What Kind of Screenwriter Are You?

In my time of slack, I accumulated hundreds of emails that required at least a fleeting glance.  In my time of focus, I think I’ve cut that number down to about 60 that will require a slightly longer look-see.  Not too bad given the short amount of time dedicated in that direction.  During this time, I came across a personality quiz for screenwriters from Stephanie Palmer’s Good in a Room site.

writingmemeI feel like I know who I am as a writer.  I don’t outline much; I “generally” know where it’s going to go though, before I sit down.  I like happy endings, my characters are often sarcastic and they’re always do-gooders (the protagonists anyway), and because of my genre choice, I have some freedom to let my imagination run wild.  I listen to my characters.  I alternate between procrastination and binge.  I like to write some things by hand (my fanfiction has almost entirely been written by writermemehand, oddly enough), but the computer monitor allows me more space to “see” (hence, all my screenplays have been written via the modern age).  Plus I type much faster than my hand can write to keep up with my brain (which is why some of my fanfiction looks like chicken scrawl).

I realize that my style of writing will some times write me into corners, but often ideamemetimes, I discover alternate paths and ideas that I never would have seen had I not allowed my story to just unfold.  I have literally found myself astounded with what I’ve unearthed this way.

So I wasn’t surprised by my results upon taking the quiz – Gardener Heartwarmer.  Even the name sounds right.  Here are some of the highlights from the break down:

  • You are good at generating new ideas and following them courageously wherever they lead. You work best when they have the time and the confidence to allow their creativity to spring forth without judgement.
  • You combine new ideas in unusual ways and can make unexpected, quantum creative leaps. You also function well when ideas are in a murkier state – and this is often the case when a screenwriting project is in earlier stages of development.  You create strong, complex characters and stories which contain emotionally powerful moments – the cinematic moments we remember forever.
  • Drama requires conflict, and this means putting characters in the worst possible moments of their lives. This can actually be difficult for you because you are experiencing the emotional journey of your characters so poignantly.

And then there were a few helpful tips.  This one, in particular, struck me:

Your creative work is going to take you to some deep, dark places. Make sure you’re writing at the right time of day (or night) so that you have the freedom and the strength to go where you need to go.

I used to like to write at night, when the world grew quiet.  The Sis would be asleep with the furkids snuggled up beside her, my phone was silent, and there was less likely to be something to sidetrack me because The Sis was asleep and I didn’t want to disturb her.  I’ve been trying to write during the day, and I find too many distractions.  I need to get back to the old routine, where I can be more productive.

So, are you ready to learn how well you know yourself as a screenwriter?  Take the quick, six question quiz here.  Share your results below.

Writing Prompt #109

I can’t believe I haven’t shared a Writing Prompt since last April.  Dreadful.

In that continuing effort to shift my focus (which apparently has been askew for a while now), I’m getting back to routine.  It took some effort to find an image that spoke to me.  I looked at Pinterest, and wasted some time, for a few days (not full days or anything) until this one finally appeared.victoriansI’d like to start up the Writing Prompt Challenge again.

The purpose: To give us a break from our “regular” writing.  I use them as a stream of consciousness style writing to offer me some freedom from my fine-tooth-comb style of screenwriting.  I write for 30 minutes or less, don’t plan, and don’t edit.  I call them “flash fictions”.

The rules: They’re simple – write something and share the link in the comments, or tag my page on yours so I can find it.  If you don’t have your own page, feel free to share your creation in the comments, and in the next two weeks I’ll share them all in a post I call “Writing Prompt Challenge Accepted”.

Are you feeling inspired?  Are you up for the challenge?

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

Today’s quote is continuing in the theme of goal setting from my last post.

sacrifice

When I thought on this for just a few seconds, I didn’t care for the feeling, meaning I had already been sacrificing what it is I really want for myself.  I need to hang this on my wall.

What are you willing to give up to achieve your goals?

