Quote Monday

So I happened upon my insights page and compared what I’ve done this year (so far) to the three years prior and the results are dismal. The first year I really took to blogging, I posted 164.  The next year, which saw a great increase of interaction with the outside world, I posted only 112.  Then last year, I posted 118.  Can you imagine with my lulls of inactivity where I might be sitting this year?

21.

Yep.  21 posts (now 22) in seven months.  ((sigh))  Wow.

If those are the results of my blogging, I don’t even want to know what that might mean for my writing.

I set goals for myself at the beginning of the year (last year had proven productive, for the most part), and I wanted to keep that enthusiasm going.  I’m now reevaluating those goals as I’m certain I’m going to fall short at the rate I’m crawling.

How did this happen?!

I may need to reevaluate a few other things as well.  I saw this quote and decided it may be the best way to get motivated again.

NotAPriority

What are your motivational/goal achieving tricks?

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!

Quote of the Week

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that I had not placed in the top of the last contest I had entered.  I was excited to have advanced at all, let alone make it to the finals, but I was still disappointed – to get so close.  Ah well.  It’s time to move beyond this latest round and look forward.

Easier said than done.

It was a huge boost to my (writer’s) ego to get that bit of validation, but now here I am again, starting at square one.  I have that tune in my head, “second verse, same as the first”.  Creatives have a tough gig.  So I was trying to find a quote this week that speaks to those of us who continue to try, despite the odds, because passion dictates that we do.

I present the following:

Churchill-Success

Yes, this is a quote that most likely relates to a world war, but the message can be applied to anyone who continues to strive towards their goal.  It is my hope that we all do!

Best Wishes and Happy Writing!

Writer’s OCD

TypewriterFontWriterIf you Google the above, you’ll get a slew of articles and posts about how writers suffer from various forms of obsessive compulsive disorder.  I know I have my own tendencies, I can thank my years in fine dining for that – put this exactly here, move that slightly to the left, straighten it, remove the clutter, organize!  This doesn’t disrupt my daily life, so I suppose it just means I like things a certain way.

And then there’s the writer side – reorganize your desk, yet again, remove the clutter around said desk (which is really just procrastination) oh, and of course, get that story out of your head!  Whenever and wherever.

I’m trying to be a screenwriter.  I mean, I am a screenwriter, but I’m trying to make a profession out of it, so you can imagine the annoyance at having a completely unrelated story taking over your life.  I can’t seem to focus on any other story beyond the one I’m working on now, and it’s bloody fan fiction.  ((exasperated groan))

I’m wondering how many of my fellow writers out in the ‘verse have this problem?

I don’t know how it happened.  I posted a writing prompt of concept art from the video game series Dragon Age a long time ago, and after writing a small chapter, 6,500 words, it slowly began to consume me.  I was struggling with my own work at the time, I remember, and I just wanted to write something.  It became a refuge from my unsatisfying server job, but then I found that I enjoyed thinking up scenes that were unseen in the game or expanding on conversations, etc.

When I write a screenplay, I agonize over every detail, every word, and I found with the fanfic that I could just write – whatever I wanted, without worry, without much forethought or editing.  It was so freeing.*  What I’ve posted so far sits at about 68,000 words.  Are you kidding me?!  I think this is where the writer’s OCD comes in.  After so much time and energy invested, I have to finish it.

The problem is two-fold.  1) This has taken away from the writing I want to do for my livelihood, but then again, any writing is good, right?!  2) Writing this story has opened up more possibilities, and now I want to explore those story lines.  When will it end?!

I feel like I should be asking for help, and yet, I am loving every moment.  I keep thinking if I write one more chapter, or finish a particular story line the OCD will subside, but it just seems to be getting worse.  I think another part of the problem is that at my old job I was alone a lot, without much to do, so I could escape, now there are too many people around.  The routine I had set has been disrupted and needs a new avenue to find its way.

So I guess I’m looking for advice or validation. 😉

If you suffer from a similar predicament, let’s commiserate!

*Just type Dragon Age or fanfic into my search bar to see what I’m talking about.

 

Writing Prompts 101 & 102

In case you missed last week’s post with the word “smorgasbord” in the title (yeah, it contained a bit of everything), you may not have seen Writing Prompt #101.  So here it is again, because I think it’s great!

Something Dumb

Now, in order to get back on track, because it’s Wednesday and I’ve been terrible lately at being timely, here’s #102.

GoldDust

Are you inspired?  Don’t forget to link back to my page so I can read your lovely words!

Happy Writing!

