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Quit Slacking!

October 17, 2012

I think I’ve mentioned once or twice that I finally graduated from college. Since that time, I’ve worked on multiple short films, have taken care of my mother a lot, and been to Virginia twice. What I haven’t done is spend much time writing. Yes, I wrote a story for a contest, which I obviously didn’t win, but beyond that I haven’t done much.
I’m extremely lucky. I’ve been afforded a whole year to get myself together, career wise, without needing to be concerned about finding a job. I’m now roughly six months into this period, but I haven’t gotten anything done to show for it. I’ve decided to get my butt in gear.
Starting yesterday, I’m making an effort to write a short story everyday. It doesn’t matter whether the story is one of my better ones or not, it also doesn’t matter if it’s in a genre I feel comfortable writing in; what matters is that I’m writing. I’m not abandoning my screenwriter ambitions nor my desire to write a complete novel; I’m just trying to get through and over my mounting self-doubt that I can make it as a writer. A writer must write, must make efforts towards achieving her/his goals, and until now I’ve not done that.
That changes now. I’ve decided to quit slacking. What about you?

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Writing Competition

June 25, 2012

There’s a certain writing competition going on right now that I’m planning to enter. I’m leaving it nameless right now because only a limited number of entries are going to be accepted, and the challenge is going to be difficult enough for me to begin with. The basic competition is to write a chapter of a potential novel using a particular character, and an outline for the rest of the novel.
Part of the challenge for me is that until this weekend, I hadn’t read anything involving the character, and at this time last week, I hadn’t even heard of it. Furthermore, the story must be in a genre I don’t really enjoy to read, let alone write. Still, after I read the first two books this weekend, I think I have a decent understanding of the character and feel for how the stories work. What surprises me most is that working on my entry has been surprisingly fun. I’m only about 10% done with my entry but I feel that I could easily write the full novel.
The moral of this post is that while writing with someone else’s character(s) in a genre that you don’t usually use can be scary, it can be quite liberating! Without being confined to the traditions and rules others feel obligated to constrain themselves to, you have the opportunity to surpass them. The only concern I have with this competition is that while I’ve read 2 books in the series, there’s another 9 I haven’t touched and don’t have time to do so; therefore there are facts and mythology that I haven’t been able to consider for my work. That’s a huge risk, but I think the key here is to capture the spirit of the character and stories more than the precise details.
To that end, I will push on with my work.

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Writing meditation

June 12, 2012

I’ve occasionally asked myself why I want to be a writer. Most frequently the reason is because I enjoy creative writing, and it seems like a good way to make a living. But I think I need to take a closer look at this.
Read the rest of this entry »

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A few minor updates…

February 2, 2012

Not a lot has really been going on in the last year or so. I’m still writing, though I’ve been very busy with school; I’m trying to graduate in April so I haven’t had a whole lot of time to do much, though I’ve come up with a few ideas I definitely want to explore. Partially because of pretty low sales (read that as “no sales”), I’m changing up the strategy for selling “Right and Wrong” online… For the moment, I’ve pulled it from the Nook store to give Amazon’s KDP Select program a try for 90 days, which demands exclusiveness for the period. In fact, as of this moment, the story is available for free on Kindle for until February 5th. If I see sales increase on the Kindle in this period, I’ll return it to the Nook store, if not… Well… I hope to have a new story done by the start of April that could replace it, though I’d rather it supplement it.

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OU Writing Contest: Right and Wrong Screenplay First Place!

June 24, 2011

In April, Dr Kyle Edwards, director of the Cinema Studies program at Oakland University announced the 2010-2011 Writing Competition. The contest was divided into two categories, screenplays and essays. I entered the screenplay I wrote in my Screenwriting class during the Winter I had just finished.

Although I had moments of self-doubt, I had a feeling from the moment I submitted it that I’d win.

I just found out that’s exactly what happened: I won first place in the screenplay side of things! Interestingly enough, a friend of mine won second place in the essay portion! God I love writing!