2019 Goals

set and reach goal conceptAt the beginning of every year we each decide what we’d like to accomplish, what we want to change.  The dreaded New Year’s Resolution – gyms are overcrowded for a month, a flurry of spending happens while we’re excited for a new hobby, mentally we prepare for the first of the year as if it were a magic reset button, but usually it’s all in vain.  We say things like, “This year, it will all be different.”  “Kiss last year goodbye and say hello to the new one and all the newness that comes with it.”  We set goals, we make resolutions, only to lose momentum a fraction of the way through the year.

Some years are better than others, but it’s because of this I’ve never been one to make resolutions.  The looming (potential) failure.  And I don’t like the feeling.  The reflection at the end of the year at how little I accomplished.  It’s not that we’re lazy, I think it’s just that we lose passion or focus and the reason why we wanted whatever “it” was to begin with amidst the chaos that makes up our daily lives.  An elusive goal with a slow payoff will usually take a back burner to the things that require immediate attention.

Maybe it has something to do with that mid-life crisis I talked about previously, but I’ve started to make some changes by redirecting my focus.  Side note, I did cut my hair off, and it’s kind of fun and different.  I’m not sure how long it’ll last just due to the sheer amount of work it requires but at least I was finally brave enough to try.  Last year I let a lot of things slide.  I let my focus shift to unimportant things, things that didn’t require the value I placed on them, and the year passed with little to show for it…again.

Price

It’s probably a good thing I didn’t make any resolutions. 😉

I like my day job (most days), but I realized I’m giving it too much attention.  I allowed it to gain too much space in my life, and for something I don’t want to do long term, I needed to shift my focus.  Coming home feeling tired, both physically and mentally, causes me to waste the number of hours I have left in my day to accomplish more.  Reading, writing, watching a movie – there have been too many days when none of those have happened. 

EveryNewDaySo, nearing the end of 2018 I started to reevaluate my situation, and like serendipity my general manager gave me a book, “The Coffee Break Screenwriter” by Pilar Alessandra and a tee-shirt that says screenwriter for Christmas.  

I think it was the the push I needed, and I have thanked him again since the holidays because I’m over half way through the book and I’ve already had some ideas about one of my scripts that needs a rewrite, I submitted my pilot to a competition, and I’m planning on attending my first ever screenwriter’s summit.  I’ve watched at least one new movie a week, I’m reading more, and I’ve decided to do the thing I fear – write down my goals.  It’s my hope that visualizing what I’d like to accomplish, in addition to having some sort of accountability, may help me actually reach them.

Discipline

I’m one for lists, so by creating a path to accomplish said goals, I may find it easier to navigate throughout the year when I start to wane or lose focus.  In the past I wrote about finding external deadlines to help in goal setting.  This was not my genius idea but one I had come across from a number of sources.  It’s one thing to say I’d like to rewrite my script by such and such a date, but having a competition to submit to with a hard deadline will definitely add the pressure, so I’m finding those as well.  

It’s about using my time wisely.  More wisely.  Finding the balance between the day job and the dream job, family, other interests, and the mundane will take some effort.  So here’s to a new year and the newness that comes with it. 😉  

How do you plan to achieve your goals this year?  Want to help each other be accountable?  Share your goal and let’s have regular check-ins to make it happen!

Breaking Down the Dragon Age 4 Teaser Trailer

With the announcement, finally, that there would, in fact, be a Dragon Age 4, fans everywhere sighed with relief.  At least there was confirmation, despite the few years’ wait for its release, and it gave fans hope.  Some have wondered how it was that I had nothing to say about it.  Believe me, I was ecstatic at the news.  As you may have noticed with my limited posts this year, I’ve continued to be busy.

By the way, hi!  Happy Holidays!

So about two weeks ago at the 2018 Game Awards, Bioware treated fans to the following teaser:

To the casual observer, or non-DA fan, it doesn’t seem like much, but for the devoted, myself included, there are plenty of small details to analyze and get excited about.  Fan theories soon followed as each frame of the video was scrutinized, and I have done my best to avoid it all.  After all, I have my own theories.

The Dragon Age games have been amazing at connecting events and characters, history and lore to create an immense, immersive world, and this trailer I believe does that as well.  And while there are easter eggs galore, to explore each one would cause me to write a treatise, I’ll pick 3 topics to break down.

Let the wild speculation begin.

