Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2016

Depth and motivation

Things are progressing slower than I'd intended without the structure of a schedule, but they are progressing. I've finished drafts of The Destroyer and Messiah that I guess I'll upload now, I'm halfway through the second draft of To Live For, 30 pages into Psicop, and 9 pages into a page 1 rewrite of Shadows. That's what I want to talk about.
I'm having trouble working on both of those screenplays, and I'm not sure why, but when I compare and contrast them and the other three, I can't help but wonder if they're a little shallower than my other work. Not that my other stuff is necessarily "deep," but these two definitely aren't, and I think it's hurting my work ethic where they're concerned.
It's worth remembering I only wrote Shadows at all because I was blowing through it in a week. It was a challenge more than a project. And Psicop I've barely gotten past the first act, if even.
I've been watching a little video s…

Slowing Down

All right, it's finally gotten to be enough. I was getting burnt out, so I'm indefinitely ceasing the screenplay a month thing. I would've continued until I'd finished my first (Shadows), but, I know that with the same pace it would've ended up rather unfinished anyway, so.

I realized I've written four screenplays so far out here, and I'm in the middle of a fifth, when I came out to LA having only three. Four and a half screenplays is plenty for me to work on for now. I've gotten some quantity done, time to do some quality.

My basic plans for the screenplays are as follows:

SHADOWS: Page one rewrite. I like the basic ideas behind it, which is why I'm going to keep working on it, but it has so many structural issues it's just going to be easier to start over. MESSIAH: Currently has three timelines, and I'm cutting out one of them. That's going to require strengthening and lengthening the other two. A relatively heavy third draft, so there&…

This Month's Screenplay

This month, I decided I wanted to do some sci-fi, so I'm going to be writing some variation of my first ten-page treatment, Psycop. I don't imagine the final product is going to match that treatment very well, but a lot of the elements and characters are going to be there. We'll see what happens.

To Live For is finished

That was definitely one of the worst research experiences of my life. Like, it's one thing to search for "Ways to kill yourself," it's another thing to have to trawl around suicide forums (which is a thing that exists) reading people talking about their attempts and what they're gonna try and why they're doing it and whatever. It's messed up.

But the first draft is done, and God willing, I won't have to do any more research like that for the edits. We'll see what happens.

I also finished the second draft of Messiah, and it went far better than the second draft of Shadows. I was a lot more structured about how I did it this time, and it helped a lot. I made a big checklist... and you know what? I'll just paste it here.

End of the month

So, I finished (and finally titled) The Destroyer, and technically finished the second draft of Shadows.

The Destroyer came out pretty okay - of course, by "pretty okay" what I mean here is "pretty close to the story I'd imagined," which I think is good for roughly a week of outlining and two weeks of writing. I'm now sitting on it for a month; I'll let you know come September if I think it's actually any good.

The real victim here was Shadows, though. I, uh... I really dropped the ball on that one. I wasted a lot of my time editing tiny, inconsequential stuff, and didn't give it the time needed to make the bigger, structural changes necessary. All in all, the second draft is far too similar to the first for my taste. But rules are rules, and I've definitely learned a lot from my mistakes here.

Next month, editing Messiah, I think I'm going to completely ignore small issues - maybe even letting weird oddities like introducing a character…

These Screenplays Will Suck

...At least the early ones. Or maybe especially the early ones.

I know it's something I should've known, and it is something I've known, but it's only now, as I wrestle with editing Shadows that it's really sinking in: yes, these screenplays are going to suck. I'm hammering them out while working on other screenplays and it's not my full-time job. Plus I'm just not good at writing quickly yet. All these factors (and more!) are combining to make sure the stuff I pump out is going to be sub-standard.

The specific circumstance that's making me realize this is my grand ideas for Shadows. I've got a lot of big changes I want to make to it (as is natural for a screenplay written in a week), but I need to put a lot of effort into this month's screenplay, too, and I just don't have time to do everything I want to do at the quality level I'd like to do it in. And in a couple months, when I'm editing two screenplays while writing a third? …

This Month's Screenplay

Just got back in town from a friend's wedding, and now I'm about to dive into writing this month's screenplay (as of yet untitled). I still haven't figured out how much I want to write here about what I'm writing about, but I can give you the general idea.

Basically, this is a story about the unknowable. It's about a woman who gets the power to manipulate life and nature - she can make trees grow overnight, heal deadly wounds, control animals, etc.. But she has no idea why she got them - like, she doesn't know their source, nor the reason.

That's what the emphasis of the story is - trying to figure out what is going on and why it's happening, moreso than the powers themselves. This gets more complicated when they realize that the massive storm that's been approaching the coast seems to be being caused by someone with powers like hers.

I don't want there to be any "sage" character who's been studying the occult or whatever who k…

You know what? No.

I changed my mind. Editing schedule is a month off between each draft. So month one is first draft, month two is off, month three is second draft, month four is off, month five is final draft. I'm not actually spending any more time editing (except on Shadows, but again, I didn't really do much for it the past two weeks), just giving myself more time to sit on screenplays and forget as much as I can about them (an important part of the editing process), and making things line up a little cleaner (no half-month deadlines).

