Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Winner of the New Orleans 48HFP

So.... Besides this post being super late....

WE WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ahem.... So in my last post I talked about what I'd been up to, and one of those things was the 48HFP. Now I love 48. I've been competing for four years. I have a great team. We made a great film that we loved. But we never thought, in our wildest dreams, that this would happen.

This program has been brought to you by Migty-O's!

We won 10 of the 17 awards*, including Best Overall. Which means, our cheese ball little sci-fi adventure serial will not only be shown at the New Orleans Film Festival (holy moly! And we're in Louisana Shorts 2 *cough*) but we'll be competing against all the best of's at Flimapalooza in Los Angeles! We have no expectations of winning, but are just excited to be grouped with the best of the best - to say, we were there among the greats. It's so amazing.

I am also personally honored because we won Best Director. I totally teared up when I heard my named called for that. I'm still stunned.

I also learned sooo much from this year's competition. I watched every film this year, finally being able to make it out to all the screenings. And I will say, that there were some really fabulous films. Makes it even more astonishing to us to be ranked with those other wonderful filmmakers.

This is my 4th year doing 48HFP, and every year I learn something about film making and myself. I learn how to do something, and take all the things I did wrong in the past and chuck them out the window so I can make new mistakes.

Which leads me to something I never thought I learned about 48: how to make a winning 48.

1. Don't make a film to win; make the film you want to make.

Long before there were even nominations for awards, my team and I were proud of our 8 minute flick. Why? Because no matter what happened, we loved our film. We were proud of it, and we never once thought about "winning" while we were making it.

So, Friday night I pulled the genre "romance," and cringed. We talked about genres to throw back, and romance didn't make the list. We weren't afraid of romance (we were afraid of drama), but we weren't enamored with it either. Kirk insisted I text the group and ask them if I should throw back the genre. It was unanomous. Throw it back. A romance was not the film we wanted to make. And I'm so glad we did, because our 2nd choice was what I pulled - Adventure Serial. I screamed yes! and high-fived Kirk, and drew the attention of every remaining team (probably wondering what we were so happy about).

We were so happy because we were going to make the film we wanted to make. And everyone on our team felt the same way. All the pieces floated together. Everyone was stoked. It was magical. And not once did we ever think about awards or winning. It didn't matter, and we didn't care.

We didn't make any choices for our film thinking, we might win this award if we did this. Winning never matter, though, we all admitted it would be really nice.

Yes, that is random sheets of black fabric being hung over cardboard with some Xmas lights.

2. Don't let your equipment stop you.

Okay, I'll be the first to admit we have some decent equipment, and some crappy equipment. We're real middle of the road when it comes to that. SO MANY teams had fabulous equipment. I'm talking RED EPICS (cameras that cost more than my yearly salary). They had cranes and real equipment! They had people that weren't ghetto rigging the tripod so the camera didn't fall off! (*cough*cough*)

We knew this going in. We knew this throughout from various tweets. While I moaned and lamented that I wanted a RED, I knew I wasn't going to have one. I also didn't let it intimidate me. I'd seen so many people with expensive equipment turn out crap in film school because they didn't know how to use it. Just because someone uses really good equipment doesn't mean their film is automatically good. If that were true, there would never be any breakout indie success. The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity would not have been the successes they are. Videos shot on cell phones would never go viral.

Equipment only enhances a project. It doesn't make or break one.

And some how, with our mediocre equipment, we nailed some technical awards. (Really? How'd we end up with Sound Design?) So yeah, bigger doesn't mean better. Don't let something as silly as equipment keep you from making the film you want to make.

Editor, DP, and Husband serving writers surprise finger sandwiches in his snazzy apron just to get a laugh.

3. Have fun.

Ok, this sounds ridiculious, but I've consistantly done one thing every year - have fun. I love 48hfp. I have so much fun doing it. I partcipate with predominately non-film people. We giggle, push ourselves, and make something just because we want to. We do it for the love, and for the fun.

Sunday afternoon, while people hang out on the couch waiting to actually see what we've filmed, I get comments like: "I can't wait for next year." "So, are gonna continue this as a web series? Cuz I'd be down replaying my role."

I get so many people coming back to be a part of the team year after year because, bottom line is, we have fun. In the end, it doesn't matter if we win or lose. If we make a good film or not. It's the act of doing it, and doing it together, and having a good time that makes this all worth while. I don't understand the people at the kick off who stand there going "every year I say this is the last, but I somehow find myself back here." Because every year I say, "Is it 48 yet?"


When I told my friend that we'd won, she said, "Guess that means your the team to beat next year." I laughed. I'd never gone into 48hfp trying to beat the winning team. (I'll admit, I do have some imaginary grudges of people I'd like to beat just because.) Instead, I go in in thinking the only people I have to do better than is us. Every year we want to grow and improve and have fun doing it. Would I like to win again? Hell yes. Do I expect to or make that a priority to us? Absolutely not.

Next year, I expect everyone to be gunning for us, and I say great. If I can inspire someone to make a great 48hfp, then I feel accomplished. And if we can do better than this year, then even better! Maybe we'll win again (a first in our city). But honestly, I don't care. As long as I get to keep doing what I've been doing.

And I just hope, that next year, we pull Western/Musical.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Been Busy

So, it's been a while since I posted a new blog update. And a whole lot has happened.

I got a transfer at my job. It's not a welcome change, and I've spent a lot of time petitioning it. However, it's a change I've had to learn to accept, and one that's eating an extra 2 hours out of my day. Needless to say, I haven't been in the most creative of mood because of it.

Then there was the 48HFP. And my team, Zombie and the Brain, totally kicked ass. We pulled the genre Adventure Serial - my 2nd to top pick! And our film? Totally amazing. And now we're whispering it could possibly become a web series? There's only one way to know for sure! Anyway, you can check out the trailer below.


My writing has been a bit lacking. I have a commercial voice over script to work on. Plus, I have a interesting creative project for my job - this could be the kick-off I need to write the Library Screenplay I've been wanting to.

So, I've been busy busy! I'm thinking about starting a couple of memes to keep this blog active, but right now I'm so overloaded, my positing will probably be erratic.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Perspective

Perspective of yourself and your work is often the hardest part of being a writer.

For the last two weeks I've been meticulously stressing over details of my WIP. I'm not even talking about word choice (I won't even let myself go there yet.). I'm constantly doubting, and second guessing my choices. Should I pick one central protagonist? Or push forward with my feeling that there are two? Are their POVs balanced? Is my setting developed? Do I have to many additional characters? Are my main protagonists fleshed out enough? Is the romance even working?

One corkboard of index cards later, I knew I needed a new perspective.


A lot of writers recommend taking a break. Taking time off from the story. This isn't always the solution for me. When I first wrote this manuscript nearly 3 years ago, I had to put it down for some of the very same issues I'm fretting over now. If 3 years isn't enough shelf time to separate myself from these issues, no amount of time will be.

When I talk to some of my friends, they're advice is to just keep writing. Keep telling the story and worry about that during revision. Well this is revision. I have the story done. I'm trying to iron out kinks. Smooth over the rough draft. What is there to keep writing? AHG!

