What To Do In The In-Between Time

IdeaLightBulb(jeffbullassite)Draft after draft.  Rewrite after rewrite.  Sometimes it feels like all we’re doing is writing in circles.

When you need a break from your beloved, it’s hard to decide what to do in that downtime.  I know I’m usually at a loss.  I try to find a new story idea, or consider rewriting one of my other screenplays, but sometimes you just need to do different work for the same story.

Bang2Write is a great resource for writers, and if you aren’t subscribing to Lucy V Hay’s site, as a screenwriter I would recommend it.  I have found loads of truly useful information, like the following – 7 Useful Things You Can Do Between Drafts.

Using my sci-fi pilot, The Demeter as an example, I’ll go through the steps and show you what I’m thinking about in my own downtime.

  1. Compare/Contrast to “Like” stories – Like the Doctor of Doctor Who, I want my human protagonist to not hold any immediate prejudice because of what an alien might look like (although easier said than done. We humans scare easily.).  The video game Mass Effect inspired the idea behind the human/alien interactions and romance options.  It’s unlike shows such as Firefly because not all the characters are human and not all stories are about human problems.  Star Wars and Star Trek are obvious go-tos, but other than the military connection, which won’t be overly used until season 2, I want to stay away from any ideas influenced by either.
  2. Think it Over – The pilot needs to foreshadow more of the ideas I have for the first season.  In addition to a different opening scene, I need to show the “shady” nature of the ship’s captain so the viewer is unsure for some time whether or not he can be trusted.  Early feedback suggested I integrate an image of where the show “might” go aka Battlestar Galactica always showed Earth as the final destination.  Where do I want the show to go?
  3. Work on Craft – Feedback also recommended I adjust the pacing.  Determine the best course to improve this.
  4. Make Contacts – Besides social media…think outside the box on making contact with those in the industry – Meetups, retreats (within reason), writer’s groups?
  5. Feedback – Build relationships of give and take.  Giving feedback will help my writing as well.  Get back on Zoetrope.
  6. Submission Strategy – I’m already using a calendar to keep track of contest deadlines, but could be better arranged for the whole year.  FilmFreeway is a good resource to use more fully.  Get more than one script ready for submission.
  7. Nothing.  Relax…for a minute. 😉

I hope you find this information as useful as I did.  Happy Writing!

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It’s Submission Season!

submitHey fellow screenwriters!  Are you ready for another year of petrifying “submit” clicks?  Yep, it’s that most wonderful time of the year, again.

If you haven’t done the search for what deadlines are approaching, let me share what I’ve learned.  Here are 10 of the more prominent competitions:

The one I think all screenwriters dream of winning is the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship, which is for features only.  The early deadline is March 7 ($45).  I’d also recommend following them on Facebook as they share reader comments throughout the competition.  It’s always fun to wonder if that lovely review is about your work.

The Austin Film Festival is also garnering a reputation for its screenwriting competition in both feature (with the added perk of being genre specific) and teleplay (including specs) categories.  The early deadline is March 31 ($45).  You can follow them on Twitter.

PAGE International is already open and the regular deadline is fast approaching – February 17 ($49).  This is for features only, but they’ve also branched out into being genre specific as well.  They’re on both Facebook and Twitter if you’re interested in keeping up with the latest.

I entered my pilot in Scriptapalooza‘s TV competition, which reopens April 15, but the feature category, again, has been accepting since the beginning of the year.  The regular deadline is March 10 ($55).  You can follow them on both Facebook and Twitter, but they also have a mailing list that will keep you current.

I may have entered my pilot into this one, it’s all sort of a blur at the moment, so I have to double check.  How terrible is that?!  Script Pipeline offers a number of competitions to choose from, such as their First Look and Great Idea (both TV and feature) contests, in addition to the TV and feature competitions – which share the same date and fee for their early entry, March 1 ($50).  They also have a mailing list and are on all social media.

