading it
Bigger bonus – the jokes worked, including more than a few “I actually laughed out at this”. This was a very important issue for me, and I’m elated that this was the result.
I’ve completed a quick tweak/polish and will probably do one more read-through just to be sure before I start sending it out to the big contests next week.
(Reminder for those who enjoy working under pressure – Nicholl early bird deadline is Mar 1 – next Wednesday)
In years past, I’d seek out notes from just about anybody and everybody. When you get numerous sets of notes, and many have conflicting opinions, it does no favors for you or your script.
Lesson learned. Now after each draft, I reach out to 2-3 readers with the same level of experience as me, or more, when possible. It might take a few rounds of doing this, but each draft gets the script to where it needs to be.
With my western, I thought my writing was as good as it was going to get. But working on this script has shown me that I wasn’t done yet. I’m the last one to toot my own horn, but this one seems more solid and put-together on several fronts.
They say you should be able to hear the writer’s “voice” when you read their script; that it sounds like something they would have written. I think that’s always been the case with each of mine, but for this one, you can hear me loud and clear.
Some exciting news today out of the literary department at Maximum Z HQ:
My new book GO AHEAD AND ASK! INTERVIEWS ABOUT SCREENWRITING (AND PIE) VOLUME 3 is officially released – in both paperback and e-book.
Putting all three volumes together has been quite an effort, and definitely a long time in coming, but they’re all set and ready for purchase here or here.
It was always my intent to have these books be about more than just writing a script; it’s about providing the writer with the tools to help them improve. This is why each volume is chock-full of helpful information, tips, and guidance from a wide variety of writing professionals to not only guide you in developing your craft, but how to potentially make your script better. Definitely a win-win scenario.
Not only that, but if you like what somebody has to say and are interested in asking them about helping you with your material, their contact information (email and/or website, and the occasional social media handle) is right there on the page for you.
Plus, numerous types of pie, along with a few other assorted desserts, being mentioned, which is always a good thing.
For those who’ve already purchased volumes 1 and 2, I offer a heartfelt thank you, while also hoping you feel the need to complete the set and get volume 3. Or if there’s a special screenwriter in your life who you think might benefit from, or at least enjoy these books, I’ll just casually mention that the holidays will be here before you know it, and that books always make for an excellent gift.
My 2021 writer’s self-improvement project is chugging along nicely, and is proving to be quite the experience.
At least two rewrites in progress, along with a slew of specs to read, including those for the purpose of giving notes, as well as a few potentials on the horizon. All in the name of becoming a better writer.
(Incidentally, when you offer to to give notes on a script, be prepared for a deluge of material. I’m almost halfway through with the ones I got at the start of the year.)
And honestly, the whole “no contests” thing has proven exceptionally helpful. A lot less stress, and my bank account really appreciates it.
I sincerely hope that all the time and effort I put into this will pay off. Some days it seems like it’ll never happen, and some days it feels…I don’t want to say inevitable. Let’s go with “very possible.”
Part of this year also involves me trying to not put as much as pressure on myself and simply try to enjoy the whole process. As much as I’d love for things to work out sooner rather than later, I can’t force anything to happen. Beating myself up over things I have no control over is a pointless exercise. Better to sit back and have fun with it.
In the meantime, I’ll keep pushing onward and upward.
What do you hope to accomplish in 2021, and what are you going to do to make it happen?
This year for me is primarily about one thing: getting better, writing-wise. My screenwriting game needs to be severely upped if I want to make any kind of headway in becoming a working (i.e. paid) writer.
Part of this also involves totally stepping away from entering contests. Many are nothing more than a money drain – I’ve already saved over $1200 in registration fees – and I’d rather work on improving my craft.
And if I’m not spending money on contests, I plan to redirect it into another long-gestating project. Part of my 2020 involved writing a short script which I’d really like to make myself. After talking with a few filmmaker chums (many of whom offered up their services and advice), it’s definitely doable.