So I did something different. I sucked it up and sent the mess of a 3rd draft to some alpha readers - the lovely ladies I met through Camp Nano in July. Many of us writers have heard of beta readers, those wonderful critiquers who point out all the plot holes so we can cement them in. A beta reader should only be reading a draft once you've reached the point where you can see nothing wrong. A alpha reader is more or less someone who can keep you on track. Someone to run a messy draft, a preliminary idea by, that will let the writer know if she's on track or not. They offer general ideas and suggestions, knowing you're probably aware of the nitty gritty of revision you still have to complete.

So far, it has given me some perspective. I'm clearly worrying about POV entirely too much. I'm trying to pit all the rules of writing I've been taught against my storytelling instinct. Letting others read it is allowing me to get over that hurdle. Yes, my story can be successful while having 2 POVs.

Instead I know I need to focus on some world-building and exposition. Make sure all my plants are in place and clear. These are things I thought I had succeeded at, but, I hadn't.

Writing cannot be a solitary art form. This is in part due to the fact that in order to be a novelist, you need readers. I mean that's the point isn't it? The writer has a story to tell, but she needs the reader to hear it. Writing is the the medium of expression.

Locking myself up in my office and obsessing over details and lessons was becoming detrimental not only to my story, but to my mental state. I felt lost and hopeless, and all my confidence in my project ptttph out like a deflating balloon. I needed that outside prospective to keep me on track.

And this Panic! At the Disco Song to jam out to.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Splash Into Summer: Artist Highligh Jessica Cox


Splash into Summer



In honor of The ZBBC's new design going live, I thought I'd highlight the amazing artist Jessica Cox. I have two 8X10 prints of her mermaid designs in my office, plus 3 mini prints scattered about.


I saw Ms. Cox's designs from across the room at Coast Con, and knew I desperately wanted them.


I've mentioned before how I like my mermaids rather fishy, and Ms. Cox delivers.


Ms. Cox designs more than just mermaids, and each design is just stunning. All of the pictures in this blog are for sale on her website, plus, many, many more. Check the rest of her designs out today.

In closing, I'm leaving you with this awesome video I filmed of my husband interviewing Ms. Cox at Coast Con this past spring.
 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Splash into Summer Movie Review: She Creature




Splash into Summer

Being a filmmaker, I really wanted to review a movie for Splash. One immediately came to mind, a personal favorite of mine.

If you're reading this blog, I'm sure you can agree that the best part about Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides was the Mermaids.
They were cool and dark and monstrous! Totally not Ariel. Too bad it wasn't just about them.

However, they reminded me of this very neat Mermaid Horror film She Creature (2001).

Never heard of it? Not surprising. It was a Showtime original that I'm pretty sure I caught when it originally aired late one night in high school.

She Creature is set at the turn of the 20th century, and follows the tale of a side show circus that acquires a real mermaid. It starts Rufus Sewell and a bunch of people you almost recognize.

Angus (Rufus Sewell) is the proprietor of the circus, and his lovely lady Lily (Carla Gugino) is the show's mermaid. Of course, hers is just a costume - a hoax like the rest of a circus. But everything changes when Angus and Lily ofter to bring a drunk patron home. Turns out, this drunk guy, actually has a real live, murdering mermaid! Yeah, the mermaid totally ate the drunk's wife. Now he just wants her to die.



Angus can't get the mermaid out of his mind. So he sneaks back to the drunks house and "procures" the creature. Now, the circus is trapped on a boat with a beautiful and deadly mermaid as they cross the Atlantic. But worst of all, Lily seems to have developed a deadly link with the mermaid.

She Creature really creeps me out while being totally awesome, especially for a low-budget film. Lily and the creature are both fascinating strong female characters played by great actresses. The story is solid. The pacing is good. The creature - is totally awesome. The mermaid portrays an inhuman beauty, and the make-up and effects hold up. Plus, she has really nice boobs. Which are everywhere in this movie. I'm sure part of her casting involved how good her boobs look in water.


So, if you're a mermaid fan who can deal with horror movies, you must check out She Creature. It's a lot of fun, and a great creepy take on the myth.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Splash into Summer: Part of my World - Creature Creation


Splash into Summer
Today for Splash into Summer, I'm going to talk about my mermaids. How I came to creating them and what they sorta look like.

When I decided I wanted to write about mermaids, I knew I didn't want my mermaids to look like this:

 
I'm not even sure what kind of pose Ariel is doing here.

 Instead I wanted incorporate my love of saltwater fish into my creatures. I want my mermaids to be based on actual fish.

Ok, so maybe she's based on a koi not a saltwater fish, but you get the idea.
Image by Bamfette

Mermaids aren't an unusual creatures. Their imagery is all over the place, especially around any location that has water. Their image is as iconic as unicorns and fairies. Mermaids are typically visualized as top half very human and bottom generically fishy. Going outside of the box is a glitter tail and gils. Using actual aquatic inspiration for mermaid designs seems rare. I have found some, and they're based on dolphins. (I am not, nor have I ever, been a dolphin person.)

My family has been aquarium hobbyists all my life. In fact, they bread freshwater angelfish on a fairly large scale for a chuck of my childhood. Then when I moved out, I didn't last a year before I bought a betta fish and put it in a giant martini glass.

When I got my first apartment, I set up my first saltwater tank. It was big and I kept lion fish, though I desperately wanted a Harlequin Shrimp.

 These are totally my favorite aquatic thing ever! The EAT starfish! How cool is that?
Plus they look like aliens.

Anyway, times pass, and I get this inspiration for writing a mermaid book. Immeadately my years of fishkeeping come to me. I know that my mermaids will take on characteristics of specific fish. Razor fins! Venomous spines! Yes! I start browsing images online, looking for mermaids that resemble mine...

I don't find much.

I start reading more mermaid books to examine how other authors building their creatures and worlds. Still nothing quite like I imagined. 

I often feel sad seeing this lack use natural inspiration. Aquatic creatures can be down right cool and weird. They have some of the craziest color combinations on the planet. I knew immeadately, that I would attach a fish inspiration to all of my merfolk. That I would drawn from all my knowledge about cool aquatic creatures. I'll incorporate razor fins and juvenile color patterns.

 The Emporer Angel juvinile. My MMC still has this pattern and is teased by his sister for it.

Creature creation is a very difficult part of writing. Mermaids are both over explored and underexplored. The word itself brings to mind a very specific image, yet, it's not the image I want. I'm very excited to mold that image into something new and unqiue. There are so many cool things in nature to take inspiration from. When it comes to mermaids, I want to see this happen.

The Mermaid combinations are endless!
Picture by Doodlebuggy
So, take time to create your creatures. Draw from inspirations you know and love. Google cool pictures and keep a folder. And sometimes, the thing sitting in front of your nose is the best place to start.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Just Keep Swimming



Splash into Summer





I promise, by the end of this blog, I'll have a Splash Into Summer tie-in.

It's the beginning of July, and the end of Camp Nanowrimo. In case you were wondering, I did not have a miraculous finish. Actually, I'm not even sure of my final word count, but I estimate it's around 30k. I am still okay with this.

This weekend, I've been sitting down with my work, backwards engineering an outline. This is exceptionally rough for me. This draft isn't half bad, but, I'm having a hard time looking at it as a whole. I kept saying, "This writing thing is hard!"

I was feeling particularly down, so I asked Twitter what I should do when it was tough to keep writing. I got the best answer ever.

@MegTao just. keep. writing.

