Quote Monday

I’m part of a writer’s group where I’ve seen members question whether or not they think readers will be interested in the subject matter they are writing. I’ve never, personally, understood this way of thinking.

We are our first reader.

We should be engaged by the characters and the world we’re creating. The stories we’re writing should be about topics we’re interested in and want to explore. If we’re not attracted to the idea, why would we waste the time? And if we’re not passionate, the story will read as such.

And if we are, the story will find an audience.

Chasing fads or trends in the tv/movie world is an effort in futility. By the time your story is written and read, the tide will have most likely already turned. This is why many experts suggest avoiding this way of thinking. If you’ve been inspired by the current state of entertainment, then by all means write the story, but write it because you want to, not because you think it’s what you should be.

C. S. Lewis Quote: “Write about what really interests you, whether it is  real things or imaginary things, and nothing else.” (12 wallpapers) -  Quotefancy

This all boils down to finding your voice, and C.S. Lewis said it best. Writing is already a bit of an uphill grind so we should do what we can to ensure that we enjoy the journey – by writing about what you want.

Happy Writing! 😉

How to Write a TV Pilot

Writing a teleplay is quite a bit different from writing a feature…or so I’m learning. With the ever expanding television market in need of fresh content, a screenwriter looking to break in must have a well rounded portfolio.

I hadn’t really given writing for TV much attention prior to the new “golden age” because none of the story ideas I had felt like they could be sustained for multiple episodes over multiple seasons. That was until The Demeter, my sci-fi/space/family drama. As I dug in and got to know my characters and the new world(s) I was creating, the more I realized it could not be contained to a single film, or even two.

I suppose that’s a good measuring stick for a story’s place and purpose.

So I gave my idea a go and wrote a pilot.

After what I was hoping would be my last rewrite, I asked one of my AFF friends to give it a read and offer some feedback*, and goodness, did she deliver. The most useful note I received was that my protagonist had become passive halfway through the script.

I did not see this. And this is why it’s useful to get an outside perspective.

There are a lot of points to hit in any screenplay but in a pilot, it needs to happen quickly. You not only need to introduce your characters, the world, the plot, your voice, where the story is going to go, and your characters’ desires but you also need to do all this in anywhere from 30 to 60 pages. Roughly.

And all while making it unique and interesting and coherent.

When you write a feature you still have all the same boxes to tick but without the need to sustain the story long term, the information given is precisely chosen, and therefore the story is streamlined.

Among the feedback, my friend also sent me this graphic from writer, David Steinberg which is both helpful and maddening.

According to the graphic, there are 10 things your pilot must do or set up in addition to some of what I listed above. Take one of your favorite tv shows and compare the pilot to these necessary elements. Does it hold up? Is anything missing? In light of these elements, or lack thereof, are any of these the reason you tuned in each week?

If you’ve been considering writing a pilot, and you find yourself overwhelmed by all of this information, don’t be put off, like I was initially. Discovering my protagonist had stopped being proactive makes a major rewrite the inevitable next step, and while a crushing blow, a necessity. This is why rewrites are considered the actual writing. They fine tune and make us aware of what’s needed to create a well rounded, compelling story.

I’ll have more tips on this topic in the coming weeks, but if you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to ask!

Happy Writing!

*With any feedback, it’s important to note that you should take it with a grain of salt, at least until people are paying you for your work. And then you may have to pick your battles. Your story is yours, and while feedback is helpful, pick and choose what best serves your story.

Quote Monday

I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself this year. Having quit my job a year ago, I had grand plans for how I was going to handle the few months I was giving myself before The Sis and I moved and we started our lives in a new town. Fast forward to nearly a year in a pandemic, and the pressure has only grown more intense.

If I was not going to go back to work, as we were teetering on the constant see-saw of should we/shouldn’t we move, then I better have something to show for all the time I had been given. After a number of false starts, blindly staring at a computer screen job and house hunting, writing easy-out blog posts, finding busy work to distract, and using a number of other excuses, the months passed and I was no closer to accomplishing any of the goals I had set for myself.

It’s not as if my goals were so lofty that they were unattainable, but not using my time better, because I was trying to do too many things each day, consistently left me feeling bad about myself and perpetuated the unmotivated side that used excuses for the lack of progress rather than confronting the fact that what I was doing everyday was the definition of insanity.

It has taken some time, but I have come to the conclusion that I need to format my time differently. The old writer’s adage “Write Every Day” has stressed me out, so much so that I’m lucky if I’m able to write even once a week.

