Monday, April 25, 2011

Hardwired Update #4

The outline for Hardwired is complete. And I gotta say, I'm pretty fucking excited about this thing...

I get to work on the screenplay tomorrow. With all the new material I've added, this really feels like a script that can get me the attention I'm looking for on the marketplace. At the very least, it should be a damn good writing sample. It's got a little of everything: action, excitement, love, hate, loyalty, betrayal, a hot sex scene, and a couple killer twists. If you're a fan of mob/crime films, I'm sure you'll love Hardwired (I sound like such a Hollywood shill, but I'm that confident in the material). It's been a while since I was this excited about a script and I'm certain it'll show in the writing. I can't wait to get some feedback...

Besides the schedule I mentioned in my previous post, I've also decided to get back into the screenplay contest game. It's been a while since I put anything out there, and for credibility's sake, it would be great to have some new accolades to go along with my previous ones. I've identified a few competitions with deadlines coming up soon, if I adhere to my schedule, should allow me to complete the script in time to submit. I don't even have to win: just placing among the semi-finalists or finalists is enough to give my script that extra "umph" when it comes time to go out to Hollywood with it (but a win, needless to say, would be AWESOME). Depending on how much time I have, I may even submit another of my scripts, say Lupus Moon or my AIDS drama A Mile In My Shoes. One contest is strictly for web series pilots starring a Black female - can anyone say The Life and Times Of Abigail Waller? Of course, this is all contingent on having the finances to enter these competitions (the job hunt continues).

Back to Hardwired; my schedule calls for 5.5 pages to be written a day. Seeing as how this is a rewrite, there's a good amount of existing material that I'll be keeping, so that goal should be easy to meet. I know there will be snags - I can get obsessively picky about dialogue and the exact order of words - but I'm looking forward to meeting and overcoming those obstacles and turning out a kick-ass first draft. When it's done, I'll be soliciting feedback from various people (if you want to be in that number, let me know via my Facebook page). I'll then take a couple weeks away from the script (probably start setting up my next project) before launching into the rewrite phase, followed by another one-week cool-off before polishing the script and submitting it.

I won't be posting daily updates, but I look forward to sharing the process of birthing and marketing a screenplay - at least from my perspective. I'll do my best to keep it upbeat and entertaining, just like the script I'm about to write. If you're a writer, I hope I write something that you can take away that will make your work and life easier. If you're not, I hope you simply enjoy the ride.

I know I will.  :^)

New Plan of Action

A couple days ago I decided to revive and revise a writing schedule I'd put together a while back. The purpose behind the schedule was to simply maximize my efficiency by giving myself hard goals to meet and a timetable in which to do it - not to mention treating my writing as what it is and can be: a job. Plus with all the new ideas I've had floating around my head lately, this should help me get through projects faster while keeping my skills and creative juices at their sharpest.

Hardwired will be the first script to go through this new system. The schedule is designed to go from concept to finished and polished screenplay in 11 weeks. It's aggressive, for sure, but I think it's totally workable. Since this is a rewrite and I formulated the schedule as I was putting together the outline together, I'm coming in at phase two of seven - writing the first draft - which I plan to have done in four weeks. Things fell together really well in the outlining phase and what I have is very detailed, so I'm hoping for a smooth write. With a 5.5 page/day writing target, I break ground on the script tomorrow.

Wish me luck!  :^)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Hardwired Update #3

The biggest problem with being in a creative burst is when I'm mentally pulled toward working on several different projects at the same time. I prefer to be linear; knock one thing out at a time and move on to the next. That's not where I find myself currently, and, along with the new ideas that crop up (had a cool concept for an alien sci-fi/action adventure script hit me yesterday), it's easy to get caught up in the paralysis of analysis - getting absolutely nothing done while I'm trying to figure out what exactly I want to do.

Maybe it's the writers block I've run into while working on Lupus Moon. Maybe it's the frustration over being broke and not having the money to shoot anything, forcing me to sit on the sidelines and be stagnant. Maybe it's something else altogether. But whatever it is, my brain has responded by going into creative overload. New ideas have been rolling forth, and I'm really liking what's been coming out. All I have to do now is capture them.

So after hours and hours of hemming and hawing - and deciding to take a break from the novel that I JUST started, barely (I just wasn't "feeling it") - I set a course and picked up Hardwired (those not familiar with this project can get up to speed here). Glancing over the last set of notes I left for myself, there was one major change I wanted to make that wasn't recorded - the deletion of Lenny altogether. The thinking behind this was to push Harvey to the forefront instead of having him share the spotlight in what was basically a "buddy hitman" script. I wanted to take the story darker - really focus on Harvey and his demons, forces so unrelenting that it ultimately cost him his wife and son. I was really digging this (and still am), but as I worked my way through rewriting the rest of the story, things just kinda... fell apart.