The Opening Image: It looks like a sunrise/sunset over mountains, which is a familiar landscape from Inquisition.  Since the events of the third game were left open ended (which is why fans always believed there would have to be a fourth installment, I mean we just got around to who Solas actually was), this image could be interpreted a couple of ways.  It could be symbolic – a sunrise is often considered a new beginning while a sunset is referred to as an ending.  With the fate of the world dependent on the success of Solas’ plan to return the elves to their former glory by tearing down the veil, a new beginning for some results in an ending for pretty much everyone else.  It could also be representative of a location of the next game.  Skyhold, the Inquisition’s base of operations, is located within the Frostbacks, and regardless of your choice at the end of Trespasser about what to do with the Inquisition, it’s unlikely the keep would have been abandoned, and therefore still an element to consider in the next installment.

The Idol: The camera continues to move across a number of connected pieces – a skull, the pained face of, what looks like, Andraste – evident by the crown upon her head – and then red veins creeping upward.  As the camera pulls back to take in the whole of the twisted idol, fans are offered an “ah-ha” moment that harkens us back to the days of Dragon Age 2.  The red lyrium idol found in a primeval thaig that caused people to go insane is the same idol shown here.  In DA2 just a shard from the idol caused Bartrand, Varric’s brother to do unspeakable things.  What remained of the idol was repurposed into Commander Meredith’s sword, so we know that idol no longer exists, so why show us the idol at all?

Red lyrium was a major factor in Inquisition; the source of it and its effects were explored at length (finding it growing out of people was horrifying), so it’s a good guess that red lyrium, and the images represented within the idol will play a role in DA4.  Andraste is the founder of the Chantry, and one of your companions from Inquisition is now Divine.  Red lyrium in small, measured doses offers superhuman abilities, and is considered an anti-magic substance, and with the tenuous peace between mages and templars, perhaps by using red lyrium, those against mages will try to finally rid Thedas of magic.

The red veins also reminded me of blood magic, a much frowned upon use of magic in Thedas, with exception in the Tevinter Imperium.  With the Inquisitor thrusting a dagger into the mapped region of Tevinter at the end of Trespasser, it’s also possible that the story of DA4 will finally take us there, to not only explore this other world and the magical freedoms and politics associated, but also to see our old friend, Dorian again.  If you remember, he was part of a group looking to reform Tevinter, and we can be sure there are many opposed to the idea.  And powerful mages going head to head definitely sounds like at least a side quest with perhaps another excuse to use red lyrium?

The Mural: The camera draws back further and a painting appears behind the idol; one that resembles artwork Solas once painted upon the walls in his space within Skyhold.  The Dread Wolf appears on one side, the idol remains in the middle, and an elf stands in opposition.  At first glance, I thought it might be Solas warring with himself, but upon closer inspection, the elf is white haired surrounded by fire.  What we learned about Solas aka Fen’Harel during Trespasser was that he’s considered a god, and not just any god but the one that created the veil and tricked the other gods, trapping them behind it.

My guess?  It’s another Evanuris, the god-like Elgar’nan finally released from his captivity.  Known as the all-father and god of vengeance, whose symbol is associated with fire, wouldn’t he be the most logical choice to seek revenge upon Solas?  With the idol between them, the theory that red lyrium could play a major part in DA4, possibly swaying the outcome, feels like an understatement.

I lied.  I can’t end this without talking about…

The Words: And then finally, Solas speaks.  “So, you found me at last.  I suppose you have questions.”  Each game in Dragon Age has a new protagonist, and because of the spoken words in the trailer, words that echo those already spoken to the Inquisitor during Trespasser, I believe we’ll be playing as yet another new protagonist in search of Fen’Harel…among other things.  My reasoning, while I’d love to see my Warden again, that’s a dissertation for another day, is because Solas’ words feel as if he’s speaking to someone he doesn’t personally know.  While Solas will most likely be aware of this new protagonist, they will be searching for him after all, they probably won’t meet until these fateful words are spoken.

And then the teaser ends with #TheDreadWolfRises. ((chills)) Boom!  It’s all about Solas.  I may have squealed a bit. Many fans have a love/hate relationship with Solas, but I find him interesting and the possibilities are so exciting!

