Day One

Day One of Writing

So, there’s this new YouTube channel that I recently discovered called Film Courage and it has interviews with screenwriters, producers, and actors and is basically a channel dedicated to helping beginners break into the the movie and television industry. It features advice in the form of long-form interviews with these individuals, but it understands that most people don’t have an hour/hour and a half to watch the entirety of the interview and breaks them out into smaller, more manageable 10-15 “chunks” that talk about 1 or 2 specific elements of the craft.

I recently found one that was especially impactful called “Day One of Writing a New Screenplay.”  I’ve linked it below if you want to check it out, but basically the screenwriter tells how he gets started on new project and how he budgets his time to get the project done, and his advice for ending so that you’re ready to work on it the next day.


Walking the Walk

What I love about this video interview by Mark Sanderson is that he is super professional in his approach and much of his advice deals with both professionalism (i.e., sticking to a schedule) and working from an outline (still being creative even though he has a general idea of where he’s going.  I also liked the way he creates strategies to help him become and stay creative.

I started Project Independence on Wednesday night.  I tried to work on Project Paradise Thursday night and try to hopscotch between the two, but I’m probably not going to be able to do that (435 words on Project Independence and only 31 words for Project Paradise).  I’m probably just going to have to pick one “weekday” project that I work on through the week and one “weekend” project (right now, probably my Ship of Shadows graphic novel).  I’m going to try to work on 1 “script” page this weekend.  Again,  as I’m only shooting for 250 words a day, I need to figure out what it means if I blew through that goal for one project and didn’t even come close to meeting the goal for another.  Does it mean I’m more interested and ready to write one vs. other and should stick with the one I’m seemingly invested in until I finish?  Or is it that I was just enervated one day, where I was exhausted the next?  Not quite sure.

“Bottom Line is: ‘You Have to Write and Stick to a Schedule'”

I’m trying to take his advice and try to fit it into my life because the “daily schedule” is one I’m still trying to conquer.  I don’t know how many artists I’ve lost for my graphic novel projects (four (4) is my current count although it may be more) because I couldn’t produce work fast enough because I wasn’t able to keep to a daily writing schedule and let work and school interfere with writing.  I’m not really a fast writer–I only type about 35-40 words per minute, which is fairly good, but isn’t amazing, but I often slow down when writing because I’m trying to think of the words that I need to describe the action I see in my mind.

I’m not sure what I’ll try to write tonight, but whatever it is, at least I’ll put my behind in my seat and, as the man said, “write and stick to a schedule.”


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Writing a new Screenplay


The Black List Logo (Find Screenplays. Get Found.) Image Source: linkedin

I “accidentally” started a screenplay on Saturday night.  I say accidentally because I wasn’t planning on it.  However, a scene came to mind that seemed to be both a cool action scene at once as well as a way to visually tell the backstory of the character.  I’ve only started the scene, but I wanted to fix the image in my mind on paper before it got away.  I wrote several paragraphs and then went back and outlined what happens in that scene.  When I get through writing it, I’m hopeful that it will be completely self-contained with no dialogue from either the main character or any other characters.  It should be 3-5 minutes (pages) long, but in that time you should know who the protagonist is and why he is doing what he is doing.

This is for a project that I’ve already published a short-story for and this is part of that “working smarter, not harder” paradigm that I’ve been trying for since spring of this year.  This is the 2nd script that I’ve attempted–I finished my first script (FREEFALLING–a short script of about 6-8 pages).  That one also did not have any dialogue, but it does have a beginning, middle, and end.  I was going to put it on a website that features short scripts called The Black List, but balked as you’d have to join the Writer’s Guild of America.  Registration is cheap, but I don’t like being forced into things (if you can’t tell from my other blog posts). However, most agents won’t look at anything less than a feature length script, so if I want exposure for FREEFALLING, The Black List is my only real option.

I haven’t decided how long this new script will be.  If it turns out to be a feature length script (120 pages), then I’ll send it out to agents, but if it is a shorter script, then I’ll put it on the Black List and see what happens.  While it wasn’t what I was intending to write over the weekend (I have both school assignments and a Graphic novel script that I needed to work on), it was what demanded to be written at that moment.  I really hope something good comes out of it!

Blueprints – Writing and Letting Go

A LOT has happened in the past two weeks and I’ve changed quite a bit (at least I like to think so).

First, I caught a cold from one of the students on Friday and felt terrible from Saturday morning when I awoke until Monday morning when it was time to go back to work.  I literally did nothing the entire weekend.  I did get to watch the Super Bowl, but that’s about all I did was simply watch it (and the commercials).  I had been stressed the entire week before at work and I learned that my body and stress don’t mix well.  Lessons that I learned on how to cope had to be relearned as suffered through the weekend.  As much as I want all my students to be brilliant, make good grades, and behave well so that I can teach them, the fact is I can’t control what they do or don’t do, I can only control my reaction to them.  So that’s what I focused on all of this past week — letting go.

So it was timely when I heard this week’s IGN UK Podcast: “The Force is Strong With this One.”  The interview is with Gary Whitta who works in Hollywood as a Screenwriter.  He has worked on The Book of Eli, After Earth,  and has just finished up work on The Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  

Now, as he’s talking I realize first that the podcast is talking the way that I’d envisioned the blog operating–not just about writing, but about all things Science Fiction/Fantasy (from movies to games to novels to little hints about the industry that he works–the whole nine yards).  I realized that I’ve seen both Interstellar and The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug and haven’t at least shared opinions on them (and yet, they are in part why I write Sci-Fi and Fantasy–to do what they did, just on the page).

But one thing that REALLY struck me was the idea of writing (scripts especially) as BLUEPRINTS.  Essentially, he notes that in Hollywood, the scriptwriter sells the script and is no longer in control of the script’s (and by extension–the story’s) fate. It is the movie’s director who ultimately becomes the “author.”  He shares that his movie The Book of Eli was unique in two ways 1) it was ORIGINAL–not based on some preexisting property (which is rare in Hollywood) and 2) what ended up on the screen was MOSTLY what was on the page.  The movie After Earth–well, not so much.

You have to let go of the process in collaboration.  In movies, there are hundreds, if not thousands of people spending millions to make your vision come alive and you have to hope that it turns out like you have it in your head (or laid it out on the page).

The implications for me are clear: when I write scripts (Graphic Novels), I need to turn it over to my artist and not try to “direct.”  If it matches my vision, awesome.  If not, move on to the next project in hopes that the next one will.  My first experience with collaboration went well up until I saw the finished artwork.  With all due respect to my artist (whose artwork was awesome) it just didn’t match up to the Marvel artwork at the time that I was reading and envisioned for the project.

Lastly, I can also use this for the rest of my writing–right now, I spend months on short-stories for a $10 – $25 payment.  I’m very detailed and I don’t want to lose that, but I’m making a couple of small tweaks to writing to help me be a little more efficient.  Instead of writing at night after teaching all day, I’m taking a little time on the weekends and dedicating it to writing (I’m writing the blog post right now during this time, so hopefully its working!).  I can still write during the week if I feel so inclined, but I KNOW that I’ll have a block of time to write no matter what if for some reason (tired, illness, etc.) that I can’t write during the week.

There were many other takeaways from this past week, but I’ll save those for future blog topics.  Expect more of “round robin” approach on future topics as well–not just on writing and my process.  Later, all!

Tech Update – Strangeness!  Router=stable, Wifi=comes and goes at its whim (been up for 3 days without a hitch, though.

Writing Update – Slowness!  Added a little more to 2nd scene of HAWKEMOON.  Worked on setting and characterization.  Hoping to finish this scene today. If so, 2 down, 2 to go.