Finish Line is another competition that offers both feature and TV categories, and has received positive endorsement from the film community.  Their early deadline is, again, fast approaching – February 17 ($40), but if you’re like me, procrastinating on that final polish/rewrite, a more “reasonable” regular deadline is April 28 ($45).  You can follow them on Twitter.

Screencraft not only offers valuable information via their blog, they have a wonderful setup in their competition department – it’s genre specific!  The deadlines are scattered throughout the year, so I would highly recommend joining the mailing list to stay up to date.  Currently they are accepting submissions for Sci-fi and Fantasy features.  Early deadline is February 16 ($39).  They’re on all social media as well.

Final Draft just announced that they’ll be ready to accept submissions for 2017’s Big Break starting February 22.  They have both feature and TV categories, but the entry fee section has not been updated on their site yet (early fee last year was $40).  And of course, they’re on all social media too.

BlueCat is another site I recommend following for their useful advice via their blog, in addition to their newsletter and social media accounts.  Their competition is open for features, shorts, TV, and plays.  The early deadline is March 1 and fees vary depending on the entry. Features – $45  Shorts – $35  Pilots – $40  Plays – $30

Finally, there is the Sundance Institute‘s Screenwriters Lab which is not open yet for submissions for 2018, but if you have a script that is Sundance Film Festival material, get it ready!  Last year the application period was from March 15 – May 3.  I would love to take part in the Lab, but sadly, I don’t think any of my material is small budget. 😉

So get those screenplays “submission season ready” and let’s go after our dreams!  Happy Writing!

A Little Shameless Self-Promotion

AllAboutMeBunnyHappy Wednesday!

I’m breaking from the norm because it’s technically my Saturday and I’m feeling a little lazy after a hard week, and because I received my final rejection from this year’s round of submissions, ((sigh)) so I’m moping, just a bit.

I was going to post a Writing Prompt, but nothing quite struck me today, so instead, I thought I’d do a little self-promotion and hopefully find new ways to connect with all of you and find interesting new sites, creative resources, etc.  I’m also hoping it will make me seek more things out in order to be useful and resourceful myself.

The following is a list of social media sites and the like and how I currently use them.  I’m open to suggestions on how to utilize them better or any others you would like to recommend.

I use Facebook as a means of sharing quotes (y’all know how I love me a quote) and any helpful writing tips, submission deadlines, or other writing related info I come across.

I started out using Twitter as a means of connecting with other screenwriters and people in the industry, but at the moment, I really use it to just geek out. I share Dragon Age and other gaming related topics of interest, Captain America, Doctor Who, Star Wars, etc. and the occasional screenwriting tidbit.

By now I’m sure you’re all aware of my Pinterest fixation.  I currently have 34 boards (and counting) that include everything from writing to cosplay to castles to fandoms and so much more.

For screenwriters and industry people, Stage 32 is an organization for networking, promotion, and employment I’m a part of, although I haven’t utilized it to its fullest.

I recently joined Wattpad, but am unsure of how I want to utilize it so far.  I was thinking about uploading my fanfic(s) and maybe my flash fiction pieces to get a little feedback…are any of you using this site?  Do you have any tips?  Do you like it?

I’m planning on updating my YouTube channel to offer more/better playlists you can write to, so stay tuned for that.

If you decide to connect with me on any of these, please send me a message that you’re a fellow blogger, and I’ll be sure to follow you as well!

Wishing you all the best in your endeavors!

From Far Away It’s Okay, But Up Close It’s A Big Ol’ Mess

Write&LiveI was a little absent this week.  I had a bit going on, had let some things slide then had to play catch up, and now it’s Friday.  I have a few things to share, so I’m going to lump them in this post, and then post this week’s Writing Prompt separately.  Yep, I’m behind…

I had fallen into a little bit of a rut the past couple of weeks, and on Sunday, despite protests from my sister, took her to Downtown Disney for a little getaway.  Disneyland is our happy place, and since we got our little pups (2 years ago now), we haven’t had an opportunity to go because they have little bladders and can’t be left for too long.  That’s going to change.  I realized walking amidst the throng of people how much I missed it, even if we were only Disneyland adjacent.  Lego had put up a couple of new displays that made me squeal like the girl I am.IMG_1124  *Excuse the lighting, my iPhone camera sucks in the dark.  But yes, that is Maleficent the dragon fighting Prince Philip.  There was also Beauty and the Beast.  Again, insert squeal.