A new Dragon Age is on the way!  Eek!  Sorry.  I can’t help it.

Oh, there’s so much more to talk about, and this is already much longer than intended because you know I can talk Dragon Age all day long, but I’d like to hear your thoughts.  Are you excited about what DA4 has in store?  Do you agree or disagree with any of my theories?  What did you see in the teaser?  Let’s chat!

I Think I’m Having a Midlife Crisis

MidLifeCrisisThe next birthday is still a little ways off, and while I’m not that uncomfortable with the number itself, I am a little with the lack of achievement thus far.  I’ve been having a number of thoughts that really only lead to one conclusion…I must be in the midst of my midlife crisis.

No, I’m not compelled to buy a sports car or start something with a piece of eye candy half my age, although I’m not opposed to either, 😉 SnoopyMidLifebut I have been thinking a lot about spirituality, my purpose, and vainly, my legacy.

I also want to cut off all my hair and do something I’ve always been too afraid to do, I want to buy a house, stop hoarding boxes in anticipation of yet another move, paint the walls and make the space my own, and at the same time I want to run away and see the world because I’m not completely weighed down by responsibility.

Maybe some of this has to do with the fact that suddenly because I have insurance, my body had decided to fall apart.  My eyesight is getting worse, I’m fairly certain I have rheumatoid arthritis, and I have tears in the plantar plates of my feet.  I mean, c’mon.

Sorry, back to the topic at hand.

I’ve been watching Joseph Campbell’s mini-series, “The Power of Myth” on Netflix, which I highly recommend to any writer, for the purpose of continuing my education.  I’ve been struggling with a mythologically infused screenplay’s third act for some time, and thought I might find inspiration by “taking a class” with the master. Campbell is known for his books, The Hero with a Thousand Faces and The Hero’s Journey, in which he discusses the history of storytelling and the evolution of myths in cultures around the world.

Some of his comments relate to various religions, and even before watching the series, I had been entertaining the idea of studying different theologies more in-depth to not only have a better understanding of them, but to also open my mind up to the possibilities.  I write stories of fantasy; a genre that allows a writer to explore real world topics in an alternate setting, and knowing more of the world can only enhance one’s writing.

Which then led me to rethink my purpose.  I want to be a writer.  Let me rephrase that.  I want to be a professional writer, and yet I have been doing very little to cultivate that goal.  My day job is getting in the way, and slowly, as time is passing, I’ve found that I’m liking it less and less.  Another sign I think I’m amidst the “mid-life”.  I was fairly content, not that long ago, but I’ve been rethinking the hours, which are erratic, and what it is I’m doing with the bulk of my day.  To sum it up, I help people party and ensure their celebration in our venue goes smoothly.  What?!  I don’t even like people.

These thoughts then led to my legacy, and what I would leave behind should my time run short.  Yeah, I’ve been having those thoughts too.  The Sis works for the Coroner’s office, so death is a common subject in our house.  And then someone we both admired, someone, despite his advanced years, a person we hoped to meet, passed away.  Stan Lee.  Seeing the outpouring of affection for not just him, but the legacy he created, struck a chord in me.  Vanity reared its head – I want to be remembered.

Is that so wrong?

I want to create characters that people will admire, and make fanvids about.  I want people to ship my characters, and tattoo my symbols on their bodies.  I want to create worlds that will long survive me and be studied in film classes for years to come.

It’s pure vanity, but I realized that with age comes the confidence to be honest.  At least for me.  I haven’t always had this, and often times I was afraid to say exactly what I wanted for fear of the reaction, but f*ck it.  If I can’t be brave in my own post, where will I be?

Now, I’m not saying I want to be famous.  Visit any social media site and you’ll find that I don’t use my own likeness for the profile picture, but the truth is, I want my life to have meaning, and for me that’s through my work, my writing.

I’m tired of telling people I’m a writer, then being asked if I’ve published anything, because how can I call myself a writer without some accolade, so I have to rephrase and tell them I’m a screenwriter, so publishing doesn’t work the same way, and so I get that pity look, like, you’re over 40 and you think you’re still going to achieve your dream?! which then makes me angry and productive for about a week because I’m going to show them, and then the momentum diminishes and here I am, over 40 and angry anew that I haven’t accomplished what I intended for myself.