It was the perfect encouragement. Something so simple, how could I have forgotten it? (I'm totally thinking of printing these words out and gluing them to the wall behind my desk. Oh, and check out the awesome MegTao's blog too.)

Then I read this in one of my camp buddies blogs:

"Things Camp Nano Has Taught Me:
...
5.) I will never quit writing."

There's something so profound in that statement that I nearly fell out of my chair. 

I will keep writing, and I will never quit.

This totally reminded me of...

Which it totally fishy, and fits right into the Splash into Summer theme! Plus, I'm gonna attempt to post a new post every day for the rest of the week in celebration of Splash into Summer! Booyah!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Goals of a Part-Time Novelist


Setting writing goals is essential for being a writer. Goals that are often self induced and self enforced. Be it writing 50k words in a month or #500wordaday, writing regularly is manditory.

This month I opted to partcipate in Camp Nanowrimo, a smaller trafficed but identical competition to Novemember's 50k in 30 days challenge. I went into Camp suspecting I would not complete the 50k challenge, but hoped to get about 30k, or the 1st half of my WIP rewritten, which ever came first.

As June draws to a close, I realize that 50k is not possible for me, but I did achieve my smaller goal. So why do I feel so...unfulfilled?

At some point mid-month, it struck me that I might be able to meet the 50k challenge. I was on target; I was writing daily. What happened?

The realization that I'm only a Part-Time Novelist, for now. I don't have the time between filming and working my real job and spending quality time with my friends and family to spend multiple months of the year writing 50k. The overachiever in me is not happy about that. But I can look back at this month and say, I worked on cleaning (there was much yard work accomplished), I helped with a short film, I didn't call in sick once!, and I rewrote the first half of Tails. That's quite an achievement. I don't feel quite so bad about myself.

So, what am I getting at? We need to remember our priorities. Set goals that are achievable. Lofty goals like 50k in a month or 500 a day are not achievable for every lifestyle. Sometimes 100 words a week is a great goal. Picking something that's reasonable for you is what's important. Then remember to take a step back and look at your accomplishments. Reward yourself when you finish that goal, even if it was a small goal.

While yes, a full time writer can often produce 50k a month without batting an eye, I'm only a part time writer. I'm returning from Camp proudly with half a novel in hand. I think that means a cocktail, and time to finally Splash Into Summer.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Researching in Unexpected Places



Camp Nano  is overtaking my soul. While I'm so happy to have 10K words worth of revision into Tails (over 5K of that through Camp), having time to go to the movies, read a book, and blog would certainly be nice. So this is my way of saying don't shoot me if I start posting irregularly.

But I have learned my 1st lesson from camp. Research may come from the most unusual places.

Since this is not my first draft, but rather a 2.5 draft that I'm hoping will be completely legible when I'm done. Pausing for research is just as valuable to me as actually writing. So when I hit my first pothole, I calmly a analyzed the best way to fill it in.

One of my characters is fascinated by electric lights. So my description of his fascination can be "ooo! electric lanterns are cool!" No, he has to caress them. Be fascinated by...how the hell do you describe a "lantern"? I think it's time for some research.

A quick google search of lanterns and I can have the whole history of lanterns, but that's not what I need. I need descriptions and diagrams. Where can I find that?

Someplace unexpected: HomeDepot.com

Now, I can look at various shapes and sizes of lamps, and read little descriptions. I found words like flourish, beveled glass, mountings, and fluted details. Words I knew, but would never have applied to a lamp. I also knew what was important when describing it.

I found four lanterns I liked, and using one picture (and inspiration from 4 descriptions), I made my own description:


"He rushed towards the first [lantern] he noticed, dropping Cora’s arm and nearly climbing the wall to get a closer look. He looked at the glowing orb inside like a small sun in captured glass. His hand touched the beveled glass, measuring the heat. A test against the cool flourished Testlite mounting. Cora smiled, proud of her kingdom’s achievements."
I had to think outside of the box to get what I needed. Site that sell products are constantly writing descriptions of products - in an informative and marketable way. They make great sources for sticky descriptions, or just to learn terminology about something you're not quite familiar with.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Social Writer

This year I'm partcipating in Camp Nanowrimo! Yay for me! I'm using the challenge to complete the rewrite (or at least make major headway) of Tails.

 Yay! Camper Badge.
Getting ready for camp has reminded me of something I really enjoy as a writer - being social.

Once upon a time, writers were these mythical creatures who carried moleskin notebooks, smoked lots of cigarettes, and hid in dark corners of the world to practice their craft. They talked about the lonely nights of being a writer that non-writers just couldn't understand. It almost seemed as if socializing with other writers would ruin their craft.

Then, something changed. Social media developed and suddenly writers were connecting in more ways then ever. Connecting with readers, agents, publisher, and other writers.

So just maybe, this solitary writing thing is just a myth.

I have always been a social writer. In fact, my NOCCA writing teacher made a comment to me about it. She commented, neither negative nor positive but rather curiously, on how much I interacted with the other students, and how my interaction build a sort of camaraderie. We smiled together, chatted, and met outside of class. Our noses weren't stuck in books or notebooks, but rather talking and observing each other. All of us did just as well as previous classes who secluded themselves.

Perhaps that's why I fell in love with Nanowrimo - I felt connected again.

Having a writing friends is essential to my process. I take comfort in knowing that others are going through the same issues as me. Writer's block? Let's lament over cocktails. Self-pub or traditional pub? Let's debate the pros and cons over coffee. Celebrating finishing that chapter? Doughnuts and critique. Keeping me on track? Peer pressue works better than deadlines.

Throughout collage and when I got back into writing, I did it alone. I had no one to share ideas with or talk plot points out. (My husband often stands proxy, but he is not a writer. Answering if I should use 1st person or 3rd is just something he answers with a blank look.) It was hard. It was lonely. I felt very frustrated.

Then in 2010, I got out of my house and went to a Nanowrimo write-in. In less than two years, I have made some solid friends - friends who won't stare at my clueless when I talk about POVs. Friends that I go to the movies with. Friends that I will ask to critique something when I finally get to that point. It's these people who get me through the tough times. That keep me from giving up. I know that I wouldn't be where I am now without them.

Writing does not have to be a solitary thing (It can be, if that's how you roll.). There are tons of ways to connect: twitter, blogs, Nanowrimo, or local writer's groups. Find one that works for you.

Speaking of connecting, I'll be cross blogging over at the Cabin of the Good Blog - my Camp Nanowrimo Cabin Blog. Check out my specifically Camp vlogs over there.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Wishes Come True: The Writer's Office

Something essential to writing is carving out a space or place to work on your craft, especially if you're trying to take it professionally. Some people steal their kitchen table and let the kids run around. Some people have an expensive habit of going to coffee shops. Most of us take what we can get. The lucky ones get her own office.

I live in a house of people coming and going. There's usually three to five people (residents or otherwise) and a puppy in my house at any given minute. It's a buzz of activity and creativity. Sometimes, this can be really frustrating to certain creative processes, such as. oh, writing.

It's not so much the noise, but rather, space. For a long while, I had a mini-writing desk/bookshelf/cheap piece of old furniture about three feet in length that was designated "Shannon's writing area." It was a sweet gesture by my husband to carve out a piece of the chaotic filmmaking/arting/writing/editing/acting world that is our house. It worked wonderfully for about...a month. Then it became the place to put all of Shannon's stuff/books/papers/jewelry, and it didn't take long before it was a piece of furniture piled under (more or less) important things of Shannon's.

