Writing Tip Tuesday #8

I work with someone who wants to create their own video game. He wants to write the story, write the music, design the game, everything.

A worthy endeavor.

A grand endeavor.

We were talking world building, all the facets to consider, and I was reminded of this pin, a checklist, I had come across some time ago. It was the entertainment section that helped me introduce some of my characters in my pilot when I was stuck, and I thought I would share it.

Not all of these topics need to be addressed outright, but having an understanding of how your world operates will naturally make its way into your writing, and exploring these aspects may open up your world even further. You may develop more ideas, which is always a good thing, and will most likely make your world feel more authentic, richer, and layered.

I don’t know who created this list, but I appreciate the time they took to condense it all into one. It helped me, and I hope it helps you, and my new friend.

Have anything to add to the list? Please share below!

Happy Writing!

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Writing Tip Tuesday #7

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Outlining.

It’s not my favorite thing.

I’ve read a number of tips from professional writers that speak highly of the technique and its mastery; some of them writing such detailed outlines that they nearly rival a first draft.

I tend to write a bare bones outline – each act and a variety of incidents I have in mind. I enjoy getting lost in a story and allowing my characters to tell me what’s going to happen next. This may not be to most prudent course of action, especially in a time-crunch sort of situation, but I’m not under those types of constraints and pressures to produce…yet.

On my last screenplay, I chose to try something new – a reverse outline. Well, that’s what I’m calling it.

I don’t know if this is something I learned about along the way (I mean, there are so many things in my head who knows where they’ve all come from at this point), but it made sense to me at the time, and I did find a few holes with this technique, so I thought I’d share.

After my first draft was done, I created an outline based on the written text. I made note of each event, each change of scene, any important detail, and any topic that might need to be addressed further. When I was done, I had an outline that revealed any shortcomings and from there I could fill in those blanks.

From this vantage point I was able to see if events were happening too close together, and if I should incorporate a new scene or two to spread out the action. I found ideas that may have been introduced but lacked follow thru. I discovered conversations between characters that were too long, long winded, or not detailed enough.

It made the rewrite a much smoother process.

Yes, I know. It probably would have made the first draft an easier process as well, but that’s not how I write. A rough draft outline so I know the major beats and where it’s supposed to go is how I work, right now.

Yes, yes, I know I should probably be practicing for the work ahead, but I like to be surprised by the journey.

So what do you think of this trick? How do you prepare to write a draft? Share your tips below!

Happy Writing!

Quote of the Week

Nearly a month ago, I started to feel it.

The whisper. The tickle at the back of my mind.

The dreaded creativity cursed fear –

Burnout.

At least that’s what I think it is.

As I neared the completion of the first rewrite on my latest screenplay, I could feel my desire to continue waning. I was enjoying the rewrite, didn’t really have an idea of what I was going to do next, despite the plan I had in place in order to be prepared for the move back to LA, and so here I am. I think I mentioned the “fear” in a post, so perhaps I manifested it. Well, if my mind is capable of that, perhaps it could make some other things happen instead.

Even before I felt a bit aimless…lethargic…bored. Still sort of do.

I haven’t been compelled to do much of anything – not yoga, not gaming, not movie watching – just the bare minimum to get by.

So I’ve taken a break in the hopes I can refocus and find my center.

I’m not 100%, but I can feel myself returning to my normal, slowly. I even had the stirrings of a new idea, so…

Being a writer isn’t for everyone. It is not easy, as some may think. It’s not for the faint of heart, or those without the passion to carry them through the rough patches. It may sound a bit dramatic, but it’s true. While I want to be encouraging to those who already are writers, because we all get it, I’m not sure how apt I am to encourage someone who may only be “interested” to pursue this path.

Okay, that’s not true. You all know I’ve had multiple encouraging conversations with hopeful writers.

It takes a lot of years to see results. We spend an inordinate amount of time alone, doubting ourselves, our skills, our story, and everything in between. We have to push through writer’s block, being told we should get “real jobs”, having to listen to everyone we meet tell us that they have a “great” story idea, as if we don’t have our own or that we need the help.

We’re told we have to “show up” every day. We have to write when we feel like it and even when we don’t. We’re told we’re not real writers unless we do it every day. We’re told we’re not real writers unless we read. We have to get up extra early to find quiet time, or stay up late for the same reason. There are days when we’re lucky to write a sentence, and others when we go blind staring at the screen because we can’t stop the flow.