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Busy Day

March 20, 2011

I’m taking a quick break to point out exactly how busy I am with writing today.
First and foremost, I’m closing in on completing the class length version of the ancient story I mentioned in a previous post. I got to touch on all the original plot points I wanted though I’ve now taken it in a new direction. Considering there’s a 10 page limit for class, I’m somewhat satisfied but I’m looking forward to letting the story run wild in the “for sale” version.
When I’m done with that, I’m going to be rewriting a script I offered to Oakland University’s Filmmakers’ Guild last semester. It turns out they’re interested in producing the short… While I’m not likely to be paid, I’ll be more than happy to put it on my resume! It’s possible that it could even lead to me needing to join the Writers’ Guild of America, which in turn would validate my career plans!
And finally, I just took a few minutes to write up a quick log line and synopsis to try to attract a collaborator for another script idea floating in my head. Sorry, you don’t get to hear about this one because I hope to pitch it someday. 🙂

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Back from the Dead

March 16, 2011

About 17 years ago, I began work on a time travel story that I thought had a unique spin. As I worked on it over a period of weeks, I kept running into problems that I couldn’t resolve at the time; the biggest of which was the point of view. Although I could have written the story any way I wanted, at the time I wanted to try something completely new to me: first person perspective and, more importantly, present tense.

The advantage of this perspective is that you almost literally get inside the primary character’s head; you get to know her thoughts, perceptions, and even her mental state by just reading the words that compose her train of thought. It’s not necessary to explicitly state “she felt trapped” or “fear gripped her heart” because the words she uses to describe the situation automatically convey emotional and mental states. Eventually I grew to love first person perspective, though I tended to opt for past tense after working on this particular story.

Sadly, at the time, I was unable to resolve my present tense issues with the story and was unable to make any significant progress on it as a result. Instead of discarding it, like I did with some of my other failed stories, I put it aside and vowed to come back to it some day.

About ten years ago, during a long bout of writer’s block, I decided to try to rewrite the story from scratch in an effort to reinvigorate myself and to work out some new ideas I had for the story. Unfortunately, I made the same mistake I had in the earlier attempt, and again chose to do first person present tense. I’m not saying that this perspective is bad, or that it never works, I’m just saying that it didn’t work for me for this story; after fleshing out some of my ideas in the rewrite, I again stopped work on the story. This time, I really didn’t make as much progress as I had in the very first attempt; I only managed to write two pages instead of the four that I had managed years earlier. Needless to say, this did not help my writer’s block.

More years passed. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m currently enrolled at Oakland University in the Cinema Studies program in an attempt to transform myself into a screenwriter. This semester, I’m finally taking a screenwriting course and, to brush up my story writing skills, I’m also taking a fiction writing class. The inspiration for my now self-published short “Right and Wrong” came as a result of some film noir I’ve watched this semester as well as the need to write a 50+ page screenplay for my class: I wrote the short story to flesh out the ideas I had for my screenplay, though the two have diverged substantially due to length requirements. If “Right and Wrong” the screenplay is ever produced as a film, it’ll be interesting to see how the public reacts to the fact that there’s a short story version as well… Will they see the screenplay as being based on the short story or will they assume that I merely summarized the script in the short story? Will there be a novelization of the movie, and if so, how confused will people be when they come across the short? Interesting questions…! But, I digress…

I have a new short story assignment for the fiction class, and though I had some interesting ideas, none of them seemed fit for the story I wanted to share with my class. I don’t mean to make this sound like I’m bragging, but my classmates have been really impressed with my work this semester, and they have some pretty high expectations of me. As a result, I have higher expectations, and higher minimum standards for what I intend to present them with. Despite my desire to explore the stories that I came up with, I was disappointed in the quality of the work I was churning out. With time I could correct the stories, and get them where I want them to be, but the class will end before I can really spend the time  on them that they deserve.

On a whim, I thought of rewriting something I had worked on in the past, and the first item that appeared in the list was my old time travel story. Having the files for both prior attempts, I decided immediately that this was the one. I printed both, and got my mind cranking on them as I drove to class yesterday, and when I got the opportunity to enter the classroom long before the start of class, I immediately went to work writing. Again I chose first person perspective; there were just too many visuals and thoughts that needed to be expressed by the main character that I wanted and needed keep to use a different point of view. But this time, I shifted to past tense, and in the space of just a few minutes I had already exceeded the two pages that I wrote in the last attempt at this story. I still have a lot of work to do on it, but this time, this story is back from the dead for good. I will finish the class version of this story, limiting myself to the upper limit of 10 pages, but I will also fully explore where this story goes this time, be it 15 pages or 1,000. This is turning out to be a story that I would have loved to read had it been written by someone else, so perhaps one day I’ll be sharing it with you!

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