Stage One: Last Day

Today is the last day of stage one, and while I still have time to tweak what I’ve done, I made this month’s goals.  This is a small step in an initial project, so I don’t want to bring out the wine yet.  That said, I’m pleased for progress, and hope to keep pushing.

All that was needed to get the project started was:

  • Pick four of my concepts
  • Type what I though is the initial idea.
  • Convert each idea into a premise.
  • Begin preliminary research. Preliminary could be an article, films, a book (at least two sources).

What can I say, so far:

  • Concept one has a lot of ideas, and trying to consolidate it has been tricky. Also I’d like to keep it tight.
  • Concept two also has a lot of ideas and notes but I think I’m pushing towards a stronger story.  It has the strongest research done so far.
  • Concept three is simple, but I think will be a lot of fun to write and explore.
  • Concept four feels complicated, and needs more ironing out. This will come through as I progress.

That said, I tested out the concepts on my brother.  He’s busy, so I’m waiting on his response. I will also ask another friend for their reaction to the premises.  This will help me understand better where I’m going, as it may seem solid in my head, others may not feel the premises are so solid.

I wish I had asked sooner.

As always, happy creative endeavors.

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An Emotional Response

Here’s something I was thinking about, in regards to writing stories and scripts. I was wondering what and how I, the writer, can create something that I, the viewer, could emotionally respond to. Sounds simpler in my head.

A while ago, I wrote out a story where the characters’ actions dictated a lot of the conflict, as opposed to dialogue. It had a sense of urgency and danger, and I kept the scene, not knowing how or when to use it.

I experimented with this method a couple of times, then abandoned it. There was, however, something to be said when you can only imagine parts of the sounds and words, as well as feeling the urgency and danger.

I think that time has come to revisit this aspect of writing.  I don’t have a why now so much as it crossed my mind moment, and I’m always looking at ways to tell stories and retain some impact past a moment.

Happy creative endeavors.

Creature Features

I’m convinced, in large part, to write screenplays one must watch movies al the time. In my current gaming first mode, there have been less and less movies in my free time. That said, I told myself to find some films on TV to watch. No easy task for a constantly finicky film watcher, right?

By chance John Carpenter’s The Thing was on, so I watched it. I remember when I first saw this film, was too young to appreciate all the nuances of the film, but it did frighten me. Somehow I ended up watching a piece of Kong Skull Island, and I always wondered why monster movies aren’t the joy they used to be.

Granted, The Thing is more of a horror movie filled with paranoia, survival, isolation, and thriller elements. It reminds me of how I love monsters—at least in fiction, and how awesome they can be. I have a small list below of some I’ve seen and loved.

Note: DelToro always makes such interesting creature films. Not surprisingly I like several of his films. I do think his strength is incorporating elements of fairy tales in his stories.

Also some of these films are crossovers in genres. For example, Predator has thriller, science fiction, and action elements in addition to being a creature film. Alien is science fiction and horror film. Pacific Rim is science fiction. It goes on.

  • Jurassic Park
  • Pacific Rim
  • Pan’s Labyrinth
  • Hellboy
  • The Thing
  • Alien
  • Predator

I could add more films, but we’d be here for days. I didn’t get to Tim Burton films, of Harryhuasen films (Sinbad, original Clash of the Titans) Needless to say, the writer in me wants to see more monster films.  Now I gotta go finish watch Skull Island.

What are your favorite creature films?

Happy creative endeavors.

Stage One

Yesterday, before doing any gaming, I made sure to get some writing done. I needed to type up my ideas to keep on my schedule. This was done while being mildly distracted by family activities, but I got done what I set out to do.

Ultimately I picked out four ideas, and two additional ones as alternate selections (more on this later), and wrote down what I needed to look at for inspiration as a start for getting into the project.   I also typed out the ideas, knowing I’d think over them overnight, revise them today, and develop the premises.

One thing that happened, late last night, was that two of my story ideas were too similar. They were both fantasy-based stories. While one was in an urban setting and had a horror-supernatural vibe, the other was in a fantasy world, and that was really the only main difference.

Both MC’s were investigators, solved crimes, and had contentious relationships with their bosses. I’m not sure these ideas are different enough to warrant being written at the same time.

I may give this a day to mull over, but I’m sure I can merge these two, and pick one of the alternate choices (also urban fantasy). I feel the alternate idea is vastly different from either previous screenplays.

I also looked over genres of the chose screenplays. It’s mainly a variation of fantasy, actions/adventure, or supernatural, so I need each of them to stand up on their own without blending into each other.

To keep each story distinct, I need to add strong themes to each story, and hold to them. This will come from the MC’s personal conflict, and will likely evolve as the story is written.

This is getting complicated already. I like that.

Happy creative endeavors.

Nine Stages

For the past few days I’ve been pushing forth the idea of now or never with my writing goals and projects. The time has come to push them forward, because keep dreaming of them being published and/or produced as opposed to getting them completed really isn’t good for me.