There’s panic and dread when we submit our stories. There’s a a little panic when we see a new story hitting the shelves or the screens that resembles ours. There’s a perpetual state of waiting. Waiting for inspiration, waiting for a break, waiting for results…and beyond all that, there’s hope.

There’s hope that our story will resonate with someone. That it will help them in some way. That we’ll see our name on a bookshelf or a tv/movie screen. That people will talk about our characters. That they can’t wait to find out what happens next. That they’ll see subtext we weren’t aware of. Maybe they’ll create fan art or fan fiction. Maybe they’ll ship characters we didn’t imagine together.

It’s the hopes and dreams we have for our work that keep us going, but sometimes we need a break from the pressures we place upon ourselves. We heap quite a bit upon our shoulders, and elsewhere. We can’t half ass our creativity, not if we want it to matter, not only to them but also to us.

There are times to press on, to push through those blocks and walls, and there are others to set yourself to rights. Another thing we writers need to know – the difference between them.

What a wonderful life we lead.

So keep your chin up, and do what you can to move forward. Just do your best, even if that means taking a break. No other path is as persistent as ours. No other creative pursuit, or otherwise, is expected to give 365 days of commitment, so let’s remember to be kind to ourselves.

If you have any tips about staving off burnout or how to get past it, please do share!

Happy Writing! 😉

Quote Monday

I am happy to announce the completion of the first rewrite on my new script. And I have to say, I’m fairly pleased.

There it is again, that feeling. Satisfaction.

The Nordic people are known for a particular approach to their work – it can always be better. This is something I definitely echo.

It took a long time, too long, in fact, to be satisfied with my first screenplay. This new one is number six, so maybe it has something to do with that. It’s not my first rodeo. Big question mark.

It took a little longer than it should have to get through the rewrite. I’m not sure how else to explain it, but I had this feeling that I would be aimless when I was done. Still sort of do.

And that’s where discipline comes in.

I was not motivated to finish the draft. I would be sad to be done with it. And yet I knew it had to be done. It’s not like I don’t have a number of other projects waiting. And so I pressed on.

Some days flowed better than others. Some days I was lucky to rewrite more than one line.

So often I’ve heard, and I’ve probably shared it as well, that we have to show up even when the muse hasn’t. Writing is a practice. We have to do it every day. Blah blah blah.

Surprisingly enough, it’s true.

We (I) really should listen to those who have come before because if we waited for inspiration and motivation, it would probably never happen. To be a writer we have to be diligent. We have to embrace routine. We have to show up, and then we’re there when the muse visits.

Nothing has to be perfect. Nothing ever will be. We can do our best, I mean that’s what rewrites are for, and hope that it resonates with those in a position to make something happen.

So Happy Writing! 😉

Have an accomplishment you’d like to celebrate? Have you chosen discipline over motivation? Let’s cheer one another on!

Quote of the Week

One of the big goals I had for myself this year was to meet with screenwriting coach, Lee Jessup. I wanted to speak with someone who knows and works with writers, is part of the industry, and could offer me insight as to whether or not I was on the right path.

I received wonderful feedback with only one rather sizable problem that needs attention.

I need writer friends. In particular, screenwriter friends.

Gasp! I have to be social? Isn’t that one of the perks of being a writer? To be antisocial? With purpose? ((wink))

I haven’t been part of a writer’s group since I left LA over seven years ago. I enjoyed that group. There were a number of published or soon-to-be published authors, but no other screenwriters surprisingly, given our proximity to Hollywood, so while a supportive, friendly group, I still didn’t have anyone who understood my specific needs.

I’ve known for quite some time that I needed to make at least a few screenwriter friends, it was one of the reasons I attended the Austin Film Festival Writer’s Conference a few years ago. And I did, sort of. I met a number of screenwriters who I now interact with on social, but there were two women who I befriended that I have actual conversations with outside of that, but we live in different parts of the country, so it takes effort sometimes to keep in touch.

I asked one of them to give me some feedback on an early draft of my pilot, and she did not disappoint, but I can only ask that of someone so many times. Especially when we only talk a few times a year.

I need to branch out.

It’s something we all need. Support. Alone with our words for months on end, it’s no wonder why other people consider us “crazy”. Sometimes I can’t look at the thing I’ve been working on anymore because I can’t see the forest for the trees. We need another pair of eyes. We need someone, or a lot of someones, who understand our mindset, our struggles, our craft. We need people to hash out ideas with, people with a wide range of experience and knowledge of our field, and people who share our passion.

