Crash Landing back to Earth

So, I finally got to read some feedback on Wrath, months after I got it. It was pretty good feedback, and I hope to revisit it soon. The main thing was that I had something going in terms of ideas, and all I need to do is develop the world and characters.

And with that, I was exposed. It made me realize that putting it up for sale on Amazon, even for a contest, was a stupid idea. It was, to them, something that read as an undeveloped, hastily made mess. And developing my characters is going to be a challenge and a half because I can’t develop characters if my life depended on it because I barely know anything about relationships, if at all.

Let me explain. I spent a lot of time by myself growing up. Didn’t hang out with friends, didn’t invite anyone to the house, never really went out with anyone, never had a girlfriend…and even when I was with a group, never ate with anyone during lunch, I just felt like the odd man out, like I was hastily taped to a picture as an afterthought. And now, choosing to be something resembling a recluse for pretty much my entire life has come back to bite me in the ass.  How can I be able to make characters like actual people and give them depth if everything I’ve done makes me come across as an antisocial loner?

Oh sure, I could go out and try to make friends and try to connect with people…if I wanted you to feel bad for me with how pathetic I am with trying to connect with people. Let me explain.

When I was in college, and I saw all my classmates with their friends working like teams to make their senior projects and hanging out together like a little family, I started to contemplate and worry about what I was doing with my life, and one of the things I contemplated over was why I didn’t have those connections. Then it clicked to me: They have something I don’t. I firmly believe that when it comes to being social butterflies and easily making friends and being really good roommates to the point where the dwelling runs like a well-oiled machine with amazing efficiency and developing relationships that last, there’s a kind of gene that you’re either born with or you aren’t.

My mom was born with it, my sister was born with it, my grandmother was born with it, and I wasn’t born with it. My psychologist had to tell me that the skills necessary to form relationships and make friends can be learned and just need to be worked on to be both maintained and developed. And to that, I say this: even if I can learn how to develop relationships, it is a pathetic imitation that’s just painful an awkward to see in action. That’s why I say this “social gene” is something you’re born with or aren’t born with. And honestly, I feel like it’d be a better way if you just have to deal, kind of like that time when I was contemplating that first time. You’re either born with the ability to be social and make friends and make lasting relationships or you aren’t. And if you aren’t, you have to deal with that for the rest of your life and your best course of action is to embrace being a loner, not giving a damn if you come across as antisocial, crazy, or whatever. Just be wary that being with people for extended periods of time in a situation like being roommates can cause you trouble, up to and including being classified as “does not work well with others” or “dangerous to self or others”.

And that is why the biggest problem is character development, and that is why this method of improvement petrifies me. I have no basis on which to develop characters and establish relationship dynamics that are based on anything resembling real life, mainly because of trying to avoid anything resembling human to human interaction for years. And that’s not the only fear I have, nor it is the only problem that I received feedback on, but the way I develop actually has the potential to make my stories worse because it’ll only further give an impression that I have no idea what I’m doing.

To any aspiring writers, I have this advice: Make friends. Be social. And hope to God you were born with a social gene. It’ll help you a lot.


Writing About Copyright

Copyright is kind of interesting. I’m pretty sure everyone knows about it even if you don’t give the slightest crap. It’s the thing that gives a creator the legal right to use and distribute it however they wish and shows that they have the legal rights to it and that they own…whatever it is they made. And I could talk about copyright infringement and all that fun stuff, but I’m not a lawyer and it’ll kind of bore me and you.

So let’s talk about my experiences. When I first got into the creative writing mood, I think my mom would say I would have what you could call a bad habit of sharing my ideas and work willy-nilly. And that if I were to share it, and somebody were to make a buttload of money on what I had planned, I had nobody to blame but myself. But in school, I took a class on legal basics for filmmakers, and then I looked online a bit, and I discovered something mind-blowing:

In the United States, once you have the work in a fixed medium, such as written on paper or typed into a word processor, the copyright is yours. And you don’t even need to put a copyright symbol or an All Rights Reserved spiel on the thing. Isn’t that amazing?

The only thing is that you can’t copyright ideas or plans out outlines. And you actually have to register formally if you want to take somebody to court for copyright infringement. Those things I understand, mainly because it’s evidence of authorship that goes beyond family and friends.

So what does this mean for someone like me? Well, I have some short stories on an external hard drive, a screenplay that’s been published but hasn’t gone anywhere near someone that make it an actual movie, and some chapters of a book going for me, so there’s that. And if I ever do get to a point where I can do something, it’s off to registering. And registering. Aregisteringing.

Though the big thing that’ll determine the effictiveness of my copyright navigation is if what I make is even worth stealing.