At the beginning of the year I asked to have the unused upstairs bedroom/unofficially Max's room during the semister. I wanted to make it an office - a place for me to write when the chaos of the house got to be too much. And a place to put my shoes/jewelry/papers/books/craft supplies. I made the request that what I really wanted for my birthday was to have my office set up so I had a place to work on my novel revisions and a place to write for Script Frenzy. My mom came over on weekend to clear out the remaining estate crap in the room (I'm sharing my house with the remaining stuff of my grandmother's - 2.5 rooms of junque). Then, eventually, I bought a can of paint and started painting.





Color Choice: Cheap 80s Sea Foam Green to Plum
 
So, I offered beer, and many helped pitch in to paint the room and start the journey to having a writing space.

Huzzah! New Color, and all crap in the center of the room!
Next was a new desk and to move the bed out of the room and the futon back up. Then it fell into a lull. I started working up here around the piles of crap that needed to be moved/sorted/put away. I struggled to find time between finishing Script Frenzy and editing my library videos to finish straightening up my new office space. So I made a wish to twitter:

"@Secretly_Samus: Can magical office faires and/or elves come and make my office pretty?? #iflifewereafairytale"

Turns out, they were listening.

I come home after a very long day at the 9 to 5 and find this:


And this




Very excitedly, I called all my friends to gush about my awesome new office, which everyone answered with: "About time."

Has having an office been good for my writing? Absolutely. Having my own space (even if it resembles my high school bedroom) has given me a place to focus, to build a routine, and to inform everyone to leave me alone. I've written over 4,000 words in my new space, done a read through of Tails, and created a timeline for my WIP.

Having a space to be yourself and just create is invaluable to any writer, something I knew, but didn't realize until I finally had it. For me, this space is a room dedicated to corkboards and mermaids...


Awesome Mermaid #1 by Jessica Cox

...has really made a difference in my work, my happiness, and my sanity.

So, every writer out there, carve out your writing space and make it yours, wherever that may be. It really makes a difference. And to all of you that already knew this, take a moment to realize how awesome it is to have your own space.


So, I'm going to finish this with some more mermaid painting from my new office:

Jessica Cox Mermaid Number 2 (had to have, cuz I love Angler Fishes so much)

 Painting I bough from a friend of the family upon completion of Tails in 2009

Monday, May 14, 2012

RIP: Kailyn

So, I'm 1 chapter deep into the new revision of Tails, and I'm already super excited about something. The death of my former female protagonist: Kailyn.

Kailyn, Kailyn, Kailyn, let me count the ways I detest you.

From page 1 of my first draft of Tails (though, it was more like page 5 because Kailyn wasn't in the first page) I detested my romantic interest and female protagonist: Kailyn. She was vapid, whiney, meek, and more a plot device than person. There were things I wanted her to be: smart, resourceful, responsible. Then there was her - a waste of space.

In my numerous drunken rambles about my novel, I would often drone on about how I was going to fix Kailyn. But, really, couldn't figure out how. 'Can you cut her?' No, she's my Male protag's motivation. How can I get rid of her? 'Can you make her less annoying?' If only. I thought, maybe I could minimize her. I'll make her a secondary character, instead of a primary.

I knew the best thing for my novel was to slice off the first 3 chapters and start the book where Kailyn finds a nearly dead Damarion on the beach. One problem - it might lead the focus of the book to be Kailyn instead of Damarion, and I couldn't stand that. So I fussed over the first 3 useless chapters for two months and shelved the WIP.

So, as I sat my my computer throwing bits of 1st draft around like confetti, I started thinking. I have to start the story at that previously mentioned point. Which means I have to deal with my issues with my FMC. But first, a little procrastination. I'm do so much changing (like, solidifing the setting), I thought some characters deserved name changes. And you know what? I never really liked Kailyn for a name anyway.

Five minutes of name research and a list of 10 potential names, and popular vote had a new name for my Female protagonist - Cora. Ah, it brings up thoughts of femme fatales and Lana Turner.
A young Lana Turner would totally make a great Steampunk Princess.

So I started writing, and Cora was doing things. She was smart and quick thinking and a touch rebellious... Before I knew it, I had a new chapter 1 that I was excited about. Then I started thinking about it. Why was it so much easier to write this new chapter 1?

Because Cora is not Kailyn. Cora is everything I wanted Kailyn to be.

Then it came to me - I just cut Kailyn out of the book. But didn't delete the spot, I delted the character, and replaced her with someone better.

So, there's a few lessons I learned from this. 1.) Everything is in a name, and 2.) You can delete a character without deleting a character's role. When I started writing about Cora, I didn't think of her as Kailyn with a new name. Even a new image came to my mind as I was writing. Everything about the character just clicked in my head. Immeadately, I started referring to Kailyn as Cora. The act of changing her name allowed me to change the character because I was no longer thinking of that character. I was thinking of someone new.

And I solved one of my biggest issues with the manuscript by deleting that character I hated withouth deleting the role I assigned her.

So I think a really good trick when you're stuck with a flat character is to change up a name. It worked perfectly for me!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What I did During Script Frenzy: Library Videos

So, while working on my adaptations for Script Frenzy, I did manage to write, and film 2 short promo videos for the Summer Reading Program at the library I work at. One I finished editing during April, but one didn't get finished until the beginning of May.

I think they're fantastic, considering they were done in about 2 weeks during the Frenzy, and by pretty much me. Those other people, just taking credit. ;)

So, since they're loaded to Vimeo, Blogger won't let me embed them. So here are the links:

Children's Magical Fantasy
Teen's Monster Movie

Monday, May 7, 2012

Dilemmas

Anyone following this blog knows that I have been dilligently working on the revision of my 2011 Nanowrimo Novel The Flamingo Princess. Anyone who knows me personally will remember my 1st Nanowrimo when I wouldn't shut up about the mermaid novel I wrote, Tails.
The image from my mermaid writing shirt!
Sometime in 2010, Tails and I "broke-up" because I wasn't ready to edit it. I was having so much trouble with the revision (even though I knew I need to chop the first 3 chapters (11,000 words)). Then there was the little fact that in early 2010 no one would have looked twice at a mermaid/fairy tale retelling/steampunk novel. Shelving it seemed like the best idea.

Now, it's time to re-evaluate. I'm seeing a trend forming, for both steampunk and mermaid. I've developed and itch to return to this novel I wrote 3 years ago. But, a part of me really wants to stick it out and finish my WIP.

So, after much dilberation, I've decided to shelve The Flamingo Princess and pick Tails back up. I'll apply my knowledge of revision I've learned this year.

Starting with the read-through.

....

I knew that Tails was a bit of a trainwreck. Three years later, a trainwreck is an understatement. It's basically 50,000 words of me talking out a concept. Info dumps run rampant; characters devoid of personality; and a pacing that would make snails cry. So far the only thing I'm keeping from the draft is the line: The silence between them was heavy like iron. I'm ready to just stop reading, throw the whole draft in the trash, and just start writing from strach.

That would not be the writely thing to do. One thing I've learned from my newly sheleved WIP is the read through is essential.