I LOVED the story I had crafted. I was impressed by the twists I had worked in and the reasoning behind those twists. Thing is, to pull those twists off I needed Lenny. I hadn't realized it, but he was the glue that connected Harvey's mission - where it turns out - with where it began. Without him, the setup and logic for the script's biggest twist goes out the window. There's another character involved that's just as necessary, but I thought I could get by with just one of them. That's not the case, which left me with the proverbial irresistible force (Harvey in the spotlight as a man destroyed by his own actions) meeting the immovable object (a bomb-tight twist that really heightens the script and the reasoning behind it). I mulled the possibilities for hours, and I went to bed last night with the conclusion that I had no choice: I had to keep Lenny in. But what about Harvey's spotlight?

I think I have the fix. After more tossing around in my head and talking with Shaundra, the current idea is for Lenny to come attached to the mission as before, but be less adequate as a mafioso, and younger, too. He'll be open about his loathing for his life, and his plans to leave it - a complete foil for Harvey, the older, gruffer, polished killer who just can't leave the life alone. I also plan to get Harvey alone as much as possible, where we'll see him deal with his demons, and try haplessly to re-connect with the family he forsaked for his craft. It'll be a delicate dance, but if I can pull it off I'll be stoked. And I think it'll be a helluva script.

The plan for this script is to sell it to Hollywood, or use it as a writing sample to get writing work. I know I said I was leaving this alone, but I guess you can't keep a good dream down. But I feel this script (and, eventually, Jillted) will be the most commercial thing (read: white) I've written with the exception of Lupus Moon. So basically, I'm still in uncharted territory when it comes to this type of script.

We'll see how it goes...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lupus Moon (the novel) Update #5

Why do the projects I love so much bring me so much trouble?

It's enough to make me wonder if I'm really cut out to be a writer - whether or not I have the talent and creativity. It's enough to make me wonder - yet I don't. I know the ability is there. And definitely the desire. So what is it? Oh yeah. That...

The problem with Lupus Moon as it exists is that, once again, I'm caught between writing a new story, yet working with pre-existing elements - elements that I like very much and that can work together in the same story, but they clash with the new stuff I'm bringing in. I want it all to play nice together, but there's fights on the playground - and no one's winning. I've considered jettisoning the entire thing and starting from scratch, but I inevitably wind up back where I am now, concept and all. Bottom line is the basic story is the right story. I just haven't found the right way to express it. And that frustrates the living hell out of me.

I'm still caught up in the outline and I'm just sick of it. Of course, the problems are 100% self-inflicted, but that doesn't them any less irritating. Things were going good. Alexandria had her issues with Tristan, who, in turn, had issues with Slasher and his pack. It was shaping up as a helluva three-way dance fueled by hatred, jealousy, betrayal and loyalty. A supporting character's death was pushed back to maximize impact, and I'd even found a way to work in more action while upping the tension between Alexandria and the now-grown and badge-carrying Kristen. But a funny thing happened on the way to "The End..."

I made the decision to make Tristan a series-long villain. All the great series of books have them. Ne'er-do-wells who return over and over to menace the protagonist, becoming iconic for their direct opposition to the hero what she/he stands for. A nemesis. And if I was going to write this as a series I needed that Moriarty, that Voldemort, for Alexandria to face off with. As soon as the decision was made, my head was rushed with ideas and possibilities - back story bits and future plans - that I was lucky enough to capture on paper. From that, a hint of a general direction to the series took shape, and I very much intend to keep on that course. It'll be tons of fun - that is, if I can get past the first book.

Making Tristan the big bad exposed a major problem with my story. If someone is going to be around for a while, I feel they should be prominent, play a major role (sure there's plenty of examples of long-running stories where someone develops into the big bad over time - I'm thinking of some now), or at least have their influence felt throughout. The way my story was structured, with Slasher and his pack conspiring against Tristan, gave Slasher too much power in my mind while reducing Tristan, putting them on equal footing. Tristan needs to be the front-and-center badass, not a guy who's getting upstaged or distracted by someone in his own camp. He was also not active or involved enough. basically, he was just too weak. I decided to go back to the idea of he and Alexandria having clashed before, so if he was THE MAN then, he needed to be THE MAN now.

But, of course, going back through my existing story and implementing changes only opened up huge fissures in what was starting to become a whole story, leading to a deadlock. Then you factor in cramming new material with semi-new material already intermingled with old material and you transform that deadlock into a full-grown clusterfuck. Hello, clusterfuck, nice to see you again...

I'm tired of dicking around with the story and my outline sheets have been so scribbled over there's no more room and they're barely legible. And I'm not about to start a new outline. So what am I going to do?

I'm starting the book. Simple as that. Just dive into the fucker and fix everything as I go. It's still the same basic story - just the way the the end has changed. It'll also let me know if I even want to continue this as a novel or turn it into something else, like a comic book. And it'll give me something to show for all my talking. Nothing like posting actual pages versus standard text updates to get the comments and "likes" rolling in (and people suddenly believing you're doing what you said you were - show and prove, I guess).

Updates should be very interesting from this point forward. Enough with the backstage dawdling. Even though things are not as solid as I'd like them to be, I can't wait anymore. The time has come. The curtains are raising, and the crowd is settling into place.

It's showtime, folks.