Writing Prompt #121

Sort of interesting that the first prompt of 2021 ends in 21, right? Just me? Well, I have a thing for numbers…

I had an idea immediately upon reading this so it was easy to decide to share this for today’s writing prompt.

daughters of eden ideas | book series | girls with magic in their veins | @mpilarcruz

If one of your “resolutions” is to write or write more, I hope you’ll join me in the Writing Prompt Challenge. Be sure to share a link to your work in the comment section, and I look forward to seeing what you create!

Happy Writing!

Flashback Friday #1: Routine

500 followers uploaded by Inès on We Heart It

My post on “writing a TV pilot” was my 500th; a milestone I should have reached some time ago. I sort of feel like Bob from the Bob’s Burgers episode “Sacred Cow” (S1E3) in which they celebrate the sale of the 100,000th burger, which should have happened long before, as evident by the dot matrix banner used to commemorate the occasion.

Having reached such a marker, I thought it might be nice to reflect on the posts that have come before, not only as a reflection for myself but also as a learning tool, because as the title of my blog suggests, I have a terrible memory and it would be nice to remember what I’ve come across and shared in the past.

Writing tips are always helpful, and if forgotten, necessary to revisit.

So starting back in the earliest days of my blog, I wrote about routines. As I stated just a few posts ago, I’m working on a new one. How things do come full circle.

September 6, 2013:

In 1932, Henry Miller, the famous writer and painter created a work schedule that listed his “Commandments” for him to follow as part of his daily routine. This list was published in the book, Henry Miller On Writing.

  1. Work on one thing at a time until finished.
  2. Start no more new books, add no more new material to “Black Spring.”
  3. Don’t be nervous. Work calmly, joyously, recklessly on whatever is in hand.
  4. Work according to Program and not according to mood. Stop at the appointed time!
  5. When you can’t create you can work.
  6. Cement a little every day, rather than add new fertilizers.
  7. Keep human! See people, go places, drink if you feel like it.
  8. Don’t be a draught-horse! Work with pleasure only.
  9. Discard the Program when you feel like it—but go back to it next day. Concentrate. Narrow down. Exclude.
  10. Forget the books you want to write. Think only of the book you are writing.
  11. Write first and always. Painting, music, friends, cinema, all these come afterwards.

This is what worked for Henry Miller, so keep this in mind when creating a schedule for yourself. You know what parameters you need to work efficiently, so build a plan with those in mind.

I cannot write first thing in the morning. I’m not alert until after my second cup of tea, and then some. I used to write at night, after the world was asleep, but now I’m realizing that my home world is quiet earlier in the day so I need to rethink my plan so that I can be more effective.

Try a new schedule. Tweak where necessary. Try again.

Keep at it and 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.

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!

Writing Prompt #116

who goes there...

I like the idea of images that can be seen in a number of ways. Is this a playful image? Teasing? Or is it of a more somber nature? Menacing?

For this week’s writing prompt challenge, I offer you this. What do you see?

I look forward to seeing your creations!

Happy Writing!

Writing Prompt Challenge Accepted #24

It’s been over two years since my last WPC?! Eek! That’s not good.

I’ve been inspired by a number of the images I’ve shared, so I really have to take responsibility for my inaction. A resounding theme in my life lately. Well, some of that can be blamed on “things outside of my control”.

When I started the prompt series, it was in an effort to build a community, so I’d be thrilled if you’d like to take part. Should you find a writing prompt here – there are a few off to the side or you can use the search bar – that inspires you, tag me and please allow me to share your work. Let’s build a positive writing community together!

I use the prompts as an opportunity to create a space for free writing, something I rarely find myself capable of in my professional writing. These are short, usually around 200 words, with little forethought or editing. Here is my submission for this week’s challenge:

The hallway was dark. Hannah, barefooted, tip toed toward the daylight that awaited her at the other end. She ran one hand along the wall to feel the old, rough stone bricks while her gown swished at her feet as pace hastened.

Without knowing why, her heart swelled at the thought of what lay beyond.

The hallway had brought her to the rear of an English manor nestled in the country. Stairs led down to a well-kept garden and a sweet surprise she dared not believe. Cautious that the leaves would be sure to give away her presence, she took careful steps until she could nearly reach out and touch him.

Evan turned simultaneously and captured her in his warm embrace. His exhale of relief at holding her in his arms caused his arms to tighten.

Hannah couldn’t recall how she had come to arrive here, or why her heart recognized the man who held her when her mind didn’t, but at the moment, it didn’t matter. She felt like she had just found home.

~ * ~

As I mentioned in the prompt’s post, this image reminded me of my screenplay, 217. It’s a story about how Hannah finds Evan in the in-between moments of a near death experience. And now I’m going to go write! Or should I say, rewrite.

I look forward to reading your creations! Happy Writing!

Writing Prompt #115

In preparation for our move, I’ve gone through nearly every piece of paper in my office, multiple versions of my scripts included. A thousand pages of repetitive screenplays with minor changes between them were just sitting on the shelf, taking up space, for no reason.

There’s an odd thing that happens to writers who reread their work years later…they often find themselves surprised that they wrote it.

I know my stories. I was there when they were conceived 😉 but sometimes you find yourself in awe of a golden nugget or two buried within them.

Rereading multiple versions of my screenplays all in one go reaffirmed my desire to continue writing them. All of my stories are in need of a rewrite. For a while now, I thought some of them were only in need of a polish, but on reflection, there are some major things I want to change. To every. single. one. An unfortunate side effect to gaining more experience and insight and developing my writing skills further. Oh gawd. I may be George Lucas.

So it was when I saw this image, which reminds me of one of my stories, that I found myself drawn to it, and wanting to explore it. So I wrote something (yay!) and hope you will join me in this week’s Writing Prompt Challenge.

If you find yourself inspired, don’t forget to share!

Happy Writing!

Writing Prompt #114

Writing Prompt Wednesdays are back!

Yes, I know.

Given my Quote of the Week yesterday, this prompt seemed a bit apropos, if not oddly humorous. Oh, is it just me?!

If you’re new here, the prompts are meant to inspire and engage. If you find inspiration, please be sure to share or tag so we can all enjoy!

Happy Writing!