Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Left of the Dial: Still In the Oven

I've always thought of myself as a very patient person. My wife even accuses me of being patient. I don't stress out in traffic, I don't need to buy the whatever-it-is right away, and I don't even mind having to stand in a line once in a while.

I always thought that my collectedness applied to my writing as well. However, after posting what I thought was a pretty decent version of Left of the Dial to Triggerstreet, I'm finding out that the opposite is true.

I waited for eight or nine reviews to trickle in -- see, patience -- before I assessed the outcome. I thought the suggested changes would be somewhat minimal, but I was completely shocked to learn that:

1. The story was almost completely devoid of conflict. How the hell did that happen? I thought there was plenty going on in there. However, the overwhelming consensus was that the main character, Tom, had nothing on the line, nothing to fight for, and nothing to lose. And they're absolutely right.

2. The female lead was introduced too late. Yep, I'll give them that one. Jackie, Tom's love interest, doesn't show up until page 40. Too late for the reader to care about what happens with her and waaaaay too late for Tom to hold an interest in her.

In short, I rushed the story, I rushed putting it up on Triggerstreet for review, and as a result, I have critiques on a broken story that should never have been submitted. I've since been amping up the tension and conflict in the story and have vowed not to resubmit it until I've checked it and asked myself, "Why should I care about this?" and "What's he fighting for?"

Thankfully, John August addresses this problem with his usual wit and expertise.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

On The Page

If you're like me, you've been wondering why there aren't many good screenwriting podcasts to choose from (except, of course, Creative Screenwriting Magazine's excellent Q&A series and The Grim Reader's informative, but sporadic, episodes). Well, I'm pleased to announce that Pilar Alessandra, script consultant and director of the popular writing program On The Page, has a fantastic weekly podcast just for you.

It's called On The Page (didn't see that one comin', did ya?) and it's for all manner of media writers - film, television, online, everything. Pilar and her co-host, Matt Belknap, a reader for Imagine Entertainment, cover the ins and outs of writing, outlining, story, getting your script seen, and more recently, the business side of writing. Pilar, Matt, and a weekly featured guest also answer listeners' questions, which you can submit to inquire@onthepage.tv.

The best part for me, however, are Pilar's 10-minute writing exercises - quickie assignments that will really push your writing to a new level. Here's a sample:
Episode 9:
Prevent your dialogue from being too "on the nose". Go through your dialogue-driven scenes and replace dialogue that states a feeling out loud with an action that conveys the emotion.
To get a list of past exercises, just email Pilar at inquire@onthepage.tv.

You can subscribe to On The Page in iTunes or, if you use another podcast-catching app, use this link.

Also, if you're in the LA area, you'll definitely want to attend Pilar's classes and workshops. Being on the other coast, I haven't taken them myself, but they come very highly recommended. Check the schedule at OnThePage.tv for more information.

A quick note from Pilar: If you mention 120-Page Monster, she'll take $25 off the registration cost! Thanks, Pilar!


Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Finding Inspiration

Leo Babauta, the mastermind behind Zen Habits, has launched a new site, Write to Done, for writers looking to improve their craft and art.

A recent post covers finding inspiration for your writing. Personally, I usually get the spark at some pretty unexpected moments -- walking to the bus stop, scrubbing a dirty stew pot, or cuddling my 1-year-old into a reluctant nap.

One of my favorites from Leo:
People watching. This is an interesting activity for any writer. Go to a busy public place and just sit and watch people. They’ll amuse you, inspire you, fascinate you. There’s nothing more inspiring than humanity.
So, where do you find the inspirato?