Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Aftermath ver. 1.0

I’ve been neglecting this here blog with good reason: The Screenplay.

October was divided between typing the screenplay and a vacation in Florida. The warm weather and rest was perfect. Upon my return, I resumed typing the screenplay and began my revisions in earnest. After all the hair pulling I did this past year, it was extremely gratifying to see all the pieces fall into place. Plot, character, theme. Cause and effect. Action. Emotion. Everything came together. I submitted it to the Blue Cat Screenplay competition in early December and should have some feedback from them in early January.

Now, word on the blogosphere is that competitions are a waste of time and money, but I disagree to a point. You have to do your research. If it’s clout you’re looking for when your screenplay makes the finals or even wins, there’s nothing that compares to the Nicholl Fellowship. I’m not sure where Blue Cat is on the list of prestigious competitions, but they’re the best bang for your buck in the feedback department. My two previous scripts are better for the feedback I received from them.

The one thing that ALL screenplay competitions offer that writers benefit from is deadlines. It’s been said before all over the net (and books and classes and seminars) but I’m saying it again ‘cause us writers need deadlines. The thing is you got to be smart about deadlines so you can submit your best work. This means you have to be smarter than me.

What I submitted to Blue Cat was not my best work. As proud as I was of that draft, I discovered some small things that needed improvement in the days that followed my submission. You need to look at the year ahead in regards to competitions. Pick the ones you want to submit to and make note of their deadlines.

Then meet those deadlines.

I allowed myself a week or two to revise before submitting. I should’ve given myself at least a month.

That said, I truly feel the current draft of the screenplay is some of my best work. It’s a scary feeling because I know I need outside feedback. So I’m not looking at this thing again until the feedback from Blue Cat comes in.

Thus, I enter the Aftermath of being focused on a screenplay for so long.

My home office was a mess and I’ve begun to clean it up. There are stacks of books I want to read that I’m going to get to, as well as stacks of magazines. And there’s a short story that I rewrote a year ago that I need to revise. Slowly.

Taking my time with this short story will allow me to keep those muscles in shape while reading those books will help me recharge. There’s also a slew of emails to catch up on, most of which are screenwriting newsletters with great articles that have been filed away for future consumption. Many of those articles will assist in the post revision-post aftermath phase; a phase I’ve never entered before.

Query letter phase. (Or rather, query email)

In the new year, once that short story is done and submitted, I’ll begin researching production companies, agents, and managers who accept unsolicited queries. Creative Screenwriting Magazine and Script Magazine have great articles and listings, as does Inktip. I’ll probably put this latest screenplay on Inktip and sign up for the Hollywood Creative Directory Online which has (the last time I checked) options for yearly or monthly subscriptions. All this research and query writing will be interspersed with revisions on the previous two scripts, then with brainstorming on the next screenplay. And given the whining (and preaching) I’ve done on this blog about running out of steam, I know I need to plan a short break in April or May.

So here’s to 2011. The aftermath of 2010.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Hugh's Cherry Post

I'm entering this mostly blind. I'm a cautious person by nature, but I'm neither very good at research, nor at taking advice. And so I'm just wading in. How does one start a blog? Do I tell you a little about myself? Or is that something you're meant to discover along the way - the scattered crumbs for cyber-Hansel-&-Gretel(2.0) to follow to some half-baked idea? Anyway, it's not about me, it's about writing...

I'm spilling the contents of my head.

Here's the thing: I refuse to believe there is one way to write. There isn't. But most writers know this and that's one of the reasons the community builds. When it comes to unlocking creative energy, to harnessing it, making it yours, making it universal, wrestling it to the page and then whittling away the excess (or in reverse order) to something more refined, there are so many variables that one can consider that you could almost become overwhelmed before you'd begun. But as a writer you wade into that mire. And as a writer, even as you curse and shake your fist, you love it. A million-and-one set-backs, but each with its own potential for a minor victory. As a writer you are a receptor for it all, and every method, every little piece of advice can help - even the pieces you don't take.

They say there are no original stories left to tell. Maybe that's true. But there are an infinite number of ways in which to tell them. So, just as we patch together our own stories (novels, screenplays, etc.) and try to create something original, something our own, from every and anything - perhaps, so too, we can create our own technicoloured-dreamcoat-method, gathered from anything and everything... even if it's what not to do...

I know I'm already learning. Hopefully it'll be better next time.

Welcome to my scrap of cloth.