Writing a Screenplay

Image result for screenplayI was suddenly struck with an idea this week and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since. Any time this happens to me, I know that it’s something I just have to do. So I’m currently working on a screenplay, which perhaps will never see the light of day (although I will certainly try to get it out there), but it’s good practice nonetheless. Turns out, there are quite a lot of rules regarding format for a screenplay. Thankfully, you can figure out how to do ANYTHING with the help of youtube and other bloggers (thank you bloggers!)

As I work on my new project, I’ve enjoyed reading screenplays and watching the show or movie to see how it all turned out. I rarely think about the person who sat down and wrote the script when I’m watching a movie. They’re someone obscure to me because typically the actors and director make the words come alive. Yet that whole production starts with written words and that’s powerful. I want to take part in something creative that way.

If you happen to be reading this and have any experience with screenplays, I’d love to hear from you!

Why I deleted my Twitter account

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So first of all, I know there are lots of people who enjoy Twitter, so I’m not writing this to convince anyone to stop using the app. I’ve been trying to simplify my life lately, not only by decluttering, as many of us do at the start of a New Year, but also by cutting out time wasters (except for video games because…well, I like video games).

When I looked at my social media accounts, I knew something had to go because it was becoming burdensome to keep up with everything. Here are 5 reasons I got rid of Twitter:

  1. The pace is stressful. Maybe some people like the fast-paced nature of Twitter, but for me it was like an obnoxious neon-flickering sign. I also felt so insignificant posting my little 140-word thread as the other thousands of threads piled on top of it, smothering it out of existence. I know, I know. “You have to post consistently and interact with people.” I’ll get to that later. Twitter for me is like being stuck in rush-hour traffic. It’s much too crowded and everyone’s in a hurry.
  2. The politics. I think on Twitter almost EVERYONE is political. That’s fine. Facebook can be like that as well. I get it. But for me, it’s a drag. I don’t really care about reading someone’s political opinion. In fact, I wish politics never made it into social media.
  3. The 140 word limit. Or is it 280 now? Whatever. Just stop limiting my words! I’m a writer for goodness sake.
  4. The bots. Do I need to explain this one? Why are fake humans following my account??? That’s just weird and scary. Anyway, can I really trust that someone with 20K followers really has that many followers, or did they just buy fake people to make them look popular?
  5. Losing followers without knowing why. This part stressed me out more than anything. I gain three new followers and lose two. Why? Did I post something that offended you? Did I post too infrequently? Did you just follow me so I would follow you back and then you dropped me so it would look like you have more followers than people you are following? Am I overthinking this?

Probably.

But all of this was enough for me to say good bye to Twitter, and you know what? I’m actually relieved now that I got rid of my account. I hadn’t opened the app in months anyway, and felt guilty about neglecting all of my followers (ok, so I didn’t really think about it much).

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as an author, it’s that I care more about the people who have taken the time to read my work and have a conversation with me about the story. I don’t like wasting time with superficial relationships. Maybe I won’t get famous that way, but it’s certainly a more rewarding way to spend my time.

My book is weird, but it makes sense to some people.

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One of my favorite book genres is sci-fi. Growing up, I loved reading Star Wars (fanfic) novels. I used to work at Macy’s when I was 16 and on my breaks I would go downstairs in the mall to Walden Books (is that store still around?) and select a new Star Wars novel to read. I was a little ticked when I found out Disney “de-canonized” all of those great books!

In addition to Star Wars novels, I’m a fan of H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, George Orwell, and R.A. Dick (to name a few). I also love the horror sub-genre attached to some of the older sci-fi classics, especially those works by H.G. Wells like “The Time Machine” and “The Island of Dr. Moreau.” I don’t encounter too many other fans of these classics, which is why I’m always excited when I meet someone who shares my interest in these fascinating stories.

One of my teachers from high school recently wrote me an email in response to reading my novel. Here’s some of what he said (I edited it for spoilers):

“The dreamscape plot was twisty enough to keep me guessing and engaged.  It felt like an original take on an established sci fi/horror sub-genre and I felt it resolved itself well.  Overall, your world-building details seem to be your biggest strength; the weirdly steampunk-ish origins of the dream machine were doled out nicely a little at a time and the video-game interface was established organically in the story.”

You can imagine how pleased I was to find that someone actually understood what I was trying to achieve in this story! It’s not an easy thing to explain to people who don’t know the genre and I’m afraid the publishing industry doesn’t have a category for “weird,” which is how some of my readers have classified my book. (Incidentally, if you do like “weird” stories, you should check out “The Child of 100 Years.”)