So, I'm not quiting. My husband has made a very helpful suggestion: record the rest of the book as an audio book, so I can listen to it and stop looking at how awful the writing is. (He's under the mistaken impression that it's not as bad as I say it is.) So, I'm trying that (while secretly rewriting the 1st scene.)

Once it's finished recording, I'll see if I can post some of it here, and report if it was a successful tool for getting me through this first read-through.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Unofficial Fairy Tale Fortnight! Cinder and Shan's Top Picks







So I really wanted to participate in FTF, but, alas, April is also Script Frenzy and I didn't plan enough ahead too. So, I'm going to unofficially partcipate, and those reading, check out the The Book Rat's Fairy Tale Fortnight Line-Up.

So I'm going to start my FTF post with some Food for Thought: Cinder.

Last week, Marissa Meyer released discussion questions for Cinder. I didn't contribute any questions, because, well, I couldn't think of them at the time. But, being the big fan that I am (besides absolutely loving the book, Marissa Meyer is my hero), and because some of the questions I've actually discussed myself with friends and family, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts on my favorite questions.

 3. Cinder has many unique abilities—the ability to detect lies, to download information directly into her head, to overlay her eyesight with helpful diagrams, etc. What kinds of abilities might we want to develop from future technology? What cyborg skill would you like to have today?

The cyborg question: Ok, I'll admit, this is the biggest logic fault for me. I'm assuming that Ms. Meyer has thought about this, and I just don't know the answer because, well, it's not pertenant. If there is such discrimination against cyborgs (who have really awesome super powers), why would anyone become a cyborg??? My choices are death, palatalization, or becoming something that's not even a citizen anymore? Is it really better than death if you escape death just to be drafted and killed with the plague draft??? Many stories talk about how freedom and human rights are noble - a cause worth dying for. Is a life as a cyborg really better than death?

Actually, I think that if (well, when) cyborgnetics become that advanced we will develop two social status - those with enhanced parts and those without. There will be an eletisim for those who are pure, but I can aslo imagine that would exsist for those who are cyborgnetic. I think there would be discrimination, but not a class division.

4. In Cinder’s future, Earth has been conglomerated into six countries who have formed an alliance called the Earthen Union. Though Cinder lives in Asia (the Eastern Commonwealth), there is much evidence of western influence (ex., the ball gowns that are made for Peony and Pearl). Do you think this mixing of cultures is a believable result of the Earthen Union? How do you foresee cultures changing (or not) as a result of the increased communication and travel we have access to today?

This is my favorite part of the book - globalization! This is a real socio-economic-political theory! I adored that this world considers the world as a whole, and that there are different, even if it's just slightly, factions in the world. Having one truely homegenous culture in sci-fi always, always, bothered me.

Yet, we are on track for losing the majority of our culture and beoming on homengeous community. Yes, there will still be cultural quirks, but, I do believe that influences would strech that far. I live in New Orleans, which has an alarmingly strong and not traditionally American culture, but I can see that as my generation grows, that culture is really fading and turning into the standard American culture. We're loosing our slang, our festivals, our flavor. Some of this homengenation is good, but some of it is sad.  Yes, it's still here, but not like it was 10, 20, or 50 years ago.

9. Was it right for Cinder to try to deliver the antidote to Peony first, even though there were others who also needed it? Was it right for Dr. Erland to offer her first access to the antidote? What would you have done in either situation?

This is an interesting question. As a writer, I know why this action worked out the way it did. Cinder is our hero. Her first goal was finding a cure for Peony. So, logicially, from a narrative POV, Peony is the only one who could recieve the antidote. When I was reading this, I didn't think anything of it. It wasn't until I started talking with someone I lent the book to that I the moral question was raised.

The reader disassociated with Cinder because of this action. She thought it was cruel and selfish of Cinder to believe that her sister was deserving of the cure when so many other were suffering. She also blamed Dr. Erland for offering it to Cinder, but Dr. Erland is already a bit of an morally ambigious character, so it was less bothersome. I hadn't thought about it that way before.

Those are my favorite questions, but there are a lot of food for thought among the questions. If you read Cinder, check out the questions and tell me what your answer would be.

So, this is part 2 of this post, and I'm going to list my favorite Fairy Tale adaptations!
(So add all of these to your reading list if you haven't already...)

1. Cinder  - Ok, so no one's surprised by this. Sci-fi, cyborg Cinderella of pure awesomeness.
2. A Long, Long Sleep - Another Sci-fi tale, but this one is Sleeping Beauty. There are so many layers of awesomeness in this book, I just can't describe it. But I can say, the story really starts after the kiss...
3. A Tale Dark and Grimm - Hansel and Gretel is just the beginning of this fun and well written fairy tale collection. There's an interrupting narrator, who makes this book awesome, and they way Hansel and Gretel are woven into various tales in unique ways.
4. Howl's Moving Castle - So technically, not based on any particular tale, but Jones weaves her own unique fairy tale that's just as good as any predecessor.
5. Cloaked - The most fun fairy tale mash-up I've ever read! It's a mix of the Frog Prince, and The Salad, and the Swan Brothers tale that I can't quite remember. It's a fun run, and my favorite of Flinn's books.
6. Briar Rose - A contemporary retelling of Sleeping Beauty involving the Holocaust. Yolen is amazing at weaving history and fable together.
7. Black Thorn, White Rose - A short story anthology (the only one in the series I've been able to get my hands on) that's really cool. There's an awesome "Godfather Death" story, and a frog pricne with a Sci-Fi twist, plus a chilling Sleeping Beauty...
8. The Sun - A very literary and poetic book, but so far the only Little Red Riding Hood I seem to love.


So there we have it, my FTF forrary.

Oh, and in case you were wondering....


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Writer's Block is Imaginary


Writer's Block...I refuse to admit I have it.

So what if keep staring at that large number of pages I'm behind in Script Frenzy and not doing anything about it. Or that I keep throwing pages in the air out of frustration with the script I've been writing at work. (Why won't it just come together in amazement yet??) Or that I've waited until after the last minute to write this blog post.

Writer's block - this magical excuse that a writer's muse has vanished for a short period of time, and a writer, no matter what, cannont write.

am exhausted. I work 40 hours a week (where I've been spending all my time working on 2 script for Summer reading videos, plus planning and filming said vidoes), come home, write, sometimes cook dinner, try to clean house, take care of the animals, socialize with my husband, organzine filming projects, film....I do a lot. For this last week and a half, every time I open my Script Frenzy project, all I see are the pages that are fluttering away from me and hesitate to write the next scene.

I could be creatively drained.

But I won't call this writer's block.

I am afraid that my script won't have the juice to make it to the 100 page mark (though, should I really be worried about that? I do have 12 pages of summer reading and mop scripts to fill with...).  I'm afraid that my script is crap - that it won't live up to the needs I have set for it. So I keep looking at it and thinking "something is wrong." My editor wants to go back and fix it, but I don't even know what the problem is yet.

But I won't call this writer's block.

This is the dredges right before the end. The middle slump. The hardest part. Since I'm behind, I missed this in week 3, and am now hitting it with just over a week left of April. Crunch time is about to set in. This is the easiest place to give up, throw the towel in, and move on.

But I won't because I don't believe in writer's block. Right now it's my exhaustion and fear trying to convince me to take the easy way out and quit. So, I take a deep breath, a nap, and a bath and keep on trucking.