I think people in other vocations, non-creative pursuits, have an easier time finding others like them. When I worked in event management, it was easy to become friends with DJs, wedding planners, and photographers. We were in an industry where opportunity allowed for us to repeatedly interact, and that’s why so many writers, I think, congregate to areas where they’re most likely to run in circles with other like-minded individuals.

So we’re moving back to California next year. Yep. Lee helped me to understand that it was an integral part of my journey. It was inevitable. She assured me that I’m ready for the next step, but need to make connections, and the best way to do that is to be in a place where they’re more readily available.

So I’m putting out the call! I’d like to do something like that here, now. Do you have any tips on making (screen)writer friends? Are you part of a writer’s group you’d recommend or are you considering starting one? Please share below, and let’s start building that community!

Happy Writing!

Mid-Year Goal Check

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It’s June.

It doesn’t really feel like it, as the sun has only been out a few times this year so far. By now, in Vegas I would already be complaining about the heat, longing for cooler days, and here I am on the flip side, wishing for a day above 65 degrees.

Apparently, according to long-time PNW residents, this never-ending gloom is unusual. Like, hasn’t happened in 72 years. Didn’t they something similar last summer during the heat wave? Either way, I’m so happy we could be here to experience it. ((insert eye roll))

The lack of noticeable change in the seasons almost made me forget where we are in the year. Halfway through. Time for a check in on those annual goals.

You may recall I mentioned making them more “manageable” at some point.

Yes, this coming from the woman who wanted to watch a movie a week, read two books a month, read three screenplays a month, all while working full-time, having two dogs, writing, managing an Etsy shop, a desire to cosplay, starting a business, and so much more, in addition to all the other normal life stuff.

Yeah, hi. No wonder every year I was disappointed with my progress. I was out of control.

I decided to cut back this year, and having made it to the half way point, I am able to reflect with better clarity and rationale and say with all honesty, more attainable goals are so much more beneficial to my overall well-being.

This is something I’ve had to remind myself of, a lot – goals are just things to aspire to, not necessarily achieve. It’s a way to stay accountable. They are not meant to act as a measuring stick in order to judge the merit of our character based on whether we actually accomplished everything on our list.

*By the way, that’s all me. I’m guessing at this point, all those quotes I’ve shared have done their job.

We all want to make progress. We want some way of measuring how far we’ve come. Hence the goals. But when they are wildly out of reach when you have other responsibilities, the lack of reaching them can really hit our feelings of self-worth. That is so not the point.

My favorite Goal graphic

Things are hard enough as it is. Why torture ourselves further?

I’m happy to report that I’ve made some of my goals. This is big for me. I’m usually eyeballing December 31st with skepticism. I know it’s judging me. I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but having achieved some smaller and some larger goals, I feel a bit more confident moving forward.

And that’s all we need sometimes. A boost to our self-esteem.

Here are a few of the goals I’m happy with so far:

  1. My screenplay, Fate(s) is done. I will not touch it again without compensation. Pop the champagne! The troublesome child is ready to go out into the world!
  2. I completed the first draft of my fifth feature, Projection. Gotta say, I’m pretty satisfied. A rare state.
  3. I’m polishing up the next chapter in my fanfic series to get that off my mind. I’m sure more ideas will come knocking soon enough.
  4. I chose to only watch two movies a month instead of one a week. I’m currently sitting at 20/24. Not too shabby.
  5. I limited my book reading challenge, and not understanding how the library hold system works, it had been a while, ended up meeting that goal early on: 17/15.

My other goals were to get a new job (check), create a new writing space (partial check), and meet with a screenwriting coach (check). This I will cover separately.

More manageable goals are really the way to go. A feeling of accomplishment can really help the whole state of being and help on the long journey of our creative path.

How are your goals shaping up this year? Let’s celebrate our accomplishments and cheer one another on!

Happy Writing!

Writing Prompt #147

I’ve had a week, so instead of sharing this week’s Writing Prompt on Wednesday, as is the norm, it is now Saturday, even later than I planned yesterday.

Photo by Csongor Kemu00e9ny on Pexels.com

I didn’t know what I was looking for in the way of imagery this week. I’m still celebrating the completion of a new script and thought to find something representative of it, and then I found this.

I was not a history fan when it was required in school, but have since become quite fascinated with different time periods and often include some aspect within my screenplays, so I found myself drawn to the photo above and the story potential.