MidLifeRecreation

No wonder I’ve been escaping into video games.  I’d like to say it’s the measurable progress, but that’s not entirely true.  There’s so much involved on a hero’s journey that is lacking in my own life, and so, during the last couple of weeks I’ve had an interesting internal dialogue.

I’ve been reevaluating all my writing, I’ve been creating a bucket list, and I’ve come to some conclusions.  One being that maybe this whole “midlife crisis” thing doesn’t have to be a negative.  If I’m feeling the impulse to make changes, move forward, and get off my ass to actually work towards my goal, I should embrace it.  Like the picture says, it’s my midlife re-creation.

Watch out, world!

Rachael Goes on Vacation

IMG_1610Yes, you read that correctly.  In all my years updating my blog for posterity’s sake, I’ve never mentioned a vacation, and that’s because there hasn’t been one, in like 16 years.

And yes, you read that correctly as well.

With the new-ish job (that one I’ve been in for a little over a year now), I learned I got vacation pay.  What?!  I haven’t had that in ages, and it wasn’t even a thought it was available to me.  Side note, if I ever really paid attention to my paychecks, I would’ve seen the accumulated vacation time.  Second side note, I don’t consider little weekend or even week-long getaways to visit family or friends “vacation”.  Sometimes, that’s more work than work.  And remember last year, when The Sis and I went to LA to visit our family, and my new car got broken into and all our stuff was stolen…yeah, good times.

So I decided to spend some of the savings I had been hoarding like Smaug and treat myself to an actual getaway.

The Sis and I talked about where we’d like to go, what we’d like to do and see, and initially, our plans led us to Disney World in Florida.  But goodness is that an expensive trip.  And it sounded like too much work.  All that walking and being around people.  No.  I wanted peace and quiet and solitude and lethargy.

After a recommendation to look into Costco Travel we found what we were looking for…

Hello, Hawaii!  It’s been a while.

Yes, that is a lot of sunsets.  We watched it every night.  It was entrancing.  Because of the way we were situated on the island, we never saw a sunrise, although because of the time change, I was up with it almost every morning.  That was weird.  It also gave me an opportunity to watch a lot of random television.  I’m finally finishing The Office.

It was hot and humid most days, so we pretty much just floated in the ocean or the pool, had pina coladas for breakfast and mai tais for lunch.  We ate very little, because of the heat, so that saved on cost. 😉

We discovered at a neighboring hotel during an off-property excursion that we were actually staying at the same hotel we had stayed at 27 years before on a family vacation.  With my memory, and the fact that The Sis was only 4 then, it was understandable that we didn’t remember it.  In my defense, at least partially, the hotel had changed names.

So, a few things to note as a reminder to myself in the years to come – our rental car was an upgraded version of my current car (made it easy to drive), I wanted to bring home that itty bitty, teeny weeny gecko that visited our balcony, birds flocked to us as if we were Snow White, we saw endangered green sea turtles (there was a reserved spot on the beach for them to rest), a large manta ray, 16th century petroglyphs (the last photo above), and finally it was on this trip that an attempt to eat fish, because, hello, we’re in Hawaii, finally made me turn a corner from a sometime pescatarian to a full on vegetarian because that fish did not like me.

It was a nice getaway, long overdue and not long enough.  Nearly the moment we returned, I was thrown back into work, full force, and the vacation quickly became a distant memory.  So I guess the only way to get another “fix” is to plan another one, and not let so much time pass before we explore another amazing piece of this big world.

Aloha!

That Time I Chose to Become Rachael C Marek

RCM4yrsIt was a little over four years ago when The Sis and I had a conversation.

We were living in Los Angeles, and I had been struggling for nearly a year to find a job.  No exaggeration, I sent out over 250 resumés and only received three responses in return.

I was miserable.  And while writing should’ve given me some solace, I was too concerned about finding paying work, so every time I was on the computer, I felt guilty if I wasn’t doing that.

I barely wrote a word that year.  One of the main reasons for moving to LA – for me to become a professional writer – and I was failing, spectacularly.