I will not give up.

So, what do you think? Writer's block, real or not?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Writing by the Seat of Your Pants with...Screenplays???


Screenplays can be more structured than novels, short stories, prose, etc... And all screenwriting advice talks about this epic mapping of plot and beats - that you need a wall of notecards ever putting pen to paper, or hands to keyboard. Lot's of novelists give this advice as well. But, lot's of other novelists encourage just writing and letting the novel unfurl with minimal pre-planning. As Chris Baty calls it: pantsing.

But I never see this advice offered to screenwriters. Why is that? Many writers are already scared off by the formatting of screenwriting, but then let's add that you need an entire month or more of pre-planning? Those looser, non-outliners run for the hills...

Well I'm here to dispel this. Yes, you can completely write a successful screenplay without all those index cards and planning.

I am a panster screenwriting.

My "baby" screenplay was born of a challenge. Write a screenplay about a homicidal scrapbooking club, oh and the main character has to be gay (because the commissioner had certain parts already). Oh, and it has to include a shoe made of body parts (why?). Oh! And there has to be room for a sequel. Now go!

....

Script Frenzy rolled around, and I just started typing. I had no idea how any of this was going to work or who the main character was. But as I pushed forward, I started thinking and started letting the characters develop, and suddenly, I really had something. Something good. Something born without an outline.

I couldn't stretch out the ending anymore, and ended up making up the last 10 pages of bonus features to meet Script Frenzy's 100 pages. After revisions (there are about 2), the final script is 90 pages. I don't plan on selling the script, because, well, my production team wants to make it. But I have shown it to people in the "biz." One said that it wasn't his cup of tea, but that it was really well written and solid. The producer said that it wasn't something he could produce at this time, but has since called me about a script doctoring job. I showed it to actors and a few other writers, all of whom loved it.

No one said anything about pacing, or poor plotting, or weak structure. No one could tell that I didn't outline to the smallest detail, or that I made the whole thing up on the spot. No one thought for the briefest of moments that I wrote the whole thing without planning.

Now I'm not saying that I don't need revisions, but even traditionally outline scripts need revisions.

I have not planned out a screenplay since Scrapbooking three years ago. Even my current work, which is an adaptation, has no pre-planning and has gone from a short to a feature because I just sat down and started writing. And I plan on keeping it this way as long as I write.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Let's Talk About Adaptations


This Frenzy I'm writing an adaptation of a short story about zombies and the Great Chicago Fire. I'm keeping my lips a little tight about who's story it is because my film team is about to enter negotiations for rights.

This is not my first adaptation. My first attempt at screenwriting was an film noir adaptation of Grimm's "12 Dancing Princesses." My second attempt a screenwritng was an adaptaion of H.P. Lovecraft's "Pickman's Model." I've learned alot about adaptaions just from that, and with my experience level leagues higher then when I was attempting those, I'm now doing yet another adaptation.

And speaking of adaptations, let's talk about the Hunger Games, the adapation everyone's talking about, and because I read an article about concept art that wasn't used.

Before I even begin to start, let's set some basics down in writing.

Point 1: Film and prose, be that novels or short stories, are totally different mediums. They share many characteristics, but they are quite different. Things that work in words do not work on screen and vice versa.

Point 2: Readers are more forgiving than Viewers. Books can get away with slower pacing and even some plot holes without upsetting readers too much. Viewers are much harsher. Then, there's also the filmmakers in which economy of scenes, characters, and time are a necessity.

My opinion: The Hunger Games is one of the closest book to movie adaptations, and while an excellent adaptation, its goal to remain so close to the book actually detracts from its value as a movie. When I talk about the movie, I think of it as an excellent visual companion to the book, not as an excellent movie aside from the book. This is because the movie hits every major plot point of the book, and in doing so, causing the importance of certain events to be underplayed. (Such as Rue.)

There are going to be some people who think the movie is better than the book (especially those of us who found Katniss' narration F***ing annoying). There are going to be many that find the book better. I can't say if it ultimately is, but I do feel the movie means more if you read the book.

Let's get to the nitty gritty. There are changes made from the book to movie. Most of them are minor, some, major, but ALL understandable from a filmmaking prospective.

So let's talk about that article from earlier, and if you haven't seen/read Hunger Games - be warned - spoilers.

When I first heard they were making the Hunger Games into a film, my reactions were "Hell yes!" and "How are they going to keep this PG-13?" (I had very similar reactions when I heard Coraline was being made into a movie.)

Keeping Hunger Games PG-13 is an absolute must because this is a teen novel. The major demographic is teens between 13 and 17. By no means is this a children's movie, and it is certainly enjoyable to adults. But, leave the little ones at home.

Let's go back to that article I mentioned earlier. One of the biggest deviations from the book is the Muttations at the end of the movie. Before the movie ever came out, I remember laying in bed with my husband talking about how they're going to handle the dog-people at the end of the movie. It's pretty horrifying. Dead tributes turned into monsters sent after the remainging few. How were they going to keep that PG-13?

The answer: they couldn't. At least, I would bet large amounts of money that the dog creatures at the end of the movie were just dogs more for rating than anything else. (Though, it could also be because the character creation wasn't working, but the bad CG of the dogs in generally lead me to believe that it was more a rating issue.) The dogs are actually so bad, it almost takes the viewer out of the movie. Many who didn't read the book are left wondering, what the hell was that about? Those who read the book, are just plain mad.

I'm going to address this in two ways: 1.) Why keeping the movie PG-13 was so important, and 2.) why staying so close to the book actually hurt the adaption (aka, my opinion).

It's clear from the concept art that the filmmakers were intending on doing the Muttations right. Which is so cool. But, somehow, this concept didn't make it to the final cut. My best guess, ratings. It could have been poor character execution (like the reason Peeves was cut from Harry Potter), and it could have been budgetary (though, this was not a movie lacking in budget or profitability).

If the Muttations meant an R-rating, then they had to be changed, or the profitability of the movie would have changed. Most parents wouldn't have let their teens go to an R movie, and the few movie people who just love movies, wouldn't have been enough for the movie to make back it's budget. Because we have to remember that movies are just as much a business as an art. So, to keep the rating down and keep the movie available to the target audience, the Muttations had to go.

This leads right into my argument that the movie is too faithful to the book. Ok, I understand that the Muttations had to go. They were only impactful in the book because they looked like dead tributes. Now that they're just dog beasts, well, it's kind of lame. So why keep it? Because they were being "faithful." This became an aspect of the book that needed to be changed, but wasn't, and lessened it's overall impact. Why couldn't they have set the arena on fire again? Or flooded it? That would have gotten them to the top of the cornucopia and achieved the same ending. And it would have felt more natural than the weird dog things that were left.

But noooo, they had to be faithful. And the movie suffers for it.

So, let's look at the lesson here. When adapting a work of fiction to a movie, there has to be a balance. Keep the story as close as possible without letting the movie suffer. Acknowledge that some things just don't work in movies, and some things just don't work in print. Once you recognize that, watching a movie adaptation becomes more enjoyable. A movie can still be a good movie even if it's not 100% faithful to a book, or even 90% faithful.

I am keeping the Hunger Games close at mind while adapting my work. And if you've always had a problem with books turn to movies, I think you should try to write a script based on that book (What a Great Script Frenzy Project!). You'll have a whole new outlook on theprocess.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Let the Frenzy Begin!