Do you like sci-fi novels? What are some of your favorite authors/books?

How I feel after publishing

It’s been nearly a week since I released my debut novel, “The Child of 100 Years.” I worked on this story on and off for 4 years, so it’s a little hard to believe it’s finally finished.

When I started out, I had a vague idea that made up a random scene in the middle of the story. It took a while to find the complete picture. It really was like fitting a puzzle together, piece by piece. Some of the pieces ended up not fitting so well – I had to think critically about those things and analyze every part of my writing. For example, I spent a lot of time while writing my first draft getting to know my characters. That’s really what kept me going. I came up with names, descriptions, and brief backstories. I thought carefully how these people would respond to various conversations and social settings. I tried hard not to settle for cliches. In the final draft, I had to balance character development and plot, so much of what takes place between Elena and her friends has been left out. Vincent’s backstory was a bit more developed in the first draft as well, but after a while, I felt it was more important to know about Abel Dumont.

As editor and publisher, these are the kinds of decisions I need to make. I can honestly say however, that I love having creative freedom. Becoming a publisher has shown me how challenging completing a writing project really is. I give myself deadlines and have to step outside of writer mode and into editor mode. I have to read the book over and over again – searching for words and phrases that don’t fit, or things that seem out of place. I also have to think like a reader. Would I want to keep reading this book? Does the ending feel rushed, or have I successfully brought the story to a close? Forcing myself to think like this has made me a better writer.

I suppose if I were to sum up how I feel after publishing, I’d say I feel satisfied. I’m satisfied with the story – and the process of writing it. I’m satisfied with myself for pushing through and finishing this project.

Now it’s on to the next!

A midsummer dream

Goal achieved! After months of rewriting, I finally finished the second draft of my debut of recognitionmanuscript. Whew. I’m not sure about other writers, but I feel like I’m getting a bit of “wind in my sail.” The more I write, the easier it’s become.

I’m turning my attention to my second manuscript, “The Reunion” next. I also have some ideas for an anthology series and possibly a YA fantasy series. Lots of ideas rolling around in my brain! School starts in a few weeks, so my progress will be a little slower, but check in with me now and then.

At this time, my work is free, so read it on wattpad.com – remember to follow me and vote!

I have crazy dreams.

Mansion

Do you remember your dreams? I do. They’re vivid and intriguing. I told you before, I got the idea for my book from a dream.

For some reason, I dream about buildings quite a bit. They’re always abandoned buildings with lots of floors and elevators that don’t work, or decrepit bathrooms. I’m not afraid when I have these dreams. In fact, I don’t even question what’s happening, I simply move through it. Funny, maybe that means something. Our brains process life while we sleep, especially in REM, and many times life can feel like an abandoned building, filled with emptiness and things that don’t work. But truthfully, we need to move through it. Find your way out – and by that I mean don’t give up.

Just because we’re in a dark place, doesn’t mean we’re without hope.

When I dream something I don’t understand, I use it as an opportunity to self-reflect. I know it can be tempting to dismiss something like a dream as nonsense, or forget it as soon as we start our day, but I believe the ability to dream is a gift. A dream is a glimpse into the things we suppress and refuse to feel. I’m grateful for dreams.

So next time you have a crazy dream, try dissecting it a little. You might be surprised what you learn about yourself – or what ideas come to you when you do.

Keep dreaming!

The story so far…

I’ve been working on this manuscript for over three years now. It’s based on a dream I had in early 2014. I’ve always wanted to write a book, but used to start stories and leave them unfinished. I moved a few times recently, and went through some pretty major changes in my life, so I suppose you could argue it set me back a bit. Three years may sound like a long time. However, I will not leave this story unfinished.

Actually, I did complete the first draft of the manuscript last year. I even queried a number of literary agents in the summer, but received one rejection after another. It was tempting to give up. I hear it takes some people years to find an agent. Then in December, 2016, I started working on the story again – from the beginning. That’s right. I’m currently rewriting the entire novel. At this very moment, I’ve hit 63,061 words. My goal is 85,000 words, so I’m getting closer. This version of the story will get published. I’ll query again first, yet I’m considering indie publishing as well.

The point is, I’m just determined. I want to write books, so that’s what I’m doing. I’ve read my fair share of novels over the years, and I know what it takes to make a good story.