It was then The Sis and I had “the talk”.

She was making good money at her job, and she had already been supporting us, so instead of continuing on in such a futile manner, the definition of insanity, I should change tactics and do what I was meant to – write.

It took a little time to become accustomed to the idea that I was being given free reign to follow my dreams, but I realized that I probably wouldn’t have another opportunity like that again, and so Rachael C Marek was born.

I wanted to create a pseudonym, but I still wanted it to be me.  My name really is Rachael (Hi!), and the C is the beginning of one of my middle names, but the Marek, well, that’s thanks to a character I identified with in a book.  It seemed appropriate.

The above reminder popped up last week and it gave me reason to pause.  Had it really been four years since that pivotal moment?!  It made me wonder what I had accomplished in all that time.  I have some writing to show for it.  I still have big dreams.  I still have stories to rewrite, even more to tell…and although I may still be some distance from fulfilling my goal of being a professional writer, I’m in a better place overall and I think that a big part of that started when The Sis encouraged me to become Rachael C Marek.

She deserves a BIG Thank You for years of support of every variety.

And then there’s all of you.  You’ve been welcoming and encouraging, and although I’ve never met you, and maybe never will, we’ve been a part of each other’s journeys, the ups and the downs, and such a community is important to the lowly/lonely writer, so thanks.

xx, Rach

Writing Prompt #108

Happy Writing Prompt Day!

It’s been a while since I posted a bit of inspiration, and today’s image struck me immediately.  That’s what I’m looking for when I choose an image for the day.

You come across this while walking along the beach, what does it say inside?

MessageInABottle

Don’t forget to share your creations, and Happy Writing!

Writing Prompt Challenge Accepted #23

Happy Wednesday!

First of all, I would like to thank and welcome my new followers!  I used to be much more active, but as life goes, there are only so many hours in a day.  I know.  Excuses.  Excuses.  On Wednesdays I used to regularly post Writing Prompts, and then (occasionally) I would post flash fiction pieces in response.  I’ve been otherwise occupied as of late, but I decided today I would revisit my old ways. 😉

I try to write in a stream of consciousness style – little forethought or editing.  Other than my fanfiction, which I write in a similar way, this is my only other “free from stress” writing.  My screenplays are written with such precision, that sometimes the fun of it is lost because every word has to be just right.

cottageHansel

He almost felt like a character from a fairytale. Wasn’t there one about kids following breadcrumbs? That’s what he had been doing for days, without even deciding to do it. He had entered the forest for a pleasant day’s walk amidst nature, but became compelled to seek this place out. He neither ate, nor slept. He could only walk.

The tiny house, surrounded by dark, still water and towering trees, despite its quaint nature, seemed oddly out of place. It was the only structure of its kind in the area; he hadn’t come across another in his travels. He was awash with tranquility, and yet, at the back of his mind, in the deepest recesses of his soul, he knew something was wrong, but he continued forward.

The dried leaves crunched under foot, alerting the lady of the house who appeared in the doorway like a shadow. She beckoned him, and he did as she commanded.

Tougher than the rest (campion)Oddly Familiar

Sadie had never been to New York City, but she imagined it must look something like this – buildings that extended to the sky, neon lights so bright it resembled day, and a limited view at what might lie beyond. Sadie enjoyed the mornings here; they were quiet, and the air smelled sweet, which seemed a contradiction all considering. Since this whole journey had begun, this was the only place they had visited that reminded her of Earth, and she found herself oddly comforted with just a hint of longing.

The strange winged creatures that slightly resembled birds were rather friendly and perched themselves upon her balcony. She spoke to them in hushed tones, whispering her secrets, her hopes, and her fears, like she used to with seashells she had found upon the beach. When they returned to her each morning, she found solace in the idea that perhaps they had carried away those thoughts and helped to lighten her burden; although not fighting harder to protect her sister was one she would never be free of, not until she found her.

~ * ~

If you’d like to create something from one of the 100+ Writing Prompts I’ve posted in the past, please be sure to either post a link to your page in the comments, or tag mine so I can see how you were inspired.

Happy Writing!