Another thing I’d like to accomplish this year is to read more scripts; at least one a week. Two, if possible. The Black List, produced works, what have you. Of the handful I’ve already enjoyed, it’s already been most helpful.
I’ve started reading and giving notes on other writers’ scripts. Always nice to see what others are up to and check out some original material, and it also lets me develop my analytical skills.
My approach to this year will be a little more laid back than in years past. The drive and desire are still there, but I want to enjoy my time making the journey more than focusing solely on the destination.
There will no doubt be the usual ups and downs. While the ups will be enjoyed and celebrated, the downs will be endured to the best of my ability, and then viewed through the lens of “what can be learned from this so it yields a more positive outcome next time?”.
As always, I am extremely grateful to all of you who’ve enjoyed my posts over this year and those past, and hope you decide to stick around for this one. I wish all of you a 2021 filled with numerous good writing days, positive career news, TV shows and movies you enjoy, and at least one piece of your pie of choice; sharing it is optional.
I haven’t written about it in a while, but one of my other interests is running. It’s inexpensive, good exercise, and I’m fortunate to live in a place well-suited for it.
Added bonus – plenty of time to think about whatever script I’m working on at the time.
However, the passage of time and some good old wear-and-tear are starting to take their toll. My pace is a little slower than it used to be, but I don’t mind.
I especially enjoy half-marathons. 13.1 miles is a good, solid distance. In the Before Times, I’d run about 6-8 a year.
This year, kinda-sorta. All but one of the races I’d signed up to do this year were cancelled. Race organizers, however, were undeterred. Runners were given the option of doing the races virtually, as in “you run the same distance, but on the route of your choosing, then send us your time and a map tracking your route, and we’ll send you your shirt and medal.”
With all of this going on, one of the things I’d always wanted to attempt was running a full marathon. 26.2 miles. Running a half wasn’t too hard, but taking on a full seemed much more formidable.
But the biggest challenge was I wanted to see if I could do it.
So I trained. A lot.
This is also where that part about wear-and-tear really started to make itself known – primarily in my heels and ankles.
But I kept at it, always trying to push myself a little more each time. I was confident, but still plenty nervous.
As the days wound down to Race Day, my anxiety levels were growing. The biggest question on my mind was “COULD I DO THIS?” My family were as supportive and encouraging as possible, but in the end, it was all me.
So I started out. The app in my phone announced at the onset that “tracking would continue for 26.2 miles”, which is quite intimidating during those first few steps.
“It’s the distance, not the time,” I reminded myself.
Off I went through the pre-dawn streets. Sunrise was still about 80 minutes away, and save for some hills and a bridge colored international orange, it was a pretty flat route.
The miles ticked away. I got to the halfway point, feeling pretty confident the second half might not be as challenging as expected.
Mile 19. So far, so good. At this pace, maybe an hour fifteen to go.
Mile 20. The wear-and-tear decides to kick in. For my heels and ankles. Steps got a little bit tougher to take. Then a stabbing pain at the base of my left shin. That doesn’t seem good.
I wanted to keep going, but was more concerned about inflicting further damage, so I chose the safest option: I stopped running, and walked. Not what I wanted, but at least I was still moving.
It’s the distance, not the time, remember?
I got to Mile 24 and thought “maybe I can run these last 2.2 miles” and ran for about 4 steps. Nope. The walk continued.
But I kept going, and eventually did cross the virtual finish line, with a time of 5:11:33.
Not the results I was hoping for, and despite some unexpected problems to deal with, the important thing was I DID IT.
One of the most apt metaphors about screenwriting is “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” It takes a REALLY long time to be able to do it, especially properly, so you need to keep working at it, constantly trying to do better.
The journey to finishing a script, let alone establishing a career as a screenwriter, might not be the one you anticipated. Everybody moves at their own pace, so don’t be discouraged if it seems like everybody but you is moving forward by leaps and bounds.
The important thing is to focus on becoming a better writer and making your script better. Work on crossing the finish line that’s waiting for you, and you alone.
Giving yourself a medal, however, is totally optional.