So today I’m a starting projects, with goals and deadlines involved. Hopefully by June of 2018 I’ll have completed writing them, and will move them to the next plateau.  I’m listing my goals below to show what I’m thinking and going. I’ll start of small, and keep intensifying the work.

Stage One:

  • First deadline: 11/30/17
  • Choose four of my story ideas.
  • Convert the ideas into premises.
  • Type the story ideas and premises.
  • Begin preliminary research (article, book or two).

Stage Two:

  • Deadline: 12/31/17
  • Main Character notes (identify MCs heart’s desire or greatest fear, wound, or flaw).
  • Add notes from other characters.
  • Do more research (minimum 4 additional resources).
  • Initiate first draft of outline (minimum: ACT One for each project).

Stage Three

  • Deadline: 1/31/18
  • Complete act Two AND Three of outlines.

Stage Four

  • Deadline: 2/28/18
  • Allow 1 Week for outline draft cool downs.
  • Begin writing Act 1 of each screenplay.

Stage Five

  • Deadline: 3/31/18
  • Begin writing Act 2 of each screenplay.

Stage Six

  • Deadline: 4/31/18
  • Begin writing Act 3 of storylines.

Stage Seven

  • Deadline: 5/31/18
  • Cool down period. Go work on something else/distract self.

Stage Eight

  • Deadline: 6/30/18
  • Complete rewrites and then relax. Project done for the moment.

Stage Nine

  • Deadline 7/31/18
  • Look for agent.
  • Send out queries
  • Submit complete projects.
  • Start new projects.

Wish me luck.  Happy creative endeavors.

Know Better, Do Better

One of my talents, as a writer, is to have a sense of humor in my stories. I tend to mock behaviors, attitudes, culture, and whatever subject crosses my imagination.  Humor engages my imagination, and it can be entertaining to poke fun at such topics.

I noticed when writing, a notion–which never fully left me–is the notion that humor isn’t the route to take with my writing. That said, I often fail hard at trying to be seen as a “serious” writer.

By “serious,” I mean writing in a sterilized, boring style, stripped of humor, and intolerant to anything that has aspects of entertainment or enjoyment.  I do this while being so ridiculously ineffective in storylines that in part, end up drying out.

I sorta mocked myself in this moment. I don’t mind self-deprecating humor, but a brother needed to be in on his own joke.

I wrote, in previous posts, how I was bad a creating protagonists/main characters because I made them safe, or they lived in a bubble. Part of making better characters, for me, is seeing where I undercut them—and myself. I wasn’t doing them, or myself a favor.

Creativity is a learning process, and if one develops a strength, then one should see the skill, acknowledge it, and explore it without killing your own asset. Self-sabotage is a beast, but in this case, learning and growing from these mistakes will help me improve my craft.

Writing will always be rewriting for me, however, I’d like the idea, premise, research, outline, and first draft of my stories—in all mediums—to start off with the authentic vision and voice this artist allows his talents to shine through without killing the creativity.

Frankly I can and will do better from this experience.

As always, happy creative endeavors.

Damaged II

After the previous post, I looked at each of my characters to see the direction I steered them towards. A lot of my characters stated as an extremely passive. They didn’t act or react to their situations, nor did they reach for a goal, which is bad for story and character progression.

I also previously wrote that it seemed like “damaged” characters (manly from soap operas I used to watch) made things happen in storylines. Those characters with passion seemed to have the freedom to act. When some of these cats got knocked down, they got back on their feet, and tried a different approach.

The above actions are typically what I see with villains in many stories. They could be earnest, aggressive, and assertive. They didn’t simply react, they acted, they had goals, and no one was getting in their way. If you did get in their way, well, you were bound for trouble.

Heroes should be this way as well, and this may have been a blinding factor for me.

In soaps, many heroes (not all) can be passive, unsuspecting, and clueless to the world around them. The hero defined the genre of melodrama, which is, bad things happen to good people. To me, a soap opera hero didn’t have to do much in the story other than be the constant victim of a damaged character.

It’s only when the hero’s caught onto what was going on in the world around them, was he or she able to react, but it’s always at a late, late moment. By then the villain has made attempts to get their goals, got thwarted, and took a different routes to get what they want. The villain has had far more time to for character development and growth. The villain pushes the narrative with great urgency and strength.

Some villains typically do what the hero should be doing in a given story, which is make things happen.  It also suggests to me that the narrative theory is that those only who have desire act in a devious manner.  If you are bubbled and pure you will persevere though simply being good.  Total rubbish.

I believe characters must be active in their own story or they will be supplanted by another more engaging characters.  This may also explain the appeal of villains as secret MCs in storylines.  Think of how flat some storylines are when the hero and/or villains are cardboard. It’s what I’m doing right now.

As always, happy creative endeavors.