Wednesday, March 25, 2009


So I'm 3 or 4 years late to the party, but I recently discovered I enjoy podcasts. Not just the ones I want to listen to for entertainment sake, but also ones I can use for my writing. There are ones geared specifically for writers, of course, but I've also been listening to ones about science, astronomy, pop culture, and other things that can give me ideas for stories, characters, subplots, etc. Pretty much anything can give story ideas, and podcasts are nice and handy, either at the computer or iPod.

As I said, I know most people are saying that I should have discovered these a while ago. If you, like me, haven't thought about listening to these through a writer's eye, I suggest it. Short post today, but I have some more podcasts to listen to. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Open Script Jitters?

So I finished my first screenplay. The first draft anyway, though I doubt I'll bother polishing this one. I guess I got what I wanted out of it--a good learning experience. No, that's not true. I wanted something I could polish and see if Hollywood wanted it, though I guess the learning experience is good, too.

I have a problem with underplotting. I've done so on the novel I'm working on (though I believe I'll be able to fix that in my second draft), and I did it in my screenplay. Feature screenplays run between 90 and 120 pages. Mine clocked in at a whopping 23. Not fixable in a second draft without huge plotting fixes. Personally, I think I'd prefer to move onto something else instead of working this one to death. Oh well, as I said, I learned quite a bit, so it's not a total loss.

I think I pretty much knew going in that I didn't have enough story. Add to that I didn't work very hard on the characters, and I was doomed from the start. I feel like I did enough right, however, that I will try again. I enjoyed the process, and once I got used to the structure and the extreme show-don't tell rule, I did all right. The pre-writing had me down from the beginning, though. Now I know a bit more, so my next attempt should be better. I hope, anyway.

That's it for now. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


I finally started actually typing my screenplay this week. I've found it is so much different than any other type of writing I've tried before. Usually I like to wing ideas as I writer. This means that I just go after my short stories with nothing more than a vague idea. I feel this helps the story overall, as while I'm typing, I'll occasionally simply ask myself what I can do to make it weirder/scarier/funnier/whatever it calls for. In my novel I'm writing, I made a pretty thorough outline, but I left a lot of wiggle room to do some fun things in it. The basic structure remains, but I still have artistic license in the project.

With my screenplay, though, I created a number of different outlines and I want nothing to go off pace. I'm worried so much about the all-important structure that I know my creativity won't be able to shine through. That's fine with me because I've already written it a few times, just without all the inner workings. I've already let myself go off on tangents while writing my treatment, which was basically my screenplay in short story format without dialog. Even though I'm just getting started with the structured writing, I'm finding that the dialog is flowing, but at a difficult pace if that makes sense. I basically know what my characters are going to say, but getting them to say it in a life-like way sometimes proves a challenge.

Next time I try my hand at this, I may take even longer in the pre-writing. Maybe the next treatment will be an actual short story, with dialog and everything. After that, once I'm comfortable with the layout and structure of the screenplay, I'll possibly even be able to do less pre-writing. I guess I'll see how it all works out. All I know is that it's fun to stretch myself into a new form of writing. I may as well end this now and get back to it. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Writing Goals

It's so important for writers to set goals for themselves. Not just big goals that will take months to complete, like "I will finish my novel this year," or whatever your overall goals are, but small goals that help you keep moving. I think it's important to keep the goals relatively simple and small, or they could overwhelm you and keep you from completing them. I give myself goals each week, and I tape them to the wall right at eye level at my writing desk. This way I always know what I should be working on.

For example, I'm working on a novel, a screenplay, and various stories for children at the moment. My goal this week is to write 5000 words in my novel this week. (I use my word count in Word to track this even though that's not the way to actually count up words in a finished manuscript. It's a great tool for a first draft, though!) For my screenplay I gave myself the goal to complete my beat sheet for my screenplay, which I've already completed this week and have crossed out (a nice feeling to see it gone from the list). For my children's writing, I gave myself the task of coming up with 10 good ideas for stories that I can basically start writing at the drop of a hat. Ideas are a dime a dozen, obviously, but workable ideas are a little more difficult. In addition to these, I have other goals such as watch a movie (for research purposes), read a screenplay, read five short stories, and read 30 pages in a novel each day.

Goals like these keep me focused each day. I know what I should be working on, and I do it. In the past, I'd dilly-dally through my writing without focus, and therefore I got little real work done. With my weekly goals, I'm finding I get actual writing work accomplished. It's a good feeling, and also why I think every writer should use goals, be them daily or weekly. That's it for this week. Until next time, keep reading and/or writing!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Another Published Story

Here is a link to my latest published short story. It is called Find the Flag, and it is from issue 38 of Dark Fire magazine. I hope you enjoy it.

I've had this one written for over 10 years. I've always been proud of it, and my persistence in finding a home for it finally paid off. I actually had this placed with a print magazine back in the late 90s, but it went out of business before this story was put in it. Better late than never, right? Anyway, any comments you have on the story will be greatly appreciated. I hope everyone enjoys it!