And I also got to see Lady Gaga this week, so there’s that. 🙂

So here are the things I’d like to share:

1. Bang2Write is offering free downloads.  Although primarily for screenwriters, there are a couple of downloads that would prove useful to all writers.

2. There was this funny post about “You know you’re a writer when…” #17, #22, and #29 all made me laugh aloud.

3. I came across this interesting article regarding Writer’s Block from Chuck Wendig.

I have more, but I’ll leave them for another day. 😉  And yes, that is a Clueless reference in the title.  I felt that the jumble that is this post was deserving of such.

Happy Friday!  Have a wonderful weekend!

My Favorite New Thing

Obsessed:Dedicated

I have quickly come to a discovery…I love fanfic!  Layman’s terms – stories inspired by fictional characters and worlds.  If you’ve been following my progress at my own attempt at a Dragon Age inspired story, which I have much grander ideas for now, you’ll understand that this was always the next logical progression, but I didn’t know it.  How did I not know this?!  Thanks to The Collective, I have been put on the path of my newest obsession…as if my Dragon Age one could use any more fuel.

Archive of Our Own is a website dedicated to fan fiction.  The site currently represents nearly 16,000 fandoms with almost 1.2 million works.  There is literally something for everyone.  I was initially turned onto the site via a Captain America story, but after perusing the list of other fandoms, I’m in trouble.  Forewarning – read the tags!  Some stories include sexual content, violence, and other adult themes, so some stories are not for the faint of heart.  The Captain America story was unlike anything I had ever read, and I blushed, often.  Still am.

Besides Dragon Age, which I am so excited about, I found a mashup of Alias, Captain America, and SHIELD.  The author has only written a few chapters, but the idea for this particular story was so intriguing…I can’t wait to read what else she has in store for these characters.  And I’m just getting started.  So if you’re looking for something to feed the flames of your own obsession, your current shipping (interest in the ongoing development of romance in a work of fiction) fascination, or what-have-you in the regards to the fictional world, this might be the place for you too.

Happy Reading!

 

Caution: A Fairly Happy But Ranty Writer Ahead

Happy Wednesday!

BrecilianForestCave

Here’s a little update:

Last week I received my first link to a story inspired by one of my writing prompts.  I was so excited!  Please give the wonderfully vivid Things Best Left Forgotten by redgypsophila a read and offer feedback, and let’s start building! 🙂

Moving forward, I’ve started to have a few ideas of what I’d like to do in order to “build” this community.  I’ve felt a little brain dead the last few days though, so it may be slow going.  I blame all the new social media outlets I’ve been exploring.

I joined Twitter (my handle is @RachaelCMarek).  Now that I’ve (slightly) got my bearings…I’d like to use this specifically as a resource, so if you have any tips on how to use it wisely, or can suggest people to follow that might be beneficial to writers, please, please, please share in the comments.

Then I signed up for Tumblr.  I didn’t realize it was another blog, so that one will probably fade into obscurity, but I wasted a whole lot of time the other day…

I added a link to my YouTube page that I’m trying to build with the writer in mind.  I’m trying to create “music to write to” playlists.  This will be a work in progress, but if you’re like me and like to write to music, you may find a few new things.

And as if you needed one more thing, I saw a post about a blogging resource called Quora.  This link is the article via The Write Life.  Is anyone using this yet?  Is it worth it?