*All images have been found via Pinterest.  I do not own any of the writing prompt images I share, and I do my best to give credit to their creators.  If you ever recognize a piece, please let me know so that I may credit it accordingly.

Screenwriting Tips for Submission Season

HelpfulTipsLast week I shared a list of the 10 prominent screenwriting contests and their approaching deadlines to give you a heads up of what to expect the next few months.  Hopefully, you’re not like me, in the middle of a major rewrite instead of just a polish.

Ah, the sweet agony of a deadline.

This week I thought I would share a few tips on how to be best prepared to submit.  I’m not sure where I originally found this checklist – my apologies to whoever created it.  It’s a list of 10 things to look over/be aware of before you hit send.

  1. Opening image
  2. Opening line
  3. First scene’s setting
  4. Genre/Tone
  5. Character roles
  6. Character motivations
  7. Structure
  8. Scene focus
  9. Spelling/Grammar
  10. Concept/Logline

*If you’re interested, I can expand on each of these in more detail.  Just let me know in the comments below.

One of my favorite pieces of advice came from Good in a Room‘s Stephanie Palmer who suggests –

Choose a contest and a deadline. Then, submit at least one script to one of the top screenwriting contests I recommend.

If the script gets recognized in any way (i.e., it doesn’t win but it makes the second round, or top 10%, etc), revise it and submit to three different contests.

If the script doesn’t get recognized, then keep it in your library of projects, pick something new from your development slate, and write something else.

Instead of submitting multiple projects to several contests (which can get expensive), you only make multiple submissions when you have objective evidence that your work is good enough to have a chance to win, and you spend more of your valuable time writing new material.

That’s plenty of work, I know.

And it doesn’t take into account the other aspects of how to be a professional writer that have nothing to do with writing…

But over time, if you write and submit at least one script every year to one of the best contests, you will get better and your material will get better. If you submit multiple scripts only when they have received positive feedback, your chances of being successful go up.

I hope you find this helpful, and I wish you all the best this submission season!

Writing Prompt #100

On Wednesdays, I like to share images or phrases that hopefully inspire you to create something new or, by some chance, add to a work of yours in progress.  Sometimes I look for something that speaks to me in regards to what I’m working on, but the purpose of the the prompts are to help us break from routine.

I write flash fiction pieces from them, but my Dragon Age fanfiction “problem” began with a writing prompt as well, so be forewarned that I take no responsibility for what path these may lead you on. 😉  Create at your own risk.

magicball

Happy Writing!

 

Quote Monday

It’s time to get back to routine, and as most of you probably remember, I used to enjoy my routine.  It’s a bit of a vague memory at the moment. 😉

On Mondays I like to share inspiring quotes – something to start the week off right.  I like this one:

situationelevation

Keep working towards your dreams!

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 Couple of Thoughts On This Week

A couple of days ago I awoke to the news of Carrie Fisher’s passing.  Another beloved icon gone too soon – and you know in this Star Wars house this was a deep-felt loss.  And then, as if to add insult to injury, my email contained a message that my pilot would not be advancing in one of the contests I had submitted it to.

The feedback was, at least, somewhat encouraging:

The Demeter is set in an interesting world with a couple of well-drawn characters in Wyeth and Sadie. Actually, the voice of Zeta as a less obnoxious Siri is also a nice character. On the page, the script looks good, without blocky description or dialogue passages and is error-free (a rarity!). The biggest question at this point is probably trying to determine what the story will be about in future episodes. Will the entire series be about their attempt to return to earth? Some hint of where the series will go could add a lot to the overall value of the pilot.

It was one of those days that made me want to both crawl into bed and take the world by storm.

I did neither.

I chose to lose myself in my happy place – Dragon Age land.  A few hours achieving measurable goals with my dogs snuggled around me was comforting, but I’m still just sad.

Maybe the sadness is exacerbated by the fact that I am so far from where I want to be.  I resent my job and without just the teeniest bit of encouragement on the screenwriting front, I just feel as if I’m never going to leave my own mark.

Yes, I know this sounds a tad vain, but it’s my dream to have my writing immortalized via the silver screen.  Let’s be honest, we don’t follow the artist’s path to fade into obscurity, we want to be remembered.  Plain and simple.

The passing of yet another childhood favorite has only reiterated how precious our time is.  We have to make the most of the time given to us and continue to strive towards our goals, no matter where on the ladder towards that dream we find ourselves.

feel-good-2

Wishing you all the very best as we come to the end of another year!  Let’s start planning for a productive and successful new year!

*Thank you for being a part of our lives, Rebel Princess.  May the Force be with you!