So besides all the numerous things that consume all my time, I've also participate in Script Frenzy - Nanowrimo's sister script writing challenge. Because of this, I've put my revision WIP on hold. At least for a month. So for all of April, I'm going to post topics that come up during the Frenzy.

Today's topic: Don't be Afraid of the Script

A lot of people I talk to don't want to write a script because they're afraid of formatting. And I'll admit, compared to any other form of writing save some unusal forms of poetry, scriptwriting looks like Greek.

Personally, I think this is done half to scare away people from writing scripts.

In a way, it's a test for industry gatekeepers. They know how serious you are because you followed the ridiculous gatekeeping format.

But mostly, when actually filming the script, the format works really damn well.

But, thanks to modern technology, you don't have to really worry about formatting anymore! There's top of the line programs like Final Draft. Then many other writing programs like Scrivner offer Scriptwriting mode. Hell, even Mac's default Pages offers a scriptwriting form. And if you can't "afford" any of these programs, Celtx is free and available for download.

So there is no excuse for not formatting. Now we can rely on technology to transcribe our writing into Script Greek for us, and we only need to know 3 basics.

1. Scene headings - the INT./EXT. DAY/NIGHT

In prose, we spend paragraphs carefully crafting setting. In scripts, we spend one line.
INT. stands for interior and EXT. stands for exterior. Basically, are we indoors or out? (Tip: use INT if you're inside a car.) If you're moving indoors to outdoors, or not quite sure if it counts as either, just write it best you can. This is a 1st draft, you can look up the specific ruling on that after you've written it, if there there is a ruling.

Next, comes the where. HOUSE, CAR, CHRYSTLER BUILDING 27TH FLOOR. The actual where of the scene. It can be as brief as house, or as detailed as you want, like the 27th floor of a major building.

Finally, if it's important, time of day. Day, night, afternoon, morning, dawn, dusk, 3pm, etc. Time of day is really only used when it's important, otherwise, you don't really need it.

There you have it! All of those paragraphs and paragraphs of beautiful prose condensed down to one line. Now to move on.

2. Dialogue

A lot of any script is dialogue. It's short and squished together and doesn't use quotes.

Don't be afraid of it. Don't be afraid if it doesn't sound quite right yet. Just get it down, and be happy you don't have to worry about that "should I use said" conundrum.

Hey, look, we're 2/3rds of the way through all the basics!

Lastly, 3. Action, aka, everything else.

Now that we've eliminated dialogue and scene headings, everything else falls into an Action block. This is where any description goes. (Yes, there is still description, just not paragraph and paragraphs of it.) Any silent visuals. Any props. Any movement. It's a catchall for everything that's not a scene heading or dialogue. So when in doubt, just use an action block.

It's also a really great way to add on to your page count for Frenzy.

Does this cover every little detail of scriptwriting? No. Sometimes, you'll have odd little format questions. And in the real world, if it's odd, and you don't get it quite right, no one's going to notice because, chances are, they don't know how to write it either.

So if you've ever wanted to write a screenplay, play, radio drama, video game, comic, anything involving scripts, get off your butt, stop using excuses, join the Frenzy, and write.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I have become a terrible blogger

I have been a terrible blogger lately, and I promise, I'll write something real soon. But I've put everything else on hold right now to work on revising my novel.

Seems like revision just boils down to getting your hands dirty and doing.

(Oh, and I've revised half my book at this point. That's really exciting.)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Current Projects?

So, I wasn't sure what to write about this week. Plus, this post is already late.
As I mentioned, I've been really sick. So between work and sleeping, I haven't had time for anythign else. Being sick has not been productive for me. So I have nothing new to add to my revision talks. But I will say I'm about a month behind where I want to be with my novel. (Huh, look, that corresponds exactly with how long I've been sick.)
Of course, I've had new projects piled on to my already busy schedule. I've got my "Secret" Script Frenzy project - been keeping up with the research for that. I've got an idea buzzing around for two scripts (my ideal goal is to have three), and one of them I think I can add some personal "Katrina" symbolism too. I'm excited.
Then I've been gearing up for Script Frenzy. I'll be acting as Muncipal Leiason again this year. I love being the ML, and I love the SF community, so, again, much excitement. I'm working on coming up with exciting plans, but I haven't quite done that yet.
Since my last post, I did get to see Hugo. I really enjoyed the movie, but found it an odd interpertation of the book. Hugo is more about film history (and if you are a film buff, you'll absolutely love Hugo), than about the story. It's also really interesting Scorsese didn't utilize the images from the book, instead using his own vision.
Being sick has given me much time to catch up on lots of TV shows I've been missing, including all the of the series Face-Off. This also means that I've started a new hobby with special effects make-up. Totally unrelated to writing, but hey, so far it's been fun. I'm working toward getting back on track with my writing goals, so hopefully next week I'l have something relavant to post about!
Head Casting of our On Call Zombie

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Showing and Tell - The Invention of Hugo Cabert

I'm going to start this off with an apology. This post is two weeks late, and I'm sorry. I've been really sick and am just starting to get on the mend. Please forgive my inconsistancies.
Working at a library gives me interesting insight into book popularity. I always know when a movie is based on a book, even when it doesn't seem as obvious. The movie Hugo is based on the book The Invention of Hugo Cabert by Brian Selznick (something I didn't realize at first). I did not make it to the movie, but the popularity of Selznick's book meant you couldn't get a copy for three months. Well, the book finally came back without a reservation so I picked it up.

I read the book over the course of a day, and what I took from it (besides being a rather lovely story of a boy, some clocks, a famous filmmaker, and a mystery) was it was an ideal example of when to show and when to tell.

The adage "Show, don't tell" is know through out the writer world, and it's good advice. But sometimes, it can lead to pages of boring conversations about breakfast eating. It's better right?

Cause I'm showing, not telling? Well, sometimes telling is better.

Finding a balance between when to show and when to tell is difficult, but if you look at The Invention of Hugo Cabert, it can help figure out when the time is right.

How does Selznick's story do this? Well, over half the book is literally showing the story with illustrations. Between the illustrations bits of text are peppered, filling in the gaps between the story and the pictures, or just the dialogue the pictures can't communicate. The story doesn't reiterate the pictures with text, but rather uses the pictures to explain what the text cannot. It shows us the most important parts, and tells us the rest in a way that weaves a beautiful story.