Is all this other nonsense really required to be a writer…??  Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Instagram, Pinterest, blah blah blah.  Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoy some of these services (some much more than others); it’s a way for me to stay connected, keep in the know, learn new things, etc, but A) It’s too time consuming to maintain so many outlets. B) It’s too easy to waste inordinate amounts of time. And C) Why?  This is not how it used to be, not even a couple of years ago.  Yes, there are hints of bitterness laced with mind-numbing exhaustion.  I take full responsibility for time wasted the last couple of weeks.

As for actual writing…I spoke to some of my new writer friends who helped me gain some perspective.  I decided against the massive rewrite, as it would change the story completely, and am going to try to find the issue in Act I that is affecting Act III.  I have been all over the place with this, and this might be one reason I’ve started to mentally check out.  So wish me luck.

Wishing you all a productive rest of the week!

A Writer’s Life

EditingVictory!  Last night I had a small breakthrough on the rewrite, and I am starting to fall in love again.  I know I’m not alone in feeling a little love loss when a story you’ve poured yourself into stops loving you back; the hours invested, the sleep lost, the tears, the borderline mental breakdown…I’ve complained about this one long enough, and I don’t like the feeling that a story and characters that once brought me such pleasure could turn out to be the bane of my current writing existence, especially when people, whose opinion I trust, tell me how much they like the story.  It makes me wonder if I’m thinking too much, trying too hard, or am afraid?

I know for a fact that I think too much.  I over-think everything.  But as writers, we all want our stories to be the best they can be.  So trying to think of every possible story thread or outcome is just part of the trade.  Wondering about every facet of the story is just what we do.  And I know I have to get out of my head, more often than I do.

As for trying too hard in relation to my writing, I don’t think such a thing exists.  In regards to becoming a writer, is there any other way?  I’m a new writer, and a woman, trying to make it in Hollywood, so what else am I going to do?  The Writers Guild recently released this article about the state of women in the industry, and it’s a little bleak.  In an already tough business, the uphill battle just got a little rockier it seems.  I need my stories to be compelling.  I want them to be recognized for what they are.  And I want the fact that I’m a woman to be irrelevant when looking at my scripts, although it will be clearly evident because I’m a bit of a feminist and I write for women primarily, but you know what I mean.  I am trying too hard because I want to succeed.

Then there’s the possibility of fear.  Fear is an enormous detriment to a writer.  If I’m honest, which I will be here, I don’t feel fear in regards to my writing.  I relish the blank page.  It’s an opportunity to create new worlds and escape into adventure.  I don’t fear endings.  Some times, after spending so long with certain characters, it’s hard to say goodbye, but I like the idea of moving forward and creating a body of work.  But there is one thing, the fear of success.  The unknown.  We get comfortable in the daily struggle, the routines we’ve created, and lives we’ve built around this dream.  This may seem strange, but all the years building up to the next stage in the journey makes me nervous at times.  Am I prepared?  I think, not just as writers, but as people, when we dream about something for so long, the idea of actually getting what we want can cause fear.

So, back to the breakthrough.  I decided to take a different approach to my writing and use some of the tools I’ve discovered along the way.  Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat (this is the link to the website and information, but there is a book too) is a great resource for screenwriters, but I think all writers could use some of the techniques to help their story.  Blake designed a checklist, all the components needed in a screenplay.  As my rewrite is an entire perspective shift, I’m changing protagonists, I needed to get into the head of the new lead character.  This is someone I know well, but until I sat down and started writing out her journey, all that time spent in my head was time wasted.  I can think on it all I want, that over-thinking thing I do, but until I sat down and physically worked out the details, I was never going to move forward.