A sad state of affairs.

I have chosen to create a weekly schedule that allows me to write on certain days and utilize the other days to accomplish the other tasks I want or that I defer to to distract me. It sounds so simple and yet it has taken me all this time to discover it. Instead of trying to do everything everyday, I’ll do at least one thing each day and make incremental progress on each. This way I don’t feel guilty on Tuesday for not writing because I’m supposed to be working on my Etsy shop. I will have written on Monday and will again on Wednesday.

Is this the right course of action? I don’t know yet. But I’m looking forward to finding out.

How do you schedule your time to ensure you accomplish all that you want to do?

Writing Prompt #119

I’m enthralled with this image. The ruins, the color of the sky…I knew immediately that it would be today’s writing prompt.

"Belchite Night" Carlos Santero

I hope you’ll join me in this week’s challenge. I’m excited to see what you create!

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

This weekend was strange, emotionally. Our upstairs shower has had a leak that finally made itself known by pouring through to the garage below. Something about this struck a chord in me, and I lost all momentum for a few days.

It was compounded by an emotional downward spiral I found myself in. And I’m not exactly sure why. I’m journaling to try to discover the root of the melancholy.

So when I saw today’s quote, it rang so true that I thought, if I needed to hear it, maybe others did too.

32 Utterly Fantastic Inspirational Quotes -

Some things are out of our control, especially this year, and while things may not be going according to plan, we can trust that, eventually all will be set to right. ((crosses fingers))

Writing Prompt #117

I like the muted tones of this image. It has an old world quality about it, and I was immediately struck to share it.

The writing prompts have been a wonderful exercise in experimenting with different writing styles and ideas. When I choose to actually follow through. I generally free write, or what I like to call writing “flash fiction”. It’s basically the same thing, I just wanted a more interesting name. And they get me out of my head for a little while, again, when I follow through with the challenge. I’ve written poetry, played with idea of sounds, found pieces that inspire my screenwriting, and the prompts started me down the long, winding path of writing fan fiction. I’m hovering around 135K words right now.

So join me in this week’s Writing Prompt Challenge. Create something and then share it! Free write. Write without any expectations. Create something new or let it help you to rewrite a piece you’ve been struggling with. Whatever you choose, I’d be delighted to see it and share it here too (with your permission, of course)!

Happy Writing!

Quote of the Week

Be proud of your journey!  #skinnyms #transformation #enewsletter

After reading my post about reflecting on the Austin Film Festival a year later, some of my friends said I was being too hard on myself.

It’s easy to be hard on ourselves. We’re usually our own harshest critic. I’ve long had an on-again off-again relationship with my feelings of self worth. Bad decisions are a part of life, no matter their size, and I often wonder if a certain decision here or there altered my path because I have a bad habit of comparing my current situation to where, ideally, I think I should be by now.

As positive as I try to be, I stumble occasionally. It’s hard not to see the goal in sight and maintain the momentum and positivity, but the creative path is a challenging one – one I embraced long ago, as many of you have as well – and so while we may suffer in our pursuit, we know why we do.

When I shared with a friend that I was reworking an entire act of one of my screenplays, he was in awe of my ability to do something like that. I was surprised by the reaction because I didn’t think it was awe inspiring. I am a writer. It’s what I do. It’s how I identify no matter what else I may be doing. And in that moment, I found a twinkle of pride.

I am a writer.

I may struggle with my writing from time to time but it is my calling, and I have to get out of the mindset that it doesn’t have value until others think it does, and that any small step towards accomplishing my goal is not worth being proud of.

So let’s take a moment to celebrate our hard work. No matter where we are on our journey, we’ve come a long way from where we started, and we should be proud of that.

A writer’s group I’m a part of does weekly check-ins of progress, and I’d like to try that here. I’d be delighted if you’d share a proud moment in your writing. Was there something you accomplished this week that you’d like to share? Let’s support one another!

Happy Writing!

The 2020 “One Movie a Week” Challenge Part I

I’m a little behind this year. By nearly 3 months = 12 movies. Eek! We’ve been watching more television and a lot of home renovation/home buying shows because we’re ready to settle down and call a place home.

Sometimes I’ve thrown on something mindless…because it’s 2020. Don’t judge me. We didn’t start out avoiding drama and the like, but too much seriousness left us feeling emotional in an already emotionally strung out existence, so we tried to find more casual, fun type fare on occasion, but that means we’ve watched a lot of subpar movies.