Wrath Update

Hello there. So, I got back from another contest I entered Wrath into. This time, it’s the New York Screenplay Contest. And I can now say that I have won the Empire Award in the Fantasy film category. Looking at the website, I can say that’s a big deal because I won 2nd prize in that category, which is a pretty big deal. This comes only a few months after I was a category finalist in the action-adventure category in the Las Vegas International Screenwriting Competition.

You’re probably asking why I have accolades in two different genres. One reason is because of the categories some of the contests have to offer while submitting; some contests have more categories than others. The second, and more accurate if you ask me, the reason is because I suck at coming up with genres for my work. Most times, I don’t try to think of genres when I write down my ideas, and even then I wouldn’t say I specialize in any one genre. I mean, Wrath features angels and demons, and the main character has a battle axe that can shoot fire and ignite on command as his weapon. Does that sound like fantasy to you? To me it does. I’m not even well versed to talk about things like high fantasy vs. low fantasy, so I’m not going to go into that because I can’t even pretend to know what I’m talking about.

As for talking this much about a second place finish, I guess I can because I beat out so many people; 1,000 screenplays entered according to the people running this thing. So, I guess you could say this is like winning a silver medal in the Olympics. However, as a competitor, you start to wonder when you’ll get that win and be on top of the mountain. It’s like a Buffalo Bills fan wondering if the early 90s should be remembered by them losing four straight Super Bowls or winning four straight AFC Championships.

So, I guess the big question is if I get a certificate, which means I have to fork over 25 dollars along with a frame for the thing, or spend 125 plus shipping for their Art Glass trophy. A handmade 16-inch solid glass trophy that I need to find a place for and put in a place where I won’t end up breaking it because I’m not what you’d call “super clean” or “super organized”.

But in all seriousness, I’m pretty happy with this result. It always feels good to achieve something. And if you’re interested in the story, feel free to buy a copy of Wrath on Amazon.

What Am I Working On? August 24th, 2017

It’s time for another one of these updates where I talk about what I’m doing in the world of writing. It’s time for another edition of What Am I Working On?. So, Welcome to Life in California has seven of a planned thirteen chapters written. While the future of that may change given I haven’t really shown it to an editor yet or pretty much any eyes aside from mine, who knows if it’ll be something resembling good to someone else? However, the big thing is that I’m over halfway done with the writing for that. Sure by “over half” I mean just 53 percent, but you know, I can say that things aren’t too bad.

Also, according to FilmFreeway, I only have notification dates for September when it comes to how Wrath has done in the screenplay contests I’ve entered. This to me means two things once September ends:

  1. Prepare the script I’ve had sitting on my hard drive for months for submission to contents.
  2. Get Wrath edited again to where I’ll be able to either submit it and do better than I’ve done in the contests I’ve entered previously, or publish again. If I do that, I’ll need to find an illustrator. It sucks not knowing anyone.

Finally, now that football season has arrived at last, I’ll be in the mood to write a short story I’ve been wanting to write for a while now. Speaking of short stories, I’m probably going to look into my inventory of stories and see how many short stories I’ve written, mainly because A) I’ve said once I’ve had five or so done, I would look into selling them, and B) Once I have twenty good ones written, I’m probably going to publish them as an anthology or a series, even though they aren’t connected. At least not intentionally.  I even have a name for this.

So that’s what I’ve been doing and I thought that’s what you would want to know before I go on vacation. Where I’m going I’m not sure if it’s good Internet form to divulge that to strangers, but writing will probably be not my priority for the next week or so.

Here’s hoping I have more news and stuff like that soon.

The Past

As I write, I find myself thinking of something that’s been on my mind for weeks now: backstory. Or more specifically, what should I include and not include.

Let me explain it to you this way: You know the Star Wars prequels? A series of movies that I consider the most hated things on the Internet from what I’ve seen? I think that the reason that they’re hated is, among other reasons, they gave an explanation to The Force and gave Darth Vader a backstory. The Midichlorians destroyed any mysticism The Force had to some people, and Darth Vader wasn’t the mysterious badass people had come to love for decades. Personally, I haven’t seen the prequels, but I know enough Star Wars to understand where the anger was coming from. George Lucas messed with perfection according to some people, and two of the greatest things in science fiction lost their luster to them.

I’m not sure if I’ll ever get to the point where I’m that big, but I hope to get something resembling a following. When that happens, I may get questions about my inspirations or something resembling sequels…or prequels. I’ve thought of this when thinking about my screenplay Wrath and while writing my book Welcome to Life in California (a writing process I can say is going pretty well at the moment), and I think that the idea of a backstory could make me think that too much stuff explained could ruin anything. I’m a guy that likes to read fanfiction and look at good fan art on occasion, and I think for some fans, the fun is creating their own lore. I’m not good enough to create headcanons as intricate like that (such as explaining why one character is actually another character’s father), and I think that destroying that possibility could hurt my work in the long run.