Feeling inspired? Want to join me in a little free write or flash fiction? If you’re ever inspired by any of the prompts, please don’t forget to share! I look forward to seeing your creations!

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

No matter how much we accomplish, it’s easier to find fault, to consider what more we could have done, and to reflect only on the negative.

Creatives, athletes…we’re never satisfied.

The Sis and I enjoy Formula One, and one of her favorite drivers, even when he won, would always say, “We could have done better.”

Relentless.

We’re hard on ourselves. We nitpick. We doubt.

When I had that conversation about a month ago now with the one screenwriting coach, I said, multiple times, that I had wasted time. A lot of it. She tried to placate that negativity by saying I had been living my life.

Uh huh.

Then last week, I went to coffee with a friend and told him how much I had written. His eyes literally went wide. It wasn’t like I had just been puffing myself up by saying I was a writer, I had the material, whether ready or not to be seen (see, hard on myself) to back it up. That impressed look, made me feel a little bit better.

I’m still no where near satisfied, but you know, it’s a process.

No matter where we are on our journey, it’s obviously easier to look back and measure our success, or lack there of, by that distance then to look forward and try to see the finish line because that is more elusive. We don’t know how many more steps we have to take before we can consider ourselves a “success”.

Besides, when is our kind ever satisfied?

It’s also easy to compare ourselves to others who are further along, and possibly younger ((gasp)). Or be annoyed that they found their way sooner.

When I was in film school, I learned how so many directors had used their families’ video camera to make shorts when they were like 10 years old.

Good for them.

Vera Wang didn’t become a designer until she was 40.

Way more relatable.

It’s hard work to silence the inner negativity demon. We work alone most of the time and without recognition or validation for years, sometimes. Don’t look back. Don’t be put off by the make believe distance you’ve manifested in your head. No matter if you’ve taken one step or a thousand, celebrate where you are now.

You’re so much further than you think.

You’re so much further than those who talk about it and yet have never taken the first step or those who quit along the way.

I finished a new screenplay in the month I’ve had off from work. Hence my silence here. I’m celebrating this achievement – a story that didn’t exist a month ago. What a deep feeling of satisfaction. When I wrote Fade Out, my heart flipped, and there was a moment of pride, and like I had given myself a high-five.

When I woke up the next day, there was that quiet nagging voice telling me to get back to work.

See. Relentless.

Do you have an accomplishment you’d like to share and celebrate? Let’s cheer one another on!

Happy Writing!

Quote Monday

I’ve probably shared this one before, actually, I can guarantee that I have, but this is one of those quotes that I need to read again from time to time.

I’m about ready to quit my current job*, and The Sis and I were talking about what else I’d like to do. We currently share one car, which has made some things difficult, such as, being home bound on our days off, which are opposite of each other so we can share the car, so we don’t see the sights, we don’t do anything together, days go by and we barely see each other…it’s not really a way to live. She suggested, perhaps, that we get another car, so I could take a job anywhere, and my response was, “I don’t want just another job. I want my job. To be a writer.”

And she was like, “Okay. Let’s make that happen.”

I think that the more often I voice this desire aloud, the better. It helps to keep the fire burning.

And yes, some of you may say, “Well, you’re already a writer.” And yes, you’d be correct. But I want it to be my work. It’s how I want to spend my day. I’m tired of scraping minutes together between everything else in the hopes I’ll get a line written.

At some point, we want to be able to focus on the things that matter, whatever they may be. We want to stop being twisted and turned to fit inside a box that has no bearing on our lives or in the grand scheme of things. I think we all want to have a sense of pride, and fulfillment of purpose.

That is my wish for all of us.

So stay strong! Keep working towards that dream! And let’s do our best to grin and bear it through the mundane until we are where we want to be.

Happy Writing!

*I have to take another meaningless job in the meantime, it’s just that I’d like to get out of the house for more than just a piddly paycheck, so I’m finding something I can walk to. And also, I’ve been in physical therapy for about a month as the nature of the job is causing injury, so there’s that.

Writing Prompt #143

It’s Writing Prompt Day!

This week I was drawn to the idea of ruins and history and this is the image I found that spoke to me.

Photo by Tobias Bju00f8rkli on Pexels.com

Looking for a little inspiration? Want a break from your writing routine? Join this week’s Writing Prompt Challenge! Don’t forget to share your creations!

Happy Writing!