Maybe there was a little fear, actually fear might be the wrong word, perhaps anxiety is better to refer to my feelings about this script and its necessary rewrite.  The love had slowly melted away under the constant scrutiny and struggle to get the third act right.  This is a story I have been working on for a long time, and when I had that light bulb moment to change the perspective, it was almost like I was writing a new story and I was afraid of what it might do to the original idea.  Maybe this is why I’ve been reluctant and dragging my feet to actually attempt the rewrite.  But like I said above, “fear is a detriment”, and I can’t let that hold me back from moving forward.  So, as I sat in my writer’s group last night working out the details, I had a glimmer of the love that drew me to write this story in the first place.  I made a mental decision to look at this new rewrite with a positive attitude, and I think that worked.  As I discussed the idea with a fellow writer later, I felt better and more hopeful with the idea.

So I throw this out to you my fellow writers…what obstacles do you have in your writer’s life?  How do you overcome them?  Or are they what drive you to succeed?

I wish you all the best in your endeavors!

Helpful Site: Write to Done

HelpfulTipsI was bouncing around the internet, instead of writing, because I was still enjoying my morning tea and didn’t quite have the brain capacity for anything beyond reading emails and Facebook statuses, and luckily, I found something of use amongst the nonsense, a website called Write to Done.  They offer a section for submitting material as a guest blogger (here are their guidelines), they have a free book, and over 200,000 monthly readers, so it might be worth a look-see.

Happy Sunday!

2 Writing Opportunities

While on the hunt for writing opportunities, I came across these and thought I’d share.

Collective Lifestyle | Apply to Become Writer – for you freelancers

&

ProLiFic – which looks like an interesting idea and maybe a way to get us to finish our work 😉

Good luck!

 

The Business of Rewriting

EditingAs I embark on yet another rewrite, and hopefully the last, on my first screenplay, I’ve been reviewing all the notes I’ve taken on rewriting (from books, articles, webinars) and thought I’d share a few things that should be relevant for all writers.  We’ve all heard it, and I’ve said it a time or two here, that all writing is rewriting.

First off, there should be a distinction made between editing and rewriting.  Editing is working with that final draft to make it great (and ready).  Rewriting is improving each element within your story; characters, dialogue, scenes, using the right words for impact, etc.  According to Dictionary.com – Editing means:

1. to supervise or direct the preparation of (a newspaper, magazine, book, etc.)
2. to collect, prepare, and arrange materials for publication
3. to revise or correct

Whereas Rewriting means:

1. to write in a different form or manner
2. to write again

So we will first rewrite, then edit.  Unless you’re like me, who loves to edit while they write.  Don’t follow my lead.  The first draft should be all the things you hope your story will be.  You should write it from the heart, because the subsequent drafts will be from the head.  The first draft should be free of restrictions, over-thinking, and self-censorship.  You should be carefree and wide-eyed, because it might be the last time you feel that way for the rest of this story.

One of the first lessons I learned in regards to rewriting is to remember “your vision”.  Sometimes while writing our vision gets lost.  Rewriting is the time to get reacquainted with it.  Remember why you wanted to tell this story.  Look for holes, problems with story or structure, forgotten characters (I did this once.  I had a character in the first half of a screenplay who I forgot to use later.  Oh yea, they must have been really interesting.), and logic.  Logic is one of my favorite rewriting techniques, “What would really happen?”  Trying to force a situation to get our characters where we want may make it read false.  How our characters (and people in general) would really respond in any situation is a great way to judge if our story is reading true, and might actually solve some problems we’ve run into.

I primarily write screenplays, so I have a lot of rewriting tips specifically designed for screenwriting which I can share in another post.  I wanted to keep this one a little more broad and offer some sites with helpful tips.  Many I’ve referred to myself.  LitReactor is great.  If you haven’t discovered them yet, take a look.  Use the search bar for editing or rewriting tips and you’ll come across articles like, How To Break Up With Your First DraftWriting Sentences With Impact, or 5 Steps to a Successful Digital Rewrite, in addition to a great many other articles.  The Write Life has articles about 25 Editing Tips, or Write Better Stories By Asking These Questions.  This may be part one in a series, because there is a lot of information out there.

So, if I find anything else, I’ll pass it along.  I hope you’re all having a great and productive week!