Progress Report

So I just finished my second first draft as a part of this project, which is definitely exciting, having two first drafts to edit. Shadows is... well, it hasn't gotten as much work as I would've liked to have given it by this point. There are a couple factors in play.
I did take a two-week break after finishing it before starting on editing it. This was deliberate (if not predetermined), and I think will be the plan from now on. I'm going ahead and saying three months of editing instead of two, because I'm planning on a three-draft system, with a two-week break between each draft. So if I wrote a first draft in the first month, I'll start the second draft of a screenplay halfway through the second month, and continue up until halfway through the third month. Then I'll take another break, and work on the third draft all through the fourth month. 
So this wasn't something I'd decided to do at the start of the month, and so Shadows has seen two weeks less …

Stopping Points

I don't know about you, but it's really hard for me to start writing. Once I've started, I don't really procrastinate at all - I'll take breaks I don't need, get up and stare at the fridge for no reason, but I'm usually back at my computer in like 60 seconds or less.

Before I start, though? It can be agonizing. I can't start until I know exactly where I was, exactly what should come next. If I'm in the middle of writing, and finish a scene, I can go on to the next one no problem. Starting a new scene first thing, though? Somehow that's completely different.

That's why I've started ending my writing sessions in the middle of scenes, almost (but not quite) as a rule. I think it lowers the barrier of starting again the next day when you know exactly what you're doing. It's especially helpful if it's a very actiony-scene, one where I know exactly what's going on. I can sit down, finish the action, and then just keep rolling f…

The Perils of Research

A lot of writers make jokes about if someone saw their search history after researching a story - with good reason. I've looked up stuff like how to hire a hitman, or how to build a bomb, that sort of thing.

But what I don't see talked about as much is how dangerous research can be for you mentally. I was just looking up Tibetan sky burials for Messiah, read some descriptions, then saw there was video. The video warns you "Hey, look out, graphic content," but I'd read the descriptions, and I was prepared to see some dead bodies and vultures eating them.

What I was not prepared for was the bodies being skinned before the vultures got to them. I'd missed that part of the description, and holy shit that was something. Like, it wasn't just disturbing, it was startling. I wasn't expecting it at all; I physically recoiled away from the screen. Like seriously, I get it, I'm okay with it, but I don't want to look at it.

It did not wind up in my screen…

This was a bad idea

I really shouldn't have picked a half-finished screenplay to do this to. Now I'm, like, second-guessing all my prior decisions, letting myself get confused by plot choices... I really should've finished this one on my own time, or done a page 1 rewrite, or something.

Buh. Don't mind me, just grumbling and complaining.

Reorganization

So, I just spent, like, an hour rearranging all the stuff I had for Messiah out of chronological order, and into... storyological order. Doing it definitely made me realize writing it in chronological order was a bad idea to begin with. Moving from scene to scene is an important part of writing, and when you're not writing in something like the order you're going to stick with, it's really really hard to do that well. I had to drop a handful of scenes, and I know the final draft is going to have more rewriting and reorganizing than it would've otherwise had.

On top of that, I love WriterDuet, but rearranging scenes is not a fluid process. Lots of waiting for WriterDuet to think and do what you told it to do. It got better when I switched to the offline app, but it was still frustrating.

So, my page count dropped, but this is good. It was always going to have to happen, and now it won't have to happen later in the process when I'd probably have to drop even more…

Messiah: The Work Thus Far

The logline for Messiah would be something along the lines of, "A shaman must journey to a faraway land to stop his lost disciple from setting herself up as a god."

But it's a little more complicated than can fit in a logline. The story I have is kind of time-hoppy: it follows two main plotlines separated by seven years, and several tiny stories from different times.
The first plotline is about the shaman, Kai, and his disciple, Nike, traveling from their Roman-esque culture to a Hunnic-esque culture, hunting a Witch that threatens Bekter, an old friend of Kai's. They manage to kill the witch, but at the cost of destabilizing the entire region, and a massive war breaks out. Nike is lost, presumed dead, and Kai returns home in shame.
The second plotline is about Kai and his new discipline, August, travelling back to Bekter's people after hearing news of Nike Ascending (read: turning to the dark side) and setting herself up as a god. Along the way, they conflict wi…

This Month's Screenplay

I've been decompressing from writing a first draft in a week, but now I'm a week into the month and still haven't even chosen an idea for what screenplay I'm writing this month. So I guess I need to pick something.

The simple solution is to pick from one of the treatments I've written here before, so let's go over some of my favorites:

The White Wind I did really like this idea, and I still do, but to be perfectly honest, I like it so much I'm afraid I wouldn't do it justice in three weeks. That's not a great reason not to do it, so it's still high on the list, but I am going to look at other options.

To Live For This is another idea I really like, but for whatever reason, it seems more attainable in three weeks time. It is a comedy, though, which I'm less experienced with, and a dark comedy at that, so I'd still be nervous about doing it in such a short time. Like, I know everything is going to be hurt by that, and if this is how I'm …

A Screenplay a Month

First off, I hate it when people do those "I'm back" posts, so this line is as much as you're getting.

So I heard this story (I think it's true, but who really cares) about a pottery class. The professor, as an experiment, split the class into two groups: one group would be graded at the end of the semester solely based on one pot. They could spend the entire semester working on just that one pot, making it as cool as possible.

The second group would be graded solely based on how many pots they'd made. Big or small, basic or decorated didn't matter; all that mattered was the number.

At the end of the semester, all of the best, most well designed, most intricate and most creative pots had been made by the second group. The moral of the story is kind of "practice makes perfect," but it's also kind of more than that: it's that no, really, practice makes perfect.