I guess the main point of what I’m trying to say is that the idea of explaining and giving a backstory is a tool for a writer, just like whatever a writer writes on, be it a laptop or a typewriter. And while the questions and fan community may not come anytime soon, I’m just thinking that maybe a sense of mystery could help my characters and my worlds (that’ll probably be set in something resembling reality) resonate and make people think “hey, this story by this Martin White II guy is pretty awesome.” Let’s hope there are people that think the same.

End Of The Road

This past Tuesday, my screenplay Wrath was named one of the top 6 screenplays for the action adventure category of the Las Vegas International Screenwriting competition. And yesterday, the category winners were announced that would go on to be in the running for the top 5 overall feature screenplays to compete to be the overall winner.

And the winner of the action adventure screenplay is…not me. That honor went to a screenplay called The Devil’s Gun. I didn’t make one of the two runners-up positions either, which went to the screenplays Black and Blue and Devil’s Valley Justice. 

The one thing that was noted was that in each and every one of the categories, the difference between top and bottom was separated by only a few points. In the action adventure category I was in, the difference between number one and number six was 3.5 points on a 100 point scale. That means, for example, that if the winner got 100 points, the #6 winner got 96.5 points. But that’s just an example. I have no idea what the actual scores are and I just wanted to give an idea of how close the scoring is. And while I have no idea what the winning scripts are about, I have no doubts that they are incredibly good.

So, what does that mean for me? Well, I feel pretty good about my performance in this competition now that it’s all over for me. I went a lot further than I thought I would. And what does this mean for Wrath? Well, I’m going to finally get a chance to look at it and see if I can apply some feedback that I received from another contest to fine-tune Wrath, though my thoughts on that endeavor could be another blog post entirely.

Anyway, I would like to sincerely thank every single person who has congratulated me and supported me throughout this entire contest. It feels great to have people who think the stuff I write is really good.

And now, I return to working on other projects.

My Process

As the months change, I think that it’s a better time than ever to talk about something some may be wondering: My writing process. It’s not that elaborate or anything. It’s not like anything you see in the movies, so if you’re wondering if I go to some cabin in the mountains, prepare to be disappointed. Anyway, here we go.

At the start of the month, when I write for the first time, I get everything I want to work on in a composition notebook. Just a simple composition notebook you can get for dirt cheap. And then, I pick one to work on. It could be a short story, or a chapter of a novel that I have in my head. Although recently, I’ve gone on to work on notes for my stories because I feel I need to streamline the bigger things I want to work on because it would help me figure out the story and where I want to go with it. While I have a lot of ideas for writing that could take me months to develop, write down, and edit, when I start writing something, I won’t write anything else until I finish that thing I commit myself to writing. It could take a few days for me to complete a chapter or a short story.

After I complete the writing, I take the day after completion as a breather day. What do I do? Watch TV, do laundry, just do anything except writing so I can recharge and think about what to do next. For now, at least. I think that once I have to deal with deadlines and release dates, I won’t have these breather days. At least I’m appreciating not having to deal with deadlines and release dates because I won’t have to deal with the worry of rushing something out, and the only expectations I have to meet are mostly my own.

And finally, one thing that I may do that’s a cliche writer thing: yes, I listen to music when I write. My choices are either the music on my phone or a channel on my Pandora account. If I use my phone, I arrange the songs that are in the “Up Next” section of music so I can just write without having to fight the urge to just pick a song every few minutes. As for the Pandora situation? I just pick a station and write with the only choice to be either be listening from my phone or my laptop. In either scenario, the only thing I listen for is if a song particularly catches my attention, which will lead me to looking to buy it on iTunes, either after I finish my writing session, or when I’m about to go on vacation.

And then I write until I’m done. Or if I’m tired. Or if my laptop’s battery life is low and needs to be connected to the charger immediately. Whichever one of those things comes first.

As for what I’m writing currently? Well, that’s kind of top secret at the moment, and the only time you’ll hear about details is if I talk about it in a “What Am I Working On?” update. Or if I announce the completion of a project. But, I will tell you this: when I finish a long work, be it a novel or a feature length screenplay, I’m going to make plans to go to an anime convention to celebrate. I went to one in my junior year of college, and it’s a great way to forget about the thoughts of an editor you hand your work to.

I hope that this post was informative and helped you understand how I write. Thank you for reading it.