Basically, the best parts of the book are very visual, while the less important, but still important, bits are explained. The scenes that Selznick chose to illustrate, the illustrated for a very particular reason. By looking at his choices, we can see why having those scenes visualized made the story more impactful. Then we can look at our stories, and see where we can show more and tell less, or where we can tell more and show less.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Killing Darlings


Sometimes, I think being stuck at my day job, unable to write, but thinking about writing, might be the best thing for revision. It has lead me to a solution I had been struggling with, and I believe I have come to the point where I slay my first darling. Her name is Celeste.
"Kill your Darlings" is a writing term (though, I heard if first during a screenwriting class) that describes eliminating or cutting something from a work that the writer is close to for the improvement of the work. There's a debate by who actually coined the term, but a couple of famous people have been quoted about it.
I generally don't have a problem with this removal of an element that I'm close to. I think it's the filmmaker in me (where I'm on set and there's not more time or budget left and it's only the essentials we film). So, when looking at my draft after the first read through, I knew I needed to get rid of my beloved Celeste. I just couldn't figure out how.
I never thought that I had a problem killing my darlings. I always found it easy to drop various elements of my story, even if I was emotionally attached to them. That is, if there was a reason for it. Yet, Celeste, well, she snagged me.
Celeste was one of the characters I wrote the story for. She's the herione (though is she really?) from the Grimm Tale "Sweetheart Roland." That tale has resounded with me since the Third Grade because I always thought that the herione was the stupidest girl on the planet. One of subplots I wanted to include in my Flamingo Princess was a reworking of the end of "Sweetheart Roland." One in which the herione is not totally screwed over and calls out Roland on in his infidelity. So I wrote it; it was a cruitial plot point of the novel.
After my first read through, I realized that Celeste fell to the wayside for a good two thirds of the book, only appearing in the beginning and for her big scene. Her character was a bit boring and whiney, which made her climax seem unnatural. Many of her earlier scenes felt forced - I was pushing her there so she could have her big scene. I mean, really, did she have to go to the Cinderella ball? No! I just needed some reason to keep her around... But something, something crutial happens during her big scene, making cutting her completely quite hard. If I deleted her big scene, well, then the charcters wouldn't reach the end.
If that's the case, then is this a darling I really should kill? The answer: yes.
As I work over my beginning, filling in the holes, I kept trying to figure out how to incorporate Celeste more. If I made the character more prevalent, then I don't have to cut her! Yeah, right.
Then I realized how to solve my problem. With a few tweaks, Celeste's big scene could become another character's big scene - someone who was left unresloved in the book anyway. Someone who kept stealing the scene from Celeste, filling her void anyway. There could be only one. Celeste then vanishes from the pages of my book like a wisp of smoke and none would be the wiser.
And I feel - relieved. I think Celeste was weighing me down. She didn't fit into this story, and someday, I'll revisit her and give her a story of her own. Plus, it solves another plot problem I'd been having.
So why did it take me so long to kill her? I think it was because a part of me didn't want to lose her. Her subplot is something I've wanted to explore since I was in third grade. She was a major inspiration for writing the book. I think a part of me didn't want to figure out how to shift things and eliminate her because if she was so important to me, she had to be that important to the story. Instead of trying to figure out how to work her back in, I should have been trying to figure out how to work her out completely.
We need to trust our guts. If our instinct is whispering "kill that darling" we need to listen. That's not always so easy because often we can rationalize to ourself why we shouldn't.
I think to make up for it, I'll leave Celeste in my special thanks when I get the book published.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Filling in the Holes

Ok, so I'll be honest - I'm terrible at outlining. I have managed to get a real basic outline done. All cruicial plot points are noted and most characters catalouged. I wanted to do something more detailed, but, I can't. It's not in me.
So on to the next step: Filling in the Holes.
As I went back through my piece, I eliminated entire sections (and the entire beginning). Chapters 1-3 ended up in the trash with little notes about what new events chapter 1-3 could be. I didn't think the book could just start with chapter 4, but actually just needed a whole new method for how to get to chapter 4.
This means there's lots of little gaps to fill. Finally something fun.
Why is it fun? Because it means writing freely! (At least, mostly.)
Unlike my original drafting process for this novel (which was make it up as I go), I did outline what my gaps would be filled with. I know that Chapter 2 Scene 2 West climbs a apple tree in an orchard while the Fox he met steals his bow. Of course, while I can describe the entire scene is a sentance, I'll need a few more to make it a whole half of a chapter.
Like my original draft though, I'm just going through and writing the scenes. I'm not fussing with them to make them look sparkley and polished. Because, when I start looking through the book again, maybe these new scenes won't be what I needed. So if I spend all that time making them look sparkely, then that's a lot of time wasted.
So, the next step in the revision process is - write all the new scenes needed to fill in holes. Let's see how it goes!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Shannon's Adventures for G4

Sometimes crazy last minute ideas pay off.

So, I wrote a blog recently about how real life sometimes gets in the way of writing. This post is about why.

My husband had the crazy idea to apply for Attack Of The Show's Viewer's Army two weeks before NOLA's Wizard Con while trying to put together an award winning group display for the Hearse Club at the World of Wheels convention that same weekend. I said that probably wasn't best idea, but he said he wanted to try because "what do we have to lose?"

(Our sanity was the answer.)

Our award winning club display

For those of you who don't know, I'm constantly struggling to decide if I want to be a writer or a
filmmaker (and in my head, I would be both). Any time I get to film, especially something professional, I jump at the chance. I love working a camera as much as I love pumping out 50,000 words in the month of November.

Kirk and I filmed little short videos about shooting Wizard Con. Well, he beat me out (which I understand because I'm painfully akward on camera) to host, and G4 sent us this awesome looking microphone and some crappy flip cams and press passes. (OMG! I got to be press! It was amazing!)


Well, I worked my butt off getting the hearse club set up, so I could spend my weekend filming.
So we get to the Con early, staring at the lines of people outside, and how we get to cut the lines cause we're press. Then 10 o'clock rolls around, the doors open and we begin filming.

And it was exciting! We were like mini-celebs. Everyone kept whispering "Look! It's G4!" and the very friendly and helpful Jerry, Wizard Con's publicity guy, came over and introduced himself. Said he'd arrange all the interviews for us.

So we got to work. We filmed lots of B-roll of cool con stuff and started pratice interviews with unimportant people. Some of the organizations like Krewe of the Living Dead and the awesome Krewe of Chebaccus.

Then, with the help of Jerry, we went after the celebrites. We got to meet awesome celebs like Kevin Sorbo (my fav!), Adrianne Curry, the guy in the Chewbacca suit from the original Star Wars, and Micheal Beihn. We got the chance to interview the super smart kids from the Walking Dead, Paul McGillan, and even Adam Baldwin, but they didn't make the segment. (Probably because two of them refused to sign release forms and the minors might have just been tricky.) It was entertaining to see how many of them didn't know who G4 was, but those who did were very friendly and chatted with us while the camera wasn't rolling. Adrianne Curry and Kevin Sorbo were the most chatty. (And I think Kirk has a new celebrity crush.)

Then there was all the cool non-celeb peeps we got to meet, like the 501st (a non-profit raising money for lukemia), the very awesome Daz 3D (who lent us a USB cord so we could dump footage), and the very friendly Star Trek band - Five Year Mission. We chatted with the best of the best for costumes and dropped in on some exclusive panels. Unfortuately, due to time, many of these awesome people didn't make the cut.

We scored some awesome free swag, and then ended up spending plenty of dough on various cool con things, like a signed copy of Chew. And my new parading bag.

As fun as this sounds, it was a lot of work. By the end of the day, we were so wiped, we came home and just crashed. But not before we called G4 to let them know we filled the cameras (a little bit of a stunner from what we gathered).

Then on Wedesday, Feb 8, our segment aired. I did not get to see it live because, well, I don't have G4 (unfortunately) and no one in my immeadate vacinity has it either. But when I did get to see the segment, I couldn't help but dance around the house going "Look it's me! Behind the camera!"

Plus, The ZBBC and Krewe of the Living Dead's Zombie Waldo Takedown publcity stunt totally made the cut.

So, anyway, if you want to see what I did, not just listen to me babble about it, check it out!