Crafting a tale to thrill, astonish, and exhilarate

Those fools at the film academy dare call me mad? I’ll show ’em! Mwahaha!

2017’s writing got off to a pleasantly rousing start with the commencement of the first draft of my latest project: the pulpy adventure spec.

Yep. After years of working on the outline, I finally decided to take the plunge and write the damned thing.

Seeing as how this is a genre near and dear to my heart, I dove into the opening sequence headfirst and just had at it, surpassing the original goal of completing at least 2 pages a day by two and a half times that amount. Add to that the 4 pages for yesterday, and that places me further ahead than anticipated. It’s not expected to maintain this kind of output on a daily basis, but no complaints so far.

That being said, upon reflection, the latest scene still leaves a little to be desired, so an impromptu rewrite is already being planned out and will be implemented straightaway.

A few alterations have also been made in regards to the overall writing process.

First, even though the outline needs to be rock-solid before starting on pages, the scene descriptions are sometimes a little vague. “Big fight happens!”, that sort of thing.

When that happens, the focus shifts to plotting out the beats of that particular scene. How do things play out so it tells the story and moves things forward? Is it accomplishing what it needs to? It’s quite helpful, and helps prevent a lot of frustration in trying to think up stuff on the spot.

Another is fully embracing the whole “just get it done” attitude. Write it down and move on. There’ll be time for all that fancy-pants editing and polishing stuff later. It’s also been noticed that sometimes the first idea is still the best.

And in what may be the most important development, seeing as how this is at its core my interpretation of the old pulp novels, I’m doing what I can do to really make it read that way. One could even argue that writing the western was just a warm-up exercise. The writing in this script might be a little more over the top than usual, but that could be exactly what it needs.

Even though it’s a screenplay, I take a certain pleasure in coloring things a slightly stronger shade of purple.

There’s no specific target deadline for completing this draft, but hopefully it won’t take too long. For now, I’m just enjoying the ride.

“She pressed a couple of 38s against my chest…

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?

…and then she pulled out some guns.”*

*I heard this joke years ago and still find it extremely hilarious. To commemorate Mickey Spillane’s birthday, I once used it at the end of a traffic report on a public radio station. The program director was not amused.

With company coming, I was forced to finally get around to unloading some more boxes from our semi-recent move. These just happened to hold books I’d amassed over the years. Many of which could be classified under the category of ‘the pulps’.

It’s been a long time since I read any of them. If you’ve never experienced the sensation of immersing yourself in a world of tough guys, brassy dames, femme fatales and itchy trigger fingers, then you’re really denying yourself one of life’s simpler pleasures.

There’s a definite charm to this kind of storytelling. Since the writers got paid by the word, not only did they have to be prolific, they had to also make sure the writing was strong enough that you’d want to keep coming back for more.

I also love how even though the stories are from the 30s, 40s and 50s, once you get past the time capsule aspect, they still read as fresh and exciting.

But I’m positively ecstatic when it comes to ‘men of mystery’ stories like The Shadow, The Spider and Doc Savage.  Give me a stack of those, a comfy chair, and maybe a properly-made gin and tonic, and I am one happy guy.

I never really made the connection before, but I suppose the scripts I like to write could kinda-sorta be considered variations on pulp stories. Or at least leaning in the direction of the fantastic.

A rip-roaring adventure involving flying pirate ships. A revenge-seeking woman in the Old West. A scientist battling monsters to literally save the world.  They all sound pretty pulp-y to me.

At first it seems too challenging. “I’ll never compare to those guys!”  But if you take the aspects of what you like in those stories, put your own personal spin on them, and let your imagination run wild… voila!

A pulp story all your own. In my case, one in screenplay form.

Remember the old adage: Write what you know.  You probably know more than you realize.