I’m going to use a simple ABC rating system and not review them individually this time. The letter grade should offer enough insight as to my feelings.

  1. Alita: Battle AngelA
  2. MoanaA
  3. To All the Boys I’ve Loved BeforeB
  4. Kissing BoothD
  5. Falling Inn LoveC
  6. Toy Story 4B
  7. Inside OutA
  8. Frozen IIC
  9. Into the SpiderverseA
  10. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before 2C
  11. Hobbs and ShawC
  12. AnnaB
  13. ProspectB
  14. Mission: Impossible – FalloutC
  15. Tron: LegacyC
  16. Bird BoxD
  17. Midnight SpecialB
  18. The PlatformC
  19. AniaraD
  20. The Old GuardB
  21. BumblebeeC
  22. The Big SickC
  23. The Half of ItB
  24. Knives OutB
  25. Jojo RabbitA
  26. VenomC
  27. Enola HolmesB
  28. UsC
  29. Men in Black: InternationalC
  30. The Amazing SpidermanC
  31. LovebirdsB
  32. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesC
  33. Hocus PocusC (This one is sort of a cheat as I have seen it before but not since its release. I barely remembered any of it, and it does not hold up.)

As it’s now the end of October, and the last few months have felt like an eternity, some of these viewings are a little blurry at this point but I’m fairly secure in these ratings.

I would love some suggestions for the remainder of the year. What movies have you enjoyed?

Reflecting on AFF One Year Later

Austin Film Festival - FilmFreeway

Last year at this time I was preparing to head off to the Austin Film Festival Screenwriter’s Conference. My first (and only) time at any such event. I had finally chosen to invest in myself, and I was so excited at the prospect.

I had no real idea of what to expect.

It was more than I imagined. A year later and I’m still beyond delighted I chose to go. I was surrounded by like-minded individuals. I was listening to professionals offer sage advice and found the common thread that united us all. We were creatives. I was invigorated and inspired, and made the decision to quit my exhausting-body wrecking-causing-me-to-drink job on the second night. I did my best to get out of my comfort zone and walk up to strangers to start conversations knowing the purpose of my attendance was to meet other writers. And I did.

And one year later, many of them are doing amazing things.

And I…am envious.

I had big plans after the conference. I did indeed quit my job. Upon my return home, I gave notice and it was like a weight was immediately lifted. The Sis and I began talking about a move because Las Vegas was only meant to be temporary and it had been 5 years. I started to formulate a plan for, not only my writing goals, but also my life goals. Things were looking up.

We visited Washington state in March as a research trip for the move just as the first cases of the virus made their appearance. And it went downhill from there.

I was suddenly frozen. The uncertainty of it all…I was at a loss of how to proceed. In those early months, thinking about writing, of being creative was nearly impossible. I couldn’t even bring myself to write a blog post to commiserate.

I was in awe of those people who were going about their “business as usual”. That mentality escaped me, for a long time. I could barely find comfort or escape in a film, and have found myself way behind in my “One Movie a Week Challenge”. I never expected to be so affected by anxiety. Thankfully, in all this, I discovered yoga.

Then there’s the political stage.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to see the news and feel a sense of relief instead of all this?!

So here I am. A year after one of the most inspiring, motivating weekends in my life, and am no better for it. One friend is waiting to hear back on a directing fellowship for her short. One is meeting with a producer for her unique script. One is winning competitions and shooting a script. One is currently directing her project, pitching other ideas while on set, and winning awards.

I am absolutely thrilled for them all! It is inspiring to know these women as they make their way in the industry. And these are also the people I am in awe of. While I found myself almost paralyzed by indecision and the external constraints, they endured.

When it became clear that there was no immediate relief in sight, and after reading a poorly written published novel, I got off my ass and started to write. It’s been slow, but the spark is there. I realized, finally, that no matter what was happening outside, I am miserable and without purpose when I’m not pursuing my dream. I have had too many gaps in my life of not writing and focusing on irrelevant things, and I always regret those times. Time wasted.

Photo by Jordan Benton on Pexels.com

The older I get, the more I understand how precious time truly is. Should I fail to succeed in the pursuit of my dream of becoming a professional writer, I’m not sure how that will feel in the end. I don’t like the way it feels now.

So, it’s taken nearly a year to come back to the realization, but here I am. I’m grateful to those at AFF who gave me so many opportunities to meet the fearless women I now call my friends. I wish them every success, and hope